The week’s hunter/jumper competition reached its pinnacle on Sunday during the ESP Year End Awards Show at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) when 50 challengers vied for the top honors in the $25,000 Year End National Grand Prix, presented by #1 Education Place. Turning in the best performance of the day, Darragh Kenny (IRL) and Oakland Ventures LLC’s Belo Horizonte concluded the show as the leaders of the victory gallop in the weekend grand prix, their second prize money win of the show. Competition will continue at PBIEC for the ESP Holiday II CSI4* from December 9-13, 2020, followed by three more shows to conclude the ESP Holiday Series ahead of the 2021 Winter Equestrian Festival, which begins January 6.

“This is a horse I got from Ashlee Bond at the end of the Winter Equestrian Festival earlier this year,” commented Kenny of Belo Horizonte, a 2008 Holsteiner gelding by Baloubet Du Rouet x Clearway. “It’s been a super horse for me, very careful and fast. I really like it and it’s a really good horse. He doesn’t have a massive stride, but he is very quick across the ground, so I just used that to my advantage today.”

Course designer Anthony D’Ambrosio (USA) crafted a pattern of 16 efforts up to 1.50m in height for exhibitors in the $25,000 Year End National Grand Prix, presented by #1 Education Place. Of the 50 entries in the first round, a slimmer field of seven returned for the jump-off. Juan Manuel Gallego (COL) and Havana De La Lande led the way as the pathfinders as the third in the order, and they were soon joined by Nicholas Dello Joio (USA), Kent Farrington (USA), Kenny, and Jessica Springsteen (USA). At the very end of the start list, Margie Engle (USA) and Spencer Smith (USA) turned in the final fault-free rounds to add two more to the list of clear contenders.

Trimmed to eight fences, the jump-off course was finished successfully by each of the returning pairs, so it all came down to time. The always-speedy Farrington was sitting as the frontrunner on his own Orafina in a time of 37.79 seconds, but Kenny and Belo Horizonte eclipsed the leading pair by fractions of a second as they broke the beam in 37.55 seconds to capture the lead with three duos to go. In the end, Kenny’s and Belo Horizonte’s time would hold as the victors, and Farrington would retain second place on Orafina (For Fashion x Cantu). The final challengers, Smith and Ransome Rombauer’s Lord Up (Lordanos x Come On) grabbed third position in a time of 38.64 seconds.

“It’s great that we can keep this show going and that everybody is following the rules,” remarked Kenny of competing back in Wellington. “This is the best thing for our sport, so it’s very important that we all follow the rules and can keep showing. I’m looking forward to the 2021 season.”

Complete results here.

Earlier in the week, Kenny rode to success with a first-place finish and third-place result in the $10,000 1.40m Open Stake, presented by #1 Education Place. The class featured 37 entries on Friday over D’Ambrosio’s track, 15 of which advanced to the jump-off. Up against a fault-free leading time of 32.98 seconds from Alberto Michan (ISR) and Marie Antonette Leviste’s Loribri, Kenny piloted Belo Horizonte as the final contenders to the quickest time of the class, crossing the wire clear in 32.81 seconds to claim victory. Michan and Loribri maintained second place, and Kenny bookended the podium with his ride on Go Easy De Muze, owned by Oakland Ventures LLC, in a foot-perfect time of 34.61 seconds.

On Saturday, the $5,000 1.35m Classic, presented by Joe DiMaggio Children’s Health Specialty Center, showcased the efforts of 37 partnerships in the International Arena. Of the starting field, 17 duos made it into the jump-off, and just six of those pairs finished on a double-clear score. Eleventh in the order to tackle the shortened jump-off track, Luis Larrazabal (VEN) took over the top spot riding San Francisco Stables LLC’s Gammon R.A.G. in a clear time of 29.19 seconds, and the combination’s pace would hold for the remainder of the class, earning them a blue ribbon. Charlie Jayne (USA) was one second behind the winners on Ever Blue, owned by Maura Thatcher and Alex Jayne, in 30.29 seconds, and Juan Jose Bancalari (DOM) nabbed the third-place spot with his own Cerati in 30.82 seconds. Canada’s Erynn Ballard placed 5th aboard Nanini van D’Abelendreef, while Chris Pratt and Corazon placed 8th.

The $2,500 High Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic, presented by Equiline, on Sunday had just two combinations qualify for the 1.40m jump-off. Natalie Dean of Palo Alto, CA, rose to the top of the leaderboard as the only double-clear rider of the class aboard Marigold Sporthorses LLC’s Charme From Second Life Z in 36.47 seconds. Madison Rauschenbach of Newburg, NY, and her own Gillette B claimed second place with four faults in the jump-off, and Eugenio Garza of Wellington, FL, was the fastest four-faulter from the first round with the reins on El Milagro’s Pappa Ante Portas II in 75.54 seconds.

In the $2,500 Medium Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic, presented by Equiline, 36 horse-and-rider pairs jumped the 1.30m course in the first round. Nine of those duos advanced to the jump-off, and a smaller group of six partnerships finished the day with no faults to their name. Less than one second separated the top three finishers, with Vanessa Hood of Wellington, FL, taking the top honors riding Take Two LLC’s Lou Lou VLS in a double-clear time of 37.04 seconds. Just narrowly off the pace was owner-rider Diego Loria of San Rafael, Costa Rica, on Di Vadine in a foot-perfect time of 37.24 seconds to claim second place, and third place went to Julia Weiss of Amagansett, NY, on her own Dior in a clear time of 37.68 seconds.

The $1,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby, sponsored by Gold Coast Feed, took place Friday at PBIEC. Operating under a Hunt and Go format, the class featured one round of riding. Rather than the top pairs being called back following their classic rounds, riders simply continued into the handy portion of their course immediately without pausing or leaving the arena. His second derby win in two weeks after topping the $10,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby during the ESP Holiday & Horses CSI4*, Geoffrey Hesslink of Shelbourne, VT, won Friday’s derby aboard Luminosity.

“He’s a horse that came to me from the Hellman family a little over a year ago. He’s just lovely; he’s been with me through a serious injury that I had, and he was the first horse I showed back from that,” Hesslink revealed. “He means a lot to me, and I feel like I have a really special connection with him. His owner, Eleanor Hellman, showed him for the first time this week, so this was a warm-up for that, and he seemed more than ready, so I’m excited!”

Set by course designer Robert McGregor, the track featured a total of 11 fences, with the first seven fences counting as the traditional classic round and the remaining four as the handy phase. Four high-option fences were offered for those willing to take on an added challenge, and each high-option earned one additional point. Hesslink and Luminosity rode to the top of the scorecard with 170 points, earned from base scores of 80 and 86 plus four bonus points for taking the high options. The pair just edged out second-place finisher Christopher Payne of Cincinnati, OH, on Samantha Takacs’ Cooper, who concluded the competition with a total of 169 points. Remin Ozbayof Boca Raton, FL, rode Sophia Masnikoff’s Heartdancer H to third place with 165 points.

“I love it here. This is kind of home for us, and I think all of our horses thrive here in this environment,” commented Hesslink on his return back to Wellington for the season. “Luminosity will continue to do the international and national derbies, probably some High Performance or 3’6” Performance with me, and then this week is his debut week with his owner, so he’ll probably pick up doing some Adults or Amateur-Owner Hunters with her as well,” he concluded.

The Performance Hunter 3’3” division, sponsored by Gold Coast Feed, saw Scott Stewart of Wellington, FL, and Catch Phrase, owned by Gochman Ventures, claim top honors after winning four out of the five classes in the division. Jennifer Bauersachs of Frenchtown, NY, stayed consistent with LCIM LLC’S Alistaire and secured top-three placings in all five of the division’s classes to claim the reserve ribbon.

Alexandra Sharp of Barrington, RI, and her Golden claimed the lead spot in the combined Junior/Amateur-Owner Hunters 3’3”/3’6”, sponsored by Vita Flex, after winning all three of the division’s over fences classes and earning a third-place finish in the under saddle. Reserve honors were awarded to Rachel Hall of Daleville, SC, after she earned two second-place finishes and two third-place finishes with her own entry, Papa’s Protege.

Thanks to her series of consistent performances on VDL Hamilia in the Performance 3’6” Hunters, Katherine Newman of Wellington, FL, was selected by Noltrex®Vet as the award winner of a leather lead rope. Newman and VDL Hamilia earned two blue ribbons over fences to rise to the top of the overall scorecard and lead the division.

No spectators or outside media are allowed on-site at this time, but friends and family can view all classes via our SGL live stream HERE.