Wellington, FL – March 22, 2014 - The sun rose over Deeridge Farms as trailers and cars rolled through the opened gateway and down the winding path lined with beautifully manicured banyan and royal palm trees. The fog lifted from the grand prix field to reveal the course that would challenge over 50 horses for the $24,950 Wellington Turf Tour Invitational Grand Prix Finale. Today it was Ainsley Vince of Canada who dominated the field, riding to the top of the leader board three seconds ahead of her competitors, stopping the clock in 34.676 seconds, proving untouchable.
Eric Hasbrouck set the track for today, using a liverpool, triple bar, oxer-oxer double combination, a triple combination and a skinny vertical, which proved to be the bogey fence of the class with 12 pairs finding fault at the final fence.
“I thought the course was great, it was big enough and tough enough for sure,” eventual winner Ainsley Vince said. “I know the time was a little tight, so you had to ride forward. I also saw that people had rails before and after me, so it certainly wasn’t an easy track, but it was very fair.”
Sandra Dalman was the first rider of the day to master the first round course and move into the jump off. She piloted Brightside to the time of 40.614 seconds, but the pair incurred eight faults for two fallen rails. They showed the path to take, and Cristoph Schroeder was ready to take on the challenge.
Schroeder gathered his reins and easily maneuvered through the first course. As the buzzer sounded, he picked up a strong gallop and took his aim at the top. He crossed the finish in 38.493 seconds with Catungee, taking the lead and setting the time to beat.
Jeffery Welles and Bilion, the pair that set the series on fire with multiple victories throughout the 11 weeks, were the next to post a double clear effort. Although they have become the speed demons of the 2014 Wellington Turf Tour, they fell 5/10ths of a second behind Schroeder, stopping the clock in 38.970 seconds.
It wasn’t until Roger Pellerano and Precious Platiere tackled the short track that defeat seemed plausible. He raced around the jump off course with astonishing speed, taking the inside turns and shaving the seconds to finish in 37.387 seconds. He was a full second faster than Schroeder, and as the rails continued to fall as contenders attempted to best his time, victory seemed within reach.
Ainsley Vince rose to the challenge with Frieda, finessing the first round and dazzling onlookers with her inside track during the jump off. She had her sights set on the win, making almost every inside turn, and slicing to the obstacles in an effort to shave the seconds. Her plan proved successful as she soared over the final skinny vertical and broke the beam in 34.676 seconds, a full three seconds quicker than the rest of the field.
“I didn’t go inside to the double combination, it was a very difficult inside turn that we kept talking back and forth about,” Vince explained. “Sometimes you take inside turns and they don’t work really well. I knew that if I was really fast through the vertical, then I could be fast to the triple bar. I decided in the air on the vertical to opt to go around, but she was really, really quick on all of the other turns. I was so happy with how she went, and it was the perfect end to the series.”
Vince has been riding Frieda, owned by the KMA Group, since she was a 5-year-old. The now 13-year-old mare knows her rider well, and their understanding was apparent on the turf.
“Frieda knows me well,” Vince laughed. “She is very fast, but is also very sensitive. She can be a little bit strong sometimes, and she has a lot of blood. I try to be as smooth as possible with her. In the jump off today we were able to be smooth because everything came up really well for us. I am really fortunate to have the support of the KMA Group. It is because of them that we have been able to have our partnership.”
Vince’s dash for the cash held solid as each consecutive rider attempted to catch her blazing speed, but her time was unstoppable. Her fate was sealed at the pinnacle of the ranks, taking home the lion’s share of the earnings.
“I think this series is fantastic, today was a real team effort,” Vince smiled. “My clients came out and supported me, and my boyfriend helped me walk the course in preparation for the class. These classes provide such a good atmosphere for both horse and rider.”
Vince continued, “Last year when I was here we used the series to get the horses ready for Spruce Meadows. Because of each horses schedule this year we haven’t been able to do as many as we would have liked-I wish there were more. I think it is a great series. You don’t have very many opportunities to jump on grass anymore, so it is so nice to be able to go to these different venues.”
The day concluded with Darrin Dilin and Landsdowne taking fifth, and Emanuel Andrade aboard Crossfire 10 finish sixth. Dilin also captured the seventh place position with Ariana, while Schroeder and Diamant Du Revel rounded out the top eight.
Jeffery Welles was named the 2014 Wellington Turf Tour Leading Rider, winning the highly coveted $35,000 International Polo Club Palm Beach year membership, as well as a branding package from PoloGear. Sarah Segal was awarded the runner-up award for her placings in the ranks, winning a one-of-a-kind Beverly Bryant Portrait.