Nick Skelton and Big Star once again sped to a win at Florida’s Winter Equestrian Festival, this time in the 11th round of the $30,000 WEF Challenge Cup.
The class saw 11 clear rounds advance to the jump-off, and Skelton and Big Star knocked almost two seconds off the winning time to finish in 33.77 seconds. Ben Maher, who went first in the jump-off with Tripple X III, led for almost the whole jump-off with a time of 35.39 seconds, which would stay in second place. Laura Kraut and Joan Kalman’s Woodstock O put in a time of 35.61 seconds for third place.
Skelton, who is 54, admitted that he’s never had a circuit like this, but also that, “I’ve never been to a circuit as long as this.” He recalled, “Years back at Wembley and the Horse of the Year Show, I hadn’t won a ribbon. It started on a Monday and I hadn’t won a ribbon until Thursday. I won a class on Thursday and then I won every one after that until the end. I won 10 classes on the balance. That’s the best I’ve done. I won six in two days once (too).”
Skelton said that he plans to ride Carlo 273 in next week’s $500,000 FTI Consulting Finale Grand Prix CSI 5* on March 31. “At the end of the day, he’s still a little more experienced and has a couple years on Big Star,” he said.
Skelton has had an unbelievable circuit, with nine major wins. The list of his results include:
Week 1: $30,000 Surpass Grand Prix – 2nd with Unique, Suncast 1.50m – 1st with Unique
Week 2: Suncast 1.50m – 2nd with Unique, WEF Challenge Cup – 1st with Carlo 273
Week 3: WEF Challenge Cup – 1st with Carlo 273
Week 4: $80,000 Adequan Grand Prix – 1st with Big Star
Week 7: Suncast 1.50m – 1st with Big Star
Week 8: $150,000 Wellington Equestrian Realty Grand Prix – 1st with Carlo 273, Suncast 1.50 – 2nd with Unique, WEF Challenge Cup – 2nd with Carlo
Week 9: Suncast 1.50m – 1st with Unique
Week 10: $80,000 Pennfield Feeds Grand Prix – 1st with Big Star
Week 11: WEF Challenge Cup – 1st with Big Star