Action in week four of the 2018 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) had a change of scenery, with almost 80 riders crossing the road to the grass derby field at Equestrian Village (home to the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival). WEF continues through April 1 at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center in Wellington, FL, and offers more than $9 million in prize money.
The fourth week of WEF, sponsored by NetJets, runs March 31-February 4 and features the $15,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby “Hunt and Go” on Friday, February 2, at 12 p.m. in the International Arena, the $205,000 NetJets Grand Prix CSI 4* on Saturday, February 3, at 11 a.m. on the grass derby field at Equestrian Village (home to the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival), and the Great Charity Challenge, presented by Fidelity Investments®, on Saturday evening at 6:30 p.m. in the International Arena.
Newly-minted Israeli rider Alberto Michán — double Olympian for his home country of Mexico, at Beijing and London — logged his first win for his new nation, riding Redmond in the $6,000 FEI Bainbridge 1.40m. WEF continues through April 1 at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center in Wellington, FL, and offers more than $9 million in prize money.
This was Michán and Redmond’s first international win since the partnership formed in early summer of 2017. Drawn half-way down the order of 77 starters, the pair set a blistering pace, sailing round easily under the time limit of 77 seconds. They broke the beam at 63.89 seconds, leaving the second-placed combination of Brianne Goutal and Fineman trailing by a whopping 1.24 seconds. But U.S. rider Goutal won’t be too upset, as she is also the owner of the 12-year-old Redmond.
Michán said: “I think many of the riders were just schooling for the next days as this was the first day on the grass, so I don’t think many really went for it. But I know my horse has a very, very big stride and today I had the option to try to take out some strides and be faster than the rest. To win an FEI class is always very exciting.”
“He’s a very scopey horse and super brave; we have done good things together but now we are looking for somebody nice to buy him and take care of him. He’s a very nice horse to have; super reliable and he always tries his best,” added Michán, who is 39 and based at Ilan Ferder Stables in Wellington.
The class produced 18 clears within the time, with 14 combinations retiring or being eliminated, despite the immaculate going in the beautifully manicured grass arena, over a course designed by Anderson Lima of Mexico.
There were no such issues for Redmond (formerly named Snatch De Cordrac) though, and the rangy bay, a 12-year-old Selle Français by Neo D’Aunou x Joly Jumper, ate up the ground.
“He’s a very brave horse and the big ring is great for him with his big stride. He was very happy and he gives you a nice feeling, a lot of confidence,” added Michán, who was energetically cheered home from the sidelines by his three-year-old daughter Sofia.
This is the first month that he has competed for Israel, having switched nationalities after being invited by the Israeli federation.
“We are making a new team, and we have high hopes for it. We have a lot of opportunities and there are some very good riders on it who changed already. We’re trying to make a very strong competitive team,” said Michán, who has Israeli family.
He praised the venue, adding: “All the riders were saying that we think they should do more shows over here on the derby field. It’s beautiful here and super for the horses to see a different venue, as we are here in Wellington for so many weeks. To be cantering on this beautiful grass which such fantastic footing — I think horses are very comfortable jumping in this ring, and they can put some big jumps up in here.”