Spain’s Sergio Alvarez Moya riding Charmeur took title place on the podium this evening in the Rolex Grand Prix, the highlight of the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF).

After a sun-drenched day and spectacular sunset, the bright lights of the arena were illuminated, ready to welcome 40 of the world’s best horse and rider combinations, from 17 nations, to contend for one of the world’s toughest 5* Grand Prix. The passionate crowd were treated to a typically demanding course set by the world-famous course designer, Guilherme Jorge. The technicality of the course proved too much for many of the elite riders. From the first 20 combinations to go, there was only one clear round to count for, and in total, only five riders proceeded through to the jump-off.

Although Rolex Testimonee Kent Farrington rode to victory earlier in the day, fortune was not on his side in the Rolex Grand Prix. A tense crowd hushed to near silence ready to cheer on the home favourite, until the very last rail was gently rolled from its bracket by a stray hind foot.

Rolex’s newest Testimonee Jeroen Dubbeldam also suffered an unlucky four faults, halting his chances of reaching the jump-off. However, his quick time placed him in an eventual ninth place. Despite a valiant effort from Rolex’s longest serving equestrian Testimonee, Rodrigo Pessoa, he was also unable to progress through to the jump-off.

INTERNATIONAL JUMP-OFF

Karen Polle from Japan was the first rider to enter the arena for the jump-off and set an impressive time of 39.54 seconds, although unfortunately knocked a pole, incurring four faults. Spain’s Sergio Alvarez Moya aboard Charmeur was next to go and recorded an incredibly fast time of 37.76 with no faults, putting pressure on the remaining three American riders left to go. USA’S Beezie Madden and Laura Kraut were unable to challenge Alvarez Moya, leaving it up to McLain Ward, a home favourite and current world number four. Even after a daring round, Ward’s time could not beat the triumphant Spanish rider, who claimed the Grand Prix by just eight hundredths of a second.

Speaking after his win, Alvarez Moya commented “I’m delighted with how my horse jumped, it’s the Grand Prix everyone wants to win. The Rolex Grand Prix is the final and biggest of the circuit, I couldn’t have finished the Winter Equestrian Festival in a better way.”

WINTER EQUESTRIAN FESTIVAL

The WEF is unique in its nature, with 12 weeks of competition focused entirely on equestrian sport. The three-month spectacle in horse sport attracts many of show jumping’s elite riders, who are seeking winter sun and unprecedented outdoor equine facilities, as the first quarter of the European show jumping circuit continues indoors. A total of 6,000 horses and 2,000 riders from across 30 countries base themselves in Palm Beach from January until April, to educate their younger rides and to prepare their top horses for the first Rolex Grand Prix of the year at WEF. In 2014 Rolex enhanced its position in the world of show jumping and with the Winter Equestrian Festival, by signing a long-term agreement to become the Official Timepiece of both the Palm Beach International Equestrian Centre and the WEF.

FINAL RESULTS OF THE ROLEX GRAND PRIX

1. Sergio Alvarez Moya (ESP) riding Charmeur

2. McLain Ward (USA) riding Rothchild

3. Karen Polle (JPA) riding With Wings

4. Laura Kraut (USA) riding Confu

5. Beezie Madden (USA) riding Coach

6. Vanessa Mannix (CAN) riding Grand cru vd Jijf Eiken

7. Margie Engle (USA) riding Royce

8. Laura Chapot (USA) riding Ishd Dual Star

9. Jeroen Dubbeldam (NED) riding SFN Zenith

10. Tiffany Foster (CAN) riding Cadalora P

ROLEX’S EQUESTRIAN HERITAGE

Rolex’s support of show jumping dates back more than half a century. The prestigious Swiss watch brand’s close and long-standing association with equestrianism demonstrates its appreciation of a domain in which fair play, equality, horsemanship and tradition highlight superior skill, accuracy and achievement. From Pat Smythe, the greatest female show jumper ever to represent Britain and Rolex’s first equestrian Testimonee in 1957, to Scott Brash, the only rider in history to win three consecutive Majors in the Grand Slam in September 2015, Rolex continues to support riders in the three Olympic disciplines of show jumping, dressage and eventing, all of which demonstrate qualities of excellence and perfection.