Showing in earnest kicked off in Wellington, Fla., with Week 1 of the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival, Jan. 9-13. Saturday night’s action was the $55,000 Nespresso Battle of the Sexes, a three-phase competition pitting teams of opposite genders against each other. The teams had to contest a speed round, match race and six-bar competition. The men won the speed round, while the women won the match race, so the six-bar was the deciding factor. Candice King and Georgina Bloomberg took on Nick Skelton in the final round of the six-bar, held over 5’11”, and prevailed (results).
“We seem to do a little bit better under pressure,” said Bloomberg, the captain of the women’s team. “It made me a little nervous in the end because Nick is obviously so good at this. I knew we needed a little bit of luck on our side, but I never lost faith.”
On Sunday afternoon, Charlie Jacobs and Flaming Star raced to the win in the $30,000 Mar-A-Lago Club Grand Prix (results) over Brazilian superstar Alvaro “Doda” de Miranda. It’s de Miranda’s first time competing in Florida; he and his wife, Athina Onassis de Miranda, brought 16 horses to show at WEF. “I did the winters in Europe for the last 15 years, and then I always wanted to come here, but something always came up the last moment that we couldn’t make it,” Doda said. “Now we made it, and I am really happy. Some people told me 12 weeks is too long, but I think it is too short for me. I really love it here.”
In the dressage world, two of the 2012 London Olympic Games squad stretched their legs for the first time in 2013 in Loxahatchee, Fla., at the HIS Blue Hors Dressage Premiere on Jan. 12-13. (See Saturday scores. See Sunday scores.)
Heather Blitz and Paragon, who had been the Olympic team alternates, topped the FEI Test of Choice class riding the Grand Prix to a score of 75.00 percent. And Tina Konyot and Calecto V earned blue in the Grand Prix class to the tune of 71.38 percent. It was Calecto’s first show ring outing since London.
Shelly Francis claimed victory at Prix St. Georges and Intermediaire II with Firlefanz with scores of 71.84 and 67.38 percent.
There were no scheduled U.S. Eventing Association events over the weekend, but the weekend before, Jan. 5-6 in Ocala, Fla., at the Ocala Horse Properties Winter I Horse Trials (results), Buck Davidson had a heyday. Davidson won the open intermediate division on Shear Mizou (38.80), a division of preliminary on Santa’s Keeper (32.2) and a division of training on Riviera (32.7). He was second in a division of preliminary on Kim Severson’s usual ride Wiley Post.
Jacob Fletcher of Arkansas, who earned individual and team silver at the 2011 North American Junior and Young Rider Championships, took time out of his studies at the University of Arkansas to ride The Prof to second place at intermediate and Fly Away Ferro to second in a division of novice.