the timers in 30.010 seconds to capture the victory in the first 1.30m-1.35m Jumper class at the International Polo Club Palm Beach (IPC). Their skill through the short track allowed them to surpass 27 contenders and affirm their lead in the Leading Rider Bonus standings. Peter Leone and Alias rode to the first place finish in the second 1.30m-1.35m class, riding to the superior time of 31.488 seconds.
Leslie Howard had set an early lead this morning as the fog lifted from the turf. As the first rider of the day, she left nothing to chance as she guided Whistler to the jump off time of 30.984 seconds. Her time held strong as each consecutive competitor attempted to catch her without avail. It seemed that she had the win in the palm of her hand until Welles traversed the track.
Welles is no stranger to The Ridge at Wellington's Turf Tour, claiming top placings already throughout the 11-week series. Welles was able to navigate Bilion to a quick and tidy jump off, besting 12 contenders to claim the blue in a time of 30.010 seconds, shaving the seconds with tight turns and utilizing speed.
"Bilion is a great horse. We have had him since he was 4 years old, and he is now an 8-year-old. We have had him for quite a while, and it is really nice to see him come into his own and start to jump some bigger fences," Welles explained. "It is nice to be able to jump him on the grass, and today had some spooky jumps and technical lines. It has been really good for him to go to different venues and fields to jump around. He is coming along really well, and I hope he has a bright future."
Welles continued, "He is really sensitive. I have known him since he was a young horse, so we know each other well. He is really careful. Horses like that need to be well managed on the flat, and I don't really jump him in between the shows at all. He is naturally a good jumper. This is all about giving him the experience. He's got what it takes. He is just a really good competitor and always has been."
Howard's time would prove good enough for the second place, with Monica Carrera and Lincourt Gino capturing third. Jennifer Gates and Cadence rode to the fourth place finish, while Eirin Bruheim and NLF Favorite took fifth. Amanda Hart and Precious Metal 3E rounded out the top six.
It was Peter Leone who rode to the first place finish in the second class of the day. He entered into a 13-horse jump off to ride away with the win aboard Alias. He jumped to a double clear effort in 31.480 seconds. His student Kiva Iscol secured the second place aboard Casino Van De Helle in 31.667 with another clean jump off. Andrew Bournes and Casper rode to the third place with a clean effort in 32.502 seconds.
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 ambiance of the International Polo Club Palm Beach. The $175,000 1.40m Invitational Grand Prix event will return to IPC tomorrow for the eighth week of competition. The 11-week series will culminate with the $24,750 Wellington Turf Tour Invitational Grand Prix Finale on Saturday, March 22, 2014 at Deeridge Farms.