Rabain ready to reclaim her title
Kirista Rabain holds a clear lead in category A after the first two competitions of the FEI World Jumping Challenge held at the National Equestrian Centre last weekend.
Rabain, last year's winner of category B before moving up to the higher level this year, completed the two-day competition on her mount Helsinki with four clear rounds, giving her a 16-point margin ahead of last year's category A winner, Philip Correia, on his mount Emerson.
Correia had two rails down in the first round on Saturday morning but responded with a clear in the second. On Sunday morning he had two uncharacteristic rails down in each of his two rounds, giving him a total of 16 faults over the two days.
Rabain kept her cool over both days completing the four rounds with near-perfect accuracy, ending with a healthy lead which will take her to the final day of competition on Saturday, March 12 at the same venue.
Rabain and Helsinki placed first in category A in 2014, thus giving her the opportunity to travel to Bulgaria last July for the final in which competitors rode on borrowed horses loaned by the host country.
However, the FEI changed the rules last year, with Rabain deciding to compete in the lower category B, the height of which was about the same as the previous A.
This year Rabain proved it was a wise decision to bring on her horse slowly, and she is now in a good position to repeat her 2014 success.
The decision by the FEI to raise the bar for this competition has seemingly reduced the number of potential competitors, with Bermuda having one competitor in category B where Carla Stempel on Laredo had five faults and a clear on day one.
However, she was less successful on day two with eight faults in round one and two refusals in round two, resulting in an elimination. As the revised rules now allow a drop score, Stempel and Laredo will be eligible to compete on the final day.
Category C had four competitors starting with two of them being juniors competing at this level for the first time.
Unfortunately both Courtney Bromby and Kristen Bean had two refusals in the first round, but returned to compete again on the second day where they had six faults and 12 faults, respectively, before again having two refusals in the second round.
The two adults riding in category C had a more successful competition with Dale Rochester on Caroline Gold completing the day with four clear rounds, and Vicki Steele on All in One close behind with three clear rounds and one rail down in the fourth round leaving her with four faults.
The final day on March 12 promises some exciting competition.
Ian Truran, the course builder and BEF president, admits it is a lot of work putting on the competition for seven riders, but believes the effort is worth it as it provides an opportunity for local riders to compete against other countries in the region without having to travel overseas.
Also, the top rider in each FEI region is invited to compete in the final held in a different country each year. Philip Correia, as last year's winner in Bermuda's region, will travel to Morocco in April to compete.