After having to sit out FEI classes when her best horse retired due to an injury last year, Kelli Cruciotti Vanderveen was not only back in the big ring, but she took the top spot in the $50,000 CabanaCoast CSI2* Grand Prix at the 2022 Winter Equestrian Festival.
Her partner was the 12-year-old KWPN gelding Forever SFN, whom she’s ridden in only four other FEI classes. “He’s quite a character. He thinks he’s definitely the king,” Cruciotti Vanderveen said. “He has a little bit of a special warmup. You trot, you walk and then when you’re ready to canter, you sort of just jump the fences and then go in the ring. … I’ve never ridden a horse like him because he knows he wants to win and that’s really, really special to ride.”
Out of the 45 horse-and-rider combinations in the first round, 11 went clear over Guilherme Jorge’s course, which was on the Derby Field at Equestrian Village, where the Adequan Global Dressage Festival is held. Cruciotti Vanderveen and Forever SFN were the second to go in the jump-off, and they jumped clear. “Since I don’t know him that well, I sort of had a rough plan, and then I was going to take it as it came,” she said. “I tried just to stick to my plan—my horse is naturally quite fast in the jump-off—and do the strides that I walked and then leave it at that.” She thought she made up time in a long gallop to the last fence.
Cruciotti Vanderveen and Forever SFN crossed through the timers in the jump-off in 38.18 seconds. Second was Brazil’s Fabio Leivas Da Costa and the 9-year-old KWPN gelding Ilex, who also jumped clear in the jump-off with a time of 40.14 seconds. Third was U.S. rider Katie Dinan with the 11-year-old Zangersheide gelding Dijon Terdoorn Z who jumped clear in 40.19 seconds. For complete results, click here.
Philippaerts’ National Grand Prix Win
Nicola Philippaerts’ partner in the $50,000 CaptiveOne 1.50M National Grand Prix was Gijs, an 11-year old KWPN stallion whom he’s been riding for about a year. The grand prix was in the International Arena on the WEF show grounds with 53 riders in the first round.
“He has a very good character,” Philippaerts said of Gijs. “He always wants to give the best of himself, and he actually has a lot of blood for a big horse.” The Belgian rider said the horse does not behave like a typical stallion.
They were clear and the fastest in the jump-off of six riders in a time of 41.421 seconds. Great Britain’s Ben Maher and Point Break were second with a clear jump-off in 43.344 seconds. And Ireland’s Darragh Kerins and Intuitive were third with their clear round in 44.446 seconds.
This is Philippaerts’ second year competing at the Winter Equestrian Festival, and he says he plans to return next year. “The show for the next years I think is going to be quite a big future as well to see what’s going to happen and what the plans are. I’m very happy to come back,” he said. “It’s also nice as a European to ride against different people and to be in a different crowd here.” Global Equestrian Group, which also owns Ludger Beerbaum Stables and Helgstrand Dressage, bought Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (recently renamed Wellington International) last June.
For complete results, click here.