Winter Equestrian Festival Week Five Wrap-Up:
Wellington, FL - February 14, 2011 -
The fifth week of the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) has concluded at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center, and another week of fantastic competition was held. The FTI WEF hosts the best that the sports of show jumping, hunters, and equitation have to offer in 12 rings of competition.
$150,000 FEI World Cup Grand Prix presented by Spy Coast Farm
An exciting jump-off topped off a fantastic class on Saturday evening in the $150,000 FEI World Cup™ Grand Prix CSI 3*-W presented by Spy Coast Farm, as Laura Kraut (USA) and Cedric added another grand prix victory to their tally at the 2011 FTI Winter Equestrian Festival. Following their win in the $78,000 Adequan CSI2* Grand Prix last Sunday, Kraut and Cedric bested an all-star field tonight with a picture perfect round for the win.
Alan Wade of Co. Tipperary, Ireland designed the course for tonight's Grand Prix, which saw a crowd of 5,600 spectators at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. A field of 40 starters showed up to compete and eight of the best were able to jump clear to advance to the jump-off. An impressive list of riders, including seven Olympians, jumped off against the clock in what turned out to be a very competitive class.
Canada's Ian Millar went eighteenth in the original order and was the first competitor to jump clear over the first round course riding Star Power, owned by Team Works. The pair then jumped first over the shortened course and laid down a smooth, clear round in 49.11 seconds to kick things off and eventually finish in fifth place.
Canadian rider Yann Candele and Pitareusa, owned by Susan Grange, returned next for the jump-off and jumped in top form. The pair was clear in an even 45 seconds to take the lead, but was pushed back to fourth place in the end.
Candele's round was followed by Brazil's Rodrigo Pessoa and HH Let's Fly. The duo had an unfortunate two rails to finish with eight faults in 48.01 seconds, earning eighth place honors.
The lead changed hands again as Venezuela's Pablo Barrios and G&C Quick Star 11 entered the ring and blazed a clear round in 44.39 seconds. The pair eventually finished in third place.
Ready to defend their grand prix title from last week, Laura Kraut (USA) and Cedric entered the ring next and did it again, jumping clear in 43.28 seconds to jump to the top. Three more rounds followed, but Kraut and Cedric held on for the win.
Margie Engle (USA) and Indigo, owned by Griese, Garber, Hidden Creek and Gladewinds, were the next pair to jump, but had a rail down to finish with four faults in 45.21 seconds to earn seventh place. Great Britain's Nick Skelton rode Beverly Widdowson's Carlo 273 to four faults in 44.36 seconds to finish in sixth place. The final competitors in the ring were McLain Ward (USA) and Antares F, owned by Grant Road Partners. Fast and clear, the pair put in an exciting round with the crowd cheering them on, but could not quite top the leaders. Their finishing time of 43.46 seconds ended up in second place.
Cedric, a 13-year-old Holsteiner gelding by Chambertin x Carolus Z, owned by Happy Hill Farm, has been the ride of a lifetime for Kraut. She praised him after the class, smiling, "I've had a lot of really great horses in my life, but I don't think I'll have another one like him. He's extra special. He's got tremendous heart and the ability to match, which is not often the case. I'm a lucky person to get to have him and I'm going to enjoy every minute of it."
Commenting on the jump-off Kraut stated, "It was luck. You couldn't really do anything different in the jump-off; you just had to go as fast as you could on the long stretches and turn as tight as you could to the big, big verticals and walls. I'm pretty positive that that's as fast as I can go. I don't know where I could have gone faster. It was one of those jump-offs where everything just came up perfectly."
WEF Week Five Jumper Highlights:
Ben Maher (GBR) scored a win on Wednesday morning in the $8,000 G&C Farm 1.45m Jumpers on the opening day of week 5 of the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival. Maher and Oscar put down a winning time of 60.806 seconds for the win over Peter Wylde (USA) on Lipton De L'Othain (62.987 seconds) and McLain Ward (USA) on Domino (64.050 seconds).
Seventeen found the way to a clear round, but it was Maher and Oscar who had the most speed. "He's naturally a fast horse, so if you're clear, he's always near the top end without even trying," Maher pointed out.
Maher and Oscar, a 15-year-old KWPN gelding by Harcos x Animo, have only been together for seven months, but they have made the most of their partnership. They won the Suncast 1.50m Championship Jumper Series Classic in week 2, just a few days after Oscar shipped over from Germany.
The fifth round of the $31,000 WEF Challenge Cup Series was held on Thursday afternoon at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center with a victory for McLain Ward (USA) and Grant Road Partners' Antares F. The pair was the fastest of three clear jump-off rounds in the class to win over 64 starters.
McLain Ward and Antares F had the fastest clear round in 40.85 seconds to earn first place. Pablo Barrios (VEN) and G&C Quick Star 11 finished in second place with their time of 41.94 seconds, and Jennifer Crooks (IRL) rode S.F. Uryadi, owned by Olivia Cox-Fill and Stella Farm, into third place with a clear round in 51.34 seconds. The remaining six horses in the jump-off all had four faults, with the fastest of those four-fault rounds placing Nick Skelton (GBR) and Carlo 273, owned by Beverly Widdowson, into fourth place.
The winning combination of McLain Ward and Antares F is a fairly new partnership within the last six months, and Ward noted that he and the eleven-year-old Baden-Württemberger gelding (by Araconit x Cento) are gradually getting to know each other. "We are still learning different things and I do not think we have it exactly right yet, but we are close and we keep winning pretty decent classes," Ward stated. "That class today was as hard to win as any grand prix anywhere in the world. We had almost 70 of the best and it was difficult."
Friday's competition continued with the $6,000 Spy Coast Farm 1.40m Speed Challenge. Out of 50 starters, Venezuela's Andres Rodriguez piloted Oreade Des Dames to victory with the fastest of 12 clear rounds. After leaving out a stride in between fences two and three, Rodriguez knew he had the time in hand and was able to safely navigate the rest of the course without fault. The pair's time of 63.571 seconds held on for the win. Co-owned by Andres Rodriguez and Andres Olivares, Oreade Des Dames is a nine-year-old Selle Francais mare by Kannan x Hurlevent. Today's victory was the mare's second of the week after she also won a 1.35m class on Thursday.
Finishing in second place, Reed Kessler and Flight finished the course with no faults in 64.023 seconds. Third place was awarded to Kate Bomgaars and her horse Online for their clear round in 65.244 seconds. Brianne Goutal and Cloverleaf Farm's Mon Gamin placed fourth in 65.425 seconds, and Ben Maher rode Quainton Quirifino Z into fifth place with a clear round in 66.065 seconds.
Making it four weeks in a row, Christina Kelly won the $10,000 EquiFit High Junior Jumper Classic, this time riding Creata Van Ten Biesen, owned by Diamond Edge Farm. Kelly also won a class in the Medium Junior Jumpers earlier in the morning. The $15,000 ECB Equine Spa High A/O Jumper Classic was also held today with a win for Whiskey and owner/rider Sophie Coppedge.
The fifth week of competition at the 2011 FTI Winter Equestrian Festival concluded on Sunday with the $25,00 Suncast 1.50m Championship Jumper Series Classic, and it was Nick Skelton (GBR) and Big Star, owned by Beverly and Gary Widdowson, who proved victorious over a field of 65 entries.
Alan Wade of Co. Tipperary, Ireland, designed today's courses and set a first-round track that 11 combinations would clear. Skelton and Big Star, an eight-year-old KWPN stallion by Quick Star x Nimmerdor, cleared the jump-off in 40.985 seconds, a blazing time that beat second place finisher McLain Ward (USA) and Louisburg Farm's Esplanade 7, by more than two seconds. Ward and Esplanade were clear in 43.131 seconds. Marie Hecart (FRA) and Babbe Van't Roosakker, owned by Haras De La Rogue, were third in 43.314 seconds.
Skelton did not see Ward's jump-off ride. "He told me he wasn't very fast, but knowing him I didn't believe him," Skelton joked. "I've never seen him not go fast! I thought I'd go nice, but every time I turned I had a good distance. He's a fast horse anyway. I think I got it into that double (combination). I had an unbelievable shot to it and I think it got sent from above. It was perfect. I didn't think I was almost three seconds faster."
This is the second big win for Big Star, who also claimed victory the $40,000 Equine Couture/Tuff Rider Grand Prix in week two. Skelton won another Suncast 1.50m classic in week one. "He's a freak of a horse for eight years old," Skelton said of his mount. "You have to remember how old he is and not get carried away. He's still got to get the experience, but he's a great jumper. He has everything: scope, the mind, unbelievable talent. I'm very lucky to have him."
Fifty-five riders started in today's $15,000 Artisan Farms Young Rider Grand Prix and nine jumped clear to return for a jump-off. Four horse and rider combinations jumped double clear, and Christina Kelly and Camirage, owned by Diamond Edge Farm, had the fastest time in 35.432 seconds for the win. Reed Kessler and Onisha clocked in just 4/10ths of a second shy of that time to finish in second place in 35.829 seconds. Katie Dinan and Vancouver finished in 37.864 seconds to place in third. Navona Gallegos and No Fear had the only other double clear round in 38.640 seconds to take home fourth place.
Seventeen-year-old Christina Kelly has had an outstanding circuit so far, winning the $10,000 High Junior Jumper Classic four weeks in a row prior to today's victory. From Oxford, England, Kelly trains with show jumper Margie Engle and has had her winning mount Camirage, a 10-year-old Holsteiner mare by Charisma, for three years.
WEF Week Five Hunter Highlights:
The hunter ring numbers were bigger than ever in week 5. Most hunter barns and competitors chose to show this week, as it is one of the qualifying weeks for the WCHR Hunter Classic Spectaculars.
The green horses led the week off, with numerous entries competing on Wednesday and Thursday. Patricia Griffith, aboard the Heritage Farm entry, Sway, were the winners of the tricolor this week in the Pre-Green 3' Hunters. Sway, a six-year-old Dutch Warmblood by Casco, seems to have that special something. "He always had that really special, incredible jump, and now he's getting the rest of the pieces together," explained Griffith.
The pair secured the championship by besting a field of twenty-five horse and rider combinations and winning three of the division's five classes. They also were awarded a third in another of the division's classes.
The reserve champion this week in the 3' Pre-Greens was Fergie, a nine-year-old Hanoverian mare. Fergie is an entry of Cookie Beck and was shown by Chrystal Knight. Knight and Fergie won the reserve championship by placing second in three classes and third in another class.
Numerous amateur riders began competing in various divisions on Thursday. Among them was Elizabeth Faraci riding her own mount, Chamonix. The pair was awarded the championship in the Adult Amateur 3'3" Hunters.
Chamonix, a seven-year-old Hanoverian by Calido I, did not seem to mind the rain at all on Friday. Faraci, who hails from Maryland, has owned Chamonix for three years. "He is so easy and fun to ride. He is always happy to do his job," Faraci explained about her horse.
Not far behind Faraci and Chamonix was the reserve champion, Laurie Lewis, riding her own mount, Abercrombie. Abercrombie is a ten-year-old Oldenburg gelding by Sion. Lewis, who resides in Oklahoma, and Abercrombie won one class, placed second in another class, and received thirds in two remaining classes.
Grace Stuntz was aboard her own mount Fitzhugh for the tricolor win in the Illustratead Properties Amateur-Owner 18-35 3'3" Hunter division. Week 5 marks the second week this season that Stuntz and Fitzhugh have been awarded championship honors. Stuntz has owned Fitzhugh, an eight-year-old gelding, since he was four. "This is his second year showing. He could have been a First Year horse a year ago, but we decided to wait a year, and so he did the 3'3" at Devon and Harrisburg," Stuntz explained about Fitzhugh's show career.
Stuntz and Fitzhugh received the championship by winning one class, placing second in two classes, and placing third in one of the division's remaining classes.
Tied for champion, but with fewer points over fences, was the reserve champion winner, Stephanie Riggio, riding her own mount Breitling. The pair earned reserve championship honors by winning one class over fences and one class under saddle. The duo also was awarded a second place ribbon in another of the division's over fences classes.
On Sunday, Hayley Barnhill was awarded the championship honor for her performance in the Large Junior 16-17 Hunters. Barnhill was aboard the John Jedakis and Robert Crandall entry, Casallo. Casallo is a seven-year-old Oldenburg gelding.
Casallo also shows in the Second Year Green Working Hunter division with owner Robert Crandall. "He is a Second Year horse, so he is still a little green, but he jumps amazing and has a huge stride," explained Barnhill when asked about Casallo. Barnhill and Casallo won two classes, placed second in a class, fourth in another class, and sixth under saddle.
Olivia Esse rode Iwasaki and Reilly's entry, Small Affair, to the reserve championship honors this weekend in the Large Junior 16-17 Hunter division. Small Affair is an eight-year-old Selle Francais gelding by Elf D'or. The duo won two of the division's five classes.
That's a wrap for week 5 of competition at the 2011 FTI Winter Equestrian Festival at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. Week 6 marks the second week of opportunities for hunter competitors to aim at qualifying for next weekend's WCHR Hunter Classic Spectaculars.
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.