Rodrigo Pessoa Soars to Victory in the $30,000 Old Salem Farm Great Oak Grand Prix at the 2022 Old Salem Farm September Horse Shows
Opening Week of the Old Salem Farm September Horse Shows concluded on Sunday with 27 entries challenging the $30,000 Old Salem Farm Great Oak Grand Prix. Of the seven horse-and-rider combinations who made it to the jump-off, six-time Brazilian Olympian Rodrigo Pessoa sailed to victory with a double-clear time of 34.159 seconds aboard Artemis Equestrian Farm LLC’s 10-year-old Westphalian mare Chili.
The Old Salem Farm September Horse Shows host competitions for riders of all levels and ages, from young riders on ponies to Olympic veterans with their up-and-coming mounts. The September Horse Shows kicked off with a USEF Premier-4 rating for hunters and jumpers September 13-18 and continue with a USEF Premier-2 September 20-24 and USEF National-2 September 28-October 2.
Having been the first to ride clear over the initial 16-effort, 1.45m course, Pessoa and Chili set the time to beat over the shortened track in the jump-off. Only Stephanie Gallucci and Artemis Equestrian Farm LLC’s Calle 67 were able to catch the time, stopping the clock in 33.410 seconds at the tail end of the order, but a downed rail at the penultimate fence kept them from the top spot.
“Going first is never an advantage, but this horse is very, very fast,” Pessoa said. “I had a plan in mind and knew what I wanted to do with all the numbers around the course. If everything came up like I wanted, I knew she could have a pretty good time. With the six other competitors, it turned out to not be fast enough, since one other competitor was faster.
“This is a new mare for us,” he added. “We just got her in January, and we’re still getting to know her. She’s been great through the summer, and she’s confirming all the hopes that we have on her.”
Pessoa and Chili are no strangers to the Old Salem Farm International Arena, having competed at the Spring Horse Shows in May and placed second in both $37,000 FEI 1.45m Jump-off classes.
“She’s evolved really well,” Pessoa said of his young mare. “She’s developed and consolidated well throughout the summer. She’s very, very careful, so we still have to be cautious with the classes that we enter her in. She’s gained a lot of assurance and really improved from the spring to now. She’s coming along famously, and now that we know her a little bit better, we’re able to be more competitive. It’s been a great road so far.”
Francesca Bolfo of New York, NY, rode her Jadalco into second place with a time of 34.201 seconds, while Carly Anthony (USA) and Portfolio Horses LLC’s Jet Blue took third with a time of 34.793 seconds.
Other highlights in the Old Salem Farm International Arena included the $3,000 Junior/Amateur Medium/High Jumper Classic presented by Eastern Hay, which ran just before the afternoon’s Grand Prix. Twenty-three entries vied for top honors over the 14-effort, 1.35-1.40m course, with Francesca Bolfo taking the win aboard Nalini Van Het Wilderhof. Bolfo and her 9-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare had the first and fastest of only four double-clear times, setting an early time to beat of 34.227 seconds.