The CP Palm Beach Masters presented by SOVARO®, which made a stunning debut in 2016 at Deeridge Farms, is set to be even more impressive in its second edition Feb. 2–5.
Last year’s torrential rains that kept the featured $216,000 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Wellington in the all-weather ring, rather than on the manicured grass field, are not predicted this time around. That will make the class even more interesting, with the challenging course laid out in a picturesque setting on emerald turf that would put even the most meticulously maintained lawn to shame.
This is a gem of a show, a boutique competition that offers a change of pace and surroundings for competitors and spectators alike.
The star-studded line-up of athletes includes one big name after another, from last year’s winner, Kent Farrington, to his Rio Olympic team silver medal teammates Beezie Madden and McLain Ward; Jessica Springsteen, Todd Minikus—who has been on a winning streak this winter—and Charlie Jacobs, co-president of the show that is held on his family’s scenic 300-acre property.
The foreign contingent of competitors from a cornucopia of countries is equally impressive. British Olympic team gold medalist Ben Maher will be riding, along with 10-time Olympian Ian Millar, otherwise known as Captain Canada, and from Spain, Sergio Alvarez Moya. The Irish have a group strong in both ability and numbers, including Darragh Kenny, Paul O’Shea, Conor O’Regan, Richie Moloney, Darragh Kerins and Conor Swail.
The course designer is Alan Wade, who also will lay out the routes for the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final in Omaha, Nebraska, March 29–April 2. He is one of the most popular designers in the world for his ability to devise tests that are demanding, yet fair, and interesting for both competitors and spectators alike. Alan termed the grass ring “wonderful,” and as for the all-weather arena where other classes will be held during the weekend, he noted, “it is as good a sand arena as there is anywhere in the world, with a bit more character with the trees.”
The Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Wellington is one of the final three Omaha qualifiers in the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping North American League’s 14-event series, which means the competition will be particularly intense for seven coveted spots in the final.
Everyone wants to go to Omaha and have a chance to win the indoor jumping championships. The names engraved on the trophy are a who’s who of show jumping. Previous winners include Rio Olympic individual gold medalist Nick Skelton of Great Britain, Switzerland’s Steve Guerdat—the 2012 Olympic individual gold medalist has taken the World Cup™ twice in a row; Ian (twice), Melanie Smith Taylor, John Whitaker, Conrad Homfeld (twice) and Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum (three times).
Spectators can ease the tension of seeing who will take the honors by shopping the many vendors on the grounds, or browsing among the amazing buffets that will be laid out in the Taylor Harris Club during the competition. The sumptuous displays of food will be produced by the culinary world’s equivalent of the talent on display in the arenas.
The two-story VIP area, which affords a great view of the arenas, will feature Florida seafood and fruit, along with an array of international dishes from tacos to risotto. For breakfast, the eggs will be produced by the Deeridge chickens-in-residence.
Leading the legion of chefs preparing the cuisine will be Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto, who will participate in a meet and greet with guests on the final day of the competition. The executive chef of the Carolina Panthers football team, John Morey, will be on hand, along with executive chefs John Wilson and Heath Barbato of the Buffalo Bills and Green Bay Packers.
Deeridge is just a short canter from the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center, which enables athletes who have multiple horses to compete at both without having to make a choice of one or the other. The show managements are working together, with the Masters starting its feature at noon, an hour earlier than planned, so riders can head down the road for the Winter Equestrian Festival competition later in the afternoon.