Twenty-one-year-old Lucy Deslauriers has spent the past two months in school at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

But she didn’t let a little thing like not riding get in the way of winning Sunday’s $214,000 Holiday & Horses Grand Prix CSI4* at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center in Florida.

A total of 45 combinations contested course designer Anthony D’Ambrosio (USA) 17-effort track. Deslauriers and Hester, 29th in the order, posted the first clear. Only three more would match their performance: Jessica Springsteen (USA) and Don Juan Van De Donkhoeve; Kent Farrington (USA) and Kaprice; and Lucy’s father, Mario Deslauriers (CAN) aboard Bardolina 2.

First to return for the tie breaker, Lucy and the 2005 Belgian Warmblood gelding posted a second foot perfect round, stopping the clock in 35.06 seconds.

“I really had to stay focused and stick to our plan,” said Deslauriers. “We had a pretty clear layout of what I wanted to do and what I needed to do based on what we thought would lead to a clear round, so I couldn’t really think about the fact that nobody had gone clear yet. I really just had to stay super narrow-minded, like tunnel vision almost, toward our plan.”

And then the excruciating wait…

Springsteen and Don Juan Van De Donkhoeve came closest to their time with a fault-free round in 36.21 to take second place. Mario and Bardolino finished third with the only other clear in 38.238.

“I just have so much gratitude for my horse. At the beginning of the week, I definitely felt a little bit rusty,” said Lucy. “This was my first week back in the show ring. I think the result is just a testament to my horse and our team because they’ve kept my horses in shape and kept him ready to go for when I got here. Huge thanks to them. I’m so happy!”

Feature image: Lucy Deslauriers and Hester. ©Anne Gittins Photography