Ocala, FL – Nearly 50 aspiring horse-and-rider combinations took center stage early this morning to vie for the top prize in the $10,000 Buckeye Nutrition Futures Prix. Last to go in the order, Luis Larrazabal (VEN) stole the leading time by four hundredths of a second aboard Driss Ngadi’s Belle De Muze (Ponsee V x Lando).
FEI Level III course designer Peter Grant (CAN) set the intricate tracks that allowed 14 duos to advance to the immediate jump-off. It all came down to an exciting head-to-head battle between Olympian Will Simpson (USA) and Luis Larrazabal as both riders aimed for the top spot on the podium.
Larrazabal was the pathfinder in the class aboard his first mount Abril Kontendra in 35.474 seconds, which held for a good portion of the class until Will Simpson and Two Socks Farm LLC’s Quentin VA (Quarz x Trixie) shaved off nearly one second to finish in 34.750 seconds.
Simpson was shooting for a double victory when he entered second to last aboard Will Simpson Stables Inc.’s ES Keminko N (Grand Slam VDL x Deminka N). Simpson was even faster with the eight-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding in 34.593 seconds, but victory was not yet sealed as one competitor remained.
Larrazabal was currently sitting third with Abril Kontendra and was determined to steal back his lead aboard the speedy Belle De Muze.
“I was very lucky to go last in the order, I was winning with my first horse for a while, but then Will went faster on both his horses. I knew my mare was naturally fast, so I tried to be as quick as I could and hopefully leave all the poles in their cups,” said Larrazabal.
Larrazabal used the 13-year-old Warmblood mare’s lightning speed across the ground to his advantage and stopped the clock at 34.554 seconds to gallop away with the lion’s share of the prize money.
Larrazabal spoke about the skilled and careful mare, “We brought her over from Europe a couple of months ago, I think in March. Since day one she’s been amazing. She was already a winner over in Europe and to be able to ride her is just unbelievable. She just wants to go clear and as fast as she can. I just try not to get in her way.”
World Equestrian Center – Ocala has become a favorite destination for Larrazabal and his team, “This place is amazing. It’s one in a million. Everything is perfect; there are so many places to ride, the footing is perfect and you have so many different restaurants to choose from with all different types of food. Everyone is so nice, they offer to help and treat us like true clients. Sometimes at horse shows, we aren’t treated like paying customers even when we are, but here they make sure the riders and horses are the main focus. Myself, my team and my family love coming here. We are from Wellington, so it’s so nice to have WEC just a few hours away to come and enjoy.”
$10,000 Buckeye Nutrition Futures Prix Results:
1 Belle De Muze, Luis Larrazabal, Driss Ngadi: 0 | 0 | 34.554
2 ES Keminkio N, Will Simpson, Will Simpson Stables Inc.: 0 | 0 | 34.593
3 Quentin VA, Will Simpson, Two Socks Farm LLC: 0 | 0 | 34.750
4 Abril Kontendra, Luis Larrazabal, San Francisco Stables LLC: 0 | 0 | 35.474
5 Can Talk To Me TD MTM, Tracy Fenney, MTM Farm: 0 | 0 | 37.155
6 Centadel Blue, Elisabeth Yeager, Elisabeth Yeager: 0 | 0 | 41.452
7 Il Etait Une Fois A Rivereuille, Juan Rodriguez Silva, Rodriguez Equestrian: 0 | 0 | 42.506
8 Scoop De Septon Z, Luis Sabino Goncalves, Sigma Stables LLC: 0 | 4 | 37.547
9 Quincy Too, Dominique Damico, Dominque Damico: 0 | 4 | 40.763
10 Touchscreen, Kristen Vanderveen, Bull Run Jumpers, Inc.: 0 | 8 | 36.921