“He was really right with me today, I felt like I was just looking, and he knew what I was going to do before I did it.”

So said Lucy Deslauriers (USA) of her long-time mount Hester in Thursday’s $73,000 Adequan® WEF Challenge Cup Round 5 CSI5* at the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) in Wellington, FL.

Of the 56 deep starting field, 18 combinations found clear paths over the Kelvin Bywater (GBR) set track. Fifteen elected to return for the jump off. None could catch Deslauriers and the 16-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding’s time of 31.97 seconds—nor their enthusiasm.

“I go into the jump-off, and I know it’s just going to be fun,” she said with a smile. “I have to stick to my plan, and he’s always with me. I came out of the ring last week and I was like, ‘I think he had fun.’ It’s always a good time.”

The 22-year-old rider and her winning mount an impressive win record over their eight year partnership. Since the launch of their international career in 2014, they’ve collected individual gold at the 2015 Adequan®/FEI North American Young Rider Championships, a team bronze medal at the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, Peru and numerous 5* victories. Most recently, the pair claimed a pair of 4* victories in November and December 2020 in Wellington.

Come Saturday, they’ll be looking to add the $401,000 Douglas Elliman Real Estate Grand Prix CSI5* in the International Arena to that growing record.

“[Hester] really knows me so well,” said Deslauriers. “I feel like he knows what I’m going to do before I do it so in a class like this and especially on Saturday night when you know it’s going to be a big and technical course, it’s always an advantage.

“The competition here is as tough as it ever has been, and it’s the goal to win when we compete in these classes. I can use today’s victory to boost my confidence before Saturday, but I know I still have a job to do in a few days.”

See the blue arm band? Deslauriers victory is one for the The Equestrian Cooperative, as well. Together with co-founders Adrienne Sternlicht, Paige Bellissimo and Tori Repole, the young rider launched a fundraiser this week that aims to dissolve the medical debt of about 1,200 Palm Beach County residents via for the national initiative RIP Medical Debt. Any donation of $50 earns an armband and a chance to win raffle prizes. Learn more and donate at https://secure.qgiv.com/event/ec/

Feature image: Lucy Deslauriers (USA) and Hester capture the Adequan® WEF Challenge Cup Round 5. ©Sportfot