Winter Equestrian Festival Week 5 Wrap-up, February 22-26, 2006,
Zada Enterprises, LLC Wellington Masters, CSI-W
 

Smith Topples Skelton as Great Britain Reigns Supreme in the $100,000 Zada Enterprises, LLC Masters Cup at the Winter Equestrian Festival

A quick-moving early morning storm front was the precursor to further overcast skies and much cooler temperatures for Sunday afternoon’s $100,000 Zada Enterprises, LLC Masters Cup at the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington. However, the crowd that braved the elements and stuck it out were treated to a dandy of a jump-off in the main event at the Palm Beach Polo Equestrian Club.

Robert Smith and Gerry Maguire take $100,000 Zada Masters Cup at WEF.
Photo by Randi Muster

In the end, it came down to the “Battle of Britain,” as Robert Smith and Gerry Maguire raced past Nick Skelton and Arko III for the hard fought victory.

Sixty starters gathered for the 2 p.m. event, scored under FEI Rules for World Cup (Art. 655) and FEI Rules for Jumping, Table A mixed. Article 238.2.2. Time First Jump-off. Venezuela’s Leopoldo Palacios-Jugo designed today’s $100,000 Masters Cup challenge.

Nine horse and rider combinations qualified for the timed jump-off with first round clears. Fifteen riders had a single rail down for four faults, while another seventeen duos had two knockdowns. Nine had more than eight, and four were eliminated or withdrew.

The jump-off field featured a single American rider doing battle against eight foreign competitors for the top prize.

Eric Lamaze of Canada and Torrey Pine Stable’s Hickstead had the drawback of returning in the first spot in the jump-off, but did not for a moment let that stop them from laying down a fantastic trip with a very fast time. Lamaze never let up and raced home with a clear go in 39.97 seconds, a time that would hold up for the third place finish.

Belgium’s Eric Flameng and Roxanne, owned by Floriac, LLC, also produced a tiebreaker clear, but clocked in at 42.65 seconds, well behind Lamaze. Another clear followed immediately from Leopold Van Asten of the Netherlands. Aboard VDL Groep Fleche Rouge, owned by Stoetery Duyselhof, Van Asten moved ahead of Flameng with a clear go in 42.14 seconds.

Francois Mathy of Belgium returned next with Calmero Orion. Mathy topped Lamaze’s time by 2/10ths of a second, but knockdowns at fences 8 and 12 on the speed course produced a score of eight faults. His time was 39.79 seconds.

Nick Skelton and the fabulous stallion Arko III took over the top spot with a brilliant ride. Skelton met every spot perfectly and managed to shave 4/10ths of a second off of the Canadian’s time, coming home in 39.48 seconds to take the lead.

The lone American rider in the jump-off, Laura Kraut and the Summit Syndicate’s Anthem challenged next. Kraut appeared to be on a pace to take the lead, but Anthem dropped a rail at 11b and then another right away at 12. Kraut then let off the gas, but still managed to trip the timers in 39.89 seconds.

Canada’s Mario Deslauriers and Naomi also had two rails down (8-9) and his final time was 42.51 seconds.

Then it was time for Robert Smith and Gerry Maguire. Winners of the tremendously fast Acorn Hill Speed Challenge on Friday, the duo put in another stellar performance against the clock, racing home 9/10ths of a second faster than countryman Skelton for the win. Smith broke the beams in an incredible 38.54 seconds.

Yann Candele of France with Tyra, owned by Ashland Stables, wrapped up the class with three knockdowns. Their twelve fault score was accompanied by a time of 41.85 seconds.

“It’s our first week here, and we couldn’t get a much better start really,” smiled Smith following the win today. “I thought it was a quite difficult course with a lot of very good horses in the class. It was a clever course. And the ground was very good, it held up beautifully today. And I think he got a crackin’ jump-off as a result,” he said.

Smith continued to offer praise for the Winter Equestrian Festival and President Gene Mische in particular. “It’s a bit of a hike to get over here, but Gene Mische has made it possible for us to come over, and I hope it pays off for everybody,” he said. “For me and Nick, it’s a great time of the year to come over here because we’ve been to all the indoor shows. So, to get a few of the great riders over from Europe to compete here is a nice break for us.” And he added with a grin, “I hope it gives everybody something different to write about.”

Skelton offered his review of WEF, “I think it’s very good. This arena is amazing. It holds up really well. With the amount of horses that have jumped out here over the past five weeks, it’s pretty incredible really. And the other outside show rings are excellent. It’s been really good for my young horses here.”

Jumper Highlights- Wednesday through Saturday

Under a sizzling South Florida sun and with temperatures climbing into the mid to upper eighties, week five of the 2006 Winter Equestrian Festival, the Zada Enterprises, LLC Wellington Masters got underway on Wednesday morning at the Palm Beach Polo Equestrian Club in Wellington. Peter Leone of Greenwich, Connecticut turned up the heat even more when he opened the week’s action with a scorching jump-off ride to win the Wednesday morning feature over seventy-three fellow competitors.

A total of seventy-four went to the post in the 8 a.m. 1.45m Jumpers, scored under USEF Table II, Section 2b, Time First Jump-off, with an immediate jump-off. The Internationale Arena Course Designer for week five at Wellington is Olympic veteran Leopoldo Palacios-Jugo of Caracas, Venezuela.

McLain Ward, who had four rides in the class, regained the lead two horses later piloting Oasis, from the Double H Farm. Ward sliced a razor thin 2/10ths of a second off of Pessoa’s time, flashing home in 38.640 seconds.

Peter Leone and Timbuktu win 1.45m Jumpers
Photo: Kenneth Kraus

Riding out of the sixty-eighth spot in the morning marathon, Peter Leone put the pedal to the metal and was able to cut an additional 2/10ths of a second off of Ward’s time for the Wednesday victory. Leone, riding Timbuktu for Emily Zand, raced home in a blazing time of 38.423 seconds to rack up his first Internationale Arena win of the 2006 WEF season.

The strong and talented Canadian contingent continued to pour it on Thursday, notching another one-two finish in the WEF Challenge Cup Series. A crowd of 5,875 show jumping fans, toasting in the hot South Florida sun, watched a huge starting field in the first round and then saw Eric Lamaze beat fifteen riders in the jump-off to post Team Canada’s third win in five weeks in Challenge Cup series action.

Eighty-two starters gathered for the 1 p.m. lift off for the $25,000 MJS Dealerships WEF Challenge Cup Round V of the series.

Of the eighty-two that started, eighteen horse and rider combinations produced clear rounds over the course that consisted of seventeen jumping efforts, including a double and triple combination and a water jump.

Narcotique de Muze II with Eric Lamaze win $25,000 MJS Dealerships WEF Challenge Cup Photo: Randi Muster

Up on the Ashland Stables’ Narcotique de Muze II, Lamaze found a beautiful pace from the start and made a great roll back turn between fences seven and eight. That turn saved enough time for Lamaze to post another win for the streaking Canadians. Lamaze raced home 1.45 seconds faster than Chesler Ortiz, racing under the wire in 35.87 seconds.

“It’s always fast here,” he said. “Frankie was very fast. I had a chance to watch a few go and I got an idea between the lines of what I wanted to do with my horse. After that you kind of hope it just goes that way once you get on the course.” Then Lamaze added with a laugh, “The strategy here is always the same, fast!”

Is this fast start the best Canadian performance in WEF history? “I guess it is,” said a beaming Canadian Chef D’Equipe Terrance “Torchy” Millar. “So many of our riders have had great results here in Florida. Eric’s performances speak for themselves. Ian (Millar) had a couple of nice showings early, Mario Deslauriers has been great, Chris Pratt won a big class and now Eric and Frankie today, and it’s just fantastic! It is really encouraging for our country to see these kinds of performances.”

Great Britain’s Robert Smith on Gerry Maguire win Section A of the Acorn Hill Speed Challenge
Photo: Randi Muster

On an off and on rainy Friday in Florida, Robert Smith of Great Britain over powered a strong starting field of seventy-five to take the top prize in the first section of the Acorn Hill 1.40m Speed Challenge.

Of the seventy-five that went to the post in the A section, sixteen toured the speed course fault free. Five competitors were clean with time, while twenty-two riders had a single knockdown. Seventeen had eight faults or more.

With the top eight finishers all within 4.7 seconds of each other, it was a tremendously competitive class.

Debbie Stephens and Centennial Farm’s Chappie set the early pace in 61.921 seconds, a time that would eventually earn her the eighth place ribbon.

The eventual class winner, Robert Smith of Great Britain and Gerry Maguire, owned by the Brook Furlong Farm, then placed his name at the top of the leader board. Despite a stumble at the halfway point of the course, Smith finished with an incredible time of 57.156 seconds.

Laura Chapot (Three Coins), Lauren Layes (Hill Cruise), and finally Norman Dello Joio (Marengo), all gave Smith a run for his money but could not catch his blistering pace. Dello Joio, riding second to last in the order, came closest and tripped the timers in 57.956 seconds, still 8/10ths of a second off the mark.

“He’s a quick horse,” said Smith following today’s victory. “It’s a big open ring, and I just thought I’d have a bit of a go today. You know, blow the cobwebs off of the doors and see how we go.”

Smith will be part of the team from Great Britain at the 2006 Nations’ Cup, presented by CN, on Friday, March 10th during the CN Wellington Finale CSIO 5*, a team unfortunately reduced to just three riders. “We’ll go with the three,” and then he added with a laugh, “unless we can draft somebody real quick. It was tough to lose Michael Whitaker (groin strain) at the last minute, and I’m not sure why Ellen Whitaker elected not to come. But, we’ve got a good three, and we’ll give it a go and do the best we can,” he said.

A dreary and very wet day greeted the competitors on Saturday. The wet weather certainly did not stop the show, but it did force management to make some quick and unique changes in an effort to save the Internationale Arena footing for Sunday and for the two big weeks of competition that still lie ahead. The Internationale Arena was closed for the day after completing the two morning classes on the grass.

The weekends at WEF are obviously the busiest of the five days of equestrian action, and with the eight other show rings packed to capacity, the only remaining venue that was suitable for today’s $20,000 1.50m Classic (and the Seniors Jumpers) was the Internationale Arena warm-up ring. The newly installed RISO Ring, with its unique surface and specially customized drainage installed just prior to the start of this year’s festival, lived up to the rave reviews and made an excellent substitute location for today’s final two events.

The $20,000 1.50m Classic, with an initial starting list of seventy-nine, saw that reduced by both the wet weather and the change to the much smaller venue. When all was said and done, forty-four starters took the field for the 2:30 p.m. kickoff.

Rodrigo Pessoa and Cantate Z win $20,000 1.50m Classic at WEF.
Photo by Randi Muster

Of the forty-five that gave it a go today, seven qualified for the jump-off with a clear performance over the first round course. One competitor had no jumping faults, but picked up three time faults, and another thirteen riders had a single knockdown.

Olympic Gold Medalist and three time World Cup Champion, Rodrigo Pessoa of Brazil, made two brilliant inside cuts on his way to today’s stunning victory over Joe Fargis and Edgar. Aboard the flashy Cantate Z owned by Orlandi Vittoruo, Pessoa crossed the finish line in 27.984 seconds, edging out Fargis by 2.32 seconds for the win.

Nicole Simpson on the El Campeon Farms’ Aktion Pur, the last to go in today’s speed phase, produced a clear go and stopped the clock in 30.891 seconds, which was good enough for a third place finish.

Pessoa had a chance to watch Fargis go, so he knew what he had to do. “I got a chance to see him. Obviously the difficult thing was the inside turn to the plank,” he detailed. “The plank was quite tall on five strides, and there was the other inside turn there that everybody did. So with that kind of jump-off, everything has to come your way for you to be able to walk away with it, and that’s what happened today.”

Although he would have preferred the big grass field, Pessoa certainly understood the need to move to the much smaller all-weather ring. “The main thing is to keep the ground good for the next two weeks, the two biggest weeks of the circuit. So they took advantage of the chance they had to move to a surface that can take all the water, like this one can. It’s a little small, but it worked out okay,” he said.

Pessoa was happy to talk about his talented mare. “She’s a Holsteiner mare that I’ve had for a bit more than a year,” he noted. “She’s really starting to step up and be really competitive now. She’s been a good horse here in Florida. She’s won one or two classes and placed well in the 1.50m the first week. So we’re just waiting now for the better classes to come the next two weeks.”

Hunter Highlights- Thursday through Sunday

The fifth week of the 2006 Winter Equestrian Festival began on Wednesday, but the first hunter championships of the week were awarded on Thursday.

Costello and Louise Serio, Second Year Green Champions Photo: Jennifer Wood

Champion in the Second Year Green Hunters was Costello, ridden by Louise Serio and owned by Shaw Johnson Price. The striking bay gelding, who finished second in last week’s AHJF Hunter Spectacular of Palm Beach, came back in fine form. “He loves the night class,” Serio mentioned. “He likes the grass, the atmosphere. He’s never nervous about anything like that.” Costello was the winner of all three of Wednesday’s classes and returned Thursday for a first and fourth over fences. Reserve champion in the division was Music Street, ridden by Scott Stewart for Alexa and Krista Weisman.

In the Green Conformation Hunters, there is a new horse under the tutelage of rider Scott Stewart, and it is one that has been unbeatable so far. Compliment, an eight year old Oldenburg owned by Molly Ohrstrom, jumped his way to a third championship out of three tries this week. On Wednesday, Compliment won the model and over fences classes and was third under saddle. On Thursday, Compliment won both over fences classes. The reserve championship went to Ashton, ridden by Ken Berkley for Karen Long Dwight.

Stewart, who has had many of the top hunters in the nation, had high praise for his young mount. “He’s the total package. He’s a mover, he’ll win the model, and he jumps unbelievable. Not only is he beautiful, but he’s probably one of the best jumpers that I’ve ever had.”

In the Regular Conformation Hunters, champion this week was Popeye K, ridden by Tommy Serio and owned by Elizabeth Spencer. Reserve champion in the division was Good Life and Scott Stewart.

The Regular Working Hunters saw Wellington resident Holly Orlando in the winner’s circle with Scott Hakim’s Wolfgang. Nairobi and Morgan Thomas, who rode for KW Unlimited, were reserve champions.

One of the most popular divisions at WEF is the Adult Amateur 51 & Over Hunters. With over 50 entries every week, it is a “very collegial, but really competitive” environment, said Carol Cone. Cone scored a sweep in Section B of the division this week with her old partner Harmony Bay and new mount Glory Road. “We all cheer for each other, but you want to do well and it’s great to win a class and be champion,” she said.

Cone has had no trouble with winning this season. With the 15 year old stallion Harmony Bay, she has won three championships and one reserve championship so far this year and leads the WEF Circuit Champion standings. With the seven year old gelding Glory Road yesterday, Cone scored a 90 over fences. Cone has only had Glory Road for a few months, but commented, “This week we really clicked.”

In Section A, the championship went to Regall and Bruce Duchossois. Reserve champion was Seventh Heaven, ridden and owned by Lora Schultz.

Fiyero and Pamela Polk, champions in the First Year Green Hunters Photo: Randi Muster

Another repeat champion this week was Fiyero, ridden by Pamela Polk and owned by Julie Kruger. Last week’s champion in the First Year Green Working Hunters repeated his performance in a division with 47 entries. The handsome chestnut was second over fences on Thursday and came back today for first and second places over fences and second under saddle. Reserve champion was Morocco, ridden and owned by Addison Phillips.

The Washington International Horse Show Equitation Classic saw high scores today in both the hunter and jumper phases. In the jumper phase, Kimberly McCormack rode Sundance to a high score of 94 and the win. She returned for the hunter phase and finished fourth with an 88. Her combined score of 182 gave her the overall win. The winner of the hunter phase was Jack Hardin Towell Jr. on Littlefoot with a 92. Towell finished eighth overall.

Sangria and Jessica Speiser, Amateur-Owner 18-35 Hunter champions at Winter Equestrian Festival.
Photo by Randi Muster

The Amateur-Owner 18-35 division was not split into two sections this week, unlike the previous weeks. In a tough division of over 30 competitors, Jessica Speiser and the gorgeous mare Sangria jumped to the championship ribbon. After scoring a 91 on Friday, Sangria won an over fences class and was third in the other jumping class. On Saturday,

Speiser returned and was first and second over fences. Reserve champion in the division was Rio Bravo, ridden and owned by Daisy Johnson.

Speiser has owned the 12 year old mare since last year and showed her last summer as a junior hunter, although at first she was meant to be a jumper. “I had a few jumpers already, so I just decided to try her in the hunters,” Speiser explained. “She’s a talented jumper and is really powerful, and she’s really pretty. Her form is really nice, and she jumps with her head between her knees.”

In the Large Junior 15 & Under Hunters, one talented young rider took home both prizes today. Alexandra Arute rode Danube for Wyndmont Inc. to the championship ribbon. Danube won both over fences classes on Friday. Arute also rode Granted, who won the under saddle and one over fences class on Saturday, to the reserve championship. While both had the same amount of points, Danube had more points over fences and was awarded the championship.

Arute rode Danube for the first time last week. “He’s pretty straightforward. He was so easy and fun,” she said. “It was kind of hard because I only jumped him one time before I showed. It took me one show to get used to him.”

“With Danube, you can keep more of a gallop and float your reins,” Arute compared. “With Granted, you have to keep him compressed and in a frame. He has so much stride. You don’t realize it, but you’re leaving out strides and doing it easily!” She went on to say about Granted, “I love his canter. He’s an amazing mover and jumper. It’s a much different ride for me from the ponies or even my Small Junior, who I have to keep the gallop on. It’s been somewhat challenging to learn how to ride him, but I’m getting there.”

In the B Section of the Adult Amateur 18-35 Hunters, Jennifer Reid and Jiminy Crickett, owned by Richard Schechter of Bainbridge Farms, had a stellar weekend. Despite the mud, Jiminy Crickett jumped to first and third place ribbons on Saturday and a fifth today. A third place ribbon under saddle secured the championship over Sculpture and Ansley Grainger, who rode for the Savannah College of Art and Design. “The conditions were not good, but he is definitely better in this kind of inclement weather,” Reid explained. “I couldn’t have asked for a better ride than I got yesterday.”

Just Jack and Caroline Moran, Amateur-Owner Hunter champions at Winter Equestrian Festival.
Photo by Randi Muster

Winning is nothing new to Caroline Moran, but it was a new situation for her as she stepped into the winner’s circle with Just Jack, a horse she purchased recently. This was only their third week showing together and Moran mentioned, “He’s just gotten better and better, and I’ve gotten more comfortable every time that I ride him. He just went super this week. I love my new horse!” After a first and third over fences on Saturday, Just Jack returned today for the win in the remaining two over fences classes. Reserve champion in the division was Attache, ridden and owned by Ellen Toon.

The Small Junior 16-17 Hunter tricolor ribbons were swept today by Jack Hardin Towell Jr. Towell rode Enterprise for owner Randy G. Roy and trainer Kate Oliver to the championship in the division. They received a second and fourth on Saturday and won an over fences class today. Reserve champion in the division was Towell’s own horse, Wunderlight.

“They asked me to show Enterprise, so we did some at the Littlewood Horse Show, but this is our first time at WEF,” Towell said. “They’ve done a great job with him, and he’s a nice horse. He’s got a good jump, and he’s fun to ride. It’s always nice to have a horse like that to show.”

It was a clean sweep in both sections of the Medium Pony Hunters for Adrienne Sternlicht of Greenwich, Connecticut. Sternlicht, who rides with Heritage Farms, rode Whiskey Rocks to her first championship ribbon of the season and then came back for a repeat performance with her pony Neverland to capture the championship ribbon in the second section. Neverland won both over fences classes on Saturday and was sixth over fences today.

Reserve Champion in the first section went to Schaefer Raposa and First Hand, owned by Ashley Toffolon. Raposa also followed Sternlicht’s example and captured the reserve championship ribbon in the second section with Nellie Ann Foosaner’s Blu Venture Rainbeau.

The sixth week of WEF, the CN Worldwide Florida Open, presented by Cosequin, CSI-5* will host nine rings of exciting hunter/jumper action.

 

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