FTI Winter Equestrian Festival Week One Wrap-Up: January 12-16, 2011

Wellington, FL - January 17, 2011 -

The first week of the 2011 FTI Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) was a great success with horses and riders from around the world competing at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. It was a record opening week for the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival, with the number of horses showed increased by 11% from last year. The competition, held in 12 different rings all now on the North Grounds, was fantastic, and spectators and exhibitors enjoyed the venue in a variety of ways. Here's what you can do soon at the FTI WEF!

FTI WEF Week One Jumper Highlights:
Wednesday through Sunday

To start the year off right, Nick Skelton (GBR) was back in the saddle and in the winner's circle with Unique, owned by Beverly Widdowson, in the $8,000 G&C Farm 1.45m Jumpers on Wednesday.

This week's course designer in the International Arena was Anthony D'Ambrosio of Red Hook, NY. He set a welcoming course for the 12 entries in the Time First Round class. The early leader was Pablo Barrios (VEN) who was clear on G&C Sinatra. They set a time of 69.682 seconds that would hold up for fourth place. Barrios placed third on his second mount, G&C Flash, who went in 67.614 seconds. Enrique Gonzales (MEX) improved on that time in 66.744 seconds with his horse Katina, and they finished second.

Going ninth in the order, Skelton and Unique, a 10-year-old KWPN by Indoctro x Voltaire, were quick through the turns and kept a steady pace to cross the timers in 66.046 seconds and moved into the lead.

Skelton, a six-time Olympian, has returned to the show ring after a six month break. In August, he had a hip replacement, and then he underwent surgery for his rotator cuff in September. Skelton started riding again on the day before Christmas Eve, when he rode two horses, and then didn't get back on a horse until last Thursday. This was his first class back in the show ring.

Canada's Yann Candele and Redefin, owned by Susan Grange, were the fastest double clear combination to earn the top prize in Thursday's $30,000 WEF Challenge Cup Round One.

Out of 26 original entries, seven made it to the jump-off in the Table IIa class. A distinguished list of horses and riders qualified for the jump-off in the WEF Challenge Cup and four were able to go double clear, each besting the leading time until the final competitor completed the fastest round.

Rodrigo Pessoa (BRA) and HH Ashley, owned by Double H Farm, were the first pair to jump clear in a time of 40.060 seconds but were then pushed out of the lead by Margie Engle (USA) and Hidden Creek's Pamina L with a time of 35.911 seconds.

McLain Ward (USA) and Louisburg Farm's Esplanade 7 completed the course in an even faster time of 35.589 seconds, but along came Yann Candele (CAN) and Redefin to shave another second off the clock to finish in a blazing fast 34.490 seconds. In the end, the top four riders finished in just that order respectively, with Candele and Redefin rising to the challenge to earn first place. Ward finished in second, Engle in third, and Pessoa in fourth. Kent Farrington (USA) and Vanhattan completed the fastest four-fault jump-off round in 35.588 seconds to finish in fifth place.

Class winner Redefin is a 13-year-old KWPN gelding by Larino x Zeus. Previously shown by Ian Millar, Candele got the ride on Redefin almost one year ago and was very pleased with the horse's performance this afternoon. "Starting off the circuit like that is always nice and especially with that horse that just came down from Canada before New Year's," Candele smiled. "I am very happy and actually a little bit surprised because McLain and Margie were very fast. We had some nice turns I guess because I do not think that my horse was much faster."

In addition to earning the top prize for his efforts, Candele was also presented with a $3,000 bonus for riding in his SSG 'Digital' Gloves during today's class.

Speed was the order of the day in the $6,000 Spy Coast Farm 1.40m Speed Challenge class. Laura Chapot of Neshanic Station, NJ, and her trusty partner Bradberry took the blue ribbon in the last class in the International Arena on Friday.

There were 21 entries, and seven of those were able to keep all of the jumps up. Riding out of the ninth spot in the order, Chapot and Bradberry were chasing a very fast time set by Shane Sweetnam (IRL) and Belle Blue S, owned by Jerry and Maria Sweetnam and Spy Coast Farm LLC. They stopped the timers in 68.820 seconds.

Chapot and Bradberry were able to shave just enough time off the clock to move into the lead in 68.013 seconds. No one else in the class would be able to catch her time. Third place went to Juan Jose Bancalari (MEX) on Villeneuve, who was clear in 70.885 seconds.

Nick Skelton (GBR) continued his great week on Saturday with his second major win in the International Arena. He piloted Beverly Widdowson's Unique to victory in the $25,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Series Classic. Today's classic is part of the Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Series, which will track the best horse/rider combinations through week 11 for a bonus of $50,000.

Although entries were light in the Time First Jump-off class at 12, it was great competition. Three found the route to the jump-off, with Skelton and Unique returning first. They put down the trip to best with no faults in 39.171 seconds.

Skelton said of his jump-off ride, "I thought I was up against it because I was going first, and I know that Ashlee is pretty quick. I went quick and safe, hoping that I'd done enough. I didn't think I had, but it worked out."

Ashlee Bond (USA) and Chivas Z, owned by Little Valley Farm, were next in. After four faults at the second jump, they finished in 43.904 seconds for third place. Blythe Marano (USA) and Urban, owned by Riverview Farm LLC, were the last to compete in the jump-off. Although they were also clear, their time of 44.063 seconds was not enough for the win and they collected the second place ribbon.

The first week of competition at the 2011 FTI Winter Equestrian Festival concluded on Sunday afternoon with an exciting $30,000 Speed Derby held in the International Arena at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. The class was won by an extremely fast round from Irish rider Paul O'Shea and Daydream St. Ghyvan Z, owned by Paul Clarke and Michael Walsh. Both competing for the first time in the United States this winter, horse and rider had a fantastic class and were awarded the top prize.

Twenty-six entries started the $30,000 Speed Derby class, showing over a course set by Anthony D'Ambrosio of Red Hook, NY. In a Table III, faults converted format, the challenging course saw many rails come down, but it was the horses and riders that jumped clear that finished in the top standings.

Rodrigo Pessoa (BRA) and HH Palouchin, owned by Double H Farm, set a blazing fast time right from the start going second in the order and finishing in 77.783 seconds. Although that time held through most of the class, the last few rounds were even faster and Pessoa finished the class in fourth place.

Beezie Madden (USA) and Neapolitan Holding Co., LLC's Prima clocked in at 76.867 seconds to place third, and Hillary Dobbs (USA) and The Dobbs Group's Marengo finished in 76.215 seconds for second place. No one could beat Paul O'Shea's time however, as he and Daydream St. Ghyvan Z laid down a nearly flawless round going 22nd in the order and stopping the clock in 75.222 seconds for the win.

This is Paul O'Shea's first year competing at the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival and also his horse's first time competing in the U.S. Both horse and rider have had great success showing in Ireland and have now had a fantastic start to their winter in Florida.

After a presentation and victory gallop for O'Shea, the Leading Lady Jumper Rider award was presented for week one competition at the 2011 FTI Winter Equestrian Festival. Sponsored by Martha Jolicoeur of Illustrated Properties, the award went to Kate Levy (USA).

Also held on Sunday were the $10,000 EquiFit High Junior Jumper Classic and the $10,000 Surpass Medium Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic. Showing first in the International Arena this morning, the High Junior Jumper win was awarded to Wilton Porter aboard Sleepy P Ranch LLC's Presidente. The Medium Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic was won by Jamie Walker riding her horse 7-Up.

FTI WEF Week One Hunter Highlights:
Thursday through Sunday

Among this week's winners was Rosalynn, owned by Larry Glefke, and ridden by Kelly Farmer. The duo was given championship honors in the Sanctuary High Performance Working Hunter division. While eight horse and rider combinations competed over a two-day period, Rosalynn stood out among them all. Her five-for-five winning streak was quite a feat as it is the first week of showing at the 2011 FTI Winter Equestrian Festival.

Reserve champion behind Rosalynn was awarded to Summer Place, owned by Pony Lane Farm, and ridden by Maggie Jayne. Jayne and Summer Place were awarded ribbons in each class, including three seconds, a third, and a sixth.

Bruce Duchossois, riding his own 11-year-old Hanoverian gelding, Nevada, got off to a good start on their first week of showing here at the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival. They were awarded the championship honors among a starting field of twelve horses and riders in the Camping World Adult Amateur Hunter 51 and Over, Section A division. "Nevada is kind of like a big pony, but when he's good, he's really good," smiled Duchossois. Duchossois and Nevada won the division tri-color by winning one class and placing second in three classes.

Not far behind Duchossois was the reserve champion, Lynn Rogers. Rogers was aboard her own horse, Anika B. The pair secured the reserve championship by winning both an over fences and under saddle class, and placing third, eighth and ninth in the division's remaining three over fences classes.

Shawn Casady aboard Glass Castle was among the junior hunter champions at week I of WEF, taking the tri-color in Martha Jolicoeur's Illustrated Properties Small Junior Hunter 16-17 division. The Elm Rock LLC owns Glass Castle, a 10 year-old Belgian warm-blood mare. "I'm very thankful to Susie Humes, Elm Rock LLC, and Ken and Emily Smith," stated Casady. Casady secured the division championship in a field of 14 riders, by placing first, second, fourth and fifth over fences, and placing second under saddle.

The reserve champion was Caretano, owned and ridden by Hannah Goodson-Cutt. Goodson-Cutt won two classes in the division, and also placed fifth and sixth over fences.

The Amateur divisions continued through Sunday at the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival. Poetic, owned and ridden by Maggie Boylan, was champion in the Bainbridge Amateur Owner Hunters 18-35 division. Boylan came out on top over a field of eighteen starters. She secured the division championship by winning the first class, placing third in two more over fences classes, and was second in the under saddle.

Laura Sexton and her Hanoverian gelding, Zoom, missed the championship by only one point. However, she was still awarded the reserve championship by placing second in three classes, fifth in another over fences class, and third under saddle.

The Inaugural College Preparatory InvitationalThe FTI Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) hosted the 2011 Inaugural College Preparatory Invitational Horse Show (CPI) during its first week of competition. The CPI was developed with the goal of preparing and educating student riders in grades 6-12 about the format of college equestrian competition, to encourage academics and horsemanship, and to provide the riders with resources to create their desired college equestrian experience. The weekend of events included special seminars and scholarship opportunities as well as the chance to compete in a college format competition.

Riders showed in Novice, Limit, Intermediate and Open divisions according to their level of experience, showing both over fences and on the flat. With over a hundred entries, classes were divided into sections of 12 and competitors were awarded ribbons through eighth place in each section. Judges included renowned equestrians John French, Nona Garson, and Georgina Bloomberg. Horses were provided for the show by helpful local barns.

Students hailed from all over the country, Canada, Mexico, and the Bahamas to participate in the CPI. In the Open division, winners on the flat included Isabella Meyer of Atlanta, GA, Jennifer Delman of Greensboro, NC, and Colby Wood of Dover, NH. Over fences, Kristen Mohr of Hackettstown, NJ, and Marielle Golden of Boca Raton, FL took home blue ribbons.

Samantha Kraus of Mt. Sinai, NY, is in Wellington training with Frank Madden and will be competing in the hunter, jumper, and equitation divisions throughout the winter. Kraus won Section B of the Open Equitation over fences. The CPI provided a fantastic opportunity for 17-year-old Kraus to look further into her college plans in the near future.

"I am still in high school and I am waiting to hear back from a bunch of schools that I applied to," Kraus said. "I don't know what I want to do yet, but I know that I definitely want to ride in college."

Commenting on her participation in the inaugural CPI, Kraus smiled, "I thought this was great. It is a good experience for all of the riders and it helps you figure out what college is going to be like if you ride for a team. I have never done anything quite like this where you just draw a horse and go into the ring, so it is definitely a challenge, but I think it makes you a better rider."

Additional winners at the event included:
Open Equitation on the Flat: Isabella Meyer (Atlanta, GA), Jennifer Delman (Greensboro, NC), Colby Wood (Dover, NH)
Intermediate Equitation on the Flat: Eveline Smith (Wellington, FL), Abigail Postle (Columbus, OH), Cherry Williamson (Cumming, GA)
Intermediate Equitation Over Fences: Taylor Ann Clark (Red Bank, NJ), Eilie Cole (Friendswood, TX), Emma Calebrese (Wellington, FL)
Limit Equitation on the Flat: Emma Boslet (Orlando, FL), Victoria Griffith (Wellington, FL), Katherine McCabe (Granville, OH)
Limit Equitation Over Fences: Mckenzie Miller (Miami, FL), Victoria Griffith (Wellington, FL), Carlin Counter (Winter Haven, FL)
Novice Equitation on the Flat: Alessandra Fernandez (Miami, FL)
Novice Equitation Over Fences: Sierra Montuori (Loxahatchee, FL)
CPI Alumni Medal Challenge: Jane Decosta (Medford, NY)

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.


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