Wellington, FL - January 18, 2014 - Alex Zetterman blazed the trail early Friday morning as the Ridge at Wellington Turf Tour's 1.40m Grand Prix welcomed competitors to the polo fields at the International Polo Club (IPC) Palm Beach. Aboard his own Canora, Zetterman set an unbeatable time as the first rider of the morning, tripping the timers at 31.198 seconds.
"I have had her for a few years now, and she is mainly doing the 1.40m and 1.45m speed classes," Zetterman explained. "It was a very nice course. It was great ground, and the course was good. Eric always builds a solid course. It is probably a little bit difficult to go out first in the morning here, and the field is very open. It is good to have an experienced horse; I think with an inexperienced horse it is very tricky."
Zetterman's time was untouchable as each consecutive rider attempted to best the pair as they balanced speed and accuracy. It was Zetterman's fluid turns and open pace that won the race to the top.
"What you need to have in mind when you come here is that you don't have the same idea of what other people are doing. You aren't watching every round or hearing how someone went or their plan," Zetterman continued. "When you come here, you have to imagine how quick everyone else is going to go so you have to put a bit of pressure on yourself. I have to say that I am very happy with the round. I didn't feel like I left too much open for anyone else."
And he didn't, until Sarah Segal and Zelda gave him a run for his money.
As the 30th in the order to go, Segal laid down a fantastic first round, and she continued into the jump off with her eye set on the prize. Zelda turned easily over the fences, navigating the serpentine of the jump off course. They landed from the final oxer to break the beam in 31.533 seconds, only a little over three-tenths of a second off of Zetterman's pace.
"I didn't get to see him [Zetterman] go, but just from looking at the times on the board it was obvious his time was five or six seconds faster than anybody else. So it was pretty clear just looking at the times that he must have really gone fast," Segal explained. "The jump off was really twisty, turny which is good for [Zelda]. You can turn her as short as you want. No matter how short you turn her or how close to the fence you are, she's always going to try and jump. She's really good at figuring that out. I have a lot of faith in her that you can just spin her back, which is what you have to do for this jump off."
Segal continued, "The first round was pretty smooth. There were a lot of related lines. I think the line to the triple was maybe a little bit difficult just because it's kind of a long, direct seven. That seemed a little bit tricky, but she jumped it well. In the jump off I think maybe I took a little extra time to the double. If I had to guess where I was maybe a little bit slower than him that'd be it. She's not exactly green, but this is one of the bigger classes that she's done. So we were hoping that these classes would be something that she would get to, and we got here pretty quickly! She's just great."
Candice King and Antigone Quality, owned by Quality Stud, took the third place spot with a speedy double-clear effort in 33.516 seconds. The gray mare is a 9-year-old who has been building for the season. King used the mare's quick pace to lay down a solid and fast round.
"I was trying a new bridle out on her, and I wanted to make sure everything was working," King said. "I thought it would be a good venue to bring her to, and we couldn't have asked for a more beautiful day. He [Eric Hasbrouck] built last week, and you always know that you will get a solid course from him that is good for young horses. I was pleased with today's outcome."
The course opened at 8 a.m. and remained open until 4:30 p.m., allowing competitors ample time to come at their convenience to ride and enjoy the environment of IPC. The $175,000 1.40m Invitational Grand Prix series will find its home at the Ridge at Wellington next week, along with Wednesday's 1.30-1.35m Jumper Classes, and the first Young Jumper Class of the series. The 10-week Wellington Turf Tour series will culminate with the $24,750 Invitational Grand Prix Finale on Saturday, March 22, 2014.
"It is great for the horses to be able to show here," Zetterman stated. "It is a super series. Being here in Wellington is very good, but you are in the same place all the time. Horses, like humans, need variation. This series has good prize money, fantastic locations; I like the fact that you can come down here whenever you want. It is nice for horses during circuit to get away from the pressure of the International Arena."
Show Net captured all of Friday's action at the International Polo Club Palm Beach, while also providing live scoring for the Ridge Winter Tour II. All recorded rounds and results are available at: www.shownet.biz.
Meadowbrook Horse Transport will provide transportation to and from the horse show and other locations throughout Wellington for both the Wednesday and Friday events. The transportation is a nominal fee of $50 per horse, and will be calculated into the final show fees. To make a reservation for one of the three pickup times: 8 a.m., 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. please call Peter Tufano of Meadowbrook Horse Transport at (954) 415-7217, or call Nona Garson at (908) 500-0996.
For more information about the Ridge at Wellington please go to www.theridgefarm.com. For up-to-date information please follow the Ridge at Wellington on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Ridge-at-Wellington/219358376264.
All photos by: Kendall Bierer/Phelps Media Group