With his second win in two days, Olivier Philippaerts (BEL) took home the top prize in the $132,000 Rushy Marsh Farm Grand Prix CSI 3* on Friday, February 16, at the 2018 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. On the main grounds of WEF, championships were awarded for five hunter divisions as part of World Championship Hunter Rider competition.

FEI jumper competition in week six is being held at Equestrian Village, home to the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (13500 South Shore Blvd.) at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in Wellington, FL. The highlight event of the week, the $100,000 WCHR Peter Wetherill Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular during “Saturday Night Lights” takes place on Saturday, February 17, at 6:30 p.m. in the WEF International Arena. The sixth week of WEF continues through Sunday, February 18, while WEF goes through April 1 and offers more than $9 million in prize money.

There were 43 entries in the Friday night grand prix, and seven of those were clear over the course designed by Ana Catalina Cruz-Harris of Mexico. As the second to last in the ring for the jump-off, Philippaerts and H&M Ikker, a ten-year-old BWP gelding by Ogano Sitte x Up To Date owned by Roger Van Nuffelen, put down a smooth and fast round in 38.85 seconds for the win.

Gustavo Prato of Argentina rode Carna Z, a 13-year-old Zangersheide mare by Crown Z x Grannus owned by Equus Forte LLC, to second place with a clear round in 40.38 seconds, while Canada’s Mario Deslauriers finished third on Bardolina 2, a nine-year-old Holsteiner mare by Clarimo x Landros owned by Wishing Well Farm LLC.

Prato has been riding Carna Z for two years and only started doing 1.40m-1.50m last year. “Now I think she has started to be consistent,” he said of the sensitive mare, which jumps with no boots and a special headstall on its bridle. “I thought she was going to be a little bit tired today because she jumped the first two days and this was the third day in a row. The first round I felt like she was a little bit tired and rubbing some fences, and then in the jump-off she felt way better.”

Deslauriers and Bardolina 2 started in the 1.40m jumpers at WEF in 2017 and the mare has moved up in competition quickly. “It’s a young horse that I think is the real deal, so I backed off a little and tried to build her up this winter here at WEF,” said Deslauriers. “She had a long rest after indoors, so now I just want to try to get everything ready for the summer and the goal is to hopefully be on the team at the end of summer for [the World Equestrian Games].”

Philippaerts (24) and H&M Ikker also won Thursday’s $35,000 Equinimity WEF Challenge Cup Round 6. “He was a little tired after the jump-off from yesterday, but again today he was very good,” said Philippaerts of his partner of three years. “It was a good day for him and I am very happy with him.”

This is Philippaerts’s first time competing at WEF, and he planned accurately, bringing horses that would jump well outdoors compared to his usual indoor winter season in Europe.

Amber Harte with Martine and Christian Paillot in the Martha Jolicoeur Leading Lady Rider Award presentation. “This one is more like an outdoor horse and he jumps very good out here,” said Philippaerts, who is only three months back in the saddle after a fall and shoulder surgery in August last year. “He’s been jumping well the last two weeks, so I was hoping to get a win after that. This week he went very well, so I think the horse is going to stay a little longer and maybe do a few more shows in the month of March. It’s been very good for me as a European rider – we go to different venues every week in Europe – to come here for three weeks and jump four different shows. It makes coming really worth it.”

For her success this week, Amber Harte was named the Martha Jolicoeur Leading Lady Rider. It was presented by Christian and Martine Paillot. The owner of H&M Ikker was also given a gift certificate for a two-night stay at The Brazilian Court Palm Beach.

Final Results: $132,000 Rushy Marsh Farm Grand Prix CSI 3*

1. H&M Ikker, Olivier Philippaerts (BEL) 0/0/38.85
2. Carna Z, Ustavo Prato (ARG) 0/0/40.38
3. Bardolina 2, Mario Deslauriers (CAN) 0/ 0/41.39
4. Austria 2, Amber Harte (USA) 0/0/42.17
5. Iliona, David Raposa (USA) 0/0/45.01