Despite the omnipresent cloud of coronavirus concerns darkening an otherwise sunny and crisp Florida spring, the last days of competition on the 2020 Turf Tour did not disappoint. Adhering to strict protocols, social distancing, and sanitization procedures recommended by both the USEF and CDC, The Ridge’s home farm on Palm Beach Point Boulevard in Wellington hosted two rings of show jumping at what would be the final chance for riders to jump for the 2020 Leading Rider Award. With a tricked out golf cart presented by Iron Horse Transit as the prize, the Turf Tour’s Leading Rider rankings were a close race between a handful of riders determined to win and prove the resiliency and perseverance of the equestrian athlete.
The $15,000 Turf Tour Grand Prix was a hotly contested class, and has been all of 2020, with some riders bringing multiple horses to boost their numbers on the leaderboard. The course, set by Olympic designer Leopoldo Palacios, offered options for competitive rides and a dramatic final bending line in the jump-off: a challenging, angled gallop from the Prestige Italia oxer to the Hygain Feed vertical.
With just 20 points separating him from the pinnacle, Luis Larrazabal of Venezuela and the dapple grey mare Caristina flew around the immaculate grass Grand Prix field. As the last to go of the day, they galloped to victory with a jump off time of 31.146. His double clear effort was contested by three others: Samuel Perot and Boogie Woogie (32.220), Kristian Skovrider and Lykkehoejs Cassander (33.989), and Wilhelm Genn and Van Gogh (34.955). The last week’s Grand Prix victory makes bookend wins for Larrazabal and Caristina this season, as the pair were also the first winners of the of the Grand Prix during Turf Tour 1 (January 8-10).
Brazil’s Thiago Rhavy and Salamandra Baloubina were victorious in the week’s second headline class, the $5,000 1.30M Rising Star Classic. Edging out speedy Stella Manship and her Quarto Mail by only two hundredths of a second, Rhavy came out on top in the jump-off on a time of 30.730 to Manship’s 30.919.
After following the developing plot of the coronavirus, with a heavy heart the Turf Tour’s organizers announced Monday that they would be cancelling the last event of the season, Finale week at Black Watch Farm. Despite all the extra protocols taken to ensure the health and safety of all their horses, riders, owners, spectators, and staff, the next Turf Tour event is planned to commence January 2021, with lots of new venue additions, sponsors, and all the atmosphere and competition that has made the Turf Tour a staple in Wellington’s show season.
“We are in uncharted waters with this virus and the impact on equestrian events and the entire industry,” said George D’Ambrosio, co-founder of the Turf Tour. “Erring on the side of caution will be our decision in such a situation, and we can’t thank our supporters and riders enough for bringing their horses to show with us. We wish everyone a safe and healthy spring, so we can all get back in the saddle again ASAP.”