Winter Equestrian Festival Week 9 Wrap-up, March 28-April 1, 2006,
Tournament of Champions, CSI

Jumper Highlights: Tuesday through Friday

The top two finishers from Sunday’s $75,000 Grand Prix of Tampa, Leslie Howard and Laura Chapot, notched the first two victories of the day on Tuesday as the 2006 Winter Equestrian Festival moved into the final homestretch at the Bob Thomas Equestrian Center in Tampa, Florida. The Tournament of Champions, the last of nine weeks of exciting equestrian action, concludes with the $200,000 Budweiser American Invitational on Saturday night at Raymond James Stadium.

The courses at the Covered Arena this week are being designed by Olaf Petersen Jr. of Germany. The opening event on Tuesday was the lightly attended 1.45m Speed class, scored under USEF Table II, Sec 1. Time First Round.

Sunday’s Grand Prix of Tampa winner Leslie Howard dominated the competition, racing home to a sizable 5.35 second margin of victory over second place finisher Jaime Guerra. Howard scored the win on Rolling Thunder, owned by Maggie Ferguson. It was the duo’s third speed win of the season together. Howard’s finish time was 69.677 seconds. Guerra, on RMW Power Point owned by the Rocky Mountain Warmbloods, clocked in at 75.031 seconds.

“He’s a naturally fast horse,” said Howard. “I didn’t go that fast in terms of my track, but he’s a very quick horse across the ground. He’s a Thoroughbred. He’s light on his feet and very agile. He’s won three this season. He’s a fast horse and careful and clever.”

Howard also picked up the sixth, eighth and eleventh place ribbons in today’s class.

In the 1.40m Jumpers, the scoring was under USEF Table II, Sec. 2 (b), Time First Jump-Off. Of the twenty-seven starters that went to the post, ten advanced to the immediate tiebreaker. Of the ten that advanced, six went on to be double clear.

It was no contest today as Laura Chapot and Sprite blew away the competition with another dazzling speed performance. They broke the beams in the jump-off in 33.964 seconds to top Jimmy Torano and Ormsby Hill by 2.08 seconds. Torano stopped the clock in 36.047 seconds.

The win secured the 1.40m Jumper Circuit Championship for Sprite and Chapot for an incredible third year in a row. Last week, the dynamic duo nailed down the Acorn Hill Speed Challenge Series, also for the third time in three years.

“She’s fast all the time,” Chapot said following her win. “She felt great today. I think she was more comfortable today since they did some work with the footing over the weekend. It’s holding a lot better. She just was fabulous today.”

Eliza Shuford and Plenty win $30,000 WEF Challenge Cup Series Final at Tampa.
Photo by Randi Muster.

For North Carolina’s Eliza Shuford, Wednesday’s hard-fought victory in the $30,000 WEF Challenge Cup Series Final was just additional proof that she has found the right combination to unlock all of the potential of her talented young equine partner, Plenty. Meanwhile, for second and third place finishers Michael Morrissey and Erynn Ballard, their pressure-packed performances on Wednesday earned them a right to compete on show jumping’s greatest stage on Saturday night.

The $30,000 WEF Challenge Cup Series Final, scored under FEI Table A, Art. 238.2.2. Time First Jump-Off, was the final chance to qualify for the 34th Annual $200,000 Budweiser American Invitational, presented by The Tampa Tribune and Kash n’ Karry, Saturday night under the lights at Raymond James Stadium. Olaf Petersen, Jr. of Germany designed the test for today’s main event.

Forty starters took the field for the 1 p.m. feature, with many in the line-up and some sitting on the sidelines hoping that this class would be their stepping stone to the big dance. A number of competitors needed a top finish today to break into the standings (based on money won throughout the circuit), while others could only sit by and hope those top finishes would not be the ones that would bump them from the list.

Of the forty competitors that started, nine qualified to jump again in the speed phase with an initial clear go. Ten riders had a single knockdown, nine had two down, and ten had twelve faults or more or were eliminated.

Five of the first seven in the ring went clear and among them were much needed clutch fault free rides for Erynn Ballard, Michael Morrissey and Danielle Torano. All three were below the cut coming into today’s final qualifier.

Erynn Ballard led the way back for the tiebreaker with Paradigm. The duo went clear a second time and tripped the timers in 44.39 seconds, a time that would hold up for a key third place finish.

Georgina Bloomberg followed Ballard with four faults with Don Cesar, and Candice King followed her with a clear go with Caliskan. King’s time was 44.52 seconds, off the pace set by Ballard by just 1/10th of a second.

Following King, Morrissey and Crelido grabbed the lead, flying across the finish line in 43.93 seconds. Danielle Torano followed Morrissey with a clear round that moved her into the fourth spot.

Eliza Shuford and Plenty then tore up the track in 43.45 seconds for today’s WEF Challenge Cup win.

“Fantastic!” Shuford said following the win. “Plenty’s a young mare I got just a year and a half ago. I’ve been taking it real slow with her. Last year in Florida, I just did the Seven Eight Year-Old classes and this year did a couple of grand prix classes in Raleigh before coming south,” she explained. “This year at WEF, I didn’t do anything big with her, just the 1.40m. I spent time getting her rideability under control. I got a new bit for her after she ran away with me on the big field at Wellington,” she laughed. “Once we got that all figured out, it was great, and the last day of WEF in Wellington I moved her up to the last 1.45m class. Here in Tampa, she was great last week, went well in the WEF Challenge last Thursday, and was great today.”

For Canadian rider Erynn Ballard, today’s much needed third place finish earned her $3,900 and brought her season total to $7,350, enough to ride again at Raymond James Stadium. “I won the Junior Invitational the year they had that event at the stadium, so maybe that will be good luck for me. I’ve been looking at the postings every single day. It came right down to the wire, but it’s been an amazing winter for me for sure,” she said.

Michael Morrissey earned $6,600 for his second place finish, enough to put him just ahead of Ballard when they ride on Saturday night. Knowing he needed a top finish going in today, was Morrissey nervous? “A little bit. But, I came out with all the big guns smoking today to try and get in,” he laughed.

Laura Chapot and Sprite take final Acorn Hill Farm Speed Challenge at Winter Equestrian Festival.
Photo by Randi Muster.

Laura Chapot and her electrifying, gifted little mare Sprite put an exclamation point on another season of success at the Winter Equestrian Festival, with a win in Tampa in the finals of the nine week long Acorn Hill Farm Speed Challenge Series. In its 34th year, the festival is drawing to a close this week at the Bob Thomas Equestrian Center on the Florida State Fairgrounds.

The Acorn Hill Speed Challenge, a North American League (NAL) event, is scored under Table II, Sec 2.1, Time First Round. Olaf Petersen, Jr. of Germany is the Course Designer this week at the Covered Arena.

Twenty-three starters took to the field for the mid-morning feature. Five of those competitors were clear over the one round challenge, while another nine horse and rider combinations had four faults. Nine had eight faults or more.

Laura Kraut and Tiffany, listed first on today’s starting order, were the early leaders in the class. Kraut raced home in 70.050 seconds and kept that lead for nearly three quarters of the class. Brianne Goutal, who on her first mount Onira, had Kraut’s time beat but pulled a rail, did not make that mistake on her second chance. Riding out of the eighteenth spot on the list, Goutal left all of the fences standing with her second horse Casar and clocked in at 67.301 seconds to take over the top spot.

With the Acorn Hill Speed Series already locked up weeks ago, Laura Chapot and Sprite hardly needed the extra advantage of the final spot in today’s jumping order. Chapot and her dazzling grey mare did what they have been doing consistently now for three seasons, sending the competition home disappointed. Chapot dashed home in 66.843 seconds for the victory.

Defending Budweiser American Invitational champion Beezie Madden tuned up for Saturday night at Raymond James Stadium with an easy victory on Friday in the $20,000 1.50m Classic at the Bob Thomas Equestrian Center. The Friday Classic was the last of the Open Jumper classes of the 2006 Florida tour before the Winter Equestrian Festival’s showcase event, the $200,000 Budweiser American Invitational, on Saturday night.

Twenty-one starters went to the post in the afternoon’s featured event, the $20,000 1.50m Classic, scored under USEF Table II, Sec 2 (a), Time First Jump-Off. Olaf Petersen, Jr. of Germany designed the courses throughout the week at the Covered Arena. Of the twenty-one, five qualified for a second go with a clean round over the initial course. Nine riders dropped a single rail, one had two knockdowns, and six had more than eight faults or were eliminated.

Play On with Beezie Madden aboard take the
$20,000 1.50m Classic at WEF on Friday in Tampa.
Photo by Randi Muster.

In the jump-off, Alison Firestone and Secret Love returned first. The duo posted a quick, efficient time to go along with her second clear effort of the afternoon. Firestone crossed the finish line in 48.722 seconds. Firestone’s clear was followed by rounds of four for Bob Kraut and eight for Mary Lisa Leffler. Beezie Madden locked up yet another Winter Equestrian Festival win when Laura Kraut followed with Panic and pulled a rail.

Madden, who bankrolled the most money on tour and a win in the FTI Rider Challenge during the first seven weeks of the festival, continued her winning ways in Tampa.

Aboard Play On for Allan Shore, Jr., Madden made it look easy as she sliced over two seconds off of Firestone’s time for the Friday win. Madden raced home in a speedy 46.449 seconds with her up and coming young equine star. “He (Play On) started out good the first week in Wellington (2nd in the GP of Palm Beach) and then did some speed classes along the way during the circuit,” explained Madden. “And now he finished really well here today. I’m really happy with the way he’s progressed during Florida.”

Hunter Highlights: Wednesday through Saturday

In the Pre-Green 3’ Hunters, Morgan Thomas and Enchilada, owned by Norgan, Inc. won all three over fences classes this week to capture the championship. Reserve champion was Be Cool, ridden by Scott Stewart for Krista Weisman.

Thomas and wife Nora Fredrickson bought Enchilada last November and joked that the chestnut gelding was, “Our little enchilada!” Thomas added, “His sire is named Chilano Z. I like one word names that you remember, and it really suits him now.”

Morgan went on to say, “He’s been a really nice horse; a better horse than we thought. He’s as good of a jumper as I’ve had in years. I don’t think that’s an overstatement; I think that it’s the real thing. He has a natural balance and a naturally supple, elastic, self-carrying canter. His jump is just an extension of that good canter. He’s raw goods, but it’s innately there.”

Banner and Scott Stewart, Green Conformation Hunter champions at the Winter Equestrian Festival in Tampa.
Photo by Randi Muster.

It took two first place ribbons for Kiny to secure the top spot in the Pre-Green 3’3” division and capture the WEF circuit championship, but that is exactly what the typey bay gelding did today. With rider Ken Smith, the eight year old Selle Francais was first and second over fences on Tuesday and won the over fences and under saddle classes on Wednesday for the division championship this week for owner Adeline Negre. Legacy and Jeff Gogul, who rode for Margaret Lahner, were reserve champions.

Smith notched a second championship for the day in the First Year Green Hunters on Cosmo, owned by Susan Stanley. The big bay gelding finished with two firsts and a second over fences and was third in the under saddle. Reserve champion was Heartfelt, ridden by Scott Stewart and owned by Molly Ohrstrom.

The Green Conformation Hunter champion this week was Banner, ridden and owned by Scott Stewart. Banner won the model class, was third in the under saddle, and received two firsts and two thirds over fences. Reserve champion was Candide, ridden by Maggie Jayne and owned by Rachel Spencer.

Stewart also picked up another championship ribbon in the Second Year Green Hunters on Music Street, owned by Alexa Weisman. Reserve champion was Onassis, ridden by Claire Kellner for Britian McNeel.

For the second week in a row, MVP and Nora Fredrickson took home the championship in the Regular Working Hunter division at the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) in Tampa. This was the only hunter championship awarded today at the Bob Thomas Equestrian Center.

The handsome chestnut gelding won four out of five classes and was second in the remaining class for the division championship. Reserve champion was Roundabout, ridden by Jay Matter for Windswept, Inc.

MVP and Nora Frederickson, Regular Working Hunter champions at Winter Equestrian Festival in Tampa.
Photo by Randi Muster.

Fredrickson was beaming as she collected the tricolor ribbon and very happy that the horse, who has only shown at the four foot height twice, was able to stay consistent and win again this week.

MVP is owned by Amelia McArdle, who also shows him in the Small Junior Hunters with trainer Katie Kappler. Owner, rider, and trainer were confident that MVP would have no trouble at the bigger jumps. “He is very sure of himself,” Fredrickson commented. “I think he has really gotten comfortable now.”

In the Adult Amateur 36-50 Hunter division, two old friends joined together for another championship ride. Storyteller and Robin Swinderman took home the tricolor after finishing first in two over fences classes and third in the under saddle. The reserve championship went to Fargo, ridden by Susan Stanley for Providence Hill Farm.

Swinderman got the ride on Storyteller after his owner, Laura York, was injured and could not ride. But riding Storyteller was nothing new for Swinderman. “He used to be my show hunter,” she explained. “I was champion with him in the Amateur-Owner Hunters a few years ago in a bunch of shows.”

In the Adult Amateur 18-35 Hunters, a new face graced the WEF winner’s circle. Daisy Mae and Kaley Pratt received two firsts and a second place to win the championship over Finest Hour and Kristen Vale.

Ellen Toon wrapped up a spectacular season in the Amateur-Owner 36 & Over Hunters today as she repeated her performance from last week. She and In Disguise took home the division championship after winning the blue ribbon in all four over fences classes, while Toon and her second horse Attaché were reserve champions. Her stellar results from this week put In Disguise and Attaché into the champion and reserve champion spots for the circuit results.

Storyteller and Robin Swinderman, Adult Amateur 36-50 Hunter champions at Winter Equestrian Festival in Tampa.
Photo by Randi Muster.

The 2006 Winter Equestrian Festival has come to a close, but the stars of the horse show are sure to shine bright for years. One such star is 12 year old Schaefer Raposa, who rode to five championships and four reserve championships this weekend in the Tournament of Champions at the Bob Thomas Equestrian Center.

Raposa had an amazing run of success yesterday and today. In the Small Pony Hunters, she rode Luvin It, owned by West End Stables, to the championship, while Heritage Farm’s Blackberry was reserve champion.

Her two rides in the Medium Pony Hunters were Blu Venture Rainbeau, owned by Nellie Ann Foosaner, and First Hand, owned by Ashley Toffolon. They were champion and reserve champion, respectively.

In the Large Pony Hunters, Raposa piloted Crimson Sky, another Ashley Toffolon-owned entry, to the championship. She then hopped on Sunsational for trainer Scott Stewart to capture the championship in the Large Green Pony Hunters and Show Boat for Anne Gardner for the reserve champion tricolor.

Raposa rode Unexpected for trainer Jimmy Torano to the championship in the Small/Medium Green Pony Hunters. and Another Beau, owned by Bill Schaub and the JEB Group, was reserve champion with Raposa.

The Winning Edge and Emily Gardner, reserve champions in the Large Junior 15 & Under Hunters at Winter Equestrian Festival in Tampa.
Photo by Jennifer Wood/Phelps Sports.com
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Raposa commented that she loves riding lots of different ponies because they all make her a better rider. She also gave thanks to all of the owners and trainers associated with these ponies for letting her ride the talented mounts.

Reserve champion in the Large Pony Hunters was Hint of Blue, ridden by Megan Massaro for owner Katie Hogan.

It came down to a “hack-off” for the championship ribbon in the Large Junior 15 & Under Hunters this week and Wellington, owned by Sara Rutenberg and ridden by Sara Green, strutted his way to the tricolor ribbon. Reserve champion was The Winning Edge and Emily Gardner, who rode for Starwyn Farms LLC. Green also won the reserve championship in the Small Junior 15 & Under Hunters with Saxon Hill, owned by Green Hills Farm.

Champion in the Small Junior 15 & Under Hunters was Folklore, ridden by Alexandra Arute and owned by Olympic Dreams. The pair have been together for a little over a year now, and Arute has found that her move up to the junior hunters on the adorable chestnut gelding has taught her more as a rider. “At first, it was kind of hard for me because he jumped so hard,” Arute mentioned. “He’s taught me how jump the fences from a gallop and jump in forward and make the lines look like they’re easy for him. He’s always been a great horse. I wasn’t that consistent on him last year. He’s such a quality horse, and I’ve changed more than he has.”

The WEF Circuit Champions will participate Saturday night in the Parade of Champions in front of thousands before the $200,000 Budweiser American Invitational at the Raymond James Stadium.

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