Sapphire and McLain Ward Repeat Huge Victory In $500,000 FTI Consulting Finale Grand Prix, CSI 5* at 2010 FTI Winter Equestrian Festival
RELEASE: March 30, 2010
AUTHOR/ADMINISTRATOR: Jennifer Wood for Jennifer Wood Media
Sappire Wins Again for McLain Ward (Shannon Brinkman/ USEF Archives)
Wellington, FL - March 27, 2010 - Tonight's $500,000 FTI Consulting Finale Grand Prix, CSI 5* drew the largest crowd in the history of equestrian sport in Wellington. More than 9,000 spectators came to see who would win one of the biggest show jumping purses in North America. Sapphire, ridden by McLain Ward (USA) and owned by Ward and Blue Chip Bloodstock, came home with the win and repeated their victory from last year over Laura Kraut (USA) and Cedric, owned by Happy Hill Farm, and Todd Minikus (USA) with his own Pavarotti.
Tonight's class was also the final qualifier for the $100,000 FTI Rider Challenge, where the top four riders of the circuit were awarded with bonus checks. The top four riders were Rodrigo Pessoa (BRA), who earned $50,000, Pablo Barrios (VEN) who received $25,000, McLain Ward, who took home $15,000, and Laura Kraut, who received $10,000.
The eleventh week of the FTI WEF is sponsored by FTI and concludes on Sunday, March 28. The 2010 FTI Winter Equestrian Festival has 12 weeks of competition that conclude on April 4, 2010, and they will be awarding almost $6 million in prize money through the circuit.
Tonight's course designer was Conrad Homfeld of Wellington, FL. He designed a 14 numbered obstacle track for the first round, which had 40 entries. Four riders found the clear path to advance to the timed jump-off.
Kraut said of the course, "Conrad is just one of the most genius course designers. The course was technical and it was big, but the fences were nice. There weren't a lot of gimmicky jumps."
Pessoa added, "Conrad was an unbelievable rider and he's just as good as a course designer. There was a lot of feeling; he knows courses well. The fences are always in the right places. He really did a tremendous job without jumping mountains."
First to go was Minikus on Pavarotti. They flew around the jump-off course to try and set the time to beat. They stopped the timers with no faults in 36.84 seconds, and would finish in third place.
Minikus joked about having to go first, "Life's all about position right? I wasn't in the best position going first. I think ultimately that ended up being an awesome class. My horse was absolutely awesome. I was a little slow to the white gate being careful. That was where I was slow, (but) I've lost a lot of grand prixs going fast."
He added, "I'm personally very proud to be able to sit with Rodrigo, McLain and Laura. That's a pretty good list of show jumping riders right there."
Kraut and Cedric were next in, and they were very fast across the middle of the ring from the orange oxer to the upright gate vertical, to the double combination. They came just under Minikus' time with no faults in 36.02 seconds. Their time would hold up for second place in tonight's class.
"Cedric is just amazing," Kraut said afterwards. "I'm so lucky to have him. I think tonight he just didn't have long enough legs. He gave it a go and he's quick. To be second to Sapphire is certainly no disgrace."
Ward and Sapphire, last year's winner of the FTI Consulting Finale Grand Prix, were next to contend. Ward and Sapphire sped around the course and were very fast turning back to FTI oxer and down the final line. They came home in 34.89 seconds, which would set the winning time.
"I went tonight with Rodrigo coming behind me and thought I wasn't going to leave any room. I saw Rodrigo land on the same time as me at the double, and he's got a quick horse, but it went our way. I tried to lay it down, and I think it's the fastest that I've ever gone with her," Ward revealed. "It was a great jump-off course for my horse because there were a lot of places to leave out strides."
The last to contend were Pessoa and Let's Fly, owned by Double H Farm. Pessoa went quickly and would have finished second with a time of 35.97 seconds, but four faults at the FTI oxer left them in fourth place.
"I knew exactly what was coming my way. On a night like this, you know they're not going to make mistakes," Pessoa said. "You have to be on your best to beat them. You just have to give it a try. My horse jumped really, really well. My mistake in the jump-off was when I turned out of the double, I was on a good time, and I couldn't get square to the oxer. That made it a little bit wider and he hit the back pole. But he tried really hard."
Pessoa could be happy though with his check of $50,000 for winning the FTI Rider Challenge. He said, "I'm happy that I finished on top of the FTI Rider Challenge. I was lucky to be able to use four horses in the grand prix classes this winter, which really helps to try and score points. I got a ribbon in every grand prix this winter. You want to do well and focus on that. You have some strategy involved. All of my horses performed well."
For Ward, today's win just shows once more the incredible talent of Sapphire and her amazing consistency. "It's a nice way to finish the circuit, and I think she's rounding into good form for the FEI World Cup Finals. I'm so lucky to have this horse and the people around me. She just keeps giving and giving and giving," he expressed.
Ward finished third in the FTI Rider Challenge and said of FTI's sponsorship at the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival, "It's a great incentive, and it shows consistency over the circuit. What FTI does for the sport is phenomenal, and we can't thank them enough."
Tomorrow's jumper action will conclude week 11 of competition with the $25,000 Suncast 1.50m Classic in the International Arena. The final week of the 2010 FTI Winter Equestrian Festival will run from March 31-April 4.
For full results and more information, please visit www.shownet.biz or www.equestriansport.com.
Final Results: $500,000 FTI Consulting Finale Grand Prix, CSI 5*
1. SAPPHIRE: 1995 BWP Mare by Darco xx Hedjaz
MCLAIN WARD (USA), MCLAIN WARD & BLUE CHIP BLOODSTOCK: 0/0/34.890
2. CEDRIC: 1998 DUTCH WMBLD Gelding by Unknown xx Unknown
LAURA KRAUT (USA), HAPPY HILL FARM: 0/0/36.020
3. PAVAROTTI: 1997 KWPN Gelding by Lancelot xx Renville
TODD MINIKUS (USA), TODD MINIKUS LTD. : 0/0/36.840
4. LET'S FLY:
RODRIGO PESSOA (BRA), DOUBLE H FARM: 0/4/35.970
5. CADETT 7: 1997 HOLST Gelding by Cor de la Bryere xx Capitol I
ASHLEE BOND (USA), LITTLE VALLEY FARM: 1/86.240
6. HIDDEN CREEK'S CAMPELLA: 2000 SWB Mare by Cardento xx Stanford 687
MARGIE ENGLE (USA), HIDDEN CREEK FARM INC.: 4/80.69
7.DANNY BOY: 2000 BWP Gelding by Clinton xx Alexis Z
BEEZIE MADDEN (USA), ABIGAIL WEXNER: 4/81.410
8. OLE: 1996 KWPN Gelding by Burggraaf xx Dukaat
MAC CONE (CAN), SARA HOUSTOUN & LARRY EVOY: 4/81.570
9. HICKSTEAD: 1996 KWPN Stallion by Hamlet xx Ekstein
ERIC LAMAZE (CAN), ASHLAND STABLES & TORREY PINES: 4/81.990
10. CARLO 273: 2001 HOLST Gelding by Contender xx Cascavelle
NICK SKELTON (GBR), BEVERLY WIDDOWSON: 4/82.110
11. G&C LARGRAN: 1999 OLDBG Gelding by Lancer II xx Grannus
PABLO BARRIOS (VEN), PABLO BARRIOS & GUSTAVO & CAROLINA MIRABAL: 4/82.870
12. CARLOS BOY: 1995 Holsteiner by Campesino xx Ligorett
KENNETH BERKLEY (USA), ALEXA & KRISTA WEISMAN: 4/82.970