Wellington, Florida, USA – March 13, 2022 – The final day of week nine at the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) wound down its international competition with the $75,000 CaptiveOne Advisors 1.50m Classic CSI5*. WEF 9, presented by Douglas Elliman Real Estate, was the third of four weeks to feature FEI five-star level competition during the 13-week series. WEF continues to host weekly international competition as well as national hunter, jumper, and equitation classes leading to its final week ending April 3, 2022. The USA‘s anthem was the last to play on Sunday, March 13, as Karl Cook (USA) and Kalinka Van’t Zorgvliet received the winning honors.
The day built in anticipation of its pinnacle five-star event which brought out a starting field of 59 internationally-ranked combinations. Alan Wade’s (IRL) farewell test allowed riders 73 seconds to find their way around the track. As the fourth into the arena, Cook was the first contender to produce a clear effort aboard Helen Signe Ostby’s 12-year-old BWP mare (Thunder VD Zuuthoeve x Flipper d’Elle).
Two trips later, Ireland’s Shane Sweetnam (IRL) ensured there would be a jump-off as he joined Cook with a fault-free round aboard Sweet Oak, Spy Coast, and Seabrook’s Alejandro. The challenge got the best of many representatives from the 16 different nations as both time and jumping faults accrued throughout the class with downed rails over various areas of the course.
Eleven performances were good enough to earn a spot in the order for the short track. Both Nayel Nassar (EGY) and Heather Caristo-WIlliams (USA) qualified two mounts each as they bid for the top spot. Wade’s jump-off course was full of twists and turns with very few related distances, which gave the athletes multiple ways in which to shave off some time. As the first to qualify for the jump-off, Cook was the trailblazer of the second round and held no punches. He set off at a winning pace from the beginning with their blazing fast leading time of 37.04 seconds, daring the 10 pairs following to catch up. As the class came to a close, either a fence fault or a slower time appeared repeatedly, and it became clear Cook had put forth an impossible challenge to beat.
“This is the biggest class we have ever done with her by far, so my job was to make sure I was there to support her where needed,” explained Cook. “Our victory was extremely close today in the jump-off. I was happy with how I came into the double combination, and then I really hit my turn just how I wanted to the oxer, which was the second to last fence. We ended up a bit steady to the final jump, but I think our execution over the second to last was really where the difference in time appeared.”
For Cook, the key to this mare is managing her fitness and energy levels outside of the ring between competition.
“She is an extremely hot mare, and she does a ton of flatwork but doesn’t jump much,” he detailed. “Before the beginning of this week, we had not jumped her since WEF 6. She does not lunge, but you have to make sure you work her enough or she is extremely fresh, so her program includes mostly flatting and keeping her fit.”
Jos Verlooy (BEL) and his winning partner in Thursday’s $1,000 Bainbridge Companies 1.40m CSI5*, Eurohorse BVBA’s 12-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding FTS Killossery Konfusion (SIEC Livello x Cruising), displayed another round in perfect form as they dashed to catch Cook. Unfortunately for the pair, eight-tenths of a second earned them the second-place position. Sweden’s Petronella Andersson (SWE) and Stephex Stables’ 10-year-old Selle Francais gelding Claptonn Mouche (Conrad x Elan de la Cour) secured the final spot in the closing victory gallop as they stopped the clock with a time of 38.19 seconds. Sweetnam’s ride on the 2009 Rheinlander gelding (Acorado’s Ass x Continue) produced the only other double-clear effort for fourth place.
Final Results – $75,000 CaptiveOne Advisors Classic CSI 5*
1) Karl Cook (USA) & Kalinka Van’t Zorgvliet – 0 / 0 – 37.04
2) Jos Verlooy (BEL) & FTS Killossery Konfusion – 0 / 0 – 37.12
3) Petronella Andersson (SWE) & Claptonn Mouche – 0 / 0 – 38.19
Source: Press Release from Jennifer Wood Media, Inc. for ESP – Equestrian Sports Productions / WEF – Winter Equestrian Festival
Photos: © Sportfot