Wrap-up for Zada Enterprises, LLC Florida Dressage Classic
at Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, Florida, February 16-19, 2006

WELLINGTON, FL – February 6, 2006 –

Zada Enterprises, LLC Florida Dressage Classic, the second of three dressage shows featured at the 34th annual Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, Florida, wrapped up on Sunday, February 19, at the Palm Beach Polo Equestrian Club following four days of competition.  Featured in the four-ring show were qualifying competitions for the Great American Insurance Group/United States Dressage Federation (GAIG/USDF) Regional Championships and the $25,000 Windsome Dressage/Show Jumping Team Spectacular.  More than 200 first-class horses ridden by topnotch riders from North and South America and Europe competed.

Dressage Highlights – Thursday, February 16 - Sunday, February 19

Ashley Holzer and Pop Art
Photo: Susan S. Stickle

Competition at the Zada Enterprises, LLC Florida Dressage Classic kicked off on Thursday, February 16, with a win for Canada’s two-time Olympian Ashley Holzer riding Pop Art, her nine-year-old Dutch gelding, in the FEI Prix St. Georges.  The pair scored 70.125% to top a field of 20 horses.  In second place, Charlotte Bredahl Baker, a member of the U.S. 1992 Bronze Medal Team in Barcelona, rode Eskada to 68.00%.  Taking third was Canadian Susan Dutt-Roth riding Rheirattack who earned 65.875%. Judging the FEI Prix St. Georges were Brenda Minor at C and Anita Owen at B. 

“This horse proves yet again how consistent he is in the ring,” said Holzer. The pair most recently claimed victories at the CDI3* Gold Coast Opener in Loxahatchee, Florida, where they won the Prix St. Georges, Intermediaire I, and the I-I Freestyle, and then went on to win the Open FEI Prix St. Georges at Wellington Dressage at the Winter Equestrian Festival two weeks ago.  “I am still so pleased that with all that’s going on, he’s willing to work hard and pay attention to me in the ring,” Holzer added.

“Poppy” was a six-year-old showing Second/Third Level when Holzer began working with him two-and-half years ago. She has trained him to his present level and plans to show him in the Grand Prix by the end of the season.  

“He’s awesome,” noted Eva Pracht, who coaches Holzer when they are both in Florida. Pracht lives in Canada and Holzer resides in New York. Pracht and Holzer were teammates on the 1988 Canadian Olympic squad that won the Team Bronze Medal in Seoul (Holzer also competed for Canada at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games).  “Pop Art is just a wonderful, wonderful horse,” Pracht enthused.

In other FEI competition, Nancy Later riding Alexis-D won the Intermediaire II with a score of 68.934%.  Julia Vysniauskas aboard Papillion placed second with 67.967%.  Mikala Gundersen riding Pinochhio VI was third with 67.561%.  Judging the class were Jessica Ransehousen at E; Jeanne McDonald at C; and Sue Madden Mandas at M. 

Friday, February 17

Katherine Bateson-Chandler and FBW Kennedy
Photo: Susan J. Stickle

Featured on the second day of the Zada Enterprises, LLC Florida Dressage Classic were two sections of the FEI Grand Prix, which accommodated a combined total of 27 horses.  In the morning section, Katherine Bateson-Chandler of Wellington aboard FBW Kennedy for owner Jane Forbes Clark claimed victory over a field of 14 entries, scoring 70.208%.   In the afternoon section, Michael Barisone of Long Valley, New Jersey, topped a field of 13 horses riding Neruda, a Dutch gelding he owns with Jane and Salo Suwalsky, earning 70.417%.

George Williams on Marnix
Photo: Susan J Stickle

Bateson-Chandler rode Robert Dover’s 2004 Athens Olympic Games Team Bronze Medal horse to a score of 70.208% (1,011 points) narrowly edging George Williams of Richwood, Ohio, into second place with his score of 70.069%  (1,009 points) aboard Marnix owned by Joann Smith. Two-time Canadian Olympian Ashley Holzer of New York, New York, placed third riding Gambol to a score of 69.167% (996 points).  Holzer and Dr. Diane Fellows own the black Dutch stallion. Officiating were Sue Madden Mandas at E, Jessica Ransehousen at M, and Brenda Minor at S.

In the afternoon FEI Grand Prix, Michael Barisone and Neruda scored 70.417%, tallying up a total of 1,014 points.  Taking second place was Arlene Page of Wellington with her Wild One, who was awarded 999 points for an average of 69.375%.  Separated by one point, Canada’s Ashley Holzer riding her own Imperioso earned 998 points and third place, scoring 69.306%.

“I thought it was better than two weeks ago,” Barisone said, referring to his win at the USEF High Performance Grand Prix at the Wellington Dressage show where the pair won on a score of 69.292%.  “It was more complete. I thought I rode a little clearer and with a little more purpose.”

Barisone pointed out that he is consistently asked now if his goal is qualifying Neruda for the World Equestrian Games or the World Cup Final, and that he has a consistent answer.   “I say, ‘You know what I learned after all these years? I learned that all I want to do is ride better today than I did yesterday’,” Barisone said, adding, “And I did that today.”

Saturday, February 18

Lars Petersen on Dacardo
Photo: Susan J Stickle

Lars Petersen of Denmark riding Dacardo for owner Melissa Taylor Yee won the FEI Intermediaire I, topping a field of 15 horses.  The victory gave Petersen a clean sweep of his small tour at the show with the seven-year-old, 16.3-hand gray Swedish gelding by D-Day out of Azisterne.  The pair won the FEI Prix St. Georges yesterday with a score of 69.375% and came back today to claim victory in the I-I with a score of 70.500%.  

Going early in the class, Dominique Culham of Caledon East Ontario, Canada, riding her own Matisse, held the initial lead with a score of 67.625%, but the pair had to settle for the second place ribbon in the final tally.  Two riders tied for the third place ribbon – Carla De Falco of Wellington riding her own Gionso, and Marco Bernal of Colombia riding Halbgott, a Trahkener stallion he owns with Lumar Equestrian – with both riders earning 66.750%. 

Petersen, who now resides in Wellington, has been riding the talented Dacardo for two years.  He started the youngster’s initial dressage training as a six-year-old and competed him in his first horse show.  “He’s very hot, very hot,” emphasized Petersen, adding that it has taken a long time for the gelding to become more relaxed in the ring. “He’ll be a super horse. He’s probably one of the best horses I’ve had. He has been quite a challenge in the ring but he’s coming around now.”  Petersen plans to move Dacardo up to Grand Prix in a year or so, but “not too fast with him because he’s so sensitive.” 

In today’s Intermediaire I, Petersen said that Dacardo’s best work was in the trot. “I felt I could keep him powerful in the trot but still keep him relaxed.”  Petersen explained that the beautifully dappled gray still becomes a bit tense in the canter and the walk segment, but noted, “He’s just green. It’s only his third I-I.”  Dacardo also won the I-I at Wellington Dressage two weeks ago.

Petersen is enthusiastic about Dacardo’s future as a Grand Prix horse, pointing out,  “He has three super good gaits.  There’s nothing he’s not talented for.”

Officiating over the class were Brenda Minor at C and Sue Madden Mandas at B.  The judges were unanimous in scoring Petersen as the winner.

In other FEI competition, Jessica Jo (“JJ”) Tate of Wellington riding her own Cambay won the FEI Grand Prix Special with a score of 70.667%, topping a field of eight horses. Lisette Milner of Wellington and her stallion Eminence placed second with a score of 65.933%.  Tami Hoag of Oak Park, California, riding her Rheinlander mare Coco Chanel took the third place slot with 65.800%.

The $25,000 Windsome Dressage/Jumper Spectacular was also held on Saturday, February 18, with seven teams competing and an enthusiastic crowd on hand to cheer them on.  Stadium Jumping, Inc. was able to re-schedule this make-up date for the event, which had been rained out two weeks ago.  The popular crowd-pleaser, which has been contested at the Winter Equestrian Festival for 10 years with the sponsorship of John Deuss and his Windsome Farm, features teams of show jumpers and dressage riders who switch disciplines and compete in a Third Level dressage test and over a Hit ’N’ Hurry Jump course.  For the eighth consecutive year, the team of show jumping Olympian Anne Kursinski and dressage Olympian Bent Jensen claimed victory. The two will again split the first place prize money of $8,000.

Bent Jensen and Heisman's Image
Photos: Susan J. Stickle
Anne Kursinski and Liberty Light

The perennial winners barely squeaked by for the victory this year however, as the final tally had two teams tied with the top score of 13 points.  In the Windsome Spectacular, the dressage score breaks the tie, and in this case it was Kursinski’s ride that clinched the win.  Taking second place were show jumper Eliza Shuford, who rode Lieben in the dressage phase to 64.37% and third place, and dressage rider Lauren Sammis, who rode Words of Wisdom in the jumping phase to first place, notching 26 points in 65.618 seconds.  The red-ribbon team split $6,000 in prize money.

“I’m just amazed that we won it again!” beamed Kursinski, who topped the dressage segment with a score of 69.407% riding Liberty Light owned by Randy Barenholtz.  “I have to say I did practice twice this year and that was good. I’m glad I practiced! Bent’s a great teacher and it was a lovely horse. Personally, to be the best dressage rider is really great because I don’t think I was last year, or some of the other years either.”

The dressage judges were Jeanne McDonald, Jessica Ransehousen, and Brenda Minor.

Jensen acknowledged that Kursinski’s performance was the best ride she’d ever logged in the Windsome Spectacular. Liberty Light is a 10-year-old Dutch gelding that Jensen competes in the Prix St. Georges. As is their custom, Kursinski and Jensen were riding their traded mounts for the first time.   “Every year it’s been a new horse for us,” said Jensen.  “Anne always places in the top three. There have been some tough ones in there too, but she can do it.”

In the jumping segment, Jensen placed third riding Heisman’s Image owned by Debbie Feldstein.  The pair scored 25 points in 61.868 seconds. Heisman’s Image is a 10-year-old Selle Francais that Kursinski has shown and who now competes in the Adult Amateur jumpers.

“I don’t practice,” Jensen admitted, noting that he competes in two competitions each year that require him to jump.  He attributed his ability to go fast and get over the course to his experience jumping when he was a youngster. “But it’s amazing really when you think about it,” Jensen grinned.  He noted that cheering crowd helped his performance as he tried to catch the leading score of 26 points. “I could hear them and that’s what makes it fun. You really want to go but at the same time you have to be careful to get the turns right.  That’s what makes me a little nervous – you want to go fast but still you don’t want to miss a jump.”  Jensen did have one rail down, which cost him one point.

“He has a good feel and he’s courageous,” Kursinski pointed out.  “Bent is a very good natural jumping rider.  I assign him a good horse and he says ‘OK, let’s go!’”

The dressage scores also determine the starting order for the show jumping phase, with the rider on the lowest placed team going first. The riders in the jumping phase are required to jump a set course with each jump cleared valued at two points; then they can score additional points by jumping as many fences as possible within the time allowed.

Following the winners, Kursinski/Jensen, and the second-placed team, Shuford/Sammis, the results were as follows:
Third place, $5,000 prize: Chris Delia rode Fortissimo in dressage to a score of 66.667% for second place (6 points); his teammate Tom Dvorak jumped Ramson to a score of 26 points in 66.282 seconds for a second place finish (6 points).  They finished with a total of 12 points.
Fourth place, $3,000 prize: Nona Garson rode Tango to 63.704% and fourth place in dressage (4 points); her teammate Benny Konstantinova rode Giacomo to a jumping score of 23 points in 62.907 seconds and fourth place (4 points).  Their total was 8 points.
Fifth place, $2,000: Pippa Green berg rode Fereska Figaro to a dressage score of 62.741 and fifth place (3 points); partner Elaine Sherer jumped Talk the Talk to a score of 21 points in 64.541 seconds for sixth place (2 points).  Their total was 5 points.
Sixth place, $1,000: Elizabeth Maloney rode Prado to 58.889% and seventh place in dressage (1 point); her teammate Meredith Morray jumped Conti B to 24 points in 61.715 seconds for fifth place (3 points).  The team’s total was 4 points.
Seventh place: Roberto Teran aboard Bona Sera earned 62.148 for sixth place (2 points); his teammate Heather Bender jumped Pogeno to a score of 20 points and no time clocked as she went off course for seventh place (1 point).  They finished with 3 points total.
Kursinski admitted that this year, as the long-time reigning team, she felt the pressure of maintaining the winning streak. “It’s still fun, but it is competitive and everybody’s practicing, everybody’s trying to beat you.  Now, you really want to win!” she said.  She attributed her tie-breaking performance this year to having “a good coach, great horse, a little luck and good judges.”

Sunday, February 19

The traditional “Musical Freestyle Sunday” at the Winter Equestrian Festival brought out the crowds and the dancing beats for the final day of the Zada Enterprises, LLC Florida Dressage.  Freestyles were presented in five divisions. 

Ashley Holzer and Gambol
Photo: Susan J Stickle

Topping the FEI Grand Prix Freestyle was two-time Canadian Olympic Team member Ashley Holzer of New York, New York, riding Gambol, the 11-year-old Dutch stallion she owns with Dr. Diane Fellows of Palm Beach.  The duo earned a score of 74.875% to best a field of eight horses.

Claiming the second place slot was George Williams of Richwood, Ohio, aboard Marnix for owner Joann Smith, who was awarded 73. 917%.  In third place, Canadian Cheryl Meisner Linssen riding Paganini, an eight-year-old Dutch stallion owned by John Risley, received a score of 70.333%.

Officiating were judges Brenda Minor at E, Jessica Ransehousen at C, and Jeanne McDonald at M.

The biggest crowd of the season surrounded the ring for this competition, adding to the excitement level of the arena, which is located close to the bermed seating.  “I loved the fact that given any circumstance, once he gets into his test he really settles down,” said Holzer of the impressive-looking 11-year-old black stallion by Gabor out of Arella. 

Holzer choreographed the dynamic freestyle ride herself and described it as “technically very difficult.”  She named some of the movements she considers particularly hard to exhibit, “I do a collected canter to piaffe to piaffe pirouette. I do ones and twos on a bending line into double pirouettes in both directions.  I do a trot zigzag into a piaffe pirouette into an extended trot.”

Holzer describes Gambol as a “handy horse” that’s easy to navigate, but needs “lots to do” in order to keep him concentrating.  Working with that element, Holzer said that the choreography she developed was originally a bit “over his head in the beginning” but it now “shows the judges what he can do.” 

Karen Robinson of Applause Dressage worked with Holzer to select the music. They discovered that Gambol became nervous if the music was too loud or the beat too strong.    Holzer also insisted that the music be complementary to the horse and not distract from him.  “I wanted the technical difficulty and the horse himself to be what stands out,” she explained.  Holzer’s final track is comprised of beautiful piano music by Ronan Hardinan, the Irish composer who wrote the music for “Lord of the Dance.”

“The most important thing to me about this freestyle is that the audience remembers the pattern, not the music,” Holzer stated. 

Coming a close second, Williams and Marnix performed to a medley of Cher tunes without vocals. “I was very, very happy with him in the piaffe tour,” said Williams. He noted that he has been adjusting his entrance, which is performed to “The Beat Goes On” and traveled too far down the centerline today, which affected his first transition into passage.  “But then overall I was happy with how I recovered. I got more in time with the music. I was very happy with the pirouettes.”  

Terri Gallo worked with Williams to create the soundtrack, which includes some of Cher’s greatest hits such as “The Shoop Shoop Song” and “Walking in Memphis.”    “It’s a joint effort,” said Williams. “I have ideas, but she makes them all possible. Miraculously she can make it work because I’m not that musical and my ideas are sometimes a little bit unorthodox.”  

Williams designed his own choreography.  “I like to base it on what’s good for the horse. I’m not interested in over-facing Marnix at this point with choreography.  I want to emphasize what he can do well,” Williams explained.  “For me, it’s music that’s really fun to ride to.  In a lot of ways, that’s what the freestyle is all about – if the rider and horse are having fun, the audience will have fun.”

In other freestyle competition today, Janne Rumbough riding Gorron won the USDF Freestyle Test of Choice with a score of 67.083%.   Marco Bernal and Halbgott claimed victory in the FEI Intermediaire Freestyle, scoring 74.125%.  Ashley Peterson and Augustus won the FEI Young Rider Freestyle, earning 67.333%.  And Julia Warstler aboard Integrity won the FEI Junior Freestyle with a score of 68.417%.

Wrapping up this year’s Zada Enterprises, LLC Florida Dressage Classic, Champion and Reserve Champion High Score Awards were presented to the top two horse/rider combinations in divisions First through Fourth Level as follows:

First Level Champion: Christopher Hickey and Tango, Test 4, 77.222%
First Level Res. Champion: Jessica Jo Tate and Donnermuth, Test 1, 76.667%

Second Level Champion: Teresa Butta-Stanton and Bacardi, Test 1, 70.000%
Second Level Res. Champion: Alison Sader Larson and Palini, Test 4, 67.647%

Third Level Champion: Lauren Sammis and Sagacious HF, Test 3, 71.778%
Third Level Res. Champion: Karen Lipp and Cooper, Test 3, 70.444%

Fourth Level Champion: Bill Warren and Romantic, Test 1, 69.767%
Fourth Level Res. Champion: Melissa Jackson and Wellington, Test 2, 69.302%

Winter Equestrian Festival Upcoming Dressage Schedule
* March 16-19 – Zada Enterprises, L.L.C. WEF Dressage Classic, CDI 3*/Y
* March 17-18 – USEF National Grand Prix Freestyle Championship / U.S. League Final CDI-W, the Official Selection for the 2006 FEI World Cup Dressage Final

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