There’s something about Week 7 of the Winter Equestrian Festival that is lucky for Danielle Goldstein and Lizziemary. For the second year in a row, the pair from Israel topped the $391,000 Palm Beach Equine Clinic CSI5* Grand Prix CSI 5* on Feb. 23.
There were 37 entries in the five-star grand prix, and six were clear and moved on to the jump-off over a course designed by Anthony D’Ambrosio.
First into the ring were Egypt’s Nayel Nassar and Evergate Stables LLC’s Lucifer V. They laid down an efficient trip with no faults in 39.91 seconds, which would hold up for third place. Following them were Emil Hallundbaek and his own Chalisco, who came home in 40.02 seconds for fourth place.
Of stepping into the ring first in the jump-off, Nassar said, “It’s always a tough spot to go first in the jump-off. He is a fast horse, but I didn’t think that inside turn was quite there for me tonight. He’s a little funny with walls, and I don’t know him quite well enough to do that yet, but he feels so good.
“We’re starting to find some consistency,” said Nassar of the 13-year-old Westphalian gelding (Lord Dezi—Grandina, Grandeur) he has ridden since May 2018. “He’s really a great, great horse and a ton of fun to ride. He’s a little quirky in his own ways, but he really tries hard for you and once you get him going to the first jump, he is game for anything. I’m really proud of how he’s going right now, and hopefully I will bring him back out for the next five-star night.”
Nassar hasn’t competed in a “Saturday Night Lights” event at WEF in two years, so a return to the podium was encouraging for the 28-year-old rider. “It means a ton,” he expressed. “It’s my first grand prix under the lights in a long time in Wellington. This horse is a bit of a newer ride for me, so I’m just really excited that it’s going so well at this level. I’m really looking forward to the rest of the season, and I’m just really pleased with how he jumped tonight.”
Alex Granato and Page Tredennick’s Carlchen W went in the jump-off next and brought the leading time down to 39.51 seconds, which would finish in second place. Mario Deslauriers and Wishing Well Farm LLC’s Bardolina 2 were clear in 40.75 seconds and they finished in fifth place.
“Going around [from jumps one to two] I got a little hung-up,” said Granato. “I got one or two extra strides to the wall than I wanted. That was the only place I wasn’t thrilled with in the jump-off, but I thought he was really on the pace and did exactly what I wanted and stuck to the plan. I was happy with how it ended up. [Dani] was the clear winner with how she laid it on the table.”
Granato and Carlchen W, an 11-year-old Mecklenberg gelding by Chacco-Blue—Celline-W, Continue) have had a streak of top finishes in the past year, including a win three weeks ago in a World Cup qualifier.
“In the last year and a half he’s exceeded all of my expectations,” said Granato of the horse he’s ridden for six years. “He’s come so far, and he’s done a lot for and with me now. He’s on form, and now he just keeps stepping up to the plate for me. I’m thrilled about it.”
Goldstein and Lizziemary galloped into the arena, and with a daring inside turn from the first to the second “WEF wall” jump, they continued on a scorching pace to stop the timers in 37.76 seconds.
“Going into the jump-off, I knew I had Kent [Farrington] after me,” Goldstein recalled. “I saw [Nayel and Alex] go. I had walked inside to the wall, and I knew it looked sort of dicey, but my horse is good about those sort of weird angles. She didn’t quite see it today, and I got a little bit lucky I thought. I thought, “You gotta go out there. If you don’t try to win, you never win, so you might as well try.”
Last in was Kent Farrington on his and RCG Farm’s Creedance. They were fast in 38.65 seconds, but a rail in the double combination left them in sixth place.
“It’s amazing to win two years in a row,” she said. “It’s a hard feat to win one year, let alone two years in a row, so I’m shocked and amazed and happy. I was really thrilled.
“It felt like a long time coming,” Goldstein continued. “I jumped the last couple of big grand prix [classes] clear, and I would have one down in the jump-off, or I’d have one unlucky fault and it felt like I was at the edge and we were really close. This is not ideal weather; it’s sticky and hot and she was breathing heavy, but she managed to pull it all together. Even in the warm-up, I thought she may be a tad empty, but she went in there and tried her heart out. It was really amazing.”