Daniel Bluman & Sancha LS Shine In $205,000 NetJets Grand Prix CSI4*

Daniel Bluman & Sancha LS Ph. Meghan Basco for NF.com

Classes for Week 4 of the Winter Equestrian Festival were held out on the grass of the derby field at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival facility with the final competition concluding in a win for Daniel Bluman in the $205,000 NetJets Grand Prix CSI4* on Saturday, February 3, 2018.

The 27-year-old who represents Israel, rode Sancha LS ahead of heavyweight American competitors, Beezie Madden and Margie Engle.

Brazil’s Anderson Lima, course designer for rated classes during Week 4, once again tested the competitors. Of the original 44 horse and rider combinations that would take on the 16-obstacle track, 9 pairs produced clear trips to ensure their return in the second round.

Sixth to go in the jump-off and setting a new leading time was Margie Engle on the 18-year-old KWPN gelding by Indoctro x Dutchman, Indigo. Looking half his age, they flew around course in a time of 44.30 seconds, which would hold up for third place.

Margie Engle & Indigo Ph. Meghan Basco for NF.com

“He [Indigo] is 18 but he doesn’t know it, he still thinks he’s still five or six years old,” said Engle. “I haven’t jumped him in a big class in a long time. Since he was 17 last year, he stayed home for the summer.

“He’s plenty fresh; I wasn’t actually planning on doing this — I was just going to see how it went,” she continued. “Since he’s 18 I was going to mainly do 1.45m and 1.50m classes, but he felt so good at home I thought I’d give it a try. I thought, ‘If he feels like doing it fine, and if not, then I’ll come out,’ but he’s done more than I could have asked for during his life. Even though he’s 18 he feels solid and sound and fresh, so I thought I’d give it a shot.”

Immediately following in the jump-off was Beezie Madden on Con Taggio, a nine-year-old Oldenburg gelding by Contagio x Golliath Life owned by Abigail Wexner. It was the horse’s first-ever grand prix, and he rose to the occasion. They recorded a new leading time of 43.48 seconds, and eventually finished second.

“He [Con Taggio] did some really good classes in Spruce Meadows over parcours de chasse-type courses and he’s done a few 1.45m and 1.50m classes, but this was for sure his biggest class and I’ve never gone that fast over fences this big,” said Madden. “But he has experience going fast, so I decided to have some fun in the jump-off and he was fantastic.”

Taking the lead as the next horse in the ring, Bluman and Sancha LS, a 15-year-old La Silla-bred mare by Chin Chin x Polydor, brought the winning time down to 43.39 seconds.

“I didn’t get to watch many people go but I was lucky that I was able to see Beezie, who is one of the fastest, and she was fast everywhere. Beezie was riding a nine-year-old so knew I could take a little bit of advantage and take some risks that maybe she couldn’t take. I was lucky and I edged her for nothing. I could have been sitting in that [second] spot and not so smiley, but luck was on my side and we won.”

Some of the risks that Bluman took was a big gallop to the combination – “I knew Sancha would back away from the oxer and it paid off” – but the start was a little more bumpy.

Beezie Madden & Con Taggio Ph. Meghan Basco for NF.com

“From one to two I wanted to try to do one less [stride] to the vertical,” he explained. “I don’t know if I achieved it or not because I lost my concentration and nearly ended up in the standard at jump number one. But that was one of the risks I was planning to take; be fast and roll-back. I knew rolling back as fast as Beezie was going to be impossible; she’s one of the best roll-back riders in the world — she really did a masterpiece there — but I think I did one more stride and then I was able to gallop full energy to the combination.”

It was a nice victory for Sancha and Bluman, who have been partners for eight years.

He said of his 2012 London Olympic Games and 2014 FEI World Equestrian Games mount, “This is my eighth season with Sancha in Wellington so to be able to use this amazing field suits her very well. From last year I made the plan to start the week here; to jump the 1.40m hoping my other horse would qualify me for the grand prix and I’d jump it with her. There’s one more week like this at the end of the season so I think that’s one more that I plan to jump with her. It’s good that she gets some honors because she deserves it.”

As another rider that recently switched nationalities to Israel – joining new fellow Israeli Alberto Michán – Bluman has the goal to compete at the FEI World Equestrian Games in Tryon as an individual with his top mount, Ladriano Z. Israel hopes to have a strong show jumping team compete at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.

“Hopefully we’ll get to have Margie as our Chef d’Equipe one day!” he said with a smile.

WEF Week 5 returns to the grounds of the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center with CSI5* competition beginning on Feb. 7.

All photos ©Thomas Reiner

Source: PBIEC

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