Week nine of the 2016 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF), sponsored by Douglas Elliman Real Estate, continued on Thursday with a win for Reed Kessler (USA) and Cylana in the $130,000 Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup Round 9 held at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in Wellington, FL. It was Kessler and Cylana’s second win of the series in 2016 after also topping the $130,000 Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup Round 5.

WEF 9 runs March 9-13, 2016, featuring CSI 5* jumper and ‘AA’ rated hunter divisions. Friday features the $35,000 Illustrated Properties 1.45m Classic in the morning and the $25,000 Artisan Farms Under 25 Grand Prix Semi-Final, presented by Seabrook LLC, in the evening. Saturday night highlights the $380,000 Douglas Elliman Real Estate Grand Prix CSI5*, and Sunday concludes the week with the $86,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic. The 12-week WEF circuit runs through April 3 offering more than $9 million in prize money.

Alan Wade (IRL) is the course designer in the International Ring for WEF 9. For Thursday’s Challenge Cup class, Wade set the track for 74 starters, with seven clear rounds.

In the jump-off, Margie Engle (USA) and Elm Rock LLC’s Royce set the pace with a clear round in 44.88 seconds to eventually finish third. Sharn Wordley (NZL) and the Sky Group’s Casper cleared the course next with the fifth place time of 47.34 seconds. Fabio Leivas (BRA) and Marco Antonio Alencar’s Fape Fox Trot VD Padenborre jumped into second place with their round in 44.64 seconds. Eric Lamaze (CAN) and Artisan Farms’ Fine Lady 5 had eight faults in the jump-off in 44.18 seconds to place seventh. Nine Fagerstrom (FIN) was next to go with a clear round in 45.56 seconds to place fourth aboard Finca Horses’ Flower. Kessler and Cylana followed with the winning time of 43.51 seconds. Last to go, McLain Ward (USA) and Double H Farm’s HH Carlos Z had the time in 42.22 seconds, but dropped one unlucky rail to finish sixth.

Following her victory, Kessler admitted that the win was a relief after a difficult time with Cylana in week eight. The 14-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare (Skippy II x Darco), owned by Kessler Show Stables, was not feeling like herself through the week and had three rails down in the Sunday’s grand prix.

“I feel really relieved because I did not have a great week last week, and I was actually so stressed about it that I gave myself an ulcer and was in the emergency room on Tuesday,” Kessler stated. “Cylana jumped really well in the WEF (Challenge Cup) on Thursday (last week), and I was flatting her in the days after and she was fine on her legs, but was behaving a little funny. She did not want to move her haunches, and I know her so well that I was a little worried. She just did not feel 100%. I was so stressed about whether I would jump her or not. She is more than a horse to me; she is like half of me, and I never want to jump her if she is not right. I had our team vet go over her and he thought she was fine, so we jumped on Sunday and it did not go well at all. We had three down, and she did not jump like herself. I gave a few quiet days, and put her out in the field at home, and whatever was bothering her was totally fine this week. I feel so much relief having had that round now. That was not her last week; that was her today.”
The challenging track by Wade yielded just seven clear rounds, but Kessler thought it was well done.

“It was quite difficult today. There were only seven clear,” Kessler stated. “Alan Wade is a great course designer, and I think that is the way the WEF should be. It is a big 5* week and a big money class, so it should be challenging. I did not even think I went particularly fast in the jump-off; I just made a few tight turns and was able to win. I wanted to have a nice clear round to set her up for Saturday. I thought I would just do a few neat turns and see what happens. Luckily, everything came up well. Honestly, I thought I would be second or third. I did not expect to win, so that was really nice.”

“That was a great jump-off,” Kessler added. “It was the kind of jump-off where you could have a really smooth, calculated, clever round and get a great piece of it. I thought it was a great class.”

Kessler and Cylana will return to their home base in Europe after this weekend, and the mare will have several weeks of turnout and time off while Kessler competes with other horses. Kessler will then await the release of the U.S. Show Jumping Short List, as her sights remain set on competing in the Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

In addition to the winning prize money on Thursday, Kessler picked up her second $3,000 bonus of the circuit for wearing SSG ‘Digital’ style riding gloves as part of the SSG Gloves ‘Go Clean for the Green’ promotion.

Also competing in the International Ring on Thursday, the $8,000 Douglas Elliman 1.45m jump-off class was held with a win for Conor Swail (IRL) aboard Susan and Ariel Grange’s Cita. The $2,500 MAYBACH – ICONS OF LUXURY High Amateur-Owner Jumper speed class was also held in the afternoon with a win for Rogelio Pellerano and Precieuse Platiere.

$130,000 Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup Round 9
1. CYLANA: 2002 Belgian Warmblood mare by Skippy II x Darco
REED KESSLER (USA), Kessler Show Stables: 0/0/43.51
2. FAPE FOX TROT V D PADENBORRE: 2005 Belgian Warmblood gelding by Chin Chin x Fleuri du Manoir
FABIO LEIVAS (BRA), Marco Antonio Alencar: 0/0/44.64
3. ROYCE: 2004 Oldenburg stallion by Café au Lait x Grandilot
MARGIE ENGLE (USA), Elm Rock LLC: 0/0/44.88
4. FLOWER: 2005 Belgian Warmblood mare by Bon Ami x Randel Z
NINA FAGERSTROM (FIN), Nina Fagerstrom: 0/0/45.56
5. CASPER: 2006 Oldenburg gelding by Contender x Baloubet du Rouet
SHARN WORDLEY (NZL), Sky Group: 0/0/47.34
6. HH CARLOS Z: 2002 Zangersheide gelding by Chellano Z x Voltaire
MCLAIN WARD (USA), Double H Farm: 0/4/42.22
7. FINE LADY 5: 2003 Hanoverian mare by Forsyth x Drosselklang II
ERIC LAMAZE (CAN), Artisan Farms LLC: 0/8/44.18
8. FIRST CHOICE 15: 2003 Hessian Warmblood gelding by For Keeps x Angard
YANN CANDELE (CAN), Watermark Group: 1/76.04
9. CALVIN KLEIN: 2004 Swedish Warmblood gelding by Cardento x Feliciano
JONATHON MILLAR (CAN), Millar Brooke Farm Ltd: 1/77.99
10. BALOU DU REVENTON: 2006 Oldenburg stallion by Cornet Obolensky x Continue
LJUBOV KOCHETOVA (RUS), Ljubov Kochetova: 2/80.85
11. ATLANTIS: 2003 Zangersheide gelding by Andiamo x Royal Bravour L
SAMUEL PAROT (CHI), Samuel Parot: 4/72.07
12. OHLALA: 2004 Swedish Warmblood mare by Orlando x Cardento
LAUREN HOUGH (USA), The Ohlala Group: 4/73.47