Peter Lutz and Robin de Ponthual have taken out the $100,000 Longines FEI World Cup Jumping North American League qualifier in Las Vegas at the weekend.
The US pair beat a field of 30 to top the podium at the South Point Hotel and Casino during the CSI3* Las Vegas National.
Germany’s Olaf Petersen Jr. designed the course that offered multiple options in striding and track. Australia’s Matt Williams and Valinski S (Nijinski x Julius) were the first to go double clear in Round 1 and thus, first to go in the jump off, when they set a respectable time of 34.25 seconds with no faults.
One round later, Audrey Coulter (USA) improved on Williams’ time aboard Domino (Thunder van de Zuuthoeve x Azur Depaulstra), although her time of 33.61 seconds did not hold against Lutz’s 33.21 seconds that came second to last in the order.
The international jump-off field included top talents as Jos Verlooy (BEL), Kent Farrington (USA), Eduardo Menezes (BRA), Simon Nizri (ISR), and Lucy Davis (USA), all of whom finished behind the three leading double clears. Current world number two Farrington managed the fastest time of 32.90 seconds with Gazelle (Kashmir van Schuttershof x Indoctro), but an unlucky rail kept him from the top of the podium.
Lutz’s first World Cup qualifier victory marks a new milestone for the rider who has recently transitioned from developing young horses and riders to concentrating his efforts to the top of the sport.
“I spent many years teaching students and developing horses,” Lutz said. “I had nice horses along the way, but I didn’t really have the opportunity to hold onto a horse like Robin in the past and I’m very grateful that I can now. I spent a lot of years bringing along young horses and young riders, including Audrey, who I worked with for many years. I’m really proud of them; many have gone to be great riders. At this point, I’m concentrating more on riding, taking advantage of the opportunities that I have, and I’m really happy that I can do it.”
The talented, 10-year-old Selle Francais gelding (Elf d’Or x Calypso d’Herbiers) originally came from US rider McLain Ward’s stable about a year ago.
“Robin and I have been building a relationship over the past year,” Lutz said. “He’s so talented, scopey, careful, and a winner. We jumped some great classes in the spring, then really this fall, starting at the American Gold Cup, things started to go well.”
The decision to try their hand at the World Cup qualifier in Las Vegas came from the pair’s strong, fourth place finish at the earlier East Coast league event in New York in September
Lutz described his mount as quiet and gentle in the barn but excited as soon as he steps into the competition arena.
The Las Vegas National is the last of the 2015 season for Lutz and Robin. Together, they’ll fly home to New York where they can rest before starting back up in Florida in January.
“I flew with the horses, which was so exciting,” Lutz said. “We flew to Los Angeles then drove here. It’s been a great journey, and this couldn’t be a better ending. It’s the first year that I’m consistently showing at the World Cup level, and I’m thrilled.”
Reporting: Esther Hahn
- Robin de Ponthual (Peter Lutz), USA, 0 faults/33.21 seconds (JO);
- Domino (Audrey Coulter), USA, 0/33.61 (JO);
- Valinski S (Matt Williams), AUS, 0/34.25 (JO);
- Sunshine (Jos Verlooy), BEL, 0/34.30 (JO);
- Gazelle (Kent Farrington), USA, 4/32.90 (JO);
- Quintol (Eduardo Menezes), BRA, 4/34.67 (JO);
- E Muze Yek (Simon Nizri), ISR, 4/35.39 (JO);
- Barron (Lucy Davis), USA, 4/39.25 (JO).