Edited Press Release
Split Rock Jumping Tour (SRJT) has brought FEI competition to Fort Worth, Texas for the first time with the Fort Worth International CSI4*-W, which kicked off on Wednesday, December 15, with exciting show jumping action in the Will Rogers Coliseum.
Highlighting Thursday’s competition was the $75,000 Restylane 1.50m Welcome CSI4*-W, where 39 horse-and-rider combinations from nine nations were tested over a masterful track set by course designer Anderson Lima (BRA) and Nick Granat (USA). Representing the United States, Hunter Holloway and Hays Investment Group’s Pepita Con Spita (DSP Con Spirit x Come On) topped the talented field, with Margie Engle (USA) and Gladewinds Partners LLC’s Royce finishing in second, and Ailish Cunniffe (USA) and Graylish LLC’s Vilvaldi Du Theil finishing in third to round out the night’s all-female podium.
For the Welcome Stake, Lima set a difficult course of 15 jumping efforts with a tight time-allowed of 74 seconds. Ultimately, only three entries, all bearing the U.S. flag, were able to navigate the track fault-free after successfully clearing all of the obstacles, including a difficult vertical-vertical-oxer triple combination. Cunniffe and Vivaldi du Theil were the third horse-and-rider combination to be seen in the initial phase of competition and were the first to meet the challenge of a clear finish. It wasn’t until after the mid-way break that Holloway and Pepita Con Spita assured a jump-off, and they were joined shortly thereafter by Engle and Royce.
The first back in the ring, Cunniffe accumulated four faults on Vivaldi Du Theil, setting the pace for the jump-off with a time of 39.22 seconds. Holloway and Pepita Con Spita followed, stopping the clock with no faults in 38.58 seconds. Engle and Royce rounded out the jump-off, with a blazing time of 38.13 seconds, but an unfortunate rail left the pair in second place. Holloway’s win Thursday night marked her third FEI victory on the 2021 SRJT tour after topping both the CSI2* Welcome and Grand Prix at the Denver International in July.
“I loved the course,” commented Holloway who will be going for her second straight Longines FEI World Cup win Saturday night in the week’s featured event, the $215,000 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Fort Worth CSI4*-W, presented by Lugano Diamonds. “It was a fantastic track and it’s a fantastic ring to ride in. We’re very lucky to be here. I was for sure going to give it my all, but I knew I just needed a nice double clear. I knew my horse was quick enough to get me through even with the tough competition behind me, so I just wanted to put in a quick clear round.”