USA’s Alex Granato was seeing double this weekend at the CP Palm Beach Masters Winter Classic in Wellington, FL.
Aboard long-time partner Carlchen W, Granato led not one but two victory gallops in the CSI4*-W, officially logging his Best Week EVER of 2019.
The first victory for the speedy pair came in Friday’s $71,200 Suncast® Palm Beach Masters World Cup Qualifier. Topping a massive 18-horse jump off, Granato and the 11-year-old gelding were one of only four combinations to post a double clear. No one was more surprised than the rider.
“I honestly didn’t expect there to be that many in the jump-off,” said Granato after the class.
“My horse is naturally fast, so I just let him carry his pace. I tried to turn a bit tighter and I got away with a couple of rubs in the beginning, but I guess luck was on our side and we kept a quick pace, so we stayed on top.”
Come Sunday, they repeated their winning formula to claim the feature event of the week: the $208,200 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Wellington.
“I have a naturally fast horse, so for both classes I got to play that to my advantage and try to let him run at this pace and stay focused on my track and my turns,” continued Granato.
“I think I got lucky here and there with a rub in each jump-off, but the horse is very fresh. I’ve been gearing him towards this week and I think he came out really fresh and strong and ready for it.”
But was it luck? Or did they make their own luck.
Granato and the Mecklenberg gelding didn’t just win a World Cup Grand Prix, they bested a star-studded field that included three Olympic medalists (USA’s Beezie Madden, Switzerland’s Beat Mandli, and Great Britain’s Ben Maher), a World Cup champion (Canada’s Mario Deslauriers), a World Equestrian Games team gold medalist (USA’s Devin Ryan) and the current world #45 (Ireland’s Conor Swail).
“It’s all just very surreal. It’s been an amazing week,” said the 35-year-old rider.
“It’s a privilege to get to ride at a venue like this and against riders like these whom I have looked up to for a long time. To have a week like this is amazing.”
Deslauriers and Bardolina posted a jump-off clear round time of 43.48 for second place. Mändli and Dsarie took third in 44.16 seconds.