2010 FTI Winter Equestrian Festival Week Eleven Wrap-Up
RELEASE: April 1, 2010
AUTHOR/ADMINISTRATOR: By Jennifer Wood and Adrienne Marciano
Photo by Randi Muster (Victoria Birdsall and Baheera captured the Third Annual George Morris Excellence in Equitation Exhibition.)
The 2010 FTI Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) is winding down as it finished its 11th week of competition on March 24-28. The week featured the highlight event of the season, the $500,000 FTI Consulting Finale Grand Prix, CSI*****, along with a full schedule of hunter, jumper, and equitation classes, including the prestigious Third Annual George Morris Excellence in Equitation Exhibition. The week eleven title sponsor was FTI.
The $500,000 FTI Consulting Finale Grand Prix, CSI***** 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 and owned by Ward and Blue Chip Bloodstock, came home with the win and repeated their victory from last year over Laura Kraut and Cedric, owned by Happy Hill Farm, and Todd Minikus with his own Pavarotti.
To read all about Ward's win, visit www.usef.org/_IFrames/newsdisplay/viewPR.aspx?id=5528&star=true
Christina Kelly, up on her mount Radio Flyer, owned by the Fairway Group, soared to victory in Wednesday's $8,000 Sentient Jet 1.45m Jumper timed first round class. Second-place honors were awarded to Lauren Hough and Prezioso S, owned by Highlife Farms. Marilyn Little-Meredith and Udonna, owned by Raylyn Farms, Inc., rounded up the third spot.
Both Kelly and her partner, Radio Flyer, are no strangers to the winner's circle. The two have won multiple classes in both the High Junior and Medium Junior Jumper divisions. Kelly was very proud of her horse. "He is an awesome horse, and he jumped amazing today," she said. "This is the first 1.45m class that I have jumped him in and it is the biggest track that I have ever done."
This year's final $30,000 WEF Challenge Cup victory went to McLain Ward and Rothchild, owned by Sagamore Farms. Second place in the class went to Eric Lamaze of Canada and Ashland Stables and Torrey Pines' Hickstead, while Yann Candele of Canada and Pitareusa, owned by Susan Grange, finished in third place.
This was Ward and Rothchild's second win together, following their victory in a leg of the USEF WEG Selection Trials earlier in the circuit. "He's been second a lot in the last year, but he was only eight years old. He's been amazing ever since we've had him. He was clear in both night grand prix, and in the Trials he was brilliant. He's done clear round after clear round and been unbelievably consistent," Ward remarked.
Ward, on his own Oh' D Eole, made it a hat trick this week with his victory in Sunday's $20,000 Suncast 1.50m Classic. Ward also won the $30,000 WEF Challenge Cup Round 11 on Thursday with Rothchild and the $500,000 FTI Consulting Finale Grand Prix, CSI***** with Sapphire last night. It was a great week of victories for the double Olympic Gold medalist from Brewster, NY.
The second-place honors went to Will Simpson on Archie Bunker, owned by Linda Smith. The third-place victory was awarded to Federico Sztyrle of Argentina and Asgard 17, owned by the Estate of Christian Wolffer.
Ward was delighted with his horse. "She is an eight-year-old mare that we have owned in partnership with a Belgian gentleman for just under a year. We purchased her right around this time last year," he said. "We have been bringing her around slowly. She has done very well in the 1.45m classes, and this is her first 1.50 class."
Ward spoke of his efficient round in the short course, "The mare doesn't have a ton of experience going fast, but she is an incredibly talented horse. She has a nice big stride and she responded beautifully to everything."
Ward was quick to thank the group behind him for his incredible week. "It's been a great week; I wish they were always like this. We always have a plan, and I have a great team of people around me," he expressed. "Everyone does 110% and we have great horses and great owners, which makes my job much easier. We had a plan through the circuit and sometimes you get lucky and it all comes together." Hunter and Equitation Highlights
The highlight for junior riders this season was the George Morris Excellence in Equitation Exhibition, which was held on Friday evening before almost 2,000 spectators in the International Arena. Victoria Birdsall piloted Baheera to the win in the prestigious class, while Schaefer Raposa with Coronado was second. Abigail McArdle riding Apartico was third, and Karen Polle on Radius H was fourth.
There were 34 entries to go in the first round of the class. All of the riders had to walk the course and warm-up by themselves without assistance from their trainers. The riders showed in front of six esteemed judges in three positions around the arena—George Morris, McLain Ward, Lauren Hough, Jimmy Torano, Todd Minikus, and Nicole Shahinian-Simpson. The judges gave scores for an average score, and a score out of 10 was given for schooling from judge Rodrigo Pessoa and was added to their average for their total round scores. The top 12 scores returned for the second round over a different course that included testing elements of a simple change of lead, hand gallop, and a trot jump.
From those top 12, four riders came back for a third round. The judges chose to have the riders do the same course as round two, but without the testing elements. They entered the ring unmounted and were asked to switch horses.
The first to return was McArdle of Barrington Hills, IL. In the first two rounds, McArdle rode Apartico, owned by Old Barrington, LLC, to scores of 84.66 and 85.66 (which included scores for schooling) for a total of 170.32. She moved up from sixth place to the top four. In the final four test, she rode Karen Polle's horse Radius H, owned by Karen Polle. McArdle had a very smooth final round and finished in third place. McArdle trains with Katie and Chris Kappler.
Polle of New York, NY, had two trips on Radius H with scores of 83 and 91.66 for a total of 174.66. She made the biggest jump from ninth place to third going into the final four round. She rode McArdle's horse Apartico and had some trouble in the final round, pulling two rails. She finished in fourth place. Polle trains with Stacia Madden and Beacon Hill Show Stables. Radius H was named the Best Equitation Horse of the competition.
Coming into the final round, Raposa, 15, of Clinton, NY, sat in second place after a fantastic first round score of 95 and a second round score of 86 for a total of 181. She rode Coronado, owned by Elsa Goding. In the final four round, she rode Victoria Birdsall's horse, Baheera. Raposa had a great round that showed off her catch-riding skills, and the judges kept her in second place. Raposa trains with her parents, Kara and David Raposa, as well as Andre Dignelli, Patricia Griffith, and Kirsten Coe at Heritage Farm.
Birdsall could not be caught through the three rounds of competition. The 17-year-old from Topsfield, MA, rode Liberty Farm LLC's Baheera to scores of 96.33 in the first round and 93 in the second round for a total of 189.33. In the final four round, she and Coronado had an effortless round to give her the win.
In her third year riding in the George Morris Excellence in Equitation Exhibition, Birdsall moved up from second place in last year's class to the win this year. She trains with Frank Madden, and she felt like the class gave her a great boost in confidence with Baheera, who is known as "Romeo" around the barn. Baheera won the Best Turned Out Horse award, thanks to groom Waldo Domingas. Birdsall was awarded the WEF Equitation Championship, her family won a Special Family Award, and her trainer Frank Madden won the top Trainer Award.
Chris Payne earned another young hunter championship on Thursday when he piloted Gracious, owned by MK Equine Holdings, LLC, to the Draper Therapies Baby Green Hunter Championship at the South Grounds of the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. The reserve championship ribbon was awarded to Ken Smith and Charlestown, owned by Jennifer Smith.
Gracious is a four-year-old gelding that Payne bred himself, and is by the famous show hunter Saint Nick, owned by Caroline Moran. "He just started showing down here. He hasn't done a lot before this year. He's shown five times down here and has been champion several times," Payne explained.
Pony riders kicked off their weekend of competition on Friday with the WIHS Pony Equitation. McKayla Langmeier topped a field of 23 riders when she claimed the win in the WIHS Pony Equitation at the South Grounds of the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center.
Langmeier, a nine-year-old Connecticut resident, is a veteran of the Winter Equestrian Festival, having competed there for three years. She rode Victoria Press' small pony, Blackberry, to the win in the WIHS Pony Equitation today. "She's very fun and smooth," Langmeier said of Blackberry.
Langmeier received a high score of 86 to secure the win over Porter Allen, who was awarded an 85 for second place. The third place was presented to Sabrina Slagowitz, who received a score of 83.
The first division of Junior Hunters finished competing on Saturday when the Large Junior Hunter 15 & Under Championship was presented to Victoria Colvin and Scott Stewart's Blessed. She also earned the reserve championship aboard Way Cool, also owned by Scott Stewart. Colvin won every single class offered in the Large Junior Hunter 15 & Under division this weekend with her two mounts.
Colvin, of Loxahatchee, FL, has been one of the most successful young hunter riders throughout the circuit, and her victories have been numerous. She has been champion in everything from the Medium Pony Hunters to the Large Junior Hunters, and has done so consistently for the past 11 weeks of the 2010 FTI Winter Equestrian Festival. Her many accomplishments this year are remarkable, especially for a 12-year-old rider.
The Children's Hunter divisions wrapped up competition on Sunday at the South Grounds of the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. The day began in the Equine Tack and Nutritionals Arena with the Taylor Harris Insurance Services (THIS) Children's Medal 15-17. Emerging victorious in the THIS Children's Medal was Beverly Catlett, who rode Heather Shimer's Venlo to the victory. Next up in the schedule was the Sentient Jet Children's Hunter 15-17, and Chelsea Huss was victorious with Aljano Jr., owned by CME Holdings.
There were 19 entries in the THIS Children's Medal, and Catlett improved greatly in the test to secure the win. After the first round, Catlett was called back in third place and mastered the test to move up to first place. The second place finisher was Emily Addison, and the third and fourth places were awarded to Taylor Shekels and Claire Steig, respectively.
Chelsea Huss returned to the winner's circle when she garnered the Sentient Jet Children's Hunters 15-17 with CME Holdings mount, Aljano Jr. Huss rode the seven-year-old Holsteiner gelding to two first place ribbons over fences, as well as a fourth and fifth place over fences to clinch the championship. The reserve championship was awarded to Emily Dupont and her Coeur de Lis, who earned three second-place ribbons over fences this week.
FTI has been a sponsor at the Winter Equestrian Festival for five years, and this is their second year as the title sponsor of the 12-week circuit. They are the sponsor of the $500,000 FTI Consulting Finale Grand Prix, CSI*****, which ran on Saturday, March 27, and were the title sponsor of the inaugural Great Charity Challenge. They also sponsor the $100,000 FTI Rider Challenge, a rider bonus series that tracks the best rider in the grand prix classes over 11 weeks of competition.
FTI is one of the largest consulting companies in the world and provide services in 23 countries around the world. They are the biggest restructuring and forensic investigation firms in the world. This global consulting company is publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange and its headquarters are in Palm Beach. Please visit their website at www.fticonsulting.com
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