March 1, 2007 - Wellington, Florida – Georgina Bloomberg scored her first major victory of the year by winning the $25,000 WEF Challenge Cup Round VI on Thursday, March 1. Part of the CSI-W Zada Enterprises, LLC Wellington Masters, the competition marked the sixth week of show jumping at the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, FL.
An impressive group comprised of 67 horse-rider combinations attempted the track set by Olympic course designer Leopoldo Palacios who designed in 2000 in Sydney and will have the honors again in 2008 in Hong Kong. The Venezuelan mastermind was at the top of his game, and the judges even increased the time allowed from 87 to 89 seconds to give the riders a better chance of jumping penalty-free.
As the ninth rider into the ring, 2001 World Cup Champion Markus Fuchs made a clear round look easy, stopping the clock at 84.75 seconds with La Toya III. Grand Prix partners since 2003, Fuchs and the sensitive 12-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare have enjoyed vast international success together, including helping Switzerland to earn the Team Silver Medal at the 2005 European Championships.
Three more riders would leave all the rails in the cups, only to discover that they failed to cross the finish line in under 89 seconds. Todd Minikus stopped the clock at 89.24 seconds riding Pavarotti, Michael Walton and La Rocco Jun came heart-breaking close with a time of 89.05 seconds and Canada's Eric Lamaze and Ronaldo suffered the same fate of one time penalty when they jumped clear in a time of 90.03 seconds.
Just as it looked like there wouldn't be a jump-off, Bloomberg, sixth from the end of the order, put in a neat and tidy clear round performance, signaling to the Swiss rider, who had only just arrived in Wellington, that his victory would have to be earned.
Fuchs led the two-horse jump-off, setting off at a blistering pace. A tight turn to fence 9a of the double looked impressive until Fuchs paid the price of a fallen rail. Almost home, Fuchs also had the final fence down, the JustWorld International signature fence, to give him a total of eight faults in a time of 40.14 seconds.
Bloomberg followed, going for a slow and steady round over the shortened eight-fence track. She successfully posted a double clear round in a time of 50.54 seconds to take home the winner's check of $7,500.
"I needed this win for barn morale," joked Bloomberg, who had not won a grand prix since 2005.
While she may have been suffering a dry spell, Bloomberg is no stranger to the winner's circle in the WEF Challenge Cup Series. In 2005, she won back-to-back WEF Challenge Cups - the final one held in Wellington, FL, and the first one held in Tampa, FL.
As for the secret to her success in Thursday's WEF Challenge Cup Round VI, Bloomberg chalked it up to luck. "When we walked the course, it didn't look big, it was just good course designing. I got lucky today!"
Going second in the jump-off was lucky as well as Bloomberg got to watch Fuchs negotiate the course and adjust her plan accordingly.
"I was able to watch Markus go, and I was expecting to have to gallop the jump-off course," said the 24-year-old New York City native. "When he had two down, then I changed my strategy."
Making her victory extremely gratifying was that her partner was Nadia, a 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare sired by Indoctro.
"She's the first young horse that I brought along," Bloomberg said. "I bought her when she was about five, so it is very rewarding to have a horse like that, a horse that I didn't just buy as a grand prix horse. She's light on her feet, a light type with a lot of blood, and very honest."While Fuchs settled for second in the $25,000 WEF Challenge Cup Round VI, the Swiss rider is sure to be a force to be reckoned with as the final three weeks of the Winter Equestrian Festival in the Wellington location continue.
Results of Class 101 - $25,000 WEF Challenge Cup VI - CSI-W Zada Enterprises Wellington Masters - March 1, 2007
T/A: 89.00 T/A: 52.00
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