Daniel Deusser (GER) and Killer Queen VDM, owned by Stephex Stables, flew to the top spot in the $214,000 Marshall & Sterling/Great American Insurance Group Grand Prix CSI4* on the grass Derby Field at Equestrian Village on Sunday, February 7, to close out the Marshall & Sterling/Great American Insurance Group Grand Prix CSI4* week at the 2021 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF).

Coming up next week, it’s the first CSI5* of the season at the 2021 WEF, sponsored by Douglas Elliman Real Estate with a concurrent CSI2* running as well, sponsored by Restylane. The action begins on Wednesday, February 10, in the International Arena at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC), with the $37,000 Douglas Elliman Real Estate 1.45m Classic CSI5*, followed by Thursday’s $73,000 Adequan® WEF Challenge Cup Round 5. On Friday is the $37,000 Bainbridge 1.45m Classic along with the $37,000 Restylane 1.45m Qualifier CSI2*.

On Saturday night, the schedule features $401,000 Douglas Elliman Real Estate Grand Prix CSI5* under the lights in the International Arena. The week ends with an exciting Sunday lineup with the $73,000 CaptiveOne Advisors 1.50m Classic and the $50,000 Restylane Grand Prix CSI2*. Spectators can watch a live stream of feature classes, which are also available on-demand.

The test set by Anderson Lima (BRA) featured 16 jumping efforts with a shortened jump-off course boasting seven obstacles and included an exciting gallop home to the Marshall & Sterling/Great American Insurance Group oxer. Eight nations were represented in the dozen qualified to return for the featured class jump-off.

Deusser and Killer Queen VDM, an 11-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare by Eldorado Vd Zeshoek x Derly Chin De Muze, galloped swiftly across the track, leaving all the jumps in their cups. The pair stopped the clock in 39.98 seconds making them the only combination of the day to crack the 40-second mark.

“I’m very happy with Killer Queen today,” said Deusser. “She arrived two weeks ago. I took her to other places to work with her on the grass, and she took it very well this weekend. At the end she is just an unbelievable horse. She has all of the things that a good show jumper needs; she’s very scopey, she’s careful, she has a huge stride, and she can be fast easily.”

Ashlee Bond (ISR) and Donatello 141, a 10-year-old Westphalian gelding by Diarado x Lamoureux I owned by Little Valley Farms, gave it their best effort, flying over the final jump on course to finish in 40.41 seconds. Their impressive performance marks the first time the pair has competed in an FEI event since winning the CSI5* grand prix during WEF 9 at the 2020 WEF.

“My plan was just to run, kick as hard as I could, and turn as fast as I could,” Bond said with a smile. “My horse is little. He’s like 15.3hh and doesn’t have a very big stride, but he is game, so I just took a chance and would have been happy wherever I ended up because he’s such a good boy.”

“I think that Andersen [Lima] Is a genius course designer,” Bond continued. “Every horse that I watched this week, including my own, just got better as they went on. The courses are smart, they ask tough questions of the horses, but they’re not unfair. There are faults all over the course, and I really enjoy riding his tracks. It was a blast to be able to go up against riders like Daniel and McLain. There was so much talent out there.”

Taking the final spot on the podium was the aforementioned McLain Ward (USA) aboard Contagious, a 12-year-old Rheinlander gelding by Contagio x For Mary owned by Beechwood Stables, LLC, crossing the finish line in 40.66 seconds.

“I was thrilled with Contagious,” said the two-time Olympic team gold medalist. “We gave him a bit of a rest in the fall. We’ve been building him back up, and we’re thrilled with him. I thought he jumped really spectacular. I was a little chicken to the last fence in the jump-off, and I took away his wind a little bit. This year WEF is so competitive, and we’re seeing a level higher of competition than ever because we’re lucky enough to still be able to compete, so everyone has come to Florida. It’s exciting.”

Horses and riders enjoyed their second opportunity to jump on the grass Derby Field and will have two more weeks of competition on the turf during WEF, which runs until April 4.

“I think it’s great,” said Ward of the opportunity to spend more time on the Derby Field. “The footing is pretty spectacular, it’s a beautiful setting, and it’s nice to have a variety of places to jump to keep the horses interested, engaged, and fresh. I thought Anderson [Lima] did a great job today. The time allowed was probably a little bit friendly in the end and maybe opened the door for a few more into the jump-off.”

Sunday’s win marks a welcome return for Deusser, the third-ranked rider in the world, who is competing at WEF for the first time in four years.

“I have to admit that I missed it a little bit,” said Deusser. “Everything around this facility is fantastic. There are fantastic rings here and the circumstances around the world are difficult right now, so we are very happy to be here and that we can compete here.”

After a successful Sunday, Deusser is already looking ahead, hungry to add to his collection of accolades.

“I will continue with Killer Queen in the CSI5*, and after that she will have a couple weeks off and then I will work with some of my other horses during that time,” he said.

Following the class, Deusser was also recognized with The Village of Wellington Cup, an award established in 1998 by the Village of Wellington that is presented annually by the Mayor of Wellington to the winning rider of the WEF 4 Grand Prix.

Final Results: $214,000 Marshall & Sterling/Great American Insurance Group Grand Prix CSI4*

1. KILLER QUEEN VDM: 2010 BWP mare by Eldorado Vd Zeshoek x Derly Chin De Muze
DANIEL DEUSSER (GER), Stephex Stables: 0/0/39.98

2. DONATELLO 141: 2011 Westphalian gelding by Diarado x Lamoureux I
ASHLEE BOND (ISR), Little Valley Farms: 0/0/40.41

3. CONTAGIOUS: 2009 Rheinlander gelding by Contagio x For Mary
MCLAIN WARD (USA), Beechwood Stables LLC: 0/0/40.66

4. HESTER: 2005 Belgian Warmblood gelding (Wandor van de Mispelaere x Palestro vd Begijnakker)
LUCY DESLAURIERS (USA), Lisa Deslauriers: 0/0/40.68

5. NORTHERN LIGHT: 2011 SWB mare by Plot Blue x Contender
TIFFANY FOSTER (CAN), Artisan Farms, LLC: 0/040.96

6. CHIC CHIC: 2011 Westphalian stallion by Comme Il Fault x Contendra
DARRAGH KENNY (IRL), Vlock Show Stables LLC: 0/0/41.72

7. LEONE JEI: 2012 KWPN gelding by Baltic Vdl x Dara
MARTIN FUCHS (SUI), Aldofo Jui: 0/0/44.45

8. TRUMAN: 2009 Selle Francais gelding by Mylord Carthago*HN x Kolibri
AMY MILLAR (CAN), Millar Brooke Farm Ltd: 0/0/46.08

9. SKYHORSE: 2007 Belgian Warmblood gelding by Calvaro x Quidam de Revel
LILLIE KEENAN (USA), Chansonette Farm LLC: 0/0/46.53

10. DUBAI: 2008 KWPN gelding by Cardento 933 x Ozella
SAMUEL PAROT (CHI), Samuel Parot: 0/4/43.72