Defending champion, Boyd Martin riding Welcome Shadow, clinched a superb victory to secure a historic third consecutive title with a score of 27.9 in the Land Rover Wellington Eventing Showcase held in Week Four of the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF). Fellow U.S. rider Buck Davidson took second place riding his bay mare, Petite Flower, on a score of 30.9, with Doug Payne (USA) climbing four places in the cross-country to finish third riding Vandiver on a score of 34.2.
The glamorous setting of Wellington, Florida (Palm Beach County) attracted equestrian’s most talented eventers who competed under clear blue skies and the Florida sunshine for two days of intense competition all vying for the $100,000 prize money on offer. Sir Mark Todd (NZL) and Great Britain’s William Fox-Pitt were included in the strong line-up but it was USA’s Marilyn Little and RF Scandalous who rose to the top of the leader board at the end of day one following the dressage phase, with an impressive score of 24.9. The overnight standings were incredibly tight with just four penalties separating the top six riders.
Marilyn Little continued her good form in the show jumping phase steering RF Scandalous around the course, set by Richard Jefferies, to a stunning clear round and within the time. But defending champion Boyd Martin made sure to keep the pressure on, producing a flawless round on his grey mare, Welcome Shadow, sitting just 1.4 penalties behind the leader as they entered the final cross-country phase.
THE FINAL PHASE
The cross-country course, built by world renowned designer Captain Mark Phillips, proved to be challenging with only two riders going under the optimum time of 3 minutes and 59 seconds. The technical course also included a unique phase with the final jump being placed inside the VIP hospitality tent, much to the delight of the packed spectators.
An unfortunate run-out and fall for Marilyn Little riding her first horse, RF Demeter, resulted in her withdrawal from the competition paving the way for defending champion, Boyd Martin, to move into first place ahead of his final round. The pressure was building as Buck rode under the optimum time keeping his score of 30.9 and closing the gap on the leaders. A small mistake from Alison Springer resulted in a run-out at fence 17 for Arthur and took them out of contention.
This left the door open for Boyd and Welcome Shadow. However the unforgiving nature of the cross-country phase meant one mistake could see the world-class combination slip down the rankings. In a nail biting finish Boyd held his nerve through the Land Rover Offset obstacle and galloped passed the packed crowds to victory. Finishing just two seconds over the optimum time, the pair received 0.8 of a time penalty and Boyd claimed his unprecedented third consecutive Land Rover Wellington Eventing Showcase title and the $33,000 winner’s prize money.
Boyd commented on his hat-rick of titles: “It was really great to win the Land Rover Eventing Showcase here in Wellington. It is such a privilege to be here and be part of this great event. I have a wonderful horse in Welcome Shadow, we had some of the best riders in the world here and was the toughest competition yet so I am really pleased.”
Helen McDonald, Events and Partnerships Manager, Jaguar Land Rover North America LLC spoke of this year’s event, “Its been a great weekend of competition and the riders who came from far and wide did not disappoint! Land Rover is proud to once again support such a wonderful event and we congratulate Boyd Martin and Welcome Shadow on his third straight win at the Land Rover Wellington Eventing Showcase.”
Eight-time Olympian, Sir Mark Todd spoke of his first experience at the Land Rover Wellington Eventing Showcase: “It’s great to be here, the facilities are incredible and the location is so unique. It’s an amazing platform for us to showcase the sport of eventing to a new audience and events like this will only help us to grow the sport.”