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Ireland's David Blake Proves It's More Than Luck, Riding to 1-2 Finish in the 1.30m-1.35m Wellington Turf Tour

RELEASE: March 5, 2014
AUTHOR/ADMINISTRATOR: Phelps Media Group, Inc. International

David Blake and Lisalba rode to the Wellington Turf Tour 1.30m-1.35m victory at IPC for Week 9 of the series.
David Blake and Lisalba rode to the Wellington Turf Tour 1.30m-1.35m victory at IPC for Week 9 of the series.
Wellington, Fla.
- Ireland's David Blake and Lisalba rode to a blazing time of 26.307 seconds in the second 1.30m-1.35m Jumper class at the International Polo Club Palm Beach (IPC) to snatch up the win. Not only did he secure the first place, but he also guided his other mount, Aischa to the second place finish. Linda Sheridan and Invitational rode to the first place finish in the first 1.30m-1.35m class, riding to the time of 28.509 seconds.

Darrin Dilin set an early lead this morning at the IPC, riding to the top finishes with three mounts. He left nothing to chance as he guided Tennyson, owned by Susan Grange, to the jump off time of 29.043 seconds. Their time held strong as consecutive competitors attempted to catch it without avail. It wasn't until the end of the day that defeat seemed a possibility.

Ramiro Quintana was the first to surpass Dilin in the jump off. He shaved the seconds with tight turns and an open stride to slide into the lead in 28.785 seconds. Quintana wore a target on his back as Ireland's David Blake rode Aischa onto the field. Blake knew that he had ground to cover in order to take over Jeffery Welles for the Leading Rider Bonus, sponsored by the International Polo Club Palm Beach. Sitting in second with nearly 6,500 points separating the competitors, Blake threw caution to the wind.

He rode Aischa through the timers in a speedy 26.669 seconds, and then returned on his 1.30m ringer, Lisalba. Although he only had himself to beat, he took on the challenge. Blake rode Lisalba to a clear time of 26.307 seconds for the win.

"Lisalba is leading the 1.30m series at the Winter Equestrian Festival," Blake said. "When I saw that the Wellington Turf Tour also offered the 1.30m-1.35m classes, I saw an opportunity to show her here, I am hoping we can show her here on Wednesdays until the end of the series."

Blake continued, "She is older, so she is quite experienced. I have had her for a year and a half, and she is very competitive. We leave her at this level because she is good at it. She knows when it is the jump off. If you show her the turns, she will always make them. She is naturally a quick horse. She is very straightforward, all you have to go in and show her the numbers.

Blake also took the second place in the first 1.30m-1.35m class with Lisalba. His time of 29.019 seconds did not hold against Linda Sheridan and the 18-year-old Invitational. Sheridan is no stranger to the winner's circle at the Wellington Turf Tour, having won the 1.30m-1.35m Jumper class at Deeridge Farms during Week VII with the same mount.

Sheridan made a beautiful turn from the first to second obstacles of the short course, and continued her winning ways during the in-and-out when she made a smart angle into the combination, leaving a stride out and emerging a half of a second faster than Blake and Lisalba to finish in 28.509 seconds.

"He was amazing!" Sheridan exclaimed. "Honestly, I think the biggest thing with this horse was doing a nice turn from the first to second jump in the jump off. Doing the short turn to a bigger oxer wasn't the plan since I am normally very conservative with him, but he was on his favorite lead, the left, and he felt so balanced-he just soared. I really came in on an angle in the in-and-out and he was very clever about that, he left a stride out."

At only 15.1 hands, Invitational is very short, but his stride, speed and scope proved that he is able to compete with the world's best. Sheridan has been riding the gelding for 10 years, and she knows him like the back of her hand.

"It is so nice to be able to come out here and do this for fun," Sheridan stated. "Out here you don't feel all of the pressure. I like this location, and everything was good. For now, I am going to keep him at the 1.35m height, and then after going home in the spring we may do some small grand prix. The 1.40m competition here is very heavy, and he has been jumping fabulous, I don't want to change that. I am so pleased with how he is jumping, that right now I want to keep him comfortable at this level."

Kevin Babington and Borindy would capture the third place just behind Blake. They rode to the time of 30.301 seconds without fault. Jennifer Goddard and Forme Dubra rode to the fourth place finish, while Molly Ashe Cawley and Coq A Doodle finished in fifth. Peter Leone and My Pleasure rounded out the top six with their clean effort in 32.763 seconds.

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