Peter Lutz and Robin de Ponthual led the victory gallop for the $100,000 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping North American League qualifier CSI3* at the Las Vegas National, besting a competitive field of top-class riders.
Of the 30 riders qualified for the World Cup event on Saturday night, just 8 put in clear rounds. The Olaf Petersen Jr. designed-course consisted of 13 efforts with 16 obstacles and a fairly comfortable time allowed of 79 seconds.
Though the course walked fairly straightforward, Matt Williams – the evenings first faultless rider – would later say, “the course didn’t walk as it looks, especially the triple.” That was evident throughout the evening as horse after horse struggled to maintain momentum through the Longines triple, set at wide distances off a quick turn that invited the horses to bulge right and lose impulsion. Rails at the B and C elements fell time and again, with three riders suffering elimination or falls.
The final element, a tall vertical that came after a long 7 strides also served as a bogey fence, the horses flattening out and nicking the rails as they headed home, ruining a few otherwise-clear rides. Of the 30 to attempt the course, there were 8 clear, 4 rider falls, an elimination, and one opting to retire.
The 8-effort jump-off course combined long gallops with tight rollbacks and the triple combination that was such a nuisance in round 1 was reduced to a double. Matt Williams and Valinski S started things off with a fast, clean ride, taking all inside-turn options and putting the pressure on the next 7 with a time of 34.25. 3rd up, Audrey Coulter aboard Domino added strides to a few lines but were deceptively fast and tidy elsewhere, besting Williams’ time to clock in at 33.61.
If Vegas had betting lines on the evening the heavy favorite going into the Prix would have been Kent Farrington and Gazelle. His gallop from fence 1 to 2 showed he was holding nothing back. But despite a perfectly-executed ride, the lightest touch at the second, a purple FEI oxer, meant 4 faults but a blistering time of 32.90.
The winner of the night was Peter Lutz aboard Robin de Ponthual. By leaving a stride out to the final fence, the pair to stopped the clock at 33.21, .40 seconds quicker than Audrey Coulter.
Robin de Ponthual, a 10 year-old Selle Francais gelding, had previously been with McLain Ward with Lutz picking up the ride a year ago.
“He’s so talented, scopey, careful, and a winner,” said Lutz of Robin, adding, “tonight, I felt like it was perfect combo of calm and fast for it all to come together.”
Lutz describes his mount as calm and gentle, but a competitor. “When he walks into the ring, he really responds to the crowd. He really changes and comes alive. He’s two different horses in that respect. As soon as he steps into the ring, he really excels and is energized by the crowd. And there was such a great crowd here. It distracted him a little bit at first, but by the time he got into the jump-off, he was really focused.”
Having concluded their year with a big win, Lutz and Robin will head home for some much deserved rest before heading to Florida in January.
1. Peter Lutz – Robin de Ponthual 0/33.21
2. Audrey Coulter – Domino 0/33.61
3. Matt Williams – Valinski S 0/34.25
4. Jos Verlooy – Sunshine 0/34.30
5. Kent Farrington – Gazelle 4/32.90
6. Eduardo Menezes – Quintol 4/34.67
Article by Ashley Fairfield-Remeza
Sources: FEI Press Release