Las Vegas, NV – Canada’s Erynn Ballard and Nanini van d’Abelendreef bested a field of 26 entries to win the $25,000 CSI4*-W 1.35m Blenheim EquiSports Jump-Off Classic, presented by Human Touch, on Friday, November 19, at the Las Vegas National Horse Show, held at the South Point Hotel, Casino & Spa.
Ballard and the 8-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare, owned by Ilan Ferder and Esperanza Imports LLC, were one of 11 entries to navigate the first-round, Guilherme Jorge-designed course without fault, making for a crowd-pleasing jump-off round.
When Ballard crossed under the Longines archway and entered the ring as the penultimate jump-off entry, the time to beat had been set at 29.13 seconds by the USA’s Karl Cook and E’Special P.S., owned by Signe Ostby.
While Ballard felt that she and Nanini van d’Abelendreef could have shaved off further time had they opted to leave out a stride or two that others had, their time of 28.89 seconds would prove to be just enough to clinch the win. With Cook finishing in second place, third place went to Laura Hite of the U.S., and Chattanooga, owned by HF Farms LLC.
“It worked out for me tonight,” said Ballard, who will also contest Saturday’s $50,000 CSI4*-W Las Vegas National Winning Round Classic with Nanini van d’Abelendreef. “I left the window open for somebody else to beat me, but on the flip side, Nini’s getting ready to jump her biggest class tomorrow, so the more confident we can go into the night class the better.”
Ballard has had the ride on “Nini” for the past year, and for her, the Las Vegas National CSI4*-W presents an ideal opportunity for the young mare.
“This is the first opportunity that we’ve had to bring her to a [Fédération Equestre Internationale] show, so it’s a pretty big deal – her first time out FEI and her first big win,” said Ballard, who expressed great appreciation for the offering of a 1.35m CSI4*-W division at this year’s Las Vegas National Horse Show. “You saw a mixed group of horses and riders in the class, some young riders that were able to come to the Las Vegas Horse Show to show FEI, and I was able to bring a young horse, which I normally would never be able to do in a CSI4*. I think it’s quite an opportunity, and it was well supported, so maybe it’s something that we should work for at more shows in the future.”
Now, Ballard will return to the ring for Saturday’s $50,000 CSI4*-W Las Vegas National Winning Round Classic before also jumping Saturday night’s featured $150,000 Longines FEI Jumping World CupTM Las Vegas, presented by Walter Oil & Gas Corporation, beginning at 8 p.m.
“I think that Vegas is really special,” concluded Ballard. “I’ve jumped three World Cup qualifiers so far – Sacramento, Kentucky, and now Vegas. The feel in Sacramento and now Vegas prepares you for World Cup Finals. There’s such a great atmosphere. They’re not huge rings, so I think you really get an opportunity to know if you’re ready to go to the World Cup Finals or if you have some work to do.”
Doors open at 6 p.m. for Saturday night’s featured class, with tickets available to purchase here.