OCALA, Fla.--Kristen Vanderveen won for the second consecutive week, this time on Bull Run’s Prince Of Peace in the $75,000 World Equestrian Center Grand Prix 1.50 on Feb. 20 over a course set by Kelvin Bywater.
The evening’s Grand Prix 1.50m drew 42 entries with nine entries advancing to the jump-off ,with the top three riders separated by less than one second, keeping the crowd on the edge of their seats.
Eight countries were represented in the class including several Olympians.
Vanderveen has been on a roll over the past few weeks, earning two $20,000 Welcome Prix 1.45m wins on Bull Run’s Divine Fortune and a $75,000 Grand Prix 1.50m win on Bull Run’s Risen.
With few opportunities for inside turns, the jump-off was a true head-to-head race with speed determining the winner.
Sharn Wordley on Gatsby was among the first entries to contest the short course and, with one already clear with a quick time, he finished clean in 41.159 seconds, moving into the lead, but as he approached the end of the ring a few strides later, Wordley went right as Gatsby went left, to part company.
But as he had crossed the finish line, Wordley was all smiles as he walked back to the ingate with his fans cheering him on.
NEXT IN the ring was Kady Abrahamson on Any.
Having beaten her trainer Wordley just two weeks ago to win the $75,000 WEC Grand Prix 1.50m, she put the pedal down to finish in 41.402 seconds, taking over the lead.
Vanderveen was the last to go and she blazed through the timers in 40.635 seconds to win the class.
“The atmosphere was amazing tonight," said Vanderveen. "The crowd was really into the class, and it was so fun to experience that support from the stands. The entries before me were so fast in the jump-off, and I was a little intimidated after I saw the first three go. My plan was to start as fast as I could, but feel out the ride and take back if he started to get worried. He really went for it and my competitive edge kicked in, so I pushed the envelope and it paid off. He helped me a lot and gave it his all tonight.”
“He has only shown at World Equestrian Center in Ocala once before, so he hasn’t had a lot of experience in this ring," she said. "Tonight was his first time under the lights, and I would say that he likes them! I’ve had Bull Run’s Prince Of Peace for a few years and I’ve really taken my time with him. He’s a very special horse. I think he’s such a quality horse and I think he has a great career ahead of him. He’s progressed really well and is now able to step up to the plate when he needs to.”
“I think it’s great that WEC is doing night classes, it helps bring along the horses that need to gain experience under the lights, like mine," said Vanderveen. "You don’t typically see that until you’re at the highest level, so it’s awesome to see WEC listening to the riders that wanted to get experience under the lights.”