Wellington, Fla. - Week three of the 2014 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival (FTI WEF), sponsored by Fidelity Investments®, concluded at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) on Sunday with a win for Quentin Judge (USA) and Double H Farm's HH Dark de la Hart in the $34,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic.
FTI WEF will continue with its fourth week of competition, sponsored by Ariat®, on Wednesday, January 29, through February 2. The FTI WEF, held at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center in Wellington, FL, features 12 weeks of world-class competition through March 30, awarding $8 million in prize money.
Brazil's Guilherme Jorge set the course for Sunday's 1.50m with 53 entries and 13 clear rounds to advance to the jump-off with seven double clears. Quentin Judge and HH Dark de la Hart completed the fastest clear round over the short course in 38.21 seconds for the win.
Darragh Kenny (IRL) and Spruce Meadows' Quiz finished second in 38.84 seconds. Tim Gredley (GBR) and Unex Competition Yards' Unex Omega Star placed third in 39.09 seconds, and fourth place honors went to Tiffany Foster (CAN) and Artisan Farms LLC's Melody des Hayettes Z in 39.67 seconds.
HH Dark de la Hart is an 11-year-old Belgian Warmblood stallion by Kashmir van Schuttershof x Nonstop that Double H Farm purchased last winter. Judge has had many top finishes with the horse, including a win in the $35,000 Husky Energy Cup 1.50m at Spruce Meadows this summer. The pair was also a part of the winning U.S. Team in the eighth leg of the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup Division 2 series in Bratislava, Slovakia, in August.
Commenting on their partnership, Judge noted, "I have had him for a little bit over a year, and he was my main horse last year. This year we have a few new horses to kind of share the work load with him, so I was able to drop him down to do the 1.50m and some smaller classes. He is so fast, and he has been great."
"It took me a little bit of time to figure him out because he is not a huge horse, and I am a tall rider," Judge detailed. "I used to put a little bit too much pressure with my leg on him, and he would get a little angry and antsy. Now I try to sit still and keep him relaxed, keep him straight, and just try to have good position and he does the rest."
Judge spoke about Sunday's course and the skills that helped his horse earn the top time. "I thought the course was great," he stated. "It was not huge, but it was technical. In general it was a nice course and the time allowed was tight, but not killer, so that suited everyone well, and it suited my horse really well. The jump-off was great because it gave me a chance to gallop, and my horse is really good at jumping on angles. I can really slice into the double and slice an oxer and he sights the jumps really early and jumps them clear, so it was good for me."
One of HH Dark de la Hart's charming qualities is the fact that he shows a lot of character on course. On the way to Sunday's winning round, he was his usual enthusiastic self.
"He has a lot of personality," Judge noted. "He is very quiet and very chill at home, but when he gets in the ring he is very fast and he loves to buck. He loves to put on a little bit of a show. If he jumps a hard jump, he always lands and bucks afterwards. Now I know that it is coming, it just means that he is trying hard and jumping well, so its a good feeling."
HH Dark de la Hart will now have a few weeks off as Judge focuses on some of Double H Farm's new horses and up-and-coming young talents, and will continue in the 1.50m classes.
Final Results:$34,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic
1. HH DARK DE LA HART: 2003 Belgian Warmblood stallion by Kashmir Van Schuttershof X Nonstop
QUENTIN JUDGE (USA), Double H Farm: 0/0/38.21
2. QUIZ: 2004 Selle Francais gelding by For Pleasure x Laudanum
DARRAGH KENNY (IRL), Spruce Meadows: 0/0/38.84
3. UNEX OMEGA STAR: 2002 Irish Sport Horse stallion by Quick Star x Quatoubet du Rouet
TIM GREDLEY (GBR), Unex Competition Yard: 0/0/39.09
4. MELODY DES HAYETTES Z: 2004 Zangersheide mare by Mozart des Hayettes X Ryon d'Anzex X
TIFFANY FOSTER (CAN), Artisan Farms LLC: 0/0/39.67
5. AMADORA: 2003 KWPN mare by Chin Chin x Indoctro
BEEZIE MADDEN (USA), Abigail Wexner: 0/0/39.92
6. ACORTE: 2003 Hanoverian mare by Acorado x Stakkato
AUDREY COULTER (USA), Copernicus Stables LLC: 0/0/40.39
7. G&C QUITADOR ROCHELAIS: 2004 Selle Francais gelding by Jarnac x Urnau du Fonteny
GUSTAVO ARROYO (VEN), Gustavo Mirabal: 0/0/40.54
8. QUIDAM'S CHERIE: 2005 Oldenburg mare by Quidam's Rubin x Lifestyle
CIAN O'CONNOR (IRL), Adena Springs: 0/4/41.67
9. RAMSES: 2001 SBS gelding by Toulon x Limbo
SARAH SEGAL (USA), Robert Segal: 0/4/41.84
10. SOLERINA: 1999 Irish Sport Horse mare by Cruising x Diamond Lad
SHANE SWEETNAM (IRL), Sweet Oak Farm: 0/8/40.77
11. VASCO: 2002 KWPN gelding by Andiamo x Clinton
ADAM PRUDENT (FRA), Plain Bay Farm: 0/8/41.52
12. ZIGALI P S: 2004 KWPN gelding by Kigali x Palfrenier
ERIC LAMAZE (CAN), Artisan Farms LLC: 0/8/43.19