Week Two of the 2019 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) hosted the first international grand prix of the 12-week circuit on Saturday evening. The International Arena saw 44 combinations turn out to compete under the lights over course designer Oscar Soberon’s technical tracks. Eight horses and athletes cleared the 13-fence first round track to advance to the jump-off.
Following their win on Wednesday in the WEF Challenge Cup II, Lauren Hough and Valinski S made another podium finish, jumping to second, behind Canada’s Mario Deslauriers.
“He was fantastic all week,” said Hough of her partner Valinski S. “I am so grateful to have the ride. He’s a wonderful horse who has been wonderful to so many riders. As I left after my round in the jump-off, I knew I had left the door open a touch. I slowed down quite a bit to the double after going very fast the other day. I felt a touch on the flat side so I didn’t take every risk there. Mario had a super round and his horse has a very big stride. I couldn’t be happier with him.”
“Ronnie Beard and Michael Dorman have been very good friends of my family for many years,” Hough continued. “I did ride the horse four years ago for a brief time but when I went back to Europe, they went in a different direction. I have always followed him, and they rang me in the fall and asked if I could start to ride some horses for them this winter. With Ohlala hurt—I left her in Europe for the winter—it really fit nicely and I am just honored that they asked me. I am really enjoying riding him. He’s just a fantastic little campaigner. We might do the 3* next week and then I will give him a little bit of a break.”