Wellington, Fla.—March 31
Youth won out over experience at today’s $500,000 FTI Consulting CSI*****, with one of the youngest competitors in the field claiming the day over a field of serious contenders.
Daniel Bluman, 22, bested the field of 45 at the final Saturday night grand prix of the last week of the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival aboard Sancha LS, relegating one of the veterans of the sport, Ian Millar on Star Power, to second. Lauren Hough picked up the third-placed check on Quick Study.
“I’m surprised that I did it, but I’m not surprised that my mare did it,” said Bluman, who’s based out of Wellington, Fla., but rides for Colombia. “I know she’s one of the best horses out there, and it’s really pleasing to me that she has a win like this on her record. It means the world to me to win this class.”
Watch their jump-off :
That was no small feat. Alan Wade posed, in his words, “plenty of little questions from start to finish.” Rails fell all over the course, especially the first fence—an oxer toward the in-gate—and fence 7, an upright vertical over a liverpool a few strides after a massive triple bar.
Swedish rider Daniel Zetterman took a tumble at the liverpool when Glory Days jumped awkwardly, and Bluman survived a hairy moment there as well, kicking on to jump the rest of the course in lovely style. A vertical-oxer-oxer combination caught plenty of competitors as well, and those that were cautious logged time faults. All said and done, only Hough, Millar and Bluman managed clear rounds.
“When I walked the course, I predicted eight or nine clear,” said Hough, Wellington. “But we just went through four rounds of grueling jumping last week. So my perspective might have been shaped by that. It wasn’t that the course was easy, but maybe a bit softer than what we jumped last week.”
Watch Quick Study jump off:
The big shock came when Nick Skelton took a tumble off Carlo 273 at fence 10, an airy vertical.
Bluman went first in the jump-off, ticking a rail, and Millar kept up a good clip, catching a rail as well. Last to go, Hough, opted for caution and took her time, but Quick Study clipped a heartbreaking rail at the final fence to give her third.
“I was very pleased with my horse, except the one jump,” said Millar. “It’s a very unusual rail for him to have—front rail behind off that left swing. He jumped a great first round, he’s 11, and on track for the London Olympics.”
Watch Star Power jump off:
Bluman’s been riding Sancha LS (Chin Chin—Sonora La Silla, Polydor) since November of 2010. He’s brought the mare along from a nervous 7-year-old no one thought would be jumping serious tracks to one Bluman hopes to take to London.
“I was very excited and grateful,” he said. “Ian and Lauren are great riders, and they had very cheap rails at the end. I guess it was meant to be for me tonight. “
For results visit www.shownet.biz
Check out videos and a report from classic round of the $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby which ran earlier in the day.