Puerto Rico's Francis Tress Roig Claims $40,000 Grand Prix


Francis Tress Roig of Puerto Rico claimed his first Grand Prix victory of the Winter Equestrian Festival by winning the $40,000 KRR Enterprises CSI2* Grand Prix on Sunday, January 27. The $40,000 KRR Enterprises CSI2* Grand Prix was the final event of week two of the 12-week CN Winter Equestrian Festival, presented by Zimmerman Advertising.

Limited to one horse per rider, a total of 53 horses attempted the technical 1.45m track set by Great Britain's Richard Jeffery, an eight-time United States Equestrian Federation 'Course Designer of the Year'. The track featured three double combinations as well as an open water obstacle that caught 21 of the entries including current Olympic champion Rodrigo Pessoa of Brazil with his otherwise impressive new mount, Chaplin. The tight time allowed of 82 seconds also played a factor with two riders, Angela Moore riding Claus and Olympic Gold Medalist Joe Fargis with his new mount, Tarco, successfully negotiating the course only to incur one time fault.

In the end, four horse-rider combinations managed clean slates to advance to the tie-breaker. Canada's Eric Lamaze, 39, the leading money earner on the 2007 WEF circuit, was lightning fast as the lead-off rider, but a rail fell at the second-last fence. With four faults and a time of 39.88 seconds, he would eventually end up third with Narcotique de Muze II, an 11-year-old Belgian Sport Horse mare by Darco.

Tress Roig of San Juan, Puerto Rico, was next to challenge and laid down a clear round in a time of 42.21 seconds with Lady in Blue, a selle francais mare sired by Mr. Blue. Louis Jacobs and the chestnut mare Kachina were next in the ring, but a rail fell early on course, ending their chances of victory and leaving them fourth overall.

As the final challenger, the final placings depended on McLain Ward of Brewster, N.Y. Riding Sapphire, his 2004 Olympic Team Gold Medal partner, Ward was efficient and tactical to leave all the rails in the cups, but his time of 42.50 seconds would not be fast enough to catch Tress Roig.

"He's always so fast, you can never be faster than McLain," said Tress Roig who admitted that he assumed Ward would win and didn't even watch his jump-off round. For his efforts, Tress Roig pocketed $12,000 in prize money.

"It was unbelievable! The mare jumped terrific, and I couldn't have asked for anything more," said Tress Roig, 23, who commutes between San Juan where he attends University of the Sacred Heart and Wellington, Fla., where his horses are in training with 1992 Olympic Bronze Medalist, Norman Dello Joio. Dello Joio found Lady in Blue for Tress Roig in France in November of 2006 through Adeline and Eric Negri. Having shown the mare in the amateur jumper division at last year's Winter Equestrian Festival, the $40,000 KRR Enterprises Grand Prix marked the pair's first grand prix appearance.

"My plan for the jump-off was to be smooth and clean, and she's naturally fast anyway," said Tress Roig who, last year, placed fourth in the first grand prix event of the Winter Equestrian Festival riding Ascertijo, his 2007 Pan American Games mount.

While Ward was disappointed not win, he put the focus on preparing for the upcoming Olympic Games, the equestrian portion of which will be held in Hong Kong.

"She is fresh, she's been off since Calgary (September 2007). Everything has been about getting ready for Hong Kong," said Ward, 32, who will also ride Sapphire, a 13-year-old Belgian Sport Horse mare by Darco, in the Grand Prix next Sunday, February 3. "I was trying to beat Francis and maybe I played it to close. They told me that he wasn't that fast, but I think that Eric was so fast that maybe Francis just didn't look that fast. I was a bit conservative, but our focus is Hong Kong."

A total of 2,572 horses competed during week two, which was rated a CSI2* by the International Equestrian Federation (FEI). The 12-week 2008 CN Winter Equestrian Festival, presented by Zimmerman Advertising, attracts the best horses and riders from around the world to Wellington, Fla., and offers more than $5 million in prize money. For more information, please visit www.equestriansport.com.

Results of Class 101 - $40,000 KRR Enterprises CSI2* Grand Prix

1. 1455 LADY IN BLUE FRANCIS TRESS ROIG PUR 0.00 78.28 0.00 42.21 $12000
2. 1164 SAPPHIRE MCLAIN WARD USA 0.00 79.35 0.00 42.50 $8800
3. 5635 NARCOTIQUE DE MUZE II ERIC LAMAZE CAN 0.00 80.00 4.00 39.88 $5200
4. 153 KACHINA LOUIS JACOBS USA 0.00 79.86 4.00 42.26 $3200
5. 1648 CLAUS ANGELA MOORE USA 1.00 82.19 $2400
6. 3060 TARCO JOE FARGIS USA 1.00 82.45 $2000
7. 1190 NERINA KENT FARRINGTON USA 4.00 76.07 $1600
8. 1529 RULANDA CAROLYN KELLY USA 4.00 76.35 $1200
9. 5251 LET''S FLY PETER WYLDE USA 4.00 77.18 $1100
10. 477 INDY STAR II LAURA BOWERY USA 4.00 77.80 $1000
11. 1352 CANTERO Z AINSLEY VINCE CAN 4.00 78.04 $750
12. 5856 CALDAM'OR JIMMY TORANO USA 4.00 78.14 $750

Francis Tress Roig of Puerto Rico rode Lady in Blue to victory
in the $40,000 KRR Enterprises CSI2* Grand Prix
on Sunday, January 27

Photo: Ken Braddick - Equestrian Sport Productions

The 2008 CN Winter Equestrian Festival attracts the best horses and riders from around the world to Wellington and offers more than $5 million in prize money. For more information, visit www.equestriansport.com


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