FTI Winter Equestrian Festival Week Eleven Wrap-Up:
Wellington, FL - March 28, 2011 -
The 2011 FTI Winter Equestrian Festival had a very full and exciting week of competition during week 11. The FTI WEF hosts the best that the sports of show jumping, hunters, and equitation have to offer in 12 rings of competition.
Laura Kraut and Cedric Capture $500,000 FTI Consulting Finale Grand Prix, CSI 5*
The Palm Beach International Equestrian Center experienced one of its biggest crowds ever on Saturday night as more than 7,000 spectators filled the stands to watch Laura Kraut (USA) and Cedric race to victory in the $500,000 FTI Consulting Finale Grand Prix, CSI 5*. Kraut and Cedric won two grand prix classes in a row earlier in the circuit with victories in the $78,000 Adequan Grand Prix CSI 2* during week four and the $150,000 FEI World Cup™ Grand Prix CSI 3*-W presented by Spy Coast Farm during week five. Tonight was the pair's third and biggest grand prix victory of the WEF circuit to conclude a fantastic winter season.
Guilherme Jorge of Brazil designed the courses in the International Arena this week. In the class, forty entries jumped the first round course and 15 were able to go clean to advance to the jump-off. Nine were able to jump double clear, and Kraut and Cedric finished in a blazing 35.86 seconds to finish in first place.
Andres Rodriguez (VEN) rode Secret to the first clear round of the jump-off and set the standard with his speedy round in 37.10 seconds. The pair's time held onto the lead for ten rounds before Kraut and Cedric entered the ring, eventually finishing in third place.
The only other horse and rider combination able to come close to the time were Lauren Hough (USA) and Quick Study, owned by Laura Mateo, who jumped double clear in 36.55 seconds to place second.
Nick Skelton (GBR) and Carlo 273, owned by Beverly Widdowson, jumped clear in 37.13 seconds to finish just behind Rodriguez in fourth. Australia's James Paterson-Robinson guided Niack De L'Abbaye, owned by Ger Poels Horses, to the fifth place time of 37.41 seconds. Candice King (USA) and Skara Glen's Davos stopped the clock in 37.49 seconds to finish in sixth.
A little grey horse with a heart of gold, 13-year-old Cedric is a Holsteiner gelding by Chambertin x Carolus Z, owned by Happy Hill Farm. Cedric has been the horse of a lifetime for Kraut and gave a huge effort tonight as he raced through the jump-off course.
Taking in the excitement of her win, Kraut smiled, "It was great. I have to say tonight's crowd was amazing. Even when we drove in to walk the course, there were already cars everywhere. The atmosphere was great. I think now the public around the Palm Beach area is starting to know horses and riders and they're getting to know the sport. It's like going to Spruce Meadows now; you are getting people who are cheering for you who don't really know you, and that has never happened here before."
"It's exciting; I think Cedric is special and people like him," Kraut added proudly. "He's little, he's grey, so everybody loves him and it is really fun. When the place goes crazy like it did, that doesn't happen very often in our sport. The management here has done a lot over the past years to get it to this point with the good lighting, good footing, beautiful jumps, and great course building. They have made this the best winter circuit in the world and we are very lucky."
WEF Week Eleven Jumper Highlights:
The first class in the International Arena on Wednesday morning was the $8,000 G&C Farm 1.45m Jumpers, and it was Kevin Babington (IRL) on Udiana, owned by Chloe Wormser, who came away with victory as the only double clear. There were 11 clear rounds out of 31 starters, but Babington and Udiana were the only ones able to stay clear in the jump-off. They finished in a time of 38.305 seconds. Laura Kraut (USA) and Dona Evita, owned by the Evita Group, had four faults in 36.381 seconds for second place. Third place went to Nick Skelton (GBR) and Caetano, owned by Monarch International. They had four faults in 36.428 seconds.
The final round of the $31,000 WEF Challenge Cup Series was held on Thursday afternoon with a victory for Beezie Madden (USA) and Abigail Wexner's Danny Boy. A total of 41 competitors showed over the first round course and 11 qualified for the jump-off. With one competitor choosing not to return, ten jumped off against the clock.
Great Britain's Nick Skelton and Big Star, owned by Beverly and Gary Widdowson, were first to attempt the short course and jumped clear in 40.48 seconds to blaze the leading time. Eight rounds followed but no one was able to jump without fault until the final competitors entered the ring.
Madden and Danny Boy covered the course with a ground eating stride and cleared the fences easily as they jumped to a winning time of 39.41 seconds.
Coming in third place, McLain Ward (USA) had the time well in hand with Louisburg Farm's Vocas, but had a rail at the second to last jump on course to finish with four faults in 37.50 seconds. Andre Thieme (GER) and Coco 135, owned by Seth Vallhonrat, had four faults in 39.21 seconds to place fourth.
Ashlee Bond (USA) qualified two mounts for the jump-off but had a rail down with both of her horses, Cadett 7 and Apache, owned by Little Valley Farm. Apache's time of 41.26 seconds finished fifth, while Cadett 7's time of 41.78 seconds received sixth place honors.
An eleven-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding by Clinton x Alexis Z, Danny Boy is making a comeback this year after an auto-immune problem took the horse out of competition in 2010. Following her victory today, Madden spoke about Danny Boy's illness and how he has gotten back into shape this year. She stated, "Danny Boy had a lot of time off last summer and he is just now getting back in the groove. It is great to have him back."
The highlight class on Friday in the International Arena at the 2011 FTI Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) was the $31,000 G&C Farm 1.45m Classic. Kent Farrington (USA) and Up Chiqui, owned by Farrington, Alex Boone, and William Dobbs, was the fastest through the timers for victory.
The class was a speed format against the clock, and 41 of 13 entries were clear to lead the top of the ribbons. Farrington had the fastest time of the day in 61.38 seconds for the win. Ben Maher (GBR) and Lindsay Cook's Oscar came the closest to that speedy time in 62.36 seconds for second place. Shane Sweetnam (IRL) and Little Emir crossed the timers in 63.21 seconds for third place.
Emilie Martinsen of Denmark earned her fourth classic win of the circuit, riding her horse Gucci to victory in the $15,000 ECB Equine Spa High Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic. The pair won the class during weeks three, seven, eight and eleven.
The $100,000 FTI Rider Challenge concluded tonight after eleven weeks of jumper competition at the 2011 FTI Winter Equestrian Festival. Great Britain's Nick Skelton led the standings and earned a $50,000 cut of the bonus money for his success during the circuit. McLain Ward finished in second place ($25,000), Lauren Hough third ($15,000), and Beezie Madden fourth ($10,000).
Earlier in the evening Madden was also presented with a special award as the overall Leading Lady Rider during this year's circuit. The Harrison Cup was awarded to Beverly and Gary Widdowson, the owners of Nick Skelton's top horses.
Week eleven of the 2011 FTI Winter Equestrian Festival concluded on Sunday afternoon with a victory for Mario Deslauriers (USA) and Cella in the $30,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Series Classic Finale. Deslauriers and Cella, owned by Jane F. Clark, were the only pair to master the course with double clear rounds for the win.
Just three of the original 50 competitors were able to go clear in the first round to return for a jump-off. Daniel Bluman (COL) was the first to return for the short course aboard his own Sancha La Silla. The pair had one rail down to earn four faults in 34.158 seconds, finishing in second place. Deslauriers returned next with Cella and put down a fast, clear round in 35.853 seconds to take over the lead. Ashlee Bond (USA) rode Chivas Z, owned by Little Valley Farm, through the course next, but retired from her round after a refusal to automatically finish in third place. Kevin Babington (IRL) rode his own Mark Q to just two time faults in the first round to grab the fourth place prize. Bond also earned fifth place riding Little Valley Farm's Apache to the fastest four-fault time in round one.
Sunday's class was the final in an eleven class series that has been featured throughout the 2011 WEF circuit thanks to the generous sponsorship of Suncast®. In addition to the weekly prizes, riders were in competition for a $50,000 bonus for the overall series standings. Great Britain's Nick Skelton and Big Star earned the top bonus, receiving a check for $25,000. Ashlee Bond and Chivas Z finished in second overall to earn $15,000, and McLain Ward (USA) on Domino received the third place bonus of $10,000.
Earlier in the day the International Arena hosted the junior and amateur-owner riders in their classics for week eleven. Christina Kelly and Diamond Edge Farm's Camirage won the $10,000 EquiFit High Junior Jumper Classic to begin the morning. This week's win marked Kelly's seventh High Classic win for the circuit and her third win in the class riding Camirage. Kelly also won several Medium Junior Jumper classics in an astounding performance in the FTI WEF circuit. Later in the morning Santiago Nunez Riva rode Jason de Carene to victory in the $10,000 Sentient Jet Low Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic. By wearing the SSG 'Digital' Gloves, Riva won a $4,000 bonus, as the bonus money had not been won for three weeks.
WEF Week Eleven Hunter Highlights:
Scott Stewart rode his own entry, Inclusive, to the First Year Green Working Hunter championship this week. "He's so much fun! He is amazing to ride," beamed Stewart. Stewart purchased Inclusive, an eight-year-old Warmblood gelding, within the last year. "I bought him last summer primarily to be a junior hunter for Victoria Colvin," explained Stewart.
Inclusive has been awarded multiple championships this winter with Stewart and junior rider Victoria Colvin. However, this week the winning duo of Stewart and Inclusive won an impressive four out of five classes to secure the championship. The reserve championship in the First Year Green Working Hunters was awarded to The Good German. Marc Grock owns The Good German, but Patricia Griffith had the ride this week. The duo won one class and placed second in another to win the reserve championship during week 11.
The featured division in the E.R. Mische Grand Hunter Ring was the Camping World Adult Amateur 51 & Over Hunters Section A. Mary Katherine Shaughnessy of Wellington, FL, and King Lear, owned by Shamrock Ventures, rode to the championship.
Shaughnessy's Shamrock Ventures purchased King Lear, a fifteen-year-old Trakehner gelding by Induc, last year. "He is really, really perfect! He never does anything wrong. I'd say that he has changed my life," said Shaughnessy with a smile.
It has been a very special week for Shaughnessy. Not only was she champion during the same week that is sponsored by FTI Consulting, Inc. (her husband Dennis is the Chairman), but she also became a first-time grandmother two days ago. "I would like to add that I became a grandmother two days ago. My first grandchild! Her name is Avery. It's been a big week!" beamed Shaughnessy.
Shaughnessy only recently started doing the hunters after switching over from the jumper ring. Never receiving a ribbon lower than a third this week, Shaughnessy and King Lear were nearly unstoppable. The winning duo secured the tricolor honor by winning one class, placing second in three classes, and placing third in the division's remaining over fences class.
Shaughnessy's good friend Margaret Taylor was awarded the reserve championship. Taylor was aboard her own entry, Quality Control, an eight-year-old Westphalen gelding. The pair won two of the division's five classes, including the under saddle, to secure their reserve championship.
Ever present in championship presentations, Victoria Colvin and Scott Stewart's Inclusive were awarded the championship for this week's division of Large Junior Hunters 15 & Under. Colvin, of Loxahatchee, Florida, only began riding Inclusive, an eight-year-old Warmblood gelding, at the beginning of circuit this winter.
The technique of both Inclusive and Colvin earned them some impressive scores this week. The pair won three blue ribbons this week, and even received a score of 91 in one of the classes. They also received a score of 87.5 in another class, however, due to the extremely competitive nature of the division that was only good enough for a third.
Lillie Keenan and the Chansonette Farm entry Madison came in a close second for overall points. The winning duo won one class, placed second in three classes, and was third in the remaining class to just miss the championship by two points.
Not only did Wright have numerous mounts in various pony divisions, but he also secured the Gotham North Small Pony Hunter championship for the third week in a row, and on different ponies no less.
Weeks 9 and 10 Wright rode Miss Australia, an entry of Lauren Hogan, to the Gotham North Small Pony Hunter championship. "Miss Australia is older, and she had last year off, so we are getting her going again. I think we've got her going pretty good because we were champion the last two weeks, and the week before that we were reserve champion," smiled Wright. Then, to top it off, Wright went on to ride Rico Suave for the Suave Pony LLC to the Gotham North Small Pony Hunter championship this week.
The reserve champion in the Gotham North Small Pony Hunters went to Daisy Farish on her Lane's End Farm entry, Shine. The successful duo won one class and placed third in another to secure the reserve tricolor award.
Another busy rider that always has a presence at the pony rings is Meredith Darst. The second day of competition, Darst rode the KAR LLC entry, Won Up, to secure the championship in the Equisport Insurance Large Pony Hunters. Won Up is usually ridden by Kate Ross. Won Up was awarded three blue ribbons and a third place ribbon in the division.
Darst was also awarded the reserve championship on the Megan MacPherson entry, Mapleside Magic Dancer. Darst secured the reserve championship by winning two classes, placing second in two more classes, and also receiving a fifth place ribbon as well.
The championship in the Medium Pony Hunters, sponsored by Visse Wedell, The Elebash Company, was awarded to Sham's Huckleberry, ridden by Daisy Farish for Samantha Kasowitz. They won the handy class and were first and third in over fences classes for the top tricolor ribbon. Reserve champion in the division was Denmark with Madison Goetzmann riding for Manhattan Mortgage. They were first and second over fences.
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.