Week twelve of the 2016 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF), sponsored by Rolex, continued on Thursday at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in Wellington, FL, with two featured FEI world ranking classes in the International Ring.

Tiffany Foster (CAN) and Victor won the $35,000 Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup Round 12 in the afternoon, and Conor Swail (IRL) and Grafton took top honors in the $35,000 Illustrated Properties 1.45m Jumper Classic in the morning.

The 2016 WEF circuit concludes with its twelfth and final week of competition featuring CSI 5* jumper and ‘AA’ rated hunter competition running March 30 – April 3, 2016. Friday features young jumpers in the International Ring with the $10,000 Gut Einhaus Young Jumper Five-Year-Old Final, the $15,000 Adequan® Young Jumper Six-Year-Old Final, and the $20,000 Adequan® Young Jumper Seven-Year-Old Final.

Saturday highlights include the $130,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic Final Jump-off, presented by SOVARO®, at 6:30 p.m. followed by the $500,000 Rolex Grand Prix CSI 5*. The circuit concludes on Sunday featuring the final round of the $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby on the derby field at The Stadium at PBIEC.

Anthony D’Ambrosio (USA) is the course designer in the International Ring for the final week of WEF competition. He set the track for 38 entries in the final edition of the Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup Series on Thursday. Ten combinations went clear to advance to the jump-off, where eight continued on, and four completed double clear rounds. The win went to Tiffany Foster of Canada aboard Artisan Farms and Torrey Pines Stable’s Victor in a time of 40.22 seconds.

Chile’s Samuel Parot and Atlantis finished second in 42.22 seconds. Great Britain’s Ben Maher and Jane Clark’s Sarena clocked the third place time of 45.91 seconds, and USA’s Lauren Hough guided Paris Sellon’s Cornet 39 to fourth place honors in a time of 46.51 seconds.

Foster’s longtime partner, Victor, is 14 years old this year. She began riding the Dutch Warmblood gelding (Elmshorn x Grandeur) when he was just eight, and knows her mount very well.

“We have been together for a long time, so I knew this jump-off was going to suit him because he has a pretty good right drift, and a lot of the turns were going to the right,” Foster said of their tiebreaker. “When I walked the jump-off I thought, ‘Okay, hopefully I can get into this one, because this would be a good one for him.'”

In the jump-off, Foster left a big stride out to the last jump, and her experience and trust in Victor paid off.

“That was a bit of a Hail Mary,” Foster laughed. “I did walk that number. It walked 12 strides, and I was thinking I could get there in nine. Then I was thinking to myself, ‘That sounds a little extreme,’ in my head. I knew he would go right at the skinny, and then if I kept going, he has a really big stride when you open it up, and I figured if I could stay committed to going to something forward then hopefully the number would show up. When I left the ground I just said a little prayer and hoped.”

Foster also spoke of the first round and how she had a little good luck in getting to the jump-off as well.

“I got a little lucky in the first round. He rubbed one jump pretty hard, but that was probably good for the rest of the course because then he was a little bit extra sharp,” she admitted. “He is a really old campaigner of mine. We know each other very well, and it feels good to go into a class like that when you know your horse so well. He also travels naturally very quickly, so you never have to worry too much about the time.”

This week’s WEF Challenge Cup was a little different since it was not a qualifier for the final grand prix. That changed the entries a bit and laid the cards in Foster’s favor, as she explained, “It feels good to win any class, but it definitely feels good here week 12. You know that everybody has their best horses out and the money is up. One thing that was different this week than normal was that this WEF was not a qualifier for the grand prix because everybody qualified throughout the circuit, so you saw a variety of horses. You saw a lower number in the entries, so that was a big factor. Then you had kind of two categories of horses. You had young horses that were stepping up and this was their finale, or you had horses that were getting ready for the grand prix. There were not too many in there that were really second horses going in there to win like I had, so I think that made a big difference. The Suncast Final on Saturday is also worth a lot of money, but sometimes you have to play your odds. Sometimes when you know your horse is jumping well, you take the win when you can get it.”

Foster hopes that the momentum of her win with Victor on Thursday will carry over, as she plans to jump him again in the $130,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic Final on Saturday. She will ride Tripple X III in the $500,000 Rolex Grand Prix CSI 5* to conclude the circuit.
In addition to the winning prize money, Foster earned a $3,000 bonus for wearing her SSG ‘Digital’ style riding gloves as part of the SSG Gloves ‘Go Clean for the Green’ promotion. It was her second bonus of the circuit, notching up $6,000 in total after also winning the $35,000 Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup Round 8 aboard Brighton.

Swail and Grafton Take $35,000 Illustrated Properties 1.45m Jumper Classic
Course designer Anthony D’Ambrosio (USA) began Thursday morning with 68 entries over his speed track in the $35,000 Illustrated Properties 1.45m Jumper Classic and 12 clear rounds. The winning time belonged to Conor Swail (IRL) aboard Ariel and Susan Grange’s Grafton in 67.28 seconds.

Victoria Colvin (USA) and Take the High Road LLC’s Austria 2 finished second in 68.12 seconds. Cian O’Connor (IRL) and Ronnoco Jump Ltd.’s Crespo PKZ placed third in 69.29 seconds, and McLain Ward (USA) aboard Double H Farm’s HH Carlos Z finished fourth in a time of 69.93.

Grafton, a ten-year-old Selle Francais stallion (Calvaro Z x Vondeen), is really just getting going for the 2016 season.

“You have not seen much of him this winter,” Swail explained. “He had a bit of thrush and small things that laid him up for a week or two here and there, so I just never really got going on him. He is one of my better horses, so I have had to be patient. I would prefer if it was week six with him now to be honest, because he feels really good and he is jumping nicely, but it is a long year and we eventually got him up and running. I thought he was very good today; he was super.”

Speaking of his winning round, Swail detailed, “I did not see many rounds. I was riding a couple of other horses in [another] ring. I had a little bit of a plan to do the leave out across the middle – the five and the six strides. Everyone was going six and seven, but I have a very big mover, so I thought that was very beneficial for me to keep the high tempo. The course suited him today. There were not too many shorter distances, and I was able to just use the big gallop, and it worked very well for me. He was good on the few inside turns we had as well. I was very happy with him there today. He is also going to do the Suncast Final on Saturday, so that was a good warm-up for him.”

At just ten years old, Grafton is still developing, and Swail has high hopes for the stallion this season.

“He is still a young horse,” Swail stated. “He is a very talented horse, but he has had a few issues. There are always excuses for him, so for me he has not actually reached his potential yet. I think he is a really good horse. Last year he had a nice year, but there have been interruptions for one reason or another, so it is just a matter of being patient. When he tells me he is ready to do the bigger things, I will be ready for him to.”

Swail will jump Grafton and another mount, Cita, in Saturday’s $130,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic Final.

“They are two very good horses,” he noted. “I have a great string of horses here. It has been a little quiet for me, but I am still hanging around and getting results here and there. I feel I have had a good season. I think my horses have gone well; they have learned a lot, and I have produced them well enough for going forward, so the rest of the year is looking nice.”

Also competing in the International Ring on Thursday, David Beisel and Harlow Investment Enterprises’ For Sunday jumped to victory in the $500 Adequan® Young Jumper Six-Year-Old Power and Speed.

$35,000 Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup Round 12
1. VICTOR: 2002 KWPN gelding by Elmshorn x Grandeur
TIFFANY FOSTER (CAN), Artisan Farms LLC & Torrey Pines Stable: 0/0/40.22
2. ATLANTIS: 2003 Zangersheide gelding by Andiamo x Royal Bravour L
SAMUEL PAROT (CHI), Samuel Parot: 0/0/42.22
3. SARENA: 2006 Selle Francais mare by Calvaro Z x Damoiseau d’Or
BEN MAHER (GBR), Jane Clark: 0/0/45.91
4. CORNET 39: 2004 Oldenburg gelding by Cornet Obolensky x Caletto I
LAUREN HOUGH (USA), Paris Sellon: 0/0/46.51
5. CAPITAL COLNARDO: 2005 Holsteiner stallion by Colman x Coronado
AUDREY COULTER (USA), Copernicus Stables LLC: 0/4/49.54
6. BULL RUN’S TESTIFY: 2004 Selle Francais gelding by Dollar du Murier x Oberon du Moulin
KRISTEN VANDERVEEN (USA), Bull Run Jumpers Inc: 0/8/48.14
7. S & L SAGE: 2007 Belgian Warmblood gelding by Wandor van de Mispelaere x Radiator
DAVID RAPOSA (USA), S&L Farms: 0/8/51.42
8. COCO BONGO: 2005 Rheinlander stallion by Caretino x Calido
ERIC LAMAZE (CAN), Artisan Farms & Torrey Pines Stable: 0/16/67.92
9. QUABELLE: 2004 Selle Francais mare by Helrios de la Cour II x Kannan
BLYTHE MARANO (USA), Riverview Farm LLC: 0/24/63.08
10. ROYCE: 2004 Oldenburg stallion by Café au Lait x Grandilot
10. BABALOU 41: 2005 Oldenburg mare by Balou du Rouet x Silvio I
TODD MINIKUS (USA), Two Swans Farm: 0/WD

$35,000 Illustrated Properties 1.45m Classic
1. GRAFTON: 2006 Selle Francais stallion by Calvaro Z x Vondeen
CONOR SWAIL (IRL), Ariel and Susan Grange: 0/67.28
2. AUSTRIA 2: 2008 Holsteiner mare by Casall x Corrado I
VICTORIA COLVIN (USA), Take The High Road, LLC: 0/68.12
3. CRESPO PKZ: 2006 Westphalian gelding by Cornet Obolensky x Landadel
CIAN O’CONNOR (IRL), Ronnoco Jump Ltd: 0/69.29
4. HH CARLOS Z: 2002 Zangersheide gelding by Chellano Z x Voltaire
MCLAIN WARD (USA), Double H Farm: 0/69.93
5. CATUSO: 2007 Holsteiner gelding by Canto x Corrado I
DARRAGH KENNY (IRL), Blue Gate Farm LLC: 0/70.27
6. CICOMEIN VDL: 2007 KWPN mare by Chacco-Blue x Jus de Pomme
TAIZO SUGITANI (JPN), HKC Collection LLC: 0/70.67
7. Z DIAMANTY: 2007 Holsteiener mare by Diamant D
ERYNN BALLARD (CAN), The Z Group: 0/71.74
8. CHECKPOINT U: 2004 Holsteiner gelding by Casall x Lorentin I
KATHERINE DINAN (USA), Grant Road Partners LLC: 0/75.22
9. HOPE VAN T ZORGVLIET: 2007 Belgian Warmblood gelding by Charcoal Blue x Darco
BRITTNI RAFLOWITZ (USA), ESI Show Jumpers: 0/77.52
10. CLIMBUS: 2006 Holsteiner gelding by Cartani x Limbus
NICK NOVAK (USA), Nick Novak: 0/78.19
11. QUISTER: 2004 Selle Francais gelding by Kannan x Eyken des Fontenis
BEEZIE MADDEN (USA), Abigail Wexner: 0/79.53
12. BARLANDO: 2006 Swedish Warmblood gelding by Orlando x Baloubet du Rouet
CONOR O’REGAN (IRL), Erin Walker: 0/79.89