Wellington, FL – Fate smiled upon Ireland’s Daniel Coyle in the final Turf Tour Grand Prix of the 2017 season. Aboard Susan Grange’s Fortis Fortuna (Quidam de Revel x Carthago), Coyle channeled the luck of the Irish to deliver a blazingly fast double clear effort that could not be touched, despite the efforts of 45 of the industry’s top show jumping combinations. Over two arenas set on the springy, all-natural grass footing at Polo West, a diverse range of riders took to the courses to conclude The Ridge Palm Beach Series’ Turf Tour Finale on April 1st. In addition to the $24,999 1.40m Grand Prix clinched by Coyle, the Finale featured Low, Medium, and High Schooling jumpers running tandem to the morning’s 1.25m-1.30m divisions and the afternoon’s Grand Prix, as well as the relaxed, welcoming atmosphere that have become a trademark of all The Ridge’s events.
With residents of Polo West watching poolside from their backyards and the expansive warm-up busting with riders and trainers, the last Turf Tour Grand Prix of the year commenced in the Florida sunshine. Sandra Dalman and A-Frieda-o delivered the first double clear of the Finale, piloting the elegant grey to a faultless jump-off on a time of 38.214. With the standard set and a time to chase, some of the sport’s best known horses and riders tried their hand over the course, including Brazilian Olympian Rodrigo Pessoa aboard Chloe and the British Olympic duo of Ben Maher and Tic Tac. But it was Venezuela’s Emmanuel Andrade and Nokia De Brekka (Quick Star x Apache D’Adriers) who ultimately stole the lead from Dalman, stopping the timers at 34.016 in the jump-off. Immediately following Andrade and Nokia’s ride, American Andrew Ramsay and Jadalco slid neatly into second with a 34.635.
As the class continued, Coyle, riding for Susan Grange, guided a number of horses to double clear efforts, including his winning ride on Fortis Fortuna. He also piloted the scopey Ridley (Ustinov x Adlantus AS) to 3rd, jumping-off in 34.544 to bump Ramsey and Jadalco out of the top three. Fortis Fortuna, who has been a solid competitor for Coyle both in Wellington and at Spruce Meadows, is back competing following some time off and Coyle said it was great to be able to show her on the grass just before they journey north to the prestigious Canadian circuit.
“We come down to Wellington every year, and ironically she doesn’t much prefer to jump on the grass,” said Coyle of the 12-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare. “As we are aiming for Spruce Meadows in the summer we didn’t want to stress her by jumping on the sand all the time. But she’s a fantastic mare, and it was great for her to win today as we continue to build her strength for the summer. The Ridge’s Turf Tour dates are a great opportunity to get off the farm and in a new environment, and especially to be able to jump on something other than sand. Not every horse likes to go on sand, and the grass is a nice change to keep them fresh.”
Intended to act as a catalyst for the growth and development of horses and riders in the sport, The Ridge Palm Beach Series, which includes the Turf Tour, features courses and classes that reflect the need for solid basics provides the opportunity for horses and riders at a variety of levels to experience and compete in different venues and atmospheres. “Our goal is giving competitors the chance to experience everything, from riding on the turf polo fields to showing under the lights in an indoor arena,” said George D’Ambrosio, co-organizer of the Turf Tour with US Olympian Nona Garson.
“It’s a really unique way to do things,” said Garson. “Riders can sharpen their skills riding against Olympians on exceptional footing and over expertly designed courses, but all at their own pace and in a beautiful setting. Our open in-gate allows flexibility with other events and schedules, and we are really looking to offer a way for developing horses and riders to hone their skills without a major expense or the stress and atmosphere of a large show grounds. In 2017 we launched full jumper divisions at Jim Brandon Equestrian Center, as well as Hunter Derbies, equitation events, and dressage, which all follow in the vision of the Turf Tour. As we wrap up another season of showing in Wellington we want to thank all of our riders, trainers, spectators and staff for another fantastic season and we are already looking forward to 2018!”
The 13-week Palm Beach Series is a unique addition to Wellington’s growing winter circuit, offering riders top-tier competition, generous prize money, and an unparalleled atmosphere. Young horses and advancing riders are able to test their mettle in classes ranging from junior and amateur jumpers to the Grand Prix, and in a variety of venues reminiscent of the large European tours. The vision that inspired the series’ conception was to bringing back the old world flair to over fences classes, staging competitions on springy, natural surfaces away from the chaotic intensity of other show grounds. But the laid back atmosphere, which includes open ended show times and concurrently running divisions, doesn’t fail to attract some of the sport’s biggest names, keeping the competition up to par.