Wellington, FL - February 12, 2014 - The Ridge at Wellington's Turf Tour returned to the International Polo Club Palm Beach today for its sixth week of competition. The 1.30m-1.35m Jumpers kicked off the halfway point of the series, where Ramiro Quintana piloted Largo to the pinnacle of the rankings in the red class, dominating the standings as all other contenders attempted to match their speed. It was Philip Richter and his veteran mount Ray Ray that took the top earnings in the green class.
The morning welcomed competitors to the open grass field at the International Polo Club (IPC) in Wellington, Florida. Quintana set the pace as the eleventh rider to traverse the track. He utilized the open field to keep a consistent rhythm and open his mount's stride, shaving the seconds and breaking the beam in only 34.612 seconds. The victory was his for the taking as each consecutive rider attempted to best their speed and accuracy without avail.
"I had a nice rhythm from the start that I was able to carry throughout the entire course," Quintana explained. "I was able to really open up my horse's stride and use the size of the field. He turns really well, and we were able to make up a lot of time. I was very happy to win today's class, and I will definitely be back."
Quintana plans on returning to the Wellington Turf Tour once a week with a young horse. "It was my first time competing at one of these shows, but I was very surprised by how pleasant the show was. The footing was excellent, the course was very nice and the jumps were great. It provides a very nice option for younger horses, and provides good mileage."
Peter Lutz finished in the second place position with Don't Stop O in a speedy 35.471 seconds, while Jeffery Welles and Antaris S earned the third place award. Hillary Simpson and Arkansas rode to the fourth place position, and Mario Deslauriers piloted Hamlet to the fifth place. Leslie Howard and Zaragoza rounded out the top six with their quick and tidy jump off.
Earlier in the morning, Molly Ashe was the first of the field to clear the Eric Hasbrouck designed course. She rode to a double clear effort in the green class, setting the pace with a time of 37.719 seconds aboard Emerald B, owned by Monica Carrera, forcing competitors to chase her time while trying to duplicate her clean effort.
Andrew Bourns and Venice, owned by Jaybird Farms, had their sites set on the prize today. Although it was their first trip to the Wellington Turf Tour for the 2014 circuit, they wanted to leave their mark. They easily navigated the opening course and moved into the jump off where they raced the clock, breaking the beam in 35.599 seconds.
"It is a nice basic course, I say basic but he [Hasbrouck] asks a few questions with unrelated distances to doubles, and a hard distance down the outside, which was quite difficult. It is the kind of course that could fool you into a false sense of security, but it took a little more riding than it looks," Bourns said. "It was a little more challenging than what I thought it would be, which was good. For my horse it was ideal because it was her first day to be able to jump in a field like this. It was just a beautiful introduction. I am going to be all over the grand prix on Friday."
Bourns continued, "I have to say that I am really impressed. The footing seems to be phenomenal. The setting is really nice, the course is nice, the building is good and you have ample room to warm up. Sometimes when you come to these big open spaces the horses can get a little unsettled if they are not used to it. It is great experience, and a beautiful setting. You just won't find anything better. Being able to take clients and owners to a place like this is really invaluable."
It seemed as though Bourns had victory in his grasp, until the final rider of the day, frequent weekend warrior Phillip Richter navigated the 18-year-old Ray Ray to the winning time of 34.506 seconds.
"It was a wonderful course, Eric did a great course, I think. Riding on this field is heaven," Richter said. "I have older horses, so they love being on the grass, and the footing is super. It is really nice of IPC to let The Ridge do these classes here. It is great to have variety and get away from the show for a bit."
Richter shows Ray Ray very sparingly in Wellington, using a minimalist approach to train and prepare. The turf proved ideal for the young horses, but even more so for Richter's veteran mount. The pair prepares on turf more so than sand, to avoid the consequences that could affect his horse's tendons.
"The bigger the jumps the better," Richter explained. "He is a wonderful horse, and our team is really a group effort. My wife hacks him during the week, and my trainer Norman is fantastic. He needs a lot of care, which goes with his age. He is a wonderful horse to ride. He has nothing to prove, my dream as an amateur was to win the Sunday Classic at the Hamptons, and it eluded me for 25 years. Ray Ray won it two years ago. I checked it off of my bucket list. Winning today was wonderful, and we will return on Friday."
Bourns finished in the second place position with Venice, while Roberto Teran and ADC Chef Z took home third. Ashe nabbed the fourth place finish for her early lead aboard Emerald B, and Henrik Gundersen with Adlanteur was awarded the fifth. Emily Hill and Rio finished with the sixth place ranking.