Great Britain’s Scott Brash and Intertoy Z claimed the $25,000 Suncast 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic at the Winter Equestrian Festival in Florida at the weekend.
The pair won over Ben Maher (GBR) and Quiet Easy 4 and Cian O’Connor (IRL) and KEC Alligator Alley in second and third.
The course in the International Arena was set by Richard Jeffery of Bournemouth, England. The 1.50m class brought 40 entries to the ring in the first round, but none were able to clear the course without fault. Thirteen entries finished the round with four fault scores, and a jump-off was held to break the tie.
In the 13-horse jump-off, only four jumped clear, and their times were the deciding factor. Ben Maher and Mrs. Phillips’ Quiet Easy 4 were the first to clear the course and stopped the clock in 40.854 seconds for second place.
Cian O’Connor and KEC Alligator Alley, owned by Sinead and Oonagh Kennedy, were next to jump clear and their time of 41.065 seconds placed third.
Great Britain’s Tina Fletcher and her own Unique IX also cleared the course, and their time of 43.420 seconds took home the fourth place prize.
Last to go in the jump-off, Scott Brash and Intertoy Z jumped the final clear round to take the lead, crossing the timers in 40.403 seconds.
Paige Johnson and Salamander Farm’s Chiron S had the fastest time in the jump-off in 38.453 seconds, but dropped a rail to finish with the fastest four-fault round for fifth place.
Class winner Intertoy Z is a 13-year-old Zangersheide gelding by Interadel x Centauer. Twenty-six-year-old Brash has owned Intertoy Z since the gelding was five years old, and the pair has gained great international experience together.
During this year’s FTI WEF circuit, Brash and Intertoy Z have racked up many top placings, including a win in the $50,000 Wellington Equestrian Realty CSI 2* Grand Prix during week two. Brash has also won several classes with his other horses during the circuit. He won a $25,000 Suncast 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic with Whiskey Mac IV during week four, and won the $200,000 FEI World Cup Qualifier Grand Prix CSI 4*-W with Sanctos Van Het Gravenhof during week nine.
There have been many challenging classes throughout the circuit in the International Arena, but this was the first to see no clear round and a jump-off of the four fault scores. Brash gave his opinion of the course, stating, “I don’t know what was so difficult to be honest. It was just a bit different. It was quite a long course. That last line was a bit tricky, the last fence – a lot had the last fence. I think a lot of the four faulters were pretty unlucky and my horse was unlucky in the first round. I think there were quite a lot of horses in that position.”
The last fence on course in both round one and the jump-off was a Liverpool oxer coming toward the in-gate, and several entries made it through the entire course only to have a rail at that final jump. Intertoy Z had stopped at a Liverpool in the jump-off during a previous week, so Brash made sure to get his horse to the jump with confidence in both rounds.
As the end of the circuit draws near, Brash looks forward to competing in the $500,000 FTI Consulting CSI 5* Finale Grand Prix next Saturday night, but has not yet decided which horse he will show.
Regardless of the final outcome, Brash has had a great experience this season and has learned a lot about himself and his horses.
“It has been fantastic for all of my horses to get up and running and going,” he said. “There have been a couple of new horses here that I have just gotten to know throughout the circuit and you can’t really get that experience with them anywhere else but here, so I think I am going home with a strong team ready for the year.”
Brash is a strong hopeful for the British show jumping team for the Olympic Games this summer, but he is taking it one day at a time. “There is a long way to go yet,” he acknowledged. “The most important thing is to keep the horses sound, keep them right and keep them jumping well, keep myself right, and you never know.”
The Junior and Amateur-Owner Jumpers also showed in the International Arena on Sunday. The $10,000 Griffis Group High Junior Jumper Classic started the day with a win for Charlotte Jacobs and Alexandra Carter’s Cyrina Z. In the $10,000 Charles Owen Low Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic, Danielle Cooper and Fidelity Farm’s Calantus were the winners.