• Catie Staszak

How We Got Here: Examining CSI5* Grand Prix Competition at WEF 2022


From left to right: Bertram Allen (IRL), Philipp Weishaupt (GER) and Abdel Saïd (BEL). Photo by SportFot


The final of four CSI5* weeks at the Winter Equestrian culminates at the circuit’s finale with the $500,000 CSI5* Rolex Grand Prix.


Forty combinations, qualified by way of the WEF Challenge Cup XII (and some additional berths), will face off over FEI Level 4 Course Designer Guilherme Jorge’s (BRA) track—for the second year in a row, on the expansive Stadium Derby Field instead of under the lights of the International Arena.


How did we get here? Let’s explore the three five-star grand prix events that have led up to this grand finale in Wellington.


WEF 5: CSI5* Fidelity Investments Grand Prix

Winner: Philipp Weishaupt (GER) & Coby 8


WEF 7: CSI5* Lugano Diamonds Grand Prix

Winner: Bertram Allen (IRL) & Pacino Amiro


WEF 9: CSI5* Douglas Elliman Grand Prix

Winner: Abdel Said (BEL) & Arpege du Ru


Five-star grand prix competition in Wellington has yet again been dominated by a contingent of European riders, as more riders from across the pond have made South Florida their winter base following cancellations of European competitions over the past few years due to the COVID-19 pandemic and outbreaks of EHV-1. Weishaupt is among that group. In fact, 2022 marks the German rider’s first ever WEF circuit, and his Fidelity Investments Grand Prix win was his first at the venue.


“Competing here feels a bit like being at home in Europe actually,” Weishaupt said following his win. “I feel like all of my colleagues from there are here now as well, and it is definitely not easier to win here than it is back home.”


The 12-year-old Coby 8 (Contagio x Escudo 19) will have jumped every five-star grand prix offered at WEF this season. In addition to his win at WEF 5, he also finished fifth at WEF 9. The bay is averaging just 4 faults this year and an average finish position of 16. Only Abdel Said and Arpege du Ru boast better numbers of their five-star grand prix-winning counterparts. This pair is averaging 3 faults and a finish position of 13 in 2022.


Bertram Allen (IRL) returns for the Rolex Grand Prix with Pacino Amiro (Pacino x NC Amiro)—who showed a glimpse of his current form with a win in the WEF Challenge Cup XII. Allen is averaging just 3 faults in 2022 across all of his mounts in international competition, an average he has maintained since 2018.


Daniel Deusser (GER) is the defending champion and once again on a hot streak after winning the Rolex Grand Prix at the Dutch Masters, and while Wellington’s event is not part of the Rolex Grand Slam, it is still a most coveted prize, particularly if he can make it two in a row. He will not have top mount Scuderia 1918 Tobago Z with him, but his “B” horse has won at WEF before. Killer Queen VDM (Eldorado vd Zeshoek x For Pleasure) took a CSI4* grand prix victory at WEF 2021—also on the grass.


Of course, don’t count out Kent Farrington, who will bring out the accomplished Gazelle (Kashmir van Schuttershof x Indoctro) and is known for his ability to have horses peak for big moments. Farrington has averaged more than 4 faults on just one horse (of seven started in FEI) in 2022—meaning, he rides everything well.


What Have We Learned from CSI5* Grand Prix events at WEF 2022?


The majority of 1.60m fences tend to be verticals, but more faults (35.79 percent) have come at oxers in CSI5* Grand Prix competition at WEF this year. While the open water is eye-catching, just 3.16 percent of faults have come at the element. Still fewer (2.11 percent) have come at triple bars, reaffirming the adage that the fence is designed to cause problems at the fence that follows it.


The average faults of these classes is 7—the mark of good course design. And elite horses are most definitely even-leaded; 52.83 percent of faults came off the left lead, with 47.17 percent coming off the right.


Perhaps most interesting? Two of these three wins have been aboard mares!


Make your fantasy selections for the $500,000 CSI5* Rolex Grand Prix before the class starts (Saturday, April 2 at 11:00 am ET) at Prixview.com/fantasy.