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Brazil’s Rodrigo Pessoa jumped to victory with Citizenguard Cadjanine Z in Saturday night’s $280,000 FEI World Cup Grand Prix CSI-W 4*in Wellington, Florida.

The class featured a roster of the world’s top riders and saw a win for the legendary show jumper and his promising new mount ahead of three young US riders. Jessica Springsteen and Vindicat W, Wilton Porter and Paloubet, and Katie Dinan with Nougat du Vallet finished second, third and fourth respectively.

Rodrigo Pessoa and Citizenguard Cadjanine Z
Rodrigo Pessoa and Citizenguard Cadjanine Z

Ireland’s Alan Wade set the track for 45 competitors who qualified during the week to compete in Saturday night’s World Cup qualifying grand prix competition at the Winter Equestrian Festival. Seventeen combinations jumped clear to advance to the jump-off and seven of those were able to clear the second round course without fault. Rodrigo Pessoa and Alain van Campenhoudt’s Citizenguard Cadjanine Z blazed to victory in 39.52 seconds.

Twenty-two-year old Jessica Springsteen flew to a second place finish with Stone Hill Farm’s Vindicat W in 41.97 seconds. First to go in the jump-off, Wilton Porter, 20, set a very fast pace with Sleepy P Ranch LLC’s Paloubet in 42.64 seconds to finish third. Katie Dinan, 21, finished fourth with Grant Road Partners’ Nougat du Vallet in 43.11 seconds.

The Leading Lady Grand Prix Rider Award was also presented to Dinan on Saturday night for her success throughout week nine. The award is presented by Martha Jolicoeur of Illustrated Properties in memory of Dale Lawler.

For his win, Pessoa was presented with the Herman ‘Kappy’ Kaplan Perpetual Memorial Trophy, established for Kappy with fondness by the Farriers of the 1995 WEF. Pessoa has won the trophy twice before, topping the week nine grand prix in back to back years in 2010 aboard Double H Farm’s Night Train and 2011 with Double H Farm’s HH Let’s Fly.

Pessoa started riding Citizenguard Cadjanine Z, a 12-year-old Zangersheide mare (Canabis Z x Feinschnitt I Z), in July 2013 and has been working on developing a good rapport with what he calls a “special” and particularly quirky horse.

Jessica Springsteen and Vindicat W
Jessica Springsteen and Vindicat W. © Sportfot

The pair made big steps competing in Wellington this winter, including a shared victory with fellow Brazilian Alvaro de Miranda in week seven’s $125,000 Ruby et Violette WEF Challene Cup Round 7. Pessoa has big hopes for the mare and thinks that she has great potential. She has already done big things, including a 2012 Olympic Games appearance in London with Belgium’s Gregory Wathelet.

“She has the potential to jump any track. She is super brave and she has tremendous scope, it’s just that some days she can be a little bit quirky,” Pessoa said. “She’s special. She has days that she is not really into it and she doesn’t give you any warning. She is fairly unpredictable, but when she is in the mood to go, she is as good as any horse out there, and she was definitely in the mood today!”

Jessica Springsteen was very happy with her second place finish with Vindicat W, especially since the young rider has been commuting back and forth between Florida and North Carolina for school. She is in her third year at Duke University.

“He felt great tonight,” Springsteen said of Vindicat. “I rubbed the third fence really hard, so I’m lucky it didn’t come down, but it was great. I thought by the end the fences got a lot bigger, so I was surprised there were so many clear, but I was really happy with him.”

Springsteen said although she has gone fast with Vindicat before, this was probably the fastest she has gone while still leaving the fences up. “That’s my problem. I usually go a little bit too fast and get too much going, so I tried to keep it together,” she said.

Springsteen had the additional challenge of going after the very fast round that Pessoa put down, and she did her best to keep up. “I wasn’t expecting to beat him, but yeah, I was happy,” she smiled.

Springsteen explained that she has been going back and forth to school and skipping two weeks in a row to show. “This is my second week. I showed last week, so it was kind of nice,” she said. “I was practicing more, and I think that helped.”

Wilton Porter and Paloubet
Wilton Porter and Paloubet. © Sportfot

“It’s hard to really train a lot,” she said of the challenge to stay competitive while not riding regularly. “I fly down Wednesday night and go straight into the ‘WEF’ (Challenge Cup). I think I have gotten better at not riding as much. I used to get jumped loose all the time, but I have gotten used to it a bit more. I’m lucky that I know my horses really well that I am riding. If I had a new horse it would be different, but with Vindicat, it’s my third year with him. I know him really well, so I feel confident stepping into a big grand prix.”

Third place finisher, Wilton Porter, is also a young rider traveling back and forth from school as a freshman at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee and has faced the added challenge of staying up to par to compete against the world’s best riders in Wellington.

“I personally kind of feel like an underdog,” Porter said. “If I don’t do well it’s not the end of the world, but I’m trying to prove something, so I am constantly pushing myself harder. Being a young rider and balancing school and riding, I have a great team helping me out, so I can always count on them when I’m competing.”