Wellington, Fla.—March 9
Karen Polle of Japan and her veteran partner With Wings earned a big win in the $130,000 Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup Round 9 at the Winter Equestrian Festival.
Round 9 of the Challenge Cup series saw 51 starters over Alan Wade’s first round course. Twelve entries advanced to the jump-off, and six completed double clear rounds. Polle and With Wings took the win in 36.71 seconds over Lillie Keenan and Chansonette Farm’s Skyhorse (38.14 seconds) and Lauren Hough aboard Willow Grace Farm’s Cornet 39 (38.53 seconds).
“I thought the first round was actually pretty tricky. At the beginning we didn’t see so many clears,” Polle said after her win. “The jump-off was really fun. For Wings, it really suited him well because you could get a gallop and try to cruise through, and just watch the verticals. There were two places where I was able to leave out strides, which I think really helped me.
“I was a little long at the last fence, but I went for it,” Polle continued. “Wings has so much range that he can do that. That is where I have to be a little quicker sometimes because he has a big stride, but he is not a quick, quick horse, so to make up that time I need to do the leave-outs.”
Polle began training with Olympic gold medalist Rodrigo Pessoa in October, but also had her longtime experience riding With Wings to her advantage.
“Last month was seven years that I have had him,” Polle noted. “I think that is one of the most special things, to have a horse that you start really young. I started in the low junior jumpers with him, and then we worked our way up to the five-star level. I think that makes our partnership even more special because we have known each other for so long. We trust each other a lot because we have been through everything together. It is very rare, so I am really lucky.”