Wellington, FL - March 7, 2014 - Sometimes it can be hard for young riders to find backers, but famed equestrian Nelson Pessoa was happy to step up to the plate with 23-year-old Stephen Barcha. The talented Brazilian rode Ad Jacpote to the first place finish in the Wellington Turf Tour 1.40m Grand Prix at the International Polo Club Palm Beach. They swept away the competition with a brilliant jump off in 34.115 seconds.
Out of a field of 50 riders, only 12 were able to traverse the short course and ride to a double clear effort. Brazil was heating up throughout the day with Rodrigo Pessoa paving the trail in 38.258 seconds with Tinkabell. Judy Garafalo Torres and Qualtro Queen slid ahead for a moment with their time of 38.103 seconds, but their reign was short lived as Darrin Dilin set time to beat with Martha Louise, owned by Susan Grange. Dilin rode to the speedy time of 37.168 seconds, while also riding second mount Ariana to a double clear time of 38.890.
It was Joao Castro, a rider for Nelson Pessoa, who took over the pinnacle of the rankings with Quarelly. They finessed the track in a speedy 37.040 seconds-but it wouldn't hold with over 30 riders remaining.
Charlie Jacobs and Leap of Joy cleared the first round and entered into the jump off with their eye on the prize. They navigated the serpentine of obstacles in a timely 35.697 seconds, more than a second ahead of Castro. It seemed as though they grasped the victory, but Nelson Pessoa had a secret weapon waiting at the in gate.
Stephen Barcha tore around the short track at an unbelievable pace, guiding Ad Jacpote, owned by Nelson Pessoa, through each turn and shaving the seconds. Jacobs had made the mistake of adding a stride to the final combination of the jump off, and Barcha used it to his advantage. With a large stride Barcha and Ad Jacpote consumed the turf and crossed the timers in 34.115 seconds. Their time would stand as no other contender could catch them.
"We came here to come and compete in a small class to jump fast, since he is not a very fast horse through the turns. It was a very good course, a very good place, and amazing grass," Barcha said. "It was great to jump here. I appreciate this type of show where you can go and warm up, and utilize a large space."
Barcha has been riding the 10-year-old stallion for the last year, and together that have worked to try to accomplish his dream of competing at the World Equestrian Games.
"Ad Jacpote is a good stallion, he is not too much in his head. He is brave, and is totally different stallion than any I have ever ridden in my life. Sometimes he is a little slow, and I think this type of class is very good for him so I can work with him on short turns. These types of shows also help me to prepare for the big classes," Barcha commented.
Barcha continued, "We will come back next week with him, and another horse. The dream is to go to the World Equestrian Games. I think I have to work a lot to train. After Wellington I am going to Europe to train and compete in larger classes. It is a big dream, but I am willing to work to make it happen. All dreams require work."
Nelson stood proudly ringside as he discussed the round with Barcha.
"He is a young rider from Brazil, and about six months ago we decided to come here and continue to train for the World Equestrian Games in Normandy. We are constantly working to move to a higher level," Nelson explained. "This is a super class. I didn't know about it before, it is wonderful. It is nice to come and jump on the grass, it is better for the horses, and it helps to prepare them for other shows where they will compete on the grass."