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FTI Winter Equestrian Festival Week Eight Wrap-Up:
March 2-6, 2011

Wellington, FL - March 7, 2011 -

At the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center, the eighth week of the 2011 FTI Winter Equestrian Festival came to a close. The FTI WEF hosts the best that the sports of show jumping, hunters, and equitation have to offer in 12 rings of competition. In addition to competition, the FTI WEF hosts many exciting activities.

Team USA Tops $75,000 FEI Nations Cup presented by G&C Farm

The 2011 FTI Winter Equestrian Festival hosted its 10th annual $75,000 FEI Nations Cup on Friday evening, presented by G&C Farm, with an exciting victory for Team USA. Made up of Mario Deslauriers riding Urico, owned by Jane F. Clark, Margie Engle riding Indigo, owned by Griese, Garber, Hidden Creek and Gladewinds, Beezie Madden riding Coral Reef Via Volo, owned by Coral Reef Ranch, and McLain Ward riding Sapphire, owned by Ward and Bluechip Bloodstock, and led by Chef d'Equipe George Morris, the United States came out on top in the unique team competition.

Tonight's class consisted of two rounds shown over an intricate course set by Steve Stephens of Palmetto, FL. After the first round, each team dropped their highest score. In the second round, the teams returned in order of highest to lowest total faults, and three riders from each team returned. The winner was determined by the lowest total of each team's top three riders from each round.

After round one competition, the United States was in the lead with just four faults for their total. McLain Ward and Sapphire and Margie Engle and Indigo each delivered clear rounds. Mario Deslauriers and Urico and Beezie Madden and Coral Reef Via Volo each had four faults. Deslauriers' score was dropped to leave the team with a four fault total.

Coming back for the second round, Ward and Sapphire jumped clear again to keep their team at the top. Engle had an unfortunate rail at the last fence with Indigo, but Madden and Via Volo pulled it out in the end to also jump clear and leave the team with just eight faults in total.

Team USA was thrilled with their performance tonight and the riders each commented on the evening. Madden stated, "We all made a big effort to make this a high priority so I think it was really important to try and win tonight. We have had a little trouble the last three years (since we were) building our team (during WEF), but everyone made it a high priority this year and it paid off. It was important for the team and the country."

Team Canada finished in second place with eight faults in each round to total 16 points. Eric Lamaze and Artisan Farm's Sidoline Van De Centaur jumped a clear first round. Jonathon Millar riding Millar Brooke Farm's Contino 14 and Ian Millar riding Team Works' Star Power each had four faults to total eight in round one. Yann Candele and Susan Grange's Pitareusa were the drop score with eight faults.

In a three way tie, Australia, Great Britain, and Ireland all finished with 37 points. Australia's James Paterson Robinson and Niack De L'Abbaye, owned by Ger Poels Horses, were the only other pair to jump double clear through both rounds of competition.

Lauren Hough Rides Quick Study to Win $150,000 Wellington Equestrian Realty Grand Prix, CSIO 4*

Week 8 of the 2011 FTI Winter Equestrian Festival came to a close on Sunday with a highlight event, the $150,000 Wellington Equestrian Realty Grand Prix, CSIO 4*. Out of the strong field of competitors, it was Lauren Hough (USA) who rode to victory on Quick Study, owned by Laura Mateo.

There were 47 entries in Sunday's grand prix class, and they rode over a track designed by Steve Stephens of Palmetto, FL. Twelve found the way to a clear round and advanced to the jump-off. The pathfinder in the jump-off was Gemma Paternoster (GBR) on her own Osiris. They set a solid time of 48.49 seconds with a clear round, which would hold up for fifth place in the class.

The lead changed hands after two more riders with the next rider, Amy Millar of Canada on Costa Rica Z, owned by Millar Brooke and Ann Matthews. They were careful throughout the course and with speed to the last jump, they finished clear in 44.40 seconds for third place.

Once again two more riders later, the lead changed. The next rider in would find a way to shave off four second from the previous leading time, and with his experience and his talented horse, it was no surprise. Nick Skelton (GBR) and Carlo 273, owned by Beverly Widdowson, galloped through jump-off with ease and had a time of 40.61 seconds to take the lead.

After three more had faults or were slower, the lead would take its final change. Hough and Quick Study were next in, and the speedy bay gelding was very quick through the double combination and across the ground to set the winning pace at 40.18 seconds.

"I had my work cut out for me," Hough said about her jump-off ride. "Nick's horse is very, very fast. Obviously the trick was the double a and b (12) of what was the triple. I took a bit of a risk there and he jumped it really, really well. I'm thrilled to have won. I was quite fast going in and he really backed up really well at 'a' and jumped out unbelievable."

She went on to say, "I don't know where I was quicker. My horse really covers a lot of ground. He just was on everywhere today. The first to the second jump of the jump-off, I was really quick. It was not by much so it is hard to say exactly where. But he was in top form today."

Hough was very pleased with Quick Study, who has come out very well this winter. They won the WEF Challenge Cup Round 4 and were third in this week's Round 8 grand prix class. Hough noted, "He has had a really good season so far. I want him to peak for the $500,000 here. He's 12 this year and has a lot of mileage, and he's my only one at the moment so I'm going to try and pick and choose the right classes for him without doing too much."

FTI WEF Week Eight Jumper Highlights:
Wednesday through Sunday

The eighth week of the 2011 FTI Winter Equestrian Festival was the CSIO "international" week of competition. The opening international class was the $5,000 CSIO Welcome Stake. Paul O'Shea of Ireland had the fastest speed round for victory with Daydream St. Ghyvan Z, owned by Harry Gill.

The $5,000 CSIO Welcome Stake class had 64 entries, and they competed over a course designed by Steve Stephens of Palmetto, FL. There were 16 clear rounds, and the speed ratcheted up as the class continued. Going 44th in the order, O'Shea and Daydream St. Ghyvan Z cleared the course in a blazing time of 52.51 seconds for the win. Their winning pace was almost four seconds faster than the second place finishers, Ian Millar (CAN) and Dryden, owned by Ariel and Susan Grange. Richard Spooner (USA) and C&S Partnership LLC's Lady Like were third in 56.54 seconds.

USA's Mario Deslauriers and Vicomte D were victorious in Thursday afternoon's $31,000 WEF Challenge Cup Round 8 following a competitive class. Sixteen out of 48 entries jump clear over his first round course today. With one scratch from the jump-off, a total of 15 horse and rider combinations returned over the short course and five jumped double clear to earn top honors. Mario Deslauriers and Jane F. Clark's Vicomte D were the fastest by one second to finish in first place.

Vicomte D is a 13-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding by Flamenco Desemilly x Randell Z. This is Deslauriers' third winter with the big gray and he smiled, "Vicomte jumped great today; he has been knocking at the door a little bit here and there but today he really got it in him. He's a quick horse, so I knew I had a good shot coming in to the jump-off. It was a good course for him; I could leave out strides everywhere and he jumped great."

Sixteen-year-old Reed Kessler, of Armonk, NY, had the best showing of her young career today, riding in her first CSIO 4* competition and winning two classes in one day. Kessler began the morning by riding her top mount Flight to victory in the $6,000 Spy Coast Farm 1.40m Speed Challenge with the fastest of eight clear rounds in a class of 33 entries. The young rider then went on to ride Ligist to a win in the $10,000 G&C Farm Speed Stake CSIO with the fastest of seven clear rounds out of 24 entries.

Brazil's Rodrigo Pessoa and HH Palouchin, owned by Double H Farm, jumped to victory in the $31,000 G&C Farm 1.45m Classic over a class of 31 entries. Pessoa and Palouchin had the fastest of four clear rounds in 62.66 seconds to finish in first place.

The $25,000 Equestrian Sport Productions' Jumper Stake was the next feature class on Saturday afternoon. Seven horse and rider combinations cleared the first round course out of the 50 total entries. Pessoa continued his great day by qualifying two horses for the jump-off. He was the first to return for the short course aboard Double H Farms' HH Ashley and set the pace with a clear round in 38.522 seconds, which eventually placed the mare in fourth.

The $35,000 Hermès Puissance was the highlight event on Saturday night, and it was an exciting show of power and scope. Pablo Barrios (VEN) was the winner after he cleared the 7'3" puissance wall with G&C Quivola, owned by Gustavo Mirabal.

Course designer Steve Stephens and his crew raised the puissance wall to an impressive 7'3" (2.21m) for the final jump-off. As Barrios cantered by, only his head was visible on the other side of the wall. Once again, they showed the crowd how a puissance is done when they cleared it. Arroyo and G&C Tropigold gave it a great effort and cleared with the front end, but the horse's hind end just caught the top of the wall. The blocks fell and they finished in second place.

Earlier in the evening, the PRO DerbyCross made its debut at the FTI WEF. PRO DerbyCross is a hybridized form of interactive entertainment and sporting competition designed to showcase some of the best equestrian talent in the United States and Canada. The competition featured five teams of five riders - three eventers, a show jumper, and a polo player - who compete individually over a course designed by Olympic gold medalist David O'Connor. The course asks horses and riders to be brave over cross-country fences and accurate over show jumps all while competing against the clock.

The FarmVet/Cavalor team brought home the win with very speedy rounds from their five riders. The team consisted of Captain Buck Davidson, Will Faudree, Bruce Davidson, show jumper Aaron Vale, and polo player Kris Kampsen.

The $25,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Series Classic was held earlier on Sunday with a victory for Brazil's Rodrigo Pessoa and HH Ashley. Ten of 41 entries went clear to advance to the jump-off and four jumped double clear in the race against the clock.

FTI WEF Week Eight Hunter Highlights:
Thursday through Sunday

Week eight of the 2011 FTI Winter Equestrian Festival was an action packed week with numerous exciting events for exhibitors and spectators alike. The week began with Green Conformation Hunters in the E.R. Mische Grand Hunter Arena. Sandra Ferrell was aboard the new entry from Stephanie Riggio, Moshi, for the championship win in the Green Conformation Hunters. Riggio purchased Moshi, a seven-year-old Belgium Warmblood gelding by Quintus, around the fourth week of competition at the 2011 FTI Winter Equestrian Festival. "He's a new ride for me, so I get to be the lucky girl, which is nice," beamed Ferrell.

Moshi and Ferrell secured the championship honor by winning the model and the under saddle classes. The duo went on to win another over fences class and receive a second and two thirds in the division's remaining classes.

"He's a beautiful type. His ring presence makes him attractive from the moment he walks through the in-gate, and on top of it, he moves great, and he jumps beautiful," said Ferrell about Moshi. She went on to say, "Usually if all goes well, we're pretty successful."

Friday was all about equitation at the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival. Among the many equitation classes was the Ariat National Adult Medal. Besting a field of fourteen horse and rider combinations, Julia McNerney came out on top after two rounds of competition. McNerney was aboard Micenas, an Argentinian Warmblood mare, owned by Norgan Inc. "I'm leasing her for this year; and this was our fourth time showing together. She's been so great. I really can't complain," beamed McNerney about her new partnership with Micenas.

Not only was McNerney's test great, but was so good that she moved up from fourth place to first; something that does not happen very often. With no huge mistakes from any of the top four riders, the class could have been pinned in a number of ways. However, the judges must have liked the consistency of McNerney's rounds, which gave her the winning edge.

The Amateurs stole the show on Saturday, and the ever competitive Elite Equine Amateur-Owner Hunters Over 35 were awarded their championship. Jane Gaston, from The Plains, Virginia, was awarded the prestigious tricolor honor. Gaston was aboard, Lumiere, her ten-year-old Oldenburg gelding.

"I do have another horse, but he's not quite ready, so Lou is doing more than I planned for him to do, but he's cheerful, and he's been great, and he'll get a little time off before Devon," said Gaston.

The pair has a brilliant partnership that has resulted in numerous championships and awards over the past seasons. This week was no different; and they secured the championship by winning two classes, placing second in another class, and securing third in the division's remaining two classes.

To close out the week, the Beval Palm Beach Adult Medal awarded its week eight winner Sunday morning. Topping a starting field of thirteen entries was Kelly Kozich, riding Baheera. The Liberty Farm owns Baheera, a fourteen-year-old Oldenburg gelding.

The Beval Palm Beach Adult Medal, which was comprised of two rounds, consisted of a first round course that allowed riders to make inside turns and show off their abilities in the equitation ring. "It was good. I thought it was nice that they put a couple tricks in there, some places where there were options to go inside or around," Kozich stated about the course. She went on to say about her horse, "He's super handy, so he handles everything well. I just have to ride well, and he's always great."

That's a wrap for week eight of the 2011 FTI Winter Equestrian Festival. Moving on to week nine, there will be many more exciting moments and championships to be awarded.

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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