Fifty entries started in round one of the $86,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic on Sunday, March 12, 2017 at the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, FL. Ten pairs advanced to the jump-off, and five riders marked double clear rounds. Two-time Canadian Olympian Tiffany Foster took top honors with her veteran partner Victor, a 15-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Elmshorn x Grandeur) owned by Artisan Farms and Torrey Pines Stable.
Jimmy Torano (USA) set the pace in the jump-off in 40.23 seconds to eventually finish fifth aboard Day Dream, owned by Jimmy and Danielle Torano. Laura Kraut (USA) and Cherry Knoll Farm’s Constable II upped the pace in 38.75 seconds to earn the third place prize. Lillie Keenan (USA) and Chansonette Farm’s Skyhorse followed with the fourth place time of 40.21 seconds. McLain Ward (USA) briefly jumped into the lead with a time of 37.56 seconds riding his own and Susan Heller’s Tina la Boheme, but was bested in the end. Third to last, Foster and Victor raced through the timers in 36.82 seconds.
“”He is such an experienced and great horse that to jump one of these courses, even though they are difficult, you feel like it is easy for him.”
“I think that I had an advantage, going later in the jump-off, and knowing how fast that everybody was going,” Foster said following her round. “It was one of those jump-offs where you just needed foot speed and you needed to take a little bit of an extra risk at some point. I know my horse really well, since I have had him forever, and I knew that if I landed on stride one in that last line, I could probably get there in seven. I kind of opted for seven very fast strides instead of eight formal strides, but I have huge trust and confidence in my horse, and I knew he would get there. It turned out well, because if not, I do not think we could have won it.”
Even in the first round, Foster knew that she had the longtime partnership with Victor on her side.
“He is such an experienced and great horse that to jump one of these courses, even though they are difficult, you feel like it is easy for him,” Foster noted of the horse she has ridden for eight years. “That makes a big difference. There is a big margin of error I think, when you go into a class like that on a horse with that much scope and experience. That obviously is a huge advantage, and you feel a lot of confidence with that.”
Now that Victor is 15 years old, Foster and the team at Artisan Farms pick his classes carefully and try to keep the gelding’s schedule light.
“I was not even planning to do this class,” Foster laughed. “Victor’s owner, Andy Ziegler, has full credit for me even being in this class today. I had a time-fault in the WEF (Challenge Cup), and I was so mad at myself because my plan was for that to be Victor’s only class. If it were not for Andy, I never would have entered, so he has full credit for this win.”