Amanda Derbyshire (GBR) had a plan for the 2019 winter season.
Start slow. Build her horses to the end of the 12-week Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) marathon. And aim for a spot on Nations Cup teams in the summer.
Her results in the ring over the past six days suggest she’s on precisely track.
Last Saturday, Derbyshire won the first Saturday Night Lights grand prix of her career, taking the win in the $134,000 Horseware Ireland Grand Prix CSI 3* with Roulette BH, at WEF in Wellington, FL.
On Thursday, the British import added the $72,000 Equinimity WEF Challenge Cup CSI 4* to her growing resume with Luibanta BH, the same horse that took her to the FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon last year.
“It feels incredible,” said Derbyshire of her two consecutive major victories. “I was missing out on showing a little bit, but finally it paid off that I saved them for the right classes! The horses feel great, and they jumped absolutely fantastic.”
Thursday’s feature class saw 69 entries contest the Olaf Petersen Jr-designed track, set in the International Ring of the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) showgrounds. Of the 12 to qualify for the jump-off, 10 elected to face off for the short course.
Sixth to return, Martin Fuchs (SUI) and Chica BZ set the time to beat at 42.72 seconds. But it would be the final entry that proved to be the fastest.
Last to go, Derbyshire and her 11-year-old Irish Sport Horse mare crossed the finish line in 41.81 seconds to take the win.
“I actually didn’t think that I was faster than Martin because I did 10 [strides] in the last line, and I know he did nine,” explained Derbyshire. “I was clear up until that point, so I just tried to not get too greedy. I did the number I planned, and it just happened that I was a little faster.
“I did walk the course thinking, ‘Wow! It’s big today,’ but it rode nice for everyone,” continued Derbyshire. “Obviously in a tighter ring, it’s pretty important to stick to the plan and the track when there are a lot of options on all the bending lines to do different numbers. So I walked my plan this morning, went away for a little bit and did some stuff up at WEF, and came back 20 out, watched a couple, and rode the track that I walked this morning, and it happened to work out well!”
Next item on Derbyshire’s plan for Luibanta BH: team competition.
“With this horse, she’s always going to jump the jumps, and she’s so agile and light,” she said. “She’s always going to look to that next jump, and she’s always going to back herself off; that’s the beauty of her. She is simply the nicest horse you could ever be around or work around. She’s very happy go lucky. After WEG, she’s kind of taken it easy, and we’ve got big plans for the summer—hopefully some Nations Cups.”
Fuchs and Chica BZ finished second. Third place went to Canada’s Susan Horn aboard Balintore, the only other combination to produce a double clear effort (49.78 seconds).