Edited Press Release
Lebanon’s Jad Dana is back on top to start the 2024 season of the Winter Equestrian Festival with a win in the $75,000 Prestige Italia Grand Prix to cap Premiere Week at Wellington International on Sunday. Dana, 28, and ABC Quantum Cruise, owned by Wyndmont, set an uncatchable pace in an eight-horse jump-off during the week’s feature event in the International Arena.
“Every win is special, but winning today was unexpected,” said a surprised Dana after he stole the lead from Germany’s Richard Vogel over courses designed by Eric Hasbrouck (USA). “After watching Richard’s jump-off – who was right before me – I was thinking whether I should play it safe and go for a double-clear or give it a go. I honestly didn’t think I was going to win, but it was my day today.”
Dana, who trains with U.S. Olympic team gold medalist Leslie Howard, took over the top spot with room to spare in 37.038 seconds and bumped Vogel to second. Vogel piloted Cydello, owned by Coleridge Equestrian, to a time of 38.121 seconds. Roberto Teran Tafur (COL) rounded out the podium placings riding Santana, owned by Rocking Basilisk Farm, in 39.467 seconds.
“I knew I went fast, but I didn’t think I was a whole second faster,” said Dana. “I have a really nice string of horses and I’m very excited for the season. Hopefully it continues, but we will do our best.”
ABC Quantum Cruise, a 2009 Irish Sport Horse gelding (Obos Quality 004 x Cruising), joined Dana’s string last year and the pair has made quick work of jumping to the top with both three and four-star wins in the last two months.
“He has one speed and that’s really fast,” said Dana of ABC Quantum Cruise, the former mount of Australian Olympian Matt Williams after getting a start in the international ranks with British Olympic team gold medalist Peter Charles. “It’s part of our program. We love to win just like everybody, but I think these days the jump-offs are so competitive, if you have a slower horse you don’t really have a chance. Even at home we practice going forward and working off a fast pace so when we come to the jump-off it’s not something new to us. He fought for me today, and this win is huge for our partnership.
“He’s been successful with other riders and I’m hoping I can be as successful and even more,” concluded Dana.
For the win, Dana was presented with an X-Perience saddle from Prestige Italia.