FTI Winter Equestrian Festival Week Four
Wrap-Up: February 2-6, 2011

Wellington, FL - February 7, 2011 -

The fourth week of the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) has concluded at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center, and it brought thousand of people to enjoy the best that the sports of show jumping, hunters, and equitation have to offer in 12 rings of competition.

A new entrance and exit route from the show grounds has been developed in order to ease traffic on the corner of Pierson Rd. and South Shore Blvd. The Village of Wellington will open 140th Avenue Wednesday to Sunday from 3:00 to 6:00 PM, and on Saturday from 3:00 to 11:00 PM. 140th Avenue leads to Greenview Shores, which connects to South Shoure Blvd. The traffic pattern will give exhibitors and spectators a new option for entering and exiting the horse show grounds.

$78,000 Adequan Grand Prix, CSI 2*

In Sunday's $78,000 Adequan Grand Prix, CSI 2*, Laura Kraut (USA) and Happy Hill Farm's Cedric jumped to victory over 48 starters in a talent-packed class.

This week's course designer in the International Arena was Richard Jeffery of Great Britain. At the halfway point in the class, nine had jumped clear over the first round course. Seven more clear rounds followed to leave 16 horse and rider combinations to jump-off. The countries of the United States, Mexico, Great Britain, Ireland and Canada were all represented in today's jump-off, but the United States reigned supreme as Olympic gold medalists Laura Kraut and Cedric took the win.

Of the 16 entries in the jump-off, just two were able to clear the course. Nick Skelton (GBR) and Unique, owned by Beverly Widdowson, were first to jump clear and clocked in at 51.02 seconds to finish in second place. Kraut and Cedric went last, and stopped the clock in 45.11 seconds for the win.

Finishing in third place, McLain Ward had one rail down with Rothchild, owned by Sagamore Farm, to finish with the fastest four-fault round in 41.98 seconds. Lauren Hough and Quick Study, owned by Laura Mateo, placed in fourth with four faults in 43.32 seconds. Reed Kessler and Onisha finished in fifth with four faults in 43.70 seconds. Taylor McMurtry and Just An Illusion, Blythe Marano and Urban, and Ragan Roberts and Quipit L.F. all finished with four faults to place in sixth, seventh and eighth respectively.

Laura Kraut's mount Cedric is a 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding by Chambertin x Carolus Z. The pair has had a fantastic career together including playing an integral part of the United States' efforts to earn a Team Gold Medal in the 2008 Olympic Games. Cedric is just coming back from time off after competing in Europe in December and Kraut thought he felt great for his first Grand Prix back.

"I was surprised; I was in the very fortunate position of going last, so I got to see the absolute mayhem that was going on," Kraut laughed. "You would have never guessed that people would have that many rails in the jump-off. I knew if I just cantered around clear, the worst I was going to be was second. It was an easy position to be in."

"He felt great today," Kraut continued. "He felt fresh and happy. He's had a long break. After WEG, I gave him almost two months off and then I jumped in two shows (Paris and Brussels), and then he's had time off since then. He's feeling really confident and good."

Commenting on his round this afternoon, second place finisher Nick Skelton explained, "With there being no clears, I thought I would go in and try and jump a clear round. However fast I went, if I had one down I definitely wasn't going to beat McLain. I thought that Eric and Laura would beat me anyway, so I was happy to settle for third. Luckily Eric had one down and I was second. I was pleased with the horse; he jumped really well."

Commenting on the large number of clear rounds over the first round course, McLain Ward added, "Still, the most successful horse in the class won, so something was right. The odds on favorite at the beginning of the class won."

Nespresso Battle of the Sexes

The women have dominated the Nespresso Battle of the Sexes for three years now with another exciting win in Saturday evening's dynamic competition. The women's team, captained by Katie Prudent, and including riders Georgina Bloomberg, Ashlee Bond, Brianne Goutal, Lauren Hough, Maggie Jayne, Reed Kessler, Candice King, Laura Kraut, Christine McCrea, Catherine Pasmore, and Nicole Simpson, swept the three phase competition with 37 points over the men's score of 25 to win their third title. The men's team consisted of Chef d'Equipe Henri Prudent and riders Will Simpson, Jonathan McCrea, Daniel Bluman, Ben Meredith, Shane Sweetnam, Nick Dello Joio, Enrique Gonzalez, Ben Maher, Paul O'Shea, Aaron Vale, and Nick Skelton.

The evening's attendance was approximately 6,500 people for the class at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. Equestrian Sport Productions CEO Mark Bellissimo stated, "This was a great event and we're very thankful to the riders and their owners for supporting this class with their time and their horses. Special classes like this really grow our spectator base, which is one of our biggest goals at the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival."

Michelle McFaul, Vice-President, Community Affairs and Special Events of Nespresso, was thrilled with the outcome of tonight's competition and teased, "It is a total privilege for Nespresso to sponsor this class for the third year in a row. I am just fearful that this is the last year because the boys will not show up again!"

The youngest rider in tonight's Battle of the Sexes competition at 16 years old, Reed Kessler was competing in the class for the first time and also showed in her first six bar this evening. Kessler and her trusty horse Flight earned points in both the speed and match race phases, and she rode Ligist through three clear rounds in the six bar.

A very excited Kessler beamed after the class. "It was so fun. I watched it last year and all I could think was how much I wanted to be on the team. My biggest fear as it got closer was that if I lost a point I would let my entire gender down," she laughed.

Also one of this evening's youngest riders and showing in her first Nespresso Battle of the Sexes, 18-year-old Catherine Pasmore did extremely well. Pasmore earned a point in the speed round riding Nakano and then jumped clear through all four rounds in the six-bar aboard Vandavid to earn a special award for the most clear rounds. Pasmore's trainer Laura Kraut had the fastest time overall in phases one and two and also won a special prize for her efforts.

Pasmore explained that this was her horse Vandavid's second time competing in a six-bar. " The second to last jump felt big enough to me, and then the last one was huge," she admitted. "It was over my head and it was over his head! I had my leg there, released, and he didn't let me down. He jumped it easily; you wouldn't even have known it was that big!"

FTI WEF Week Four Jumper Highlights:
Wednesday through Saturday

The 2011 FTI Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) started its fourth of 12 weeks of competition. Another win went to Rodrigo Pessoa (BRA) and HH Palouchin in the $8,000 G&C Farm 1.45m Jumpers on Wednesday. This was the pair's third win in a row, as they also won both of week three's 1.45m classes. Rodrigo Pessoa and Double H Farms' HH Palouchin were the fastest of those clear rounds with an unbeatable time of 55.552 seconds to take the top prize.

Mario Deslauriers (USA) rode Jane F. Clark's Whistler to second place with a clear round in 58.503 seconds. Third place was awarded to McLain Ward (USA) and Pjotter Van De Zonnehoeve, owned by Louisburg Farm, in 59.268 seconds. Enrique Gonzalez (MEX) and Obelix 148 finished in fourth in 59.285 seconds, and Pablo Barrios (VEN) guided G&C In Color to fifth place with a time of 61.304 seconds.

Lauren Hough (USA) and Quick Study, owned by Laura Mateo, earned the top prize in Thursday afternoon's $31,000 WEF Challenge Cup Round 4 after completing the very close jump-off in the fastest time by just 6/100ths of a second.

Beezie Madden (USA) and Coral Reef Via Volo blazed the trail for the jump-off today, setting the opening time in 44.79 seconds, which eventually finished in fourth place. Eric Lamaze (CAN) and Atlete Van T Heike, owned by Artisan Farms LLC, immediately followed and topped Madden's clear round in a faster time of 43.48 seconds, which eventually finished in second place. McLain Ward (USA) and Pjotter Van De Zonnehoeve, owned by Louisburg Farm, were fast but had one rail down to earn four faults in 45.51 seconds to place in eighth.

Always a fast contender, Margie Engle (USA) rode Indigo to a clear round next and finished in fifth with her time of 44.87 seconds. Kate Levy (USA) and Vent Du Nord jumped into the seventh position with their fast, clear round in 46.51 seconds. Nick Skelton (GBR) followed trying to catch the target time with Big Star, owned by Beverly and Gary Widdowson, and finished clear in 44.92 seconds to finish in sixth place. Moving their way into third place, Ashlee Bond (USA) and Little Valley Farm's Cadett 7 took a good shot at the leading time, finishing in 44.56 seconds.

The final competitor to complete the jump-off was Lauren Hough riding Quick Study. The pair managed to shave the smallest fraction off the lead-time to stop the clock in 43.42 seconds and take the win. Hough was very happy with Quick's Study's performance today since the 12-year-old SFA gelding (by Quick Star x What a Joy) has had time off since finishing fourth at the Gucci Masters in Paris this December.

On Friday, competition continued with a victory for Donald Cheska and Ericka Baran's Ad Fundum in the $6,000 Spy Coast Farm 1.40m Speed Challenge. Forty-four entries showed over the course set by Great Britain's Richard Jeffery and seven were able to jump clear. Cheska and Ad Fundum's time of 70.834 seconds took the lead with just a few left to go and held on for the win.

Cheska and Ad Fundum just edged out Cypriano, owned by Equinvest and ridden by Julie Welles, who finished in 71.907 seconds. Jonathan McCrea and Candy Tribble & Windsor Show Stables' Victor VDL were also fast and clear with a time of 75.473 seconds to earn the third place honors. Ben Maher and Quainton Quirifino Z stopped the clock in 76.581 seconds to finish in fourth.

Cheska bought Ad Fundum, an 11-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding by Clinton, as a five-year-old and sold him to amateur rider Ericka Baran two years ago. Baran shows Ad Fundum in the High Amateur-Owner Jumpers and Cheska now only shows him occasionally.

On Saturday afternoon, the $25,000 Suncast 1.50m Championship Jumper Series Classic hosted 41 horse and rider combinations, and it was Ashlee Bond of Hidden Hills, CA, who rode Little Valley Farm's Chivas Z to victory. Riding over a Richard Jeffery designed course, four were able to stay clear and advance to the jump-off.

In the shortened course, Navona Gallegos and No Fear, owned by Bar X Ranch LLC, went first and stopped the timers in 42.445 seconds with eight faults for fourth place. Rodrigo Pessoa and Champ 163, owned by Legacy Stables LLC, had four faults in the double combination. With a time of 38.691 seconds, they finished in third place.

Pablo Barrios and G&C Flash, owned by G&C Farm, set the first double clear round. They had a more conservative time in order to leave all the jumps up, in 41.455 seconds.

Knowing she needed to stay clear but beat Barrios' time, Ashlee Bond put Chivas Z at a "medium-fast pace" and clocked around the jump-off with no faults in 39.393 seconds for the win.

FTI WEF Week Four Hunter Highlights:
Thursday through Sunday

Green divisions started the week in the hunter rings. Among the many green hunter divisions at WEF, The Second Year Green Working Hunters showed off Wednesday and Thursday.

Erynn Ballard rode Susanne Stroh's entry, Sigfried, to the championship honors in the Second Year Green Working Hunters this week. This week marked Sigfried's first time in the Second Year Green Working Hunters. Ballard, who only recently began showing Sigfried said, "Last week I did him in the 3'3" Performance Hunters, and we talked about our options with him. I thought if he did the second years he had a good chance of qualifying for Devon."

Sigfried won four out of the division's five classes this week to secure the championship. He was also third in the remaining class.

Ballard plans to continue showing Sigfried throughout the remaining weeks at the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival. "We'll do World Championship Hunter Rider week and go from there," said Ballard.

Kelcie Brophy aboard the Lionshare Farm entry, Dynasty, took the top prize in the Platinum Performance USEF Show Jumping Talent Search first thing Friday morning.

Brophy forged a quick connection with Dynasty as the pair, who have only been together since yesterday, wasted no time taking over in the equitation ring. "I only started riding him yesterday, but he's really easy, and really nice," stated Brophy.

The course, which contained multiple combinations, also had an option jump. The option segment of the course allowed riders to either jump a water jump or a vertical placed directly next to the water. Riders could choose either obstacle, however, the water jump could earn them more standing with the judges, as it was the harder of the two choices. Brophy's choice of the water jump may have helped her earn the top prize.

Mackenzie Hamill bested a field of twenty-seven riders on Saturday to take top honors in the THIS National Children's Medal. Hamill was aboard the Monty Kelly entry, Einstein. Hamill has only been riding Einstein since the summer.

The top four riders from the first round were called back to test over a short course that included a trot fence. Einstein and Hamill received a top score of 86 in the first round of the class, which had them going in to the test on top. Hamill and Einstein remained on top for the win after all four riders completed the test.

"I thought it was pretty easy because I've been doing the equitation next door, so that was a little harder than this," said Hamill about Saturday's course for the THIS National Children's Medal.

Daisy Farish was the Gotham North Small Pony Hunter champion on Sunday. Farish was aboard Betsee Parker's pony, Elation. Elation is an eleven-year-old Welsh Pony mare by Kilvey Taran.

The small ponies had four over fences classes, one of which was a handy hunter class. Some of the riders had never done a handy course before, and expectedly had difficulty remembering the unusual course. However, Farish and Elation had no trouble at all, as that was one of the classes that the pair won. When asked about the trot fence in the handy course today, Farish explained that it was no problem, "Elation comes down to the trot really well for the trot jumps!"

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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