WELLINGTON, Fla.--The $214,000 Holiday & Horses Grand Prix CSI4* on Nov. 27 was a family affair, with Lucy Deslauriers, 21, who rides for the U.S., on Hester, placing first and her father, Mario, who represents Canada, riding Bardolina 2 to place third.
And to make it even more of a family affair, Hester is owned by Lucy's mother, so the whole family was represented in the top standings.
Sunday’s challenging class resulted in only four competitors going clean to make it to the jump-off.
The Grand Prix drew 45 competitors from 11 nations, including the United States, Ireland, Canada, Great Britain, Israel, Switzerland, Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Chile, and Egypt.
It's a bit unusual for these early shows in Wellington to draw such large and competitive fields, but Covid-19 has canceled so many shows that all the riders are anxious to compete.
FOR THE first round, course designer Anthony D'Ambrosio set a course of 17 efforts up to the 1.60m height, a track fit for the occasion of a CSI4* class.
It took until the 29th entry to have a clear round, which came from the younger Deslauriers, Lucy on Hester.
Jessica Springsteen on Don Juan Van De Donkhoeve forced a jump-off with their clear round, and Kent Farrington soon followed suit riding Kaprice with the elder Deslauriers, Mario, turning in the final fault-free ride on Bardolina 2.
“I just have so much gratitude for my horse,” said Lucy on Hester, a 2005 Belgian Warmblood gelding by Wandor van de Mispelaere x Palestro vd Begijnakker. “At the beginning of the week, I definitely felt a little bit rusty. I’ve actually been at school for the last two months, so this was my first week back in the show ring. I think the result is just a testament to my horse and our team because they’ve kept my horses in shape and kept him ready to go for when I got here. Huge thanks to them. I’m so happy!”
Lucy's last competition was in Traverse City, Mich., during the American Gold Cup in September.
“I really had to stay focused and stick to our plan,” said Lucy of her plan in the first round after so many rides with faults from competitors. “We had a pretty clear layout of what I wanted to do and what I needed to do based on what we thought would lead to a clear round, so I couldn’t really think about the fact that nobody had gone clear yet. I really just had to stay super narrow-minded, like tunnel vision almost, toward our plan.”
For the jump-off, D’Ambrosio set a course of eight fences that featured plenty of options to cut time off the clock with tight turns or quick gallops.
First to go, Lucy and Hester once again set the standard with a clean ride in 35.06 seconds.
Though Springsteen was clean, she missed winning by a second, tripping the timers in 36.21 seconds.
Mario went third due to a thrown shoe from Farrington’s Kaprice, and he too was clean streak but slower, in a time of 38.23 seconds to slip into third position with only one left to go.
As the final entry, the ever-speedy Farrington galloped Kaprice through the course on pace to test the leaders’ time, but had a rail down for four faults to finish fourth.
“I haven’t really gone for it in a jump-off with him,” said Springsteen, who has spent the past year in Europe, “So I was going to do a safe and clear ride, then I decided it would be good practice for us to really try and go a little bit. I tried to do as neat of turns as I could. I was really happy with him! He’s amazing. He has all the scope, he’s super careful, and he’s very reliable. Wellington is like home to me, so it’s nice to be back and I’m excited for the rest of the season.”
“To ride with my daughter is so exciting,” said Mario. “We have had a few placings like this - first and second or first and third - so it’s always our goal. I love it when she goes a bit before me so I can concentrate on myself after. I get nervous when she goes, so it’s good to get that done first. Our horses jumped great, so we are going to have a good family dinner tonight!”
Lucy mirrored her father’s thoughts on competing as a family, saying, “It’s so much fun. I think it adds fuel to our fire because we want to be more competitive against each other. A one-two finish is the goal, so we just want it even more when we both go clear.”
She said that though they are family, their mounts are not similar, meaning different strategies in the class.
“We actually have super different horses, so we try to do our own thing and the chips are going to fall where they are. We had a great day, and it goes back to our team – we have such a great group of people and horses.”
On competing back in Wellington under COVID protocols, Mario said, “The whole ESP crew is doing a tremendous job. We, as riders, feel very safe. Let’s keep it up for the circuit. It looks great around here.”