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FarmVet Amateur-Owner 3'3" Hunter Divisions Award Championship Honors During World Championship Hunter Rider Week at the FTI WEF

RELEASE: February 23, 2013
AUTHOR/ADMINISTRATOR: Laura Cardon and Lauren Fisher for Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.

Breitling and Stephanie Riggio
(Anne Gittins Photography)
Breitling and Stephanie Riggio (Anne Gittins Photography)
Wellington, FL
- February 22, 2013 - Week seven of the 2013 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival (FTI WEF), sponsored by  Hermès, continued on Friday in Wellington, FL, with World Championship Hunter Rider (WCHR) competition featured in the International Arena at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC). Today's classes were for amateur-owner hunters.

Week seven of the FTI WEF runs February 20-24, 2013. The highlight USHJA/WCHR Peter Wetherill Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular will be featured as the "Saturday Night Lights" main event. Also on Saturday is the Special Olympics Palm Beach County Equestrian Games.

International show jumping competition, including the $25,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic (Saturday, 1 p.m.) and the $50,000 Hermès Jumper Derby (Sunday, 3 p.m.) will be held on the grass derby field at The Stadium at PBIEC.

The FarmVet Amateur-Owner Hunter 18-35 3'3" division was the first to name its champion on Friday in the International Arena. Breitling, a thirteen-year-old Thoroughbred, and owner Stephanie Riggio bested a field of Warmbloods for the championship title. Breitling and Riggio were first in two over fences classes and also won the under saddle.

Reserve champion was Columbus, owned and ridden by Kathryn Haefner. The duo jumped to first and eighth places over fences and placed second to Riggio and Brietling under saddle.

Despite a refusal at the final fence during the last class for the division, Riggio is more than pleased with her gelding's performance. "I have struggles with my nerves. Going into today, I knew that no one could catch me [after winning all three classes during day one of the division], but I got a little overzealous and choked a little bit," Riggio admitted.

"I'm still so happy with Breitling and I can't be too hard on myself. We were so consistent [Thursday] that I have to look at that and just be happy with it," she said.

Riggio has rehabilitated several Thoroughbreds to give them second careers, but Breitling is the only Thoroughbred she owns that she actually competes with. "He never raced, but he's still different [from my other horses]. He's really smart, and has an amazing memory," Riggio described.

"He's an absolutely gorgeous mover, but his biggest asset is his great expression," Riggio continued. "Everyone that sees him comments that he looks like he's just having fun, and he is. If he were a human, he would be smiling the whole time he shows. He just loves his job and I think that definitely gives him a little edge."

The 36 and Over age group of the FarmVet Amateur-Owner 3'3" Hunter division wrapped up competition for Friday. Winner and Daryl Portela were division champions after placing fourth under saddle, followed by second, second, and fourth place finishes over fences.

Reserve champion for the division were determined after a hack-off between Positano and Missy Luczak-Smith, Mac Arthur Park and Lynn Walsh, and Whispering and Deborah Perkins. Mac Arthur Park and Lynn Walsh emerged victorious from the hack-off. The pair were first and seventh over fences and placed seventh under saddle.

Portela and her ten-year-old Warmblood gelding have been raking in championship titles up and down the East Coast since late last year, earning top honors at The Devon Horse Show and the Washington International Horse Show and at multiple weeks of the 2013 FTI WEF.

"He has a great nature. He's very quiet and sweet in the barn, but he likes to win. We're both very competitive, so we just try to be really consistent every time we show," Portela commented.

The CWD Working Performance Hunter division ran into the early evening on Thursday to allow for 104 entries to be seen in their final class. The division was split and awarded champion and reserve titles to two sections of horses and riders.

Section A champion was Gia and Peter Pletcher. Gia, owned by Shadyside Farm, was second under saddle and won two over fences classes in addition to placing second in the stake round. Reserve champion honors for Section A were earned by Ovation and Victoria Colvin. Colvin and Dr. Betsee Parker's 13-year-old Warmblood gelding were second under saddle and jumped to third, second, and first place ribbons.

Pletcher was highly complimentary of Gia, a ten-year-old Hanoverian mare, who has been pulling double duty with her owner in Amateur-Owner divisions. "Gia was very competitive last year in [3'6" Performance Hunters] and was also champion last week with her owner, Kate Gibson, in the older Amateur Owners," Pletcher said.

"She has a beautiful jump," Pletcher continued. "She's very brave, yet she has a really hard try at each jump. She's careful, but never spooky. And she's a naturally beautiful mover."

Louise Serio rode Castle Rock to the Section B championship title after winning the under saddle class and placing second, first, and sixth over fences. Castle Rock, a fourteen-year-old KWPN gelding, is owned by Bryan Baldwin. Reserve champion for Section B was Quatrain, ridden by Liza Boyd and owned by Finally Farm and Janet Peterson. Quatrain and Boyd were sixth under saddle and jumped to third, second, and first places.

Saturday night's class will be the fifth time Serio has shown Castle Rock in the Hunter Spectacular class and they are previous winners of the class. "I think what makes Castle Rock so competitive is he has everything you're looking for [in a hunter]. He's beautiful, he has great style at the jump, he's a beautiful mover and he tries to win every time he goes in the ring," Serio described.

The Lucas Equine Equipment Performance Hunter 3'3" champion was Well Adjusted, ridden by Erynn Ballard. The ten-year-old Oldenberg gelding, owned by Linda Talan Jacob, was first in both over fences classes during day two of competition for the division. Reserve champion was Outta the Park, ridden by Peter Pletcher and owned by Lynn Walsh. Pletcher and Outta the Park were first and second over fences.

Thursday's classes were surprisingly the first time Well Adjusted, trained by Heather Irvine, had been showing in Florida this season. "He's just getting back, so it was great to have him walk right out there and win. He's quiet, he's easy and he just comes right to the ring," Irvine described.

Irvine attributed Well Adjusted's immediate success to the horse's rider as well as his remarkable style. "He is really stylish with his jump and his expression is amazing. He wears his ears up and his two white legs just come up right around them. He's very careful and he's just a great horse, plus he has a great rider. Erynn does an excellent job with him," Irvine stated.

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