Mill Spring, NC – May 4, 2019 – Sharn Wordley (NZL) and Gatsby kicked off the Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC) „Saturday Night Lights“ 2019 series with a win in the $72,000 St. Luke’s Hospital Grand Prix CSI 2*, stopping the jump-off timers in 39.018 seconds to take a second win on the week. Annabella Sanchez (USA) and Incitatus, her own 2009 Oldenburg gelding (Stakkatol x Con Air), was just behind on a time of 39.154 seconds to earn second, while Fernando Cardenas Jr. (COL) and Quincy Car, a 2004 Oldenburg stallion (Galiani Car x Amour Parfait) owned by Fernando and Meredith Cardenas, dashed around the short course in a time of 39.941 seconds to secure the final podium spot.
Course designer Manuel Esparza (MEX) tested 20 entries over his first-round course, with eight pairs accepted back for the jump-off round. The entire podium all finished just under 40 seconds, and Wordley explained that he and Gatsby would have been more comfortably in front had they not had a little hiccup on course:
„My strategy [in the jump-off] was to go not crazy fast, but to keep all the jumps up. The second-to-last jump, on the rollback, it didn’t quite work out the way I wanted to and I had to add an extra stride,“ he said. „That’s why I was on the same second as the second and third [place riders] – I was planning on being a bit faster than what I was, so I got lucky there.“
His advantage, then, came from his naturally fast horse, Wordley detailed. „I just have a very fast, smart horse. That’s where I had the advantage – I have a great horse. The other riders have great horses, too, and it was very close. But, I could’ve been beaten at that one line – I got lucky.“
Wordley and his 2004 Irish Sport Horse stallion (Simba x Cruise On) also took the win in Thursday’s $36,000 Horseware Ireland Welcome Stake, and he was quick to compliment the course build for a competitive field under the lights in Tryon Stadium: „Fantastic week. I love Tryon. It was a very good course,“ Wordley continued. „I thought he had the time just right – it was tight enough. Because the time was quite tight, it forced a few faults that riders wouldn’t have had otherwise. It was a very good course: very square and very wide.“