There’s nothing like a winner who’s really excited, and today, that was the ebullient Kristen Vanderveen.
With all the prize money on offer weekly at show jumping competitions, I find that some riders seem to treat a victory as if it were just another day at the office, albeit a successful one.
But Kristen, who is as genuine as they come, couldn’t stop smiling after earning the top placing in today’s $100,000 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Ocala at the Live Oak International. It was the last qualifier for next month’s Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Finals in Paris.
“I’m over the moon excited about it,” said Kristen, who topped a three-horse tiebreaker.
“I’ve always wanted to go to World Cup finals and this was a bit of a last-minute decision for me to come here and see if we could do something special today and make it in. Winning the grand prix is a big deal for me, but going to Paris, I’m really excited.”
She noted that Frosty, as her snowy-coated 13-year-old Belgian-bred stallion by Udarco is called by his friends, will be the perfect horse for the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Finals format, which has a speed leg and then two phases with even more formidable fences.
“Frosty is the specific horse that I really believed would be great in a World Cup finals setting. He does great multiple days in a row; he is very fast and is particularly good in small rings and indoors. So it really was the perfect set-up,” Kristen said.
Today’s class, however, wasn’t the perfect set-up, since she had to ride lead-off in the tiebreaker. Sixteenth to go from a field of 24 in the initial round, Kristen was the first to come up with clean round—even though it was raining when she took her turn over Kelvin Bywater’s course that featured verticals and interesting angles.
The only others who made it through without faults were Brianne Goutal-Marteau on Viva Colombia, an Oldenburg by Couleur-Rubin and Switzerland’s Beat Mandli, a former World Cup finals winner with Galan S, a 12-year-old by Indoctro that he has been bringing along.
In the jump-off, Kristen asked Frosty to go. He answered with an authoritative trip in 45.93 seconds. Brianne didn’t come close with a careful ride in 52.99 seconds that left all the rails in place, while Beat had two rails down to finish third. Beat wound up in first place, however, in the Longines FEI World Cup™ North American League’s Eastern Sub-League and won Live Oak’s leading international rider title.
Other items of interest from Live Oak:
- So who else qualified in today’s competition? Charlie Jacobs just made it with his seventh-place finish on Cassinja S. He has the last spot in the Longines FEI World Cup™ North American League’s Eastern Sub-League. Charlie uses specific gymnastic exercises to prep for shows, which you can see on the Practical Horseman website by clicking here.
- Devin Ryan, who was already high on the qualifying list, sealed the deal with an eleventh-place finish that put him fourth overall in the sub-league.
- Who runs Live Oak? The show is a labor of love produced by co-chairs Chester Weber (who won his fifteenth straight national four-in-hand driving championship earlier in the afternoon before the grand prix) and his sister, Juliet Reid, on their family’s 4,700-acre farm. It gets its name from the many leafy trees, hung with garlands of airy Spanish moss. That adds atmosphere to the venue, which is a favorite among riders on the circuit. “The family is all about horses and horsemanship, and that’s really important to us,” said Chester. “This place is a little slice of heaven for horses and it’s my family’s pleasure to share that with great international athletes.”
- What happened to the grass? Live Oak is known for its lovely grass arena that competitors find refreshing for their horses, but a hurricane and hard frosts in January led the organizers to replace the grass with all-weather footing. Chester added that in May, grass will be replanted on the surface, which will make it the best of both worlds.