Pessoa Shines Under Saturday Night Lights

Pessoa Shines Under Saturday Night Lights

It was once again time to shine under the ‘Saturday Night Lights’ of Wellington International for the $50,000 Palm Beach Equine Clinic Grand Prix during week two of the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF). The International Arena came alive for a win from Brazil’s Rodrigo Pessoa from a field of forty-five over tracks built by course designer Ana Catalina “Catsy” Cruz (MEX).

Eleven horses returned for the jump-off, concluding with a true international podium. It was Pessoa and Gonzalo (Viceroy T x Londontimes), owned by Paseo Farms, LLC, that took home the winning title. The 2004 Olympic champion took the victory with a jump-off time of 38.421 seconds.

Ireland’s Darragh Kenny and Eddy Blue (El Dorado vd Zeshoek x Chacco-Blue), owned by Kerry Anne, LLC, took the second spot with a clear and close 38.574 second round, and Spain’s Gonzalo Busca closed out the podium riding his own Cristiano Obolensky (Cornet Obolensky x Stakkato) in 39.386 seconds.

Gonzalo is the former mount of Irish rider Trevor Breen and recently joined Pessoa’s stable under the ownership of his student Rachel Penner.

“Unfortunately, Rachel had an injury so I’ve been keeping the horses running until she’s back. We got Gonzalo last summer, and have been pleased with him so far, especially tonight,” said Pessoa, who was keen to get the gelding back in the atmosphere of a big class. “He’s thirteen-years-old now and has a lot of experience, so it was no mystery to us what he could do. We wanted to put him under the lights tonight for possibilities later in the season when he goes back to Rachel.”

Wellington turned out despite a chilly evening to support horse sport in their backyard, and the stands were filled with local show jumping fans to watch Gonzalo show off.

“He had a bit of an advantage tonight as he has jumped under these circumstances before but it’s nice to have classes like this at the beginning of the circuit,” said Pessoa. “It allows riders to bring out younger horses, not jump too big, and give them a round with this atmosphere.”

Of the high caliber of horses and riders who have ascended upon WEF for the winter season, Pessoa noted, “Whether it’s a national grand prix, two-star, or five-star the competition is always tough here, and people come to win so it keeps you on your toes no matter what level.”

WEF 2 comes to a close on Sunday when the $140,000 Keyflow Feeds USA CSI3* Grand Prix takes to the turf as the featured class on the grass derby field at Equestrian Village.

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