Samantha Schaefer & James Bond HX Have a License to Thrill in the $150,000 Lugano Diamonds Grand Prix CSI3*
Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) competition culminated on Saturday evening at World Equestrian Center – Ocala with the $150,000 Lugano Diamonds Grand Prix CSI3*. Spectators were on the edge of their seats as 31 equestrian athletes representing ten nations put forth their best efforts over an exacting track designed by Alan Wade (IRL). Last to go, Samantha Schaefer (USA) expertly piloted the talented James Bond HX (Douglas x Cash) to a thrilling clear round and his very first grand prix victory.
Wade’s first round track proved challenging for even the most seasoned riders as just four starters returned for the jump-off including Sean Jobin (CAN), Alexa Pessoa (USA), Nikko Ritter (USA) and Samantha Schaefer (USA).
Welcome Prix top three finisher Sean Jobin and Coquelicot VH Heuvelland Z (Catoki x Cassini II) owned by Foxridge Farms Stables were the first duo to return for the jump-off.
“Alan set a pretty challenging course tonight. The oxers were quite wide and I think the wall out of the corner was a unique challenge. Then you had to go straight to the triple combination with a big oxer in the middle. The horses really had to stretch and work hard in those spots, but I’m thankful for my horse for helping me out tonight,” said Jobin.
Jobin and the 11-year-old Zangersheide gelding were clear, setting the pace at 41.83 seconds for the remaining athletes.
Alexa Pessoa (USA) followed aboard Carlito’s Way 6 (Casall x Lordanos) owned by Artemis Equestrian Farm LLC. The pair were quick in 40.55 seconds but with an unfortunate rail along the way.
Nikko Ritter followed with his own Aquiles Del Caribe Z (Action-breaker x Gerlinus). Ritter and the nine-year-old Zangersheide gelding gave the track their all, finding an even faster time in 41.02 seconds.
Ritter spoke about his new partnership with the skilled gelding, “This is his first three-star grand prix. I couldn’t be more ecstatic with how he jumped. He did everything I asked of him, and he rose to the occasion in that arena,” shared Ritter. “The ambience here helps all of the horses jump so well. They go out there and feel like a million bucks with that crowd.”
Samantha Schaefer and Bonne Chance LLC’s James Bond HX were the final pair to attempt Wade’s jump-off track. “I didn’t really walk the jump-off. I knew it was eight from one to two and another eight back to the combination. I was thinking a quiet 12 strides to the last, but he has a pretty big stride. I told myself if I caught the FEI oxer by the gate how I wanted, I would land and commit. I ended up doing ten.”
The pair soared over the Lugano Diamonds oxer stopping the clock at 39.37 seconds, nearly two seconds faster than second place, to secure the top place spot atop the podium.