All posts by Associate Editor

Sam Walker and Waldo Win George H. Morris Excellence in Equitation Championship

Sam Walker and Waldo. Photo © Sportfot.

Wellington, FL — March 22, 2019 — Sam Walker of Nobleton, ON piloted Missy Clark’s and North Run’s Waldo to the win in the 12th Annual George H. Morris Excellence in Equitation Championship. Forty combinations of young equitation athletes and their mounts took to the International Arena at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center on the evening of Friday, March 22, at the 2019 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF). Elli Yeager collected second place, Sophee Steckbeck was third, and Emma Fletcher rounded out the top four.

To qualify for the 12th Annual George H. Morris Excellence in Equitation Championship, each of the entries had to have previously won an equitation class during the 2019 Winter Equestrian Festival circuit or during the 2018 Holidays & Horses circuit leading up to it. The competition was held in a three-round format with all participants contesting first-round course designed by Steve Stephens and Nick Granat. Only the top 15 were asked to return for the second phase in reverse order. Unlike a regular equitation class, the championship requires riders to turn off and hand in cell phones before its start and prohibits any interaction with trainers or staff. Riders were in charge of conducting their own course walk and schooling their own horses with the help of only one groom.

Ballard, Jayne, and Verswyvel Capture Spy Coast Farm Developing Jumper Series Classic Wins

Opening up Friday’s competition in the International Arena at the main grounds of PBIEC for the eleventh week of WEF, the Developing Jumper Series Classics, sponsored by Spy Coast Farm, offered top prize money and a chance to compete in the grand prix arena for up-and-coming equine show jumping stars.

There were 25 entries in the $20,000 Spy Coast Farm Seven-Year-Old Developing Jumper Series Classic, and 11 were clear to advance to the jump-off held at the end of the first round. Of those, seven were double clear. The fastest in the class was Maestro Vica v/d Ark, ridden by Erynn Ballard for owner Natalie Dean. They stopped the timers in 31.502 seconds for victory.

The $15,000 Spy Coast Farm Six-Year-Old Developing Jumper Classic hosted 25 entries as well, with nine clear and only two finding the path to a double clear finish. The fastest of those in 38.434 seconds – faster by 5.5 seconds – was Charlie Jayne riding his father Alex Jayne’s Virginia ODF.

The $10,000 Spy Coast Farm 5-Year-Old Developing Jumper Classic had 17 entries and was held in an immediate jump-off format. Eight were clear in their first round and went straight into their jump-off, where four were able to go double clear. With a leading time of 34.667 seconds, Jorge Verswyvel rode his own Majesty to victory.

Luiz Francisco de Azevedo and Collin Are Comeback Kids in $36,000 Douglas Elliman Real Estate 1.45m Classic

Brazil’s Luiz Francisco de Azevedo brought his horse Collin back from the brink of slaughter to lead the victory gallop of the $36,000 Douglas Elliman Real Estate 1.45m Classic CSI 4* on the Derby Field at Equestrian Village on Friday, March 22.

Germany’s Olaf Petersen, Jr. set the single-round speed track for 42 starters with 12 jumping clear, leaving the clock to decide their placings. Azevedo and Collin, a 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Colandro x Amethist), broke the timers in 63.90 seconds for the victory.

Azevedo bested Mexican rider Santiago Lambre, who finished on a time of 64.96 seconds for second riding Dingeman. U.S. rider Hunter Holloway took third with a time of 65.96 seconds aboard VDL Bravo S for owner Hays Investment Corp. Francisco Jose Mesquita Musa took fourth in 66 seconds on Filou Imperio Egipcio, owned by Haras Imperio Egipcio/Equivarandas, LDA, while Canada’s Erynn Ballard rode Z Diamanty to round out the top five in 66.23 seconds for owners The Z Group, Javier Salvador Stables, and Diamante Atelier.

For full results, please visit pbiec.coth.com.

Oregon State, Ohio State, and Findlay Take Top Team Spots at IHSA Western Semi-Finals

The 2018 National Champion University of Findlay team. Photo courtesy of University of Findlay.

Fairfield, Conn. – March 20, 2019 – The Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association (IHSA) held its Western Semi-Finals, sponsored by the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA), March 16-17. Hosting the events were Florida State University (FSU) at the Florida Horse Park in Ocala, Florida, Utah State University (USU) at their facility at the USU Equine Center in Wellsville, Utah, and University of Findlay at their facility in Findlay, Ohio. IHSA is celebrating its 40th anniversary of the Western divisions this year.

Semi-Finals Hosted by Florida State University
At Semi-Finals hosted at Florida State University the team from the Ohio State University, coached by Ollie and Debbie Griffith, clinched the overall team win with 36 points edging out Berry College with 22. Cal Poly State University, San Luis Obispo, took the third spot earning 16 points. In 2014, the Ohio State team won the national championship. All top-three teams are National Championship-bound.

“The horse show was really well run and the stars were aligned for us,” said Ollie Griffith. “Our riders were ready to go and things just worked out really well and we got paid to what we did. It was nice.”

Griffith said that Erin Bosse, a senior this year, has come really far in the program and contributed to team win by earning the blue ribbon in both the Team Open Horsemanship and Team Reining. Bosse also clinched the win in Individual Open Horsemanship. Second-place finisher Sarah Cooper, from Berry College, will join her to compete at Nationals along with Travis Fortune, from Murray State University, and Matthew Winter, from the University of Florida, who were third and fourth, respectively.

“The way we look at it, there are eight teams we need to try to be better than, and those are the eight that qualified, including the two that followed us,” Griffith said and about the upcoming Nationals in Syracuse. “Many years at Nationals, the teams that don’t win the Semi-Finals step up and play their game.”

In Individual Reining, the judges’ top pick was Ethan Stratford, from the University of Guelph. The second and third place prizes went to Mary Catherine Wade and Jenna Seal, both from Middle Tennessee State. Fourth-place Bosse will compete at IHSA Nationals in both Individual Reining and Open Horsemanship. Lynn Palm, from Ocala, Florida, and Allen Mitchels, from Michigan City, Indiana, officiated at the FSU-hosted event.

Semi-Finals at Utah State University
Utah State University hosted their first-ever Semi-Finals at their Equine Center and live-streamed the event for fans and families across the country. IHSA founder and Executive Director Bob Cacchione participated in impressive opening ceremonies and was on hand to present prizes and greet coaches and riders. Judges Dawn Kreakie from Seville, Ohio and Lori Gordon of Washington, Pennsylvania presided over the event.

The overall Team championship went to the Oregon State University with the reserve championship to University of Wisconsin, River Falls. State University of New York at Morrisville finished third and punched their ticket to Syracuse.

“It was my fourth and final time going to Semi-Finals,” said Racheal Nordby, captain of the Oregon State University team. “It was awesome. I loved their opening ceremony.”

Nordby started as an Open rider and has competed on the team all four years and qualified for Nationals every year. After graduation, she plans to take a year then go on to get her master’s in clinical psychology. She credits her Oregon State coach Dawn Ross for her support through her years on the team.

“She is like a little angel from heaven,” Nordby said about Coach Ross. “She inspires us all to work harder as individuals and as a whole. She’s a very strong leader. She knows how to support us and how to challenge us.”

In the Individual Open Horsemanship at Utah State Semi-Finals, it was déjà vu for Rocky Mountain College’s Codi Uecker who won the for the second consecutive year. She will be joined by second-place finisher Danielle Paulson, from the University of Wisconsin, River Falls, at Nationals. Third-place finisher Sarah Beth Felker, from St. Andrews University, and fourth, Christina Mulford, from Northern Kentucky University, will also make the trip to Syracuse.

Jacob Kamm, from the University of Cincinnati, grabbed the win in Individual Reining, with Aubrey Braham, from Slippery Rock University, in second, repeating her results from last year. Caitlyn Davis, from Utah State University, and Kindra Gingerich, from Saint Mary of the Woods College, were third and fourth.

Semi-Finals at University of Findlay
The 2018 IHSA Western National Champion Findlay Oilers hosted a third Semi-Final event. Carolyn Johnson Russell, from Ringgold, Georgia, and Pete McAllister, from Mitchell, Indiana, judged the event. The Findlay team finished in the lead on their home turf, winning five classes and earning 39 points. Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College and the University of Nebraska, Lincoln finished in the second and third positions with 23 and 20 points, respectively, in the overall Team competition and will progress to the IHSA National Championships in Syracuse.

“We have a great team that is willing to put in the work – the long nights and early mornings,” said Spencer Zimmerman, head coach of the University of Findlay Western team. “They love being around the horses and the competition and they take their jobs seriously.”

Zimmerman is only in his second year in the position at Findlay and he will lead his team to Syracuse to defend their 2018 championship title.

“Three of our team riders are returning (to compete at Nationals) from last year,” Zimmerman said. “I look forward to seeing them in the pen. But I also look forward to seeing our new riders that haven’t been to Nationals. To take on that challenge, and coach them through those nerves is a lot of fun. I like to try and help them to overcome their obstacles to be successful.”

In the Individual Open Horsemanship division, Matthew Graves, from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, owned the day. Arianne Cox, of Texas Tech University, took second place, Kendall Woellmer, from West Texas A&M University, was third, and Carla Carfora, from Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College, was fourth.

Carfora brought her game to the hotly-contested Individual Reining division, finishing in front. Woellmer scored second. Julia Roshelli, from the University of Findlay, and Cailyn Simonis, of North Central Texas College, had the third and fourth slots to qualify for IHSA National Championship Horse Show in Syracuse.

For more information, go to IHSAinc.com or contact media@IHSAinc.com.

Leading International Equine Acts Set to Perform at ‘The Pageant’

The Victorian Pageant, held in the private grounds of Windsor Castle on the evenings of 9, 10, and 11 May, has announced that three additional world-renowned international equestrian acts will be travelling over 5,000 miles to be part of the spectacular event.

Making the journey to the iconic setting will be performers from Oman, including 40 musicians playing alongside The Oman Royal Cavalry trick ride, while from the United Arab Emirates, and performing at Windsor for the first time, the Dubai Mounted Police will bring not only their 40-horse Musical Ride, which jumps through fire, but also the world-renowned Dubai Police Pipe Band. The line-up of international acts will be further complemented by the exceptionally talented Hungarian Csikós, who will also be performing at Windsor Castle for the first time.

The 90-minute evening show will celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Queen Victoria and will be staged by a BAFTA award-winning team. The Victorian Pageant will transport the audience back to the Victorian era, drawing on some of its typical characters and characteristics, such as the sing along Music Hall, Gilbert & Sullivan, and Charles Dickens’ Oliver. Some 400 horses, 40 carriages, dancers, and musicians will make this an event to remember.

The relevance of these newly announced international displays to Queen Victoria’s 63-year reign was the importance she placed on the Empire and the Silk Road. Along this epic route, merchants began their journey in the Far East before heading West towards Europe, travelling through the Middle East. In ancient times, this journey could take up to two years, and of course this voyage was all carried out on horseback. The Victorian Pageant will celebrate the undeniable impact that horses have had on the development of society, as we know it, through performances from international equestrian acts from countries that featured along the route.

Show Director, Simon Brooks-Ward, said: “This will be the first time that the Dubai Mounted Police have performed in the UK and we feel truly honoured that they have chosen to display their act for us. They, along with the Oman Royal Cavalry and its Mounted Band, and the Hungarian Csikós, are three of the world’s leading equine acts, and I have no doubt that they will treat the audience to some enthralling and unforgettable moments.”

The Oman Royal Cavalry and its Band’s performance differs from the Dubai Mounted Police in that it has a more traditional focus. The march is filled with the bright colours of the red, green, and gold silks of the Royal Cavalry. The cavalry has strong ties with events seen by the Royal Family, having performed to great acclaim during Her Majesty The Queen’s 90th Birthday Celebration at Windsor in 2016 and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee at The Pageant in 2012.

The Dubai Mounted Police will stage the largest Musical Activity Ride at The Victorian Pageant with 40 horses. They are well known in the Middle East for their panache and riding skills and will be accompanied by a large Pipes & Drums Band. This is the first time that a British audience will have seen this famous equestrian display.

The final international act to be announced are the Hungarian Csikós, a collective of traditional mounted horse-herdsman. There are only ten of the original Csikós riders in the world, of which six will be at the show. Their horses are trained to lie down for long periods of time on the Hungarian Plains and this will be demonstrated, along with the Puszta Five. Three horses in the lead are controlled by one rider who stands on a further two horses at the back. The gallop down the arena will be breath-taking.

Spokesperson for the Hungarian Csikós, Péter Szladek, commented: “Tradition is a big part of life in Hortobagy, the largest National Park in eastern Hungary, and means everything to those involved in the display, so to be able to perform at this incredible setting in Great Britain, a nation that values equestrian tradition as much as our own, means so much.”

The event is also delighted to host another first: the Csikós National Champion in horse archery. Be prepared for a real thrill, as he will demonstrate firing arrows from a cantering horse at targets held up by his assistants. This is one display not for the faint hearted.

Tickets for The Pageant are on sale now and visitors may purchase them online at www.windsorpageant.co.uk or via the box office on 0844 581 0755.

For more information, please contact:
Gayle Jenkins / rEvolution / gjenkins@revolutionworld.com / +44 (0)203 176 0355

Swiss Look Strong as Final Line-Up Takes Shape

Martin Fuchs and Clooney. (FEI/Christophe Tanière)

America’s Madden chasing her third title

The numbers are in as the definite entries for the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final 2019 were confirmed earlier this week, with 35 athletes from 18 countries set to line out when the edge-of-the-seat action gets underway at the Scandinavium Arena in Gothenburg (SWE) on 3 April. And while American superstar, Beezie Madden, returns to defend the title she claimed for the second time in her stellar career 12 months ago, she will face a mighty battle to hold on-form contenders from all around the globe at bay as she chases down her hat-trick.

This is the 41st finale to the prestigious series that began way back in 1978. Austria’s Hugo Simon and the brilliant Gladstone were the first champions when the inaugural Final was staged in Gothenburg a year later, and in 2019 the title-decider returns to the Swedish city for 15th time.

As always, it’s like something of a homecoming, and if there’s one man who would dearly love to become the very first Swedish winner it is world No. 12, Henrik von Eckermann, because he finished third with the brilliant Toveks Mary Lou in both 2017 and 2018 and right now the two of them are on fire.

The formidable partnership played a key role in Sweden’s team silver success at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2018 in Tryon (USA) and have maintained form ever since. However, they’ll have to be at the very top of their game if they want to see off the challenge thrown down by the world individual silver and bronze medallists, Martin Fuchs and Steve Guerdat from Switzerland.

Fuchs’ performance with Clooney in Tryon was inspirational, and the grey wonder-horse showed just how tough he is when still fresh and strong on the final day.

As for Guerdat, he is a past-master of pressure riding as he has demonstrated on so many occasions. He already has two Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ titles with two different horses under his belt, and he posted the second of those two victories in the Scandinavium Arena three years ago. He’s completely at home in a pressure-cooker environment, and that’s exactly how it’s going to feel when he rides into the ring with Albfuehren’s Bianca, who finished eighth at the Omaha (USA) Final in 2017 and 10th in Paris (FRA) last time around.

There are other former champions also taking another crack at the title this year, and perhaps the most remarkable of all these is Ludger Beerbaum who provided the first-ever German victory with the legendary Ratina Z in Gothenburg in 1993. The German challenge is intimidating, with 2014 champion Daniel Deusser and 2011 winner Christian Ahlmann both armed with great horses after enjoying an impressive qualifying season. They finished first and second on the super-competitive Western European League table, with three wins boosting Deusser to pole position ahead of his compatriot who will be showing off his fabulous young stallion, Clintrexo Z.

Only five female athletes have taken the title in the 40-year history of the series that every rider wants to win, and they all have American roots. There will be eight lady riders competing this time around, but Madden has to be firm favourite, especially since the first of her two previous wins was recorded in the Scandinavium Arena.

The countries that will be represented at this year’s Final are Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Egypt, Estonia, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Poland, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, and USA. Each and every athlete will be hoping to realise the dream of holding the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ trophy in their hands as they take the top step of the podium on the final afternoon on 7 April.

Confirmed entries list here.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Media Relations and Communications Manager
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

Patience Pays Off for Amanda Derbyshire with WEF Challenge Cup Win

Amanda Derbyshire and Luibanta BH. Photo © Sportfot.

Wellington, FL – March 21, 2019 – Fresh off a win in Saturday night’s $134,000 Horseware Ireland Grand Prix CSI 3*, Great Britain’s Amanda Derbyshire claimed another major victory on Thursday, March 21, at the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF), this time topping the $72,000 Equinimity WEF Challenge Cup CSI 4* aboard Luibanta BH.

In Thursday’s featured class, 69 entries tried their hand at the track, set in the International Ring of the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) showgrounds by Germany’s Olaf Petersen, Jr. Of those starters, 12 qualified for the jump-off round, and 10 elected to return to face off over the short course.

Derbyshire and her mount Luibanta BH, owned by Gochman Sport Horses, LLC, were the final combination to jump off, and when they entered the ring, the time to beat had been set at 42.72 seconds by the sixth entry to return, Switzerland’s Martin Fuchs riding Chica BZ.

Christopher Payne and Fibonacci Jump to Top of High Performance Conformation Hunters

Christopher Payne and Fibonacci picked up another champion ribbon on Thursday for Week 11 of the 2019 Winter Equestrian Festival in the High Performance Conformation Hunters. Four of the best hunter professionals comprised the competitive class but ultimately Payne and Still Water Farm, LLC’s eight-year-old KWPN gelding (Carambole x Waomi) proved an unbeatable combination.

Fibonacci was awarded three first places and two seconds in the five division classes and was moved up in the rankings several times after the model. The gelding has only competed a total of five times over the 2019 circuit but has made an impression in the division having earned champion three times and reserve champion twice.

For full results, please visit pbiec.coth.com.

Best Female Polo Players in the World Go Head to Head in Inaugural Amazon Polo Match on Mar. 24

Wellington, FL – March 22, 2019 – Following the success of the launch of the 2019 Gladiator Polo™ season last week, it’s now time to bring on the women. This Sunday night, for the first time in history, the International Polo Club Palm Beach (IPC) in Wellington, FL will showcase six of the top ten female players in the world in the launch of Amazon Polo™. This stellar gathering of female talent will include Dawn Jones, wife of Tommy Lee Jones, and captain of the San Antonio franchise. Having seen last week’s Gladiator Polo™ spectacle, she is delighted to promote the all-female version this weekend.

“There was so much energy and amazing entertainment featuring polo at the highest level last week and we can’t wait to have our turn. This is the modernization of the sport that fits perfectly with the explosion of female professional athletes,” said Jones.

Gladiator Polo™ and Amazon Polo™ are ushering in a new era for the sport, which focuses on the promotion of the athletes, as well as the development of high-quality sport and entertainment that targets a broad audience including millennials. The events will significantly leverage social media and live streaming to promote both the events and its commercial sponsors.

This Sunday’s teams’ lineups include:

Team San Antonio
Nina Clarkin
Dawn Jones
Sarah Wiseman

Team London
Hazel Jackson
Lia Salvo
Hope Arellano

When asked about her participation, World Number 2 Player Hazel Jackson-Gaona commented, “This is the most exciting thing to happen to women’s polo to date.”

Mark Bellissimo, CEO of Equestrian Sport Productions, renowned and respected for being a game changer in horse sport, introduced his Gladiator Polo™ concept to Wellington in 2017 and it proved an instant hit, attracting huge crowds and diverse new sponsorship relationships. In 2019, with the hosting of the Susan G. Komen U.S. Open Women’s Polo Championship to IPC, he thought it was a perfect time to introduce Amazon Polo™.

A full profile of the players, sponsors, and vision for the league will be introduced over the weekend.

“A very exciting addition to women’s polo and one that I am extremely looking forward to participating in; it will be so much fun to play against the best women in the world!” commented Nina Clarkin.

The inaugural Amazon Polo™ game will take place on Sunday, March 24, at 6:30 p.m. at the U.S. Polo Assn Coliseum at IPC. Gates open at 5:30 p.m. with a Kids’ Game, featuring two chukkers, beginning at 6:00 p.m. prior to the start of the match. General admission and parking are FREE.

To purchase VIP tickets in the Gladiator Marquee, click here.

To learn more about Amazon Polo™, follow on Instagram at @amazonpolo.

Danthebluegrassman, Grade 3 Winner, Euthanized at 20

Danthebluegrassman at Old Friends (Photo: Laura Battles)

GEORGETOWN, KY – MARCH 20, 2019 – Danthebluegrassman, a 2002 Kentucky Derby contender, was euthanized Monday, March 19, at Park Equine Hospital in Woodford due to an irreparable small intestinal obstruction that was causing chronic colic.

The 20-year-old gelding had been pensioned at Old Friends, the Thoroughbred retirement center in Georgetown, KY, since 2008.

A son of Pioneering, out of the Grey Dawn II mare Stay With Bruce, Danthebluegrassman — named after raconteur Dan Chandler, son of former Kentucky governor A.B. “Happy” Chandler — was campaigned by Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert and owner Michael E. Pegram.

As a 2-year-old, the flashy chestnut won the Gold Rush Stakes in wire-to-wire fashion. A year later, he punched his ticket to the Kentucky Derby trail with a win in the Grade 3 Golden Gate Derby and a close 2nd in the Grade 3 El Camino Real Derby.

A long shot nevertheless, on Derby day he was installed at 50-1 morning line odds, but then later scratched after he “tied up” following a routine gallop at Churchill Downs. In June of that year he went on to another victory in the Northern Dancer Stakes at Churchill Downs.

Claimed in in 2005, Dan eventually fell down the ranks and was retired to Old Friends in the spring of 2008 after a career boasting 47 Starts and 8 wins with earnings of $423,794.

“Dan was the man — tough but gentle,” said Old Friends President Michael Blowen. “We were fortunate to know him for more than a decade, and he will be missed by all of us. Special thanks to Dr. Bryan Waldrige and everyone at Park Equine for doing the best for Dan when he needed it most.”

For more information, please call (502) 863-1775 or visit the website at www.oldfriendsequine.org.

MEDIA CONTACT: Cynthia Grisolia, (347) 423-7322, cindy@oldfriendsequine.org; Michael Blowen (502) 863-1775, michael@oldfriendsequine.org

A Change in Venue Works in Erynn Ballard’s Favor in $6k Bainbridge 1.40m at WEF

Erynn Ballard and Ceitasi. Photo © Sportfot.

Wellington, FL — March 20, 2019 — The penultimate week of the 2019 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) got off to a wet start on the morning of Wednesday, March 20, when Erynn Ballard (CAN) and Ilan Ferder’s Ceitasi took the win in the $6,000 Bainbridge 1.40m class. Out of an original field of over 100 horse-and-rider combinations, only 86 entries elected to contest Olaf Petersen Jr.’s (GER) course after significant weather issues forced the class to be moved to the Global International Ring at Equestrian Village.

The Wednesday class at WEF was held in a one-round speed format due to the large volume of entries and 17 of the 86 came home fault-free. Tiffany Foster of Canada took the early lead aboard Artisan Farms, LLC’s Galino when she put in the first clear round with a time of 71.23 seconds; she ultimately ended in 14th place at the class’s completion. Harrie Smolders (NED) also went early in the class and shaved nine seconds off of Foster’s time to end on 62.598 seconds with Copernicus Stables, LLC’s 11-year-old KWPN mare (Oklund x Orrada), Corrada. The performance held strong and the pair finished in third place overall. Only several trips after Smolders, Chris Pratt (CAN) laid down a time of 62.49 seconds with Caron Stucky’s 12-year-old Oldenburg gelding (Larino x Paguera), Luigi, which was good enough to earn the second place finish.

Ballard was the first to return after the drag break with her second mount of the day, the nine-year-old Westphalian mare (Caratello B x Ceitas), Ceitasi, and crossed the timers in 58.55 seconds. After shaving four seconds off of the previous top time, it was clear the new combination was unbeatable.

For full results, please visit pbiec.coth.com.

Team New York and Team Palm Beach Win First Matches of 2019 Gladiator Polo Series

New York’s Pelon Escapite and Los Angeles’ Gringo Colombres vie for the ball. Photo Credit ©AlexPacheco.

Wellington, FL – March 16, 2019 – The first matches of the 2019 Gladiator Polo™ season kicked off in the U.S. Polo Assn. Coliseum at International Polo Club Palm Beach (IPC), as the double-header saw Team New York face off with Team Los Angeles, followed by the later contest between Team Palm Beach and Team Dublin. Team New York prevailed over Team Los Angeles to a score of 15-14, while Team Palm Beach out-scored Team Dublin 12-8 in the six chukker matches.

Team New York (1-0), a heavy favorite in the four-week series, saw outstanding play from Pelon Escapite, Mike Azzarro, and alternate Jesse Bray, who was substituted in at game time due third round draft pick, Jason Crowder, sustained an injury that will keep him sidelined for the remainder of the season. The fast-paced and aggressive style of Escapite and Azzaro helped to lift Team New York to their first victory of the season in an evenly played match, which saw only a single goal differential as time expired in the final chukker.

“I scored the penalty shot in the sixth chukker, which made a big difference in the game. They had missed two of their penalties and they’re very good players on that team. We’re all getting familiar with each other and I think it was a great start to the season and there will be some very exciting matches to come in the coming weeks,” said Escapite.

Team Los Angeles (0-1) saw solid play from players Tomas Garbarini, Gringo Colombres, as well as Santi Toccalino, who earned the match’s MVP honors. Garbarini totaled two goals on the day, one registering as a two-point score, with the shot coming cleanly from beyond the 25-yard line. Columbres scored four two-point goals to help lift Team Los Angeles within reach of Team New York. Toccalino added two goals to his stat sheet, also converting a two-point scoring opportunity.

Commenting on the buildout of the U.S. Polo Assn. Coliseum at IPC, which is the new and long-term home for the sport at IPC, Escapite elaborated, “This is the first big arena for Gladiator here in Florida, which is really exciting and it played amazing. The players can be physical in this arena and it’s better than ever. It’s going to be a great venue for us this season.”

Escapite finished the evening with seven goals for a total eight points after converting the only two-point penalty of the match. His teammate Mike Azzaro netted three goals, while Bray added an additional four to hoist Team New York to the top of the four-team standings, tied with Team Palm Beach at one win a piece.

“The environment of the draft was awesome. It was really a cool concept to bring into the sport. I’m very glad to be a part of this and am lucky to have been able to win tonight,” he concluded.

The second game of the night saw Team Dublin (0-1) take on Team Palm Beach (1-0) in the second six chukker match of the evening, with Team Palm Beach rising to the occasion and securing the win on a final score of 12-8. Team Palm Beach drew the first overall draft pick of the season during the inaugural Gladiator Polo™ draft and selected the prolific player, Tommy Biddle, to lead their efforts during the season. Biddle scored two goals in the team’s debut game. Geronimo Obregon and Toro Ruiz supported Team Palm Beach’s strong showing, with Obregon recording three goals on the evening and Ruiz netting four.

“It was a pleasure playing with them and it really felt great with these guys tonight. The plan was for them to really work in the back and then I either cut off the back end or pick up the trash plays in front of the goal. They made the goals and they played great,” said Team Palm Beach’s Tommy Biddle. “It’s always our strategy that not everyone needs to go in offensively and that someone needs to stay back and that worked well for us tonight.”

As the first pick in the highly anticipated Gladiator Polo draft, Biddle felt a sense of pride, but also added weight on his need to perform well in the first game of the season for Team Palm Beach.

“I felt some pressure tonight going in to tonight. It was a tough thing to be picked first and being rated ten goals in the arena, I know that everyone is looking at that,” he explained. “Maybe it’s not all flash, but I wanted to be steady in setting up plays, but I was just happy the horses played well and we’ve put together a really good team.”

The game was closely paced through its entirety, as Team Palm Beach took an early lead in the first chukker and started the second chukker up 3-1. At half time, the game was tied at 6-6 before Team Palm Beach pulled away in the fifth chukker to make it 11-8 and sealed their victory with the only goal of the final period to end on a final score of 12-8. Toro Ruiz secured MVP honors for the match for Team Palm Beach.

“Hopefully we keep getting better and I can play better so we keep it up. It was really fun and we have a great team dynamic,” said Biddle.

Team Dublin represented by Gallego Ferrario, Tito Ruiz, and Nino Obregon came out strong and set the intense tone for the match. Ferrario capitalized in the first chukker with a single goal, while Obregon supported with four goals and a converted penalty.

To learn more about Gladiator Polo™, please visit www.gladiatorpolo.com.

Tynan and KEC City Limits Top Out Turf Tour Grand Prix

Willie Tynan and KEC City Limits (Photo courtesy of Romeo Ghete)

Wellington, FL (March 17, 2019) – Turf Tour Week 10 goes to Ireland’s Willie Tynan: after winning Wednesday’s $5,000 1.30m Rising Star Classic with KEC Kris Kringle, he went on to win Friday’s $15,000 1.40 Turf Tour Grand with KEC City Limits. Tynan certainly seemed to be channeling the luck of the Irish leading into St. Patrick’s Day. With only two weeks to go, the Turf Tour is closing out strong in 2019 with back to back weeks at Black Watch Farm, which will include double points towards season prizes (which include a custom golf cart from Iron Horse Transit) and bumped up money in the Grand Prix during Finale week.

Tynan and KEC City Limits, who are known for their quick jump-offs, certainly proved their reputation against the class of 36 Friday afternoon at Carben Farms. Whisking into the lead on 34. 732, they overtook previous leader Alison Robitalle and Ginger Pop, who finished in second. Third went to Molly Ashe-Cawley and Adamo against a roster of jumpers such as Samuel Perot, Darragh Kenny, Ilan Bluman, and Hardin Towell. “Another great day for me and my horses on the Turf Tour,” said Tynan. “Happy to have such a placement in such a big class; my horses have been jumping exceptionally this year on the Turf Tour.”

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