Wellington, Florida, USA – April 24, 2022 – The final international grand prix in Wellington until the end of the year took place on Sunday as 44 pairs took to the Derby Field to compete for first prize and the lion’s share of the prize money in the $140,000 Palm Beach County Sports Commission Grand Prix CSI 3*. Edging ahead of the field as the quickest of six double-clears, Nicholas Dello Joio (USA) and Cornet’s Cambridge claimed the victory to cap an exciting season of FEI competition.
In the first round of competition, horse-and-rider pairs were put to the test over a technical course designed by Andy Christiansen (ECU) that consisted of 16 efforts. The field included an international line-up representing 14 countries as well as some of the world’d top-ranked athletes, such as Kent Farrington (USA), Beezie Madden (USA), Conor Swail (IRL), and Erynn Ballard (CAN), among others. By the end of the first phase, eight duos had turned in foot-perfect rides to advance to the jump-off. Due to the eight qualifiers, Christiansen earned the highly-respected “perfect course” distinction on Sunday during his first year as an FEI designer and his first week designing alone, as the number of jump-off qualifiers exactly matched the number of payout positions for the class.
As the second-to-last to tackle the abridged track, Dello Joio (USA) and Cornet’s Cambridge moved to the top of the standings with their fault-free time of 40.92 seconds and could not be caught by the final duo to solidify their status as the competition victors.
Evan Coluccio (USA) and Valdes Z, owned by Hampton Green Farms LLC, earned second place in 41.27 seconds with no faults.
Jacqueline Steffens (CAN) rode her own Freaky to the final podium placing in a clear 41.63 seconds.
“It is shocking that we are actually finished. I’m still half expecting ot be back here next week to show. It feels great to win at the end of this season, and I am really super happy with the horse,” Dello Joio commented. “He is a horse that I have been producing slowly throughout the circuit and he had a good [Winter Equestrian Festival]. During WEF Week 10 he jumped the CSI 4* grand prix. We decided not to jump the last CSI 5* week, which he was probably ready to do, but we are just planning the long game with the horse. We decided that our next show after this will be Thunderbird, so it was good to get him out on the grass one more time.”
Of his winning mount, The Berry Group LLC’s 10-year-old Oldenburg gelding (Balou de Reventon x Cambridge 8), Dello Joio continued, saying, “He has all of the qualities you want. He is extremely careful, he has not shown us a limit to his scope yet, and he is very quick across the ground. While being quick across the ground, he stays even more careful. He is a horse that you can really allow to go as fast as you want. It is funny, you can feel it in him. You sense that he wants to be super fast, and he has fun doing it.”
“I thought both courses were very good and that Andy got the numbers that he wanted,” Dello Joio reflected. “I thought that the course today, the majority of it, was not as hard as the Friday qualifier course, but the triple combination line was a real test of the rider-and-horse relationship, rideability, and a real riding line. It wasn’t just a horse jumping line. I thought he nailed it. He was right on with the time allowed, and it was good. Kudos to him.”
As the groom of the winning horse, Jonathan Porteous was awarded with the Schneiders Groom Award following the class. As part of his winnings, Porteous was presented with grooming supplies on behalf of Schneiders Tack.
Final Results – $140,000 Palm Beach Sports Commission Grand Prix CSI 3*
1) Nicholas Dello Joio (USA) & Cornet’s Cambridge – 0 / 0 – 40.92
2) Evan Coluccio (USA) & Valdes Z – 0 / 0 – 41.27
3) Jacqueline Steffens (CAN) & Freaky – 0 / 0 – 41.63
Source: Press Release from ESP – Equestrian Sports Productions / Wellington International
Photos: © Sportfot