WELLINGTON, Fla.— Samantha Cohen, 18, of New York City won the first grand pirix of her career on the final day of week 9 of the 2019 Winter Equestrian Festival.

Cohen and Carmen won the $50,000 Griffis Residential Grand Prix CSI 2*.

Forty-five entries lined up for the chance to be named the winner of the $50,000 Griffis Residential Grand Prix CSI 2*. Of those 45, 10 went on to increase their chances by qualifying for the jump-off, and there were six double clear rounds.

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The fastest of those was Cohen riding the 12-year-old KWPN mare (by Whitesnake x Corland), who stopped the timers in 37.56 seconds to take the victory as the first ones into the jump-off.

“I was first to go and nine were after me, with so many fast riders. I just wanted to go in and give it my best shot,” said Cohen of her jump-off ride. “She’s really quick around the turns, and she’s deceptively fast. She doesn’t ever look like she’s really running. I was really happy when I came out, but I was not sure it would hold.”

The spot in the jump-off track that Cohen thought most about was the double combination and making sure Carmen was prepared for the vertical to oxer combination.

 “I wanted to gallop away [from the previous fence] and then take my time really getting her on her hind end for that,” she explained. “I didn’t want her to dive into ‘a’. That was, for me, the trickiest part. She is just a genius on the turns. She’s right there with me, and I knew that’s where I could get my time.”

Cohen spends the summers competing in two-star and three-star competitions with her trainers, Laura Kraut and Nick Skelton. “This is my first grand prix win, so I’m really excited,” she said. “I’ve jumped a lot of big tracks with her, so I was really confident going in and knew I could do it.”

Coming closest in time to Cohen was 28-year-old Carly Anthony riding Clochard, owned by Neil Jones Equestrian Inc. They were clear in 38.73 seconds for second place.

Third place went to 2004 Olympic champion, Rodrigo Pessoa of Brazil on Hillside Farm’s Farrero. They had a time of 38.92 seconds. Pessoa has been winning grand prixes since long before Cohen was even born.

“I thought Samantha was really spot on,” said Pessoa. “Every time out of the turn she was really smooth, and she was really tight. I thought she had laid it out pretty nicely. I think in retrospect I was a little bit wide from one to two. I wanted to jump number two straight to get on to the double. That’s where I left the door open a little bit, and maybe the rollback to the liverpool was not as tight as I should have done.”

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