Skelton and Big Star Continue to Shine in $78,000 Pennfield Feeds Grand
Prix, CSI 2*;
Wellington, FL - March 20, 2011 -
Week 10 of the 2011 FTI Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) concluded with two great events at The Stadium, the grass field venue at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. Nick Skelton (GBR) and Big Star, owned by Beverly and Gary Widdowson, notched another big win this circuit by taking the top prize in the $78,000 Pennfield Feeds Grand Prix, CSI 2*.
The FTI Winter Equestrian Festival's feature event, the $500,000 FTI Consulting Finale Grand Prix, CSI 5* will be next week on Saturday, March 26. The 2011 WEF will continue through April 3 and awards more than $6 million in prize money.
Michel Vaillancourt of Aiken, SC, was the designer for the classes at The Stadium today. There were 43 entries in the grand prix, and seven of those went clear to advance to the jump-off. The first entry in the class and the first to return was Hector Florentino (DOM) on Stransky's Mission Farm's Ultimo. They had a rail at 8b, the oxer out of the double combination, for four faults in 46.50 seconds. They finished in seventh place.
The early lead went to Mario Deslauriers (USA) and Urico, owned by Jane Clark. They sped around the shortened course with no faults in 42.60 seconds, which would hold up for second place.
Deslauriers said of his jump-off ride, "He's basically fast across the ground everywhere. I turned as sharp as I could and gave it a good run right back on the double. I think Nick did one less stride than me going to the oxer further down, and that's where the second came. He's a quick horse. I don't need to go crazy fast to be the fastest."
Spanish rider Sergio Alvarez Moya rode next on Uno, owned by Mileworld Limited. They finished just off the winning pace in 42.85 seconds and placed third. Keean White (CAN) and Celena Z had a rail at the last jump for four faults in 44.69 seconds for fifth place.
Skelton and Big Star were next in, and they made easy work of the course, powering out of the double combination and galloping steadily down to the final oxer. They stopped the timers in 41.39 seconds with no faults to take the lead.
Skelton said of riding the double combination, "It was a big stretch going out, but he's got the scope. He's careful and he knows where the poles are. You just give him a bit of a kick and he's gone. He reacts very quickly. He's quick away from the jump also. Once he hits the floor, he's ready for the next one."
Quentin Judge (USA) and HH Radco, owned by Double H Farm, had a rail at fence 9 for four faults in 46.01 seconds for sixth place. With the fastest time of the class in 40.35 seconds, Scott Brash (GBR) and Intertoy Z gave it a great go in the jump-off, but a rail at fence 8a after a very tight rollback cost them four faults. They placed fourth in the final standings.
This is the first time that Moya has shown at the FTI WEF, and he is very pleased with Uno, a 10-year-old KWPN gelding by Fuego du Prelet x Power. Moya has only ridden Uno for a few months, having taken over the ride from Katharina Offel. He described, "This was the first outdoor show I've done with him. He was third two days ago and third again in the grand prix, so I'm very pleased with him. He's a bit sharp, he has a huge stride, and he needs a little bit of pace at the end. In the last few strides you have to hold him a little bit, otherwise he gets a bit flat. He is brave and he tries to be careful. He always tries his best."
When asked about his experience at the FTI WEF, he smiled, "I think it's very nice; I would be happy if I could come again."
Today was a return to form for Urico and Deslauriers, who had a fall in the grand prix two weeks ago. Deslauriers commented, "The jump-off felt the best of all of them. He likes to go a little and he showed his best. We were trying to get back on the right track and put in another good round. I'm happy with the way he jumped. We'll hopefully give it a good go next week."
Big Star jumped up to win early in the circuit in the week 2 grand prix. He returned to the winner's circle in the Suncast 1.50m Classic in week 5.
For Skelton, having his young talented horse rise to the occasion again made him break into a big smile as he left the ring. Afterward, Skelton praised, "He's an unbelievable horse. He's eight years old, and he's never been on that field before. I was home all week and came back here last night. I hadn't ridden him since last Sunday when he was second in the 1.50m. I'm very, very lucky to have a horse like this. I've had him for three years, and what he's doing at eight years old is incredible. I've got to look after him and not get carried away."
Skelton voiced the thoughts of many riders when he said of The Stadium field, "The ground is absolutely beautiful. It's the best ground. Horses love to jump on it, (and they) are springing off of it. When they land, they slide a little bit which is good because it's like a cushion. It's like a carpet. I'm old and old-fashioned, so I like the grass ground."
Pasmore Wins Final Round; Kessler, Jacobs and Arcand Top The Standings to Compete at the EY Cup Finals in Leipzig, Germany
The 2011 Artisan Farms Young Riders Grand Prix Series came to a conclusion on Sunday afternoon with its fourth and final event, the $15,000 Artisan Farms Young Riders Grand Prix, held on the grass field at the The Stadium of the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center.
Thirty-seven riders came out to try their hand at the course and 11 made it to the jump-off. Catherine Pasmore, of Charlottesville, VA, rode Pasmore Stables' Vandavid to the fastest clear round over the short course to earn top prize.
Today's class was the final of four qualifiers for the EY Cup Finals, which will be held at the FEI World Cup Finals in Leipzig, Germany. The top three riders in the series will have the opportunity to travel to Germany to compete and today's class finalized those standings. Through their sponsorship, The Dutta Corporation & International Horse Transport will be shipping the winning horse to the Finals and covering travel expenses for the highest scoring rider in this series.
At the completion of today's class, 16-year-old Reed Kessler of Armonk, NY, 16-year-old Charlotte Jacobs, or East Aurora, NY, and 21-year-old David Arcand, of Montreal, Canada, were the top qualifiers. Although she finished first in today's class, Catherine Pasmore was ninth in the overall standings.
Michel Vaillancourt of Aiken, SC, designed today's course on the derby field. Following Pasmore's leading time of 41.453 seconds, three others were able to jump double clear. Reed Kessler and Ligist finished with a clear jump-off round in 42.367 seconds to finish second. Callie Schott and John Madden Show Stables' Wrigley jumped clear in 43.837 seconds to place third. Patricia Koller rode Tirasinaa double clear in 46.452 seconds for fourth place, and Katherine Dinan had the fastest four fault round in 41.059 seconds riding Belle Dame D for fifth.
Class winner Catherine Pasmore has experience showing on a grass field after winning a young rider class at Hickstead, but this was her horse's first time showing out on the field at The Stadium. Vandavid is a 2002 KWPN stallion by Madison x Voltaire. Pasmore commented on her horse's performance today, smiling, "He was great. He loves the field; a big open gallop is his favorite and I just loosened my reins and let him go and he jumped really, really well."
Pasmore took a risky inside turn coming home to the last two fences, cutting inside a hedgerow on the field, and her risk paid off. She explained, "When I walked the course I thought that I would not take the risk of going inside the bushes, I thought that I would just go through the bushes and around, but there were so many clean that I had to take a shot at it. I just went right inside and the vertical came up perfectly and he walked the six strides to the last jump, so it all worked out really well."
Although Pasmore finished ninth overall in the series standings, she was very happy with her win today. "It means a lot to win this class," she acknowledged. "I have been trying to do well in the series and I have not done very well so far, so I am really happy to win the last one and end the circuit off with a good note."
The three riders now qualified to travel to Leipzig to compete in the EY Cup Finals are thrilled to experience such a great opportunity in their young careers. Reed Kessler led the series from day one, and maintained her place at the top through all four rounds of competition. Kessler felt pressure to hold on to her top place today and is now relieved to have successfully finished at the top. She laughed, "Finally, the stress is off. I have been freaking out the last week because I didn't want to blow it in the last trial. It is a huge weight lifted and I am so excited and I am glad that I did not mess up the final round."
Second place finisher Charlotte Jacobs agreed, stating, "The points were so close and it was all really up to the last round, but I don't think the standings changed at the top today, so it was good and I am very excited."
Jacobs, a top junior rider, has never had the opportunity to compete overseas, and is very excited for the trip. She smiled, "I have never shown in Europe, so that makes it even more exciting. I am nervous, excited, all of it. Just the fact that the World Cup Finals are running at the same time is so amazing."
The third and final qualifier to travel to the EY Cup Finals will be David Arcand. He was thrilled after today's class and beamed, "I am very happy. I was in a good place, but the last ride is everything. I could have been fourth, fifth, you never know, so I am really happy."
Arcand has also never shown in Europe and is looking forward to his first time traveling to Germany for competition. "It is a good experience and I think it is the first time that they have done the young rider finals for the world, so it is very good to be there and for everybody to see you. I am really excited about it."
Final Results: $78,000 Pennfield Feeds Grand Prix, CSI 2*
STAR: 2003 KWPN stallion by Quick Star x Nimmerdor - NICK SKELTON (GBR),
Beverly and Gary Widdowson: 0/0/41.39
Final Results: $15,000 Artisan Farms Young Rider Grand Prix Round 4
CATHERINE PASMORE PASMORE STABLES: 0/0/41.453
Final Standings for Top 12 in the Artisan Farms Young Rider Grand Prix Series
The 2011 FTI Winter Equestrian Festival has 12 weeks of top competition running from January 12 through April 3. WEF is run by Equestrian Sport Productions, LLC, and Wellington Equestrian Partners and held at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. All 12 shows are "AA" rated and Jumper Rated 6, and more than $6 million in prize money will be awarded.
Please visit www.equestriansport.com or call 561-793-5867 for more information.