Harrie Smolders (NED) and Monaco, owned by Evergate Stables, LLC, hit the ground running with a blistering jump-off effort to take the title in the $73,000 CaptiveOne Advisors 1.50m Classic CSI5* on Sunday, February 28, at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) to close out the seventh week of the 2021 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF).

WEF 8, which runs on March 3-7 and is sponsored by Premier Equestrian, will feature the $150,000 Nations Cup, presented by Premier Equestrian on Friday, March 5, the $50,000 CaptiveOne Advisors 1.50m National Grand Prix and $37,000 Hermès Under 25 Semi-Final Grand Prix under the lights on Saturday, March 6, and the $214,000 Grand Prix CSIO4*, presented by JTWG, Inc., on Sunday, February 7.

A total of 46 combinations challenged the opening round with 11 pairs qualifying to return for the jump-off. Smolders, ranked 20th in the world, piloted Monaco, a 12-year-old Holsteiner gelding by Cassini II x Contender, to a double-clear effort over the 1.50m track set by Anthony D’Ambrosio (USA) and Andy Christiansen (ECU). The Flying Dutchman gave credit to his nickname as he edged the competition by just over a tenth of a second, in 38.40 seconds.

“I thought I didn’t have the best start to the jump-off but my roll back to the liverpool [fence seven] was very good,” said Smolders on where he gained the edge to win. “I thought it was a very serious track. There were a lot of faults in the first round. [It was a] very good course but your horse needed to be in top shape.”

It was Daniel Deusser (GER) and Scuderia 1918 Tobago Z, owned by Stephex and Scuderia 1918, who posted the time to beat ahead of Smolders, stopping the clock at 38.51 seconds. He and the 13-year-old Zangersheide stallion by Tangelo Vd Zuuthoeve x Mr Blue won Thursday’s WEF Challenge Cup Round 7 and continued their prosperous week with another fault-free outing to finish second. Deusser also picked up a win with Kiana van het Herdershof on Friday and finished fourth on Saturday night with Killer Queen VDM.

“This week was definitely not a usual week,” said Deusser, who is poised to move up from third in the world rankings after a month of great results. “Every day I was in the top three and then fourth in the big class with three different horses. I’m very happy about it but I have to keep both feet on the ground and realize that’s not normal. It’s a luxury problem to have. If you have only one horse, it’s probably not fair to the horse because you ride them too many times. For you as a rider, it’s not good because you don’t get enough practice. To ride three or four different horses at this level, it improves you.”

Rounding out the podium was Kent Farrington (USA) aboard Orafina, owned by Kent Farrington, LLC, who also finished double clear for a third-place finish. Farrington and the nine-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare by For Fashion x Canturo stopped the clock just off the mark in 39.35 seconds. Canada’s Tiffany Foster was fourth aboard Hamilton, a 2011 Holsteiner gelding (Quadros x Zerlina I) owned by The Hamilton Group, in 41.06 seconds.

Smolders and Monaco, who was also awarded with the Champion Equine Insurance Jumper Style Award this week by Laura Fetterman, have experienced success all over the world as their partnership continues to reach new heights.

“I got him when he was seven years old,” said Smolders. “He’s grown nicely to the highest level and is very good against the clock. He’s always a top horse to have in your string. He can do a fast class but when he needs to do the grand prix classes, he’s good [in those] as well.”

With a busy competition schedule, it’s the team behind the scenes that gives Smolders the opportunity to continue producing clear rounds. Splitting time between competitions in the United States and Europe, the team at home keeps the horses in top shape.

“We do a lot of flat training and when I go back and forth to Europe, I have very good staff here that I can really rely on. I think we have an amazing team. My two American owners/partners Evergate Stables and Copernicus Stables, they’re fantastic for me. They’ve been great supporters for years, and I hope we can continue the partnership for a long time.”

Final Results: $73,000 CaptiveOne Advisors 1.50m Classic CSI5*

1. MONACO: 2009 Holsteiner gelding by Cassini II x Contender
HARRIE SMOLDERS (NED), Evergate Stables, LLC.: 0/0/38.40

2. SCUDERIA 1918 TOBAGO Z: 2008 Zangersheide stallion by Tangelo Vd Zuuthoeve x Mr Blue
DANIEL DEUSSER (GER), Stephex and Scuderia 1918: 0/0/38.51

3. ORAFINA: 2012 Dutch Warmblood mare by For Fashion x Canturo
KENT FARRINGTON (USA), Kent Farrington LLC: 0/0/39.35

4. HAMILTON: 2011 Holsteiner gelding by Quadros x Zerlina I
TIFFANY FOSTER (CAN), The Hamilton Group: 0/0/41.06

5. BALOUTINUE: 2010 Hanoverian gelding by Balou du Rouet x Landor S
ADAM PRUDENT (USA), Plain Bay Farm: 0/0/41.59

6. AYADE HERO Z: 2011 Zangersheide mare by Aganix Du Seigneur x C.heroine De Thieusies
SPENCER SMITH (USA), Ransome Rombauer: 0/4/39.12

7. DICAS: 2009 Rheinlander gelding by Diarado x Cassini I
MARGIE ENGLE (USA), Storm Ridge Capital LLC, Show Horses, Garber & Gladewinds Partners LLC: 0/4/42.60

8. CHA MU 4: 2010 Westphalian gelding by Cornado II x Rheinsberg
MARTIN FUCHS (SUI), Lee Sportpferde: 0/4/43.48

9. DSARIE: 2008 KWPN mare by Veron x Ahorn
BEAT MÄNDLI (SUI), Grand Road Partners LLC: 0/4/47.69

10. CARACAS: 2009 Holsteiner gelding by Cachas x Cosimo
EUGENIO GRAZA PEREZ (MEX), El Milagro: 0/8/47.19

11. BRIGHTON: 2006 KWPN gelding by Contendro II x Quick Star

12. CATINKA 25: 2009 Oldenburg mare by Catoki x Luxano
VANESSA MANNIX (CAN), Vanessa Mannix: 1/76.20