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FTI Winter Equestrian Festival Week Seven Wrap-Up:
February 23-27, 2011

Wellington, FL - February 28, 2011 -

Competition at the seventh 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.

McLain Ward and Pjotter Van De Zonnehoeve Triumph in
$78,000 Fidelity Investments® CSI 2* Grand Prix

Saturday night at the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival featured an exciting victory for McLain Ward (USA) and Pjotter Van De Zonnehoeve in the $78,000 Fidelity Investments® CSI 2* Grand Prix.

Riders representing 12 different countries made up the international field, and they showed over a course designed by Olaf Petersen, Jr. of Germany. Thirty-seven entries began the class, and seven were able to jump clear in the first round. An exciting jump-off followed, as some of the best riders in the world battled for top honors. The United States took home the top three places with Olympians McLain Ward, Beezie Madden, and Margie Engle leading the class.

A father and daughter each riding for France, Marie and Michel Hecart, were the first two riders to jump clear over the first round course to advance to the jump-off. Marie rode Myself De Breve, owned by Haras De La Rogue, through the jump-off course with eight faults in 44.72 seconds to finish in sixth. Michel and Babbe Van't Roosakker, also owned by Haras De La Rogue, immediately followed and jumped in 46.44 seconds with four faults at the last fence to place fourth.

Schuyler Riley (USA) and South Beach Stables' Lapacco returned next and finished with four faults in 48.57 seconds to finish in fifth place. Beezie Madden and Coral Reef Via Volo were the first pair to jump double clear and stopped the clock in 42.81 seconds to take the lead, eventually finishing in second place.

Margie Engle returned next with Indigo, owned by Griese, Garber, Hidden Creek and Gladewinds, but an unfortunate rail at the second to last fence cost the duo four faults and their time of 45.13 seconds landed in third place.

McLain Ward, of Brewster, NY, really wanted the win tonight after finishing second in several grand prix classes over the WEF circuit. Ward's motivation led to a fast, clear ride aboard Louisburg Farm's Pjotter Van De Zonnehoeve to top the leaders. Ward and Pjotter stopped the clock in 42.08 seconds, the fastest round of the night.

The final competitor in the jump-off was Shane Sweetnam (IRL) and his mount Amaretto D'Arco, owned by Spy Coast Farm. Three rails cost the pair 12 faults and they finished in seventh place.

Pjotter Van De Zonnehoeve is a ten-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding by Plato x Emilion. Ward explained that he started riding Pjotter in the Low Schooling Jumpers last year and the talented chestnut has advanced quickly. "Beth Johnson was nice enough to give me the ride on this horse and he has been a star since he came out," Ward smiled. "I'm kind of excited about the future with him. He's electric careful and he has a big heart. I think he trusts me and I believe in him. It has been a really great match."

Speaking about his winning ride in the jump-off, Ward stated, "Pjotter is a little inexperienced, but he's naturally a very fast horse. I was a little concerned with the rollback on the triple bar because he's very careful. I thought if I didn't meet that right I was in a little bit of trouble, but it showed up great. I knew I could run across the middle of the ring to that second to last vertical and he wouldn't touch it. I figured I'd give it a shot. I've had a lot of second places and I got nipped by Beezie last week, so it was certainly in the back of my head; I wanted to give it a go."

FTI WEF Week Seven Jumper Highlights:
Wednesday through Sunday

Shane Sweetnam (IRL) was fast this morning in the jump-off to gain victory in the $8,000 G&C Farm 1.45m Jumpers with Little Emir, owned by Spy Coast Farm. In the jump-off, Sweetnam and Little Emir went fast around a jump in the turn back to a combination, while others took a difficult inside turn. "I had to go around and went fast around there. The inside turn didn't seem to make up time there," Sweetnam explained. "I wasn't sure if it would be the right thing, but I just kept going."

It paid off for them, as they finished the shortened course in 37.489 seconds for the win. Just behind them in 37.863 seconds for second place were Enrique Gonzalez (MEX) and Katina. Third place went to Pablo Barrios with Costa, owned by Nathalie Mathers, in 38.871 seconds.

The $31,000 WEF Challenge Cup Round 7 saw a total of 59 entries with 16 jumping clear to return for the jump-off. After arriving in Wellington just three days ago, California's Richard Spooner and his top mount Cristallo galloped to victory over the talented field.

Navigating a track set by Olaf Petersen, Jr. of Germany, seven of the 16 entries jumped clear over today's short course. Scott Brash (GBR) and Bon Ami, owned by Liz McTaggart, blazed the leading clear round going second in the jump-off and stopping the clock in 41.91 seconds. That time would hold up through eight rounds until Kent Farrington (USA) and Valhalla, owned by Haity McNerny, entered the ring and crossed the timers in 41.52 seconds.

Immediately following, Richard Spooner and Cristallo flew through the course in 40.39 seconds to take over the lead. McLain Ward (USA) and Sagamore Farm's Rothchild did their best to steal the lead, but finished just fractions behind in a time of 40.51 seconds. In the end, Spooner and Cristallo came out on top with Ward and Rothchild in second, Farrington and Valhalla in third and Brash and Bon Ami in fourth.

Owned by Show Jumping Syndications International, Cristallo is a 13-year-old Holsteiner gelding by Caretino x Cicero. Spooner and Cristallo have won top grand prix classes all over the world together, but this was their first grand prix win at the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival. "It's exciting to win; I've never won a grand prix on this field, so it was exciting to get it done," Spooner smiled. "I was proud of my horse. With competitors like this, to win is a big deal. I was very happy with my horse and his performance."

Enrique Gonzalez (MEX) and Katina were the winners on Friday afternoon in the $31,000 G&C Farm 1.45m Jumpers. The new class is part of an initiative to increase FEI ROLEX ranking classes at the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF). Thanks to the support of G&C Farm, owned by Gustavo and Carolina Mirabal, the FTI WEF was able to add eight new FEI ROLEX ranking classes to the schedule. There are now 27 ranking classes during the FTI WEF. G&C Farm has kindly sponsored the 1.45m Jumper division, which adds five of the additional FEI ROLEX ranking classes.

There were 55 entries in Friday's class, and it was run as a speed class. The course, designed by Olaf Petersen, Jr. of Germany, featured 12 numbered obstacles with three double combinations. The early leader in the class was G&C Sinatra (owned by Barrios and Gustavo Mirabal) and Pablo Barrios (VEN), who went first and set a time of 67.76 seconds. They would finish in fifth place.

Thirteen horses later, the lead changed hands when Eric Lamaze (CAN) and Coriana van Klapscheut, owned by Artisan Farms LLC, finished the course. The little mare sped around the course and crossed the timers in 66.47 seconds. They would finish in second place. McLain Ward (USA) and Rothchild, owned by Sagamore Farm, placed third in 67.16 seconds, while Brianne Goutal (USA) and Ballade van het Indihof were just behind in 67.17 seconds for fourth place.

As the second to last horse in the ring, Gonzalez of Mexico City, Mexico, set a blistering pace to win in 64.09 seconds. "She's really fast," Gonzalez said. "The combination of verticals that was giving a lot of trouble, was the best for her. You can get there and just let her do it, and she will figure it out. Many people had faults there, but that gave me a chance. She's always really competitive and really fast. If everything goes right, normally she's there."

Meg O'Mara and Sinatra IV jumped to victory in the $15,000 Artisan Farms Young Riders Grand Prix on Friday night. Showing under the lights in the International Arena of the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center, O'Mara and Sinatra IV were the only pair to jump double clear in the evening's class to earn top honors over a field of 54 starters.

The class was the second of four qualifiers for the EY Cup Finals, held at the FEI World Cup Finals in Leipzig, Germany. The top three riders at the conclusion of the series will have the opportunity to travel to Germany to compete. The third event, which is a Team Event, will be held on Thursday, March 10 in the International Arena. The final $15,000 Artisan Farms Young Rider Grand Prix will be held on the grass derby field at The Stadium on Sunday, March 20, 2011. 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.

Olaf Petersen, Jr. of Germany set a challenging course for the young riders, and just three were able to jump clear in the first round. Reed Kessler and Ligist returned first for the jump-off and set the standard with a fast time of 45.854 seconds, but an unfortunate rail at the last fence placed the pair in second.

Meg O'Mara rode Don Stewart's Sinatra IV into the ring next and jumped a fast, clear round to take the lead. The pair's time of 45.177 seconds and double clear rounds earned the victory.

Completing the jump-off, Chase Boggio and Hennessey had a rail at the second fence on course to earn four faults in a time of 47.929 seconds, finishing in third place.

Class winner Meg O'Mara is from Rumson, NJ, and turned 17 years old on Saturday. O'Mara trains with Don Stewart and Megan Edrick and received help from Ralph Caristo this evening. O'Mara usually shows in Ocala during the winter and was excited to get a win tonight after arriving in Wellington just half an hour before the course walk. "It's really, really exciting because I'm never here," O'Mara laughed. "It is kind of shocking to go into this huge class and do so well. We were gold medalists in the Prix des States and I won my first grand prix three weeks ago, but this is probably one of the biggest classes I have done."

Although she has finished second in both qualifiers so far, 16-year-old Reed Kessler is currently in the lead for the series standings with her clear rounds aboard horses Onisha and Ligist.

On Saturday, Emilie Martinsen took home the top prize in the $15,000 ECB Equine Spa High Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic.

The 2011 FTI Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) concluded its seventh week of competition on Sunday afternoon with an exciting victory for Peter Wylde and Lipton D'Lothain in the $25,000 Suncast 1.50m Championship Jumper Series Classic. Wylde and his mount of six years, owned by Windward Farm and Jessica Siuda, mastered the jump-off course and galloped to the win.

Peter Wylde and Lipton De L'Othain were the fastest of four double clear rounds and stopped the clock in 36.013 seconds for the win. Pablo Barrios and Nathalie Mathers' Costa cleared the course in 37.384 seconds to finish in second place. Nick Skelton and Big Star, owned by Beverly and Gary Widdowson, finished in 37.844 seconds to earn third place, and Sergio Niento Del Rio galloped Fabiana Banco Del Bajio through the timers in 39.124 seconds to place fourth.

Enrique Gonzalez and Obelix 148 finished with eight faults to earn fifth place honors and Richard Spooner and Molly Ohrstrom's Billy Bianca incurred eight jumping and four time faults after a refusal to finish in sixth.

Commenting on what made the difference in his time, Wylde smiled after the class, stating, "That horse makes the difference; he's like a Ferrari. He is so fast and careful and competitive. He wins many, many classes. I saw Nick go and he was really fast and left strides out and I thought, 'Oh boy, in order to win you've really got to take every risk.' I tried. That's his nature, to win. It makes it fun and easy. He's a brilliant animal and I was lucky he was on form today."

FTI WEF Week Seven Hunter Highlights:
Thursday through Sunday

Elizabeth Boyd began the week with much success in the Pre-Green 3 & 4 Year Old Hunters. Caroline Clark Morrison's entry, Iron Station, was this week's champion. Iron Station is a four-year-old Rheinland Pfalz-Saar gelding, by Ragtime.

Boyd explained how Morrison found Iron Station as a two-year-old at Devon a couple of years ago. "Morrison was watching the breeding before she showed and was not looking for a horse and saw him. She called my father and said, 'I found one.'" Boyd went on to explain that her father and Morrison's trainer, Jack Towell, was skeptical of buying a horse that was only two-years-old. "My father came and looked at him, and he had such a good mind and was put together so nicely that they bought him."

Iron Station and Boyd secured the championship by winning three of the division's four classes and placing second in the remaining class. The pair topped a field of six entries for the tricolor honor.

The Roberto Coin Low Adult Hunters 2'6" Section A were next to have their championship spotlighted as the week continued. Visse Wedell rode White Cap to the championship this week. Of the five weeks that Wedell has shown White Cap this year at the WEF, she has been champion all five times. Wedell's impressive record has led her to be a regular invite to the parade of champions on Sunday afternoons in the International Arena. She secured this week's championship by winning three classes and placing second in another class.

Wedell leases White Cap, a Trakehner gelding by Lamarc, from Far Niente Equine of Wellington, Florida. When asked just how many times she has been champion aboard White Cap, Wedell explained, "Five times. I say that with gratefulness to all who have helped me get to the ring." She went on to say, "I have great horses, and a great team that help get everything ready; I'm definitely lucky to have them."

Junior hunters were up next as competition moved into the weekend. Lillie Keenan was hard to beat this weekend aboard her two Large Junior Hunter entries. While she is not new to the winning ranks of the hunter rings, she was visibly delighted with the end results of this weekend's competition.

Keenan rode the Chansonette Farm entry, C Coast Z, to the championship this morning. C Coast Z is an eleven-year-old grey Warmblood gelding by Champion Du Lys. "We bought him as an equitation horse, but I did him in a few junior hunter classes just to get going and did so well, we thought, 'Ok, we'll keep him as that,'" said Keenan about C Coast Z. Keenan and C Coast Z won three classes and placed second in another to secure the division's championship.

Keenan rode the Chansonette Farm entry Madison to the reserve championship as well. The pair won two classes, placed second in one class, and fifth in another to clinch the reserve tricolor. "She was originally a jumper, but we bought her as a hunter in Europe," Keenan explained about how she came to have Madison.

"They are both great, but they are kind of opposite rides. Coast is more of kicking and trying to wake him up, where Madison already has her own motor," said Keenan of riding both horses.

The younger section of Small Junior Hunters, presented by Martha Jolicoeur and Illustrated Properties, awarded Victoria Colvin with the championship honor on Sunday. Colvin rode Ariel to the championship honors this weekend. Neither her, nor her mount, Ariel, are new to the championship winner's circle. Scott Stewart, who also trains Colvin, owns Ariel, a six-year-old Brandenburg mare by Lancado.

The winning pair secured the tricolor by winning a stunning four out of five classes in their division of nine entries. They placed fifth in the division's remaining class.

Colvin, arguably one of the best and busiest young riders here in Wellington, keeps very busy showing everything from pony hunters to the junior equitation classes. Furthermore, she does it all successfully and stays focused throughout. Colvin will remain busy throughout the rest of circuit showing numerous horses and ponies as the weeks continue.

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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