It was the most highly anticipated pre-season class of the ESP Holiday Series in Wellington, Florida, and Adrienne Sternlicht (USA) and Bennys Legacy brought all the intensity the occasion demanded in the $216,000 Holiday & Horses Grand Prix CSI4*.
Second to last to go on Anthony D’Ambrosio’s shortened track, the pair didn’t waste a single stride, making effective use of their turns and the gelding’s enormous step to shave three-tenths of a second off second-place-finisher Andrew Bourns (IRL) and Sea Topblue’s time. Santiago Lambre (BRA) and Chacco Blue II took third.
“I’ve had ‘Benny’ now for over three years, and he has exceeded all of my expectations, as well as everyone else’s,” Sternlicht said. “He’s so reliable, and we know each other so well. I’m really grateful to have him in my life.”
According to Sternlicht, D’Ambrosio’s challenging track and tight time-allowed was appropriate for the competitive, 41-horse, pre-season field, which included some seasoned combinations from 13 nations around the world. “I think, with the time allowed, you had to be on it as a rider, which I’m always working on with [Benny]. I thought it was a good course with the right amount [clears] for this caliber of jumping.”
This is the second big win in just four outings for Sternlicht and Benny, who also took home the $73,960 Speed Challenge CSI3* at the Greenwich Polo Club in Connecticut in early October. With an eye on saving the soon-to-be-15-year-old Oldenburg for championship teams, Sternlicht says she’s extra thoughtful about how and where she uses him.
“Moving forward, I’ll pick and choose and be very selective with him, so you won’t see him out for at least two months,” she said. Though, for his part, it’s clear Benny’s long-term pride of place on Sternlicht’s string is all but assured.
“He’s such a character,” she says. “Everyone on my team completely adores him.”