Special Lux & Jonathan McCrea. Ph. ©Sportfot
Jonathan McCrea (USA) and Special Lux concluded week nine competition of the 2017 Winter Equestrian Festival on Sunday, March 5, 2017 with a win in the $50,000 Grand Prix CSI 2* at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center in Wellington, FL, USA. Also showing on Sunday, two-time Olympian Tiffany Foster of Canada won the $86,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic riding Victor.
Course designer Alan Wade of Ireland concluded his week challenging the international competitors at WEF with 45 entries in the two-star grand prix and 11 in the jump-off. McCrea and Candy Tribble’s Special Lux completed the fastest of six double clear rounds in 36.74 seconds. Paul O’Shea (IRL) and Skara Glen’s Presence stopped the clock in 38.75 seconds to place second. Jonathon Millar (CAN) and Millar Brooke Farm’s Daveau finished third with a time of 40.89 seconds.
McCrea and the 13-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Lux x Coille Mor Hill) have been partnered for almost four years and won the FEI World Cup™ qualifier in Bromont, Quebec, in July 2016, but the rider felt like his horse lost some form after that. He was happy to have the two-star division to compete in this week, and the pair also won the $8,000 Douglas Elliman CSI 2* 1.45m speed class on Thursday.
“It’s always a struggle when that happens – when you go from everything to nothing overnight,” McCrea stated. “Literally, I just backed right off him. Two weeks or three weeks ago was his first time showing in Ocala. He was second in the two-star there in the grand prix. Then I gave him a week off and came here, again just with the idea of showing in the two-star to get him confident and happy.”
“His ride is a little different; he is very Irish. He loves to gallop.”
Detailing his winning round, McCrea noted, “I was in the position today to go last, which is always in his favor. I had seen Paul go. I knew maybe I had a little bit more ground speed with my horse, and he maybe has a bit more experience than Paul’s on the rollback turns. He is super careful, so I am never afraid to gallop with him.
“His ride is a little different; he is very Irish,” McCrea said of Special Lux. “He loves to gallop. I think even if you look back at his first round, he was almost ten seconds under the time allowed. That is how he his. He wants to be able to gallop; that is his strength. He is very careful. I just have to let him alone, and let him jump.”
O’Shea was aboard a young mount in Skara Glen’s Presence, a nine-year-old Holsteiner stallion (Contendro x Nekton) that he owns in partnership with Skara Glen Stables and Michael Haydon, and was happy with both of his rounds.
“I was just delighted with my horse,” O’Shea stated. “He is just a nine-year-old. I have done four grand prix with him, and he has won two of them, and second now today, so I could not be happier. I just love him; he has been really consistent.”
O’Shea found the horse when it was six and showed him in Europe as a seven-year-old. He detailed, “I think he jumped in 24 rounds, and he was clear 19 times. He is just a fantastic horse. He does not really have a weakness. He is very scopey and very careful. He is a real fighter. He is a horse for the future. I think he is a horse that is going to do championships if I don’t get in his way, so I am delighted. When they have his kind of quality, it makes everything much easier. He has the raw materials.”
Remarking on his jump-off, O’Shea added, “It was for sure the fastest jump-off I have done with him. I went very quick; Jon was just faster than me today. If I was to do it again, I do not think I could have done anything different. Maybe to the last two, I could have been a little bit quicker, but I would not have been quicker than Jon.”
For his third place finish, Millar was aboard Daveau, a nine-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Zento x Glennridge) that he has been bringing along for two years. The pair was also second in week seven’s two-star grand prix, and Millar has been pleased with his horse’s consistency.
“The last three two-star grand prixs, he was fifth, second, and now third, so double clean in all three,” Millar pointed out. “The addition of these two-star classes has been fantastic for a wide variety of horses and riders. It just gives everybody a little bit of a different option. It is fantastic to be able to take this opportunity and develop my horse.
“I could not be more pleased with him,” Millar continued. “I am just trying to teach him about turning and galloping, and things like that, without running his legs off here. He has always been a very consistent horse. I think he has a bright future, and I am just trying to develop him and give him the exposure here.”
Detailing his jump-off, Millar stated, “He does cover the ground really well. He is efficient, and quick, and turns really well. I think [the times were] pretty close, and that is what these classes end up being. It is where you can take your risks and what your horse’s sort of risk-reward situation is. Fractions of a second is what it comes down to, so overall I could not be more pleased.”
See the complete results at this link.