FTI Winter Equestrian Festival Opening Week Successful
RELEASE: January 15, 2009
AUTHOR/ADMINISTRATOR: By Roxane Theidel
Perfect sunny South Florida weather and spectacular competition kicked off the 2009 FTI Winter Equestrian Festival at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center.
Margie Engle and Hidden Creek's Tosca won the top prize of $9,000 in the opener to the $30,000 Braman Motor Cars WEF Challenge Cup in Round 1 on Thursday, January 8. Only 0.109 secs separated Engle's win from Georgina Bloomberg and her ride on Curius, placing second to win $6,600.
McLain Ward jumped Rothchild to the first $25,000 Fidelity Investments 1.50-meter Classic on Saturday to win $7,5000. Ward is looking to do well again this Saturday, January 17, as the 10-week 1.50 meter Fidelity Investments Classic continues.
Sunday's twin bill of the $25,000 Gold Coast Feed Speed Derby and the $25,000 Gold Coast Feed Six-Bar competition gave both Canada's Mario DesLauriers and Jimmy Torano top prizes of $7,500.
The long Derby course of 21 jumps designed by Steve Stephens proved to be a challenge to the field of 20 riders and exciting for the crowd that came out in the perfect South Florida weather. DesLauriers' ride on the quick mare Lutopia gave him a 2.088 secs lead over second-place winner Leslie Howard on Lennox Lewis 2.
Torano and his mount Heechhiem's Tampa showed off for the crowd by clearing the colossal 6'3" vertical for the win in the six-bar competition.
Week two will see the first grand prix of FTI WEF, with the $50,000 Equisport Agency Grand Prix on Sunday, January 18 at 1:00 p.m. First place will receive $15,000.
Riders and spectators gave rave reviews to the $10-million makeover of the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) seen throughout the show grounds with rave reviews. Top international riders, excellent horses, and world-class facilities are expected at the world's largest and longest-running horse show, and this year is not disappointing. This is the 30th anniversary of WEF and is offering a record of more than $5.5 million in prize money.