Another day, another top finish for American rider Lacey Gilbertson and Karlin van’t Vennehof.
Only this time, the rest of the field discovered there was no catching them in the CHF $50,000 CSI4* Adequan WEF Challenge Cup Round 3 of the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) at Wellington International in Florida.
Besting a field of 55, the pair stopped the clock at 41.41 seconds, the fastest of nine combinations on course designer Peter Grant’s jump-off track. Lillie Keenan (USA) and Argan De Beliard were third on 43.09 seconds, while Jacob Pope (USA) and Highway FBH rounded out the podium on 44.78.
“I think I have so much confidence in her that when I go in the ring, no matter what happens, if I do it half right, we are going to be clear,” said Gilbertson, whose initially conservative jump-off plan proved to be deceptively fast.
The pair have had three, top-10 placings at the 1.50-1.55m level in their first four outings together at WEF this winter. Thursday’s win marked the first victory of the season (and second ever) for Gilbertson and the 13-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare.
Last year, the two became a dominant force in Major League Show Jumping (MLSJ) competition, where they earned top spots individually and as members of the Spy Coast Spies team at Thunderbird in Langley, B.C.; Traverse City, Michigan, USA; San Miguel de Allende, Mexico; and beyond. Gilbertson took over the ride on “Karlin” from her trainer, Shane Sweetnam (IRL), at Wellington International in 2022. Now, with a full year under their belts, it appears the pair are only getting better.
“Everything makes Karlin special; she’s the kindest, sweetest, and most forgiving horse on earth,” Gilbertson said. “I actually don’t understand how she is as hot and sensitive as she is, while still having all of the other things you need in the ring to be successful.”