All posts by Associate Editor

Alex Matz and Jillz Take $5,000 1.30 Rising Star at Turf Tour 2021

Alex Matz and Jillz.

Wellington, FL (January 22, 2021) – It’s hard to find a Spruce Meadows vibe in Florida, but Turf Tour week 3 comes gloriously close. With Black Watch Farm as the idyllic backdrop, Wednesday’s exhibitors were greeted by brilliant expanses of perfect grass fields dotted with the brightly colored jumps of The Ridge, as well as a wide selection of classes for all levels of horse and rider. With generous money classes and fantastic sponsors like Horseflight, the Turf Tour continues to deliver an amazing show experience and much needed platform for development. Week 3’s competition continues Friday at Black Watch with heights from .80m-1.40m and as much as $18,000 in total prize money.

Wednesday’s $5,000 1.30m Rising Star Classic class of 30 horse and rider combinations yielded 5 double clear efforts and an early, speedy jump-off time that could not be caught. Alex Matz and Jillz carved a path of athletic and time saving turns in their jump-off to stop the clock at 34.421, which would prove too quick to beat. Jillz’s sporty run was contested late in the day by Ryan Genn and VDL Gerinus T, who finished the jump-off in 35.892 for second. Kim Farlinger and Ibalius SMH galloped clear in the jump-off in 36.876 for third.

For full results, visit www.HorseShowing.com.

For more info, visit www.RidgeShowJumping.com.

A Winning Birthday for Sydney Shulman and Azilis Du Mesnil in $6k Douglas Elliman FEI 1.45m Jumpers

Sydney Shulman and Azilis Du Mesnil. © Sportfot.

Wellington, FL – Sydney Shulman (ISR) turned 26 years old in style with a win aboard Azilis Du Mesnil on the Derby Field at Equestrian Village on Thursday, January 21, as CSI3* competition gets underway at the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF).

Scott Stewart and Love Note Receive Top Honors in the Green Hunter 3’9”

On Thursday, 12 horse-and-rider combinations competed for the tricolor ribbon in the Green Hunter 3’9”, sponsored by Equine Tack & Nutritionals. After two competitive days of showing, Scott Stewart and Richard Prant’s Love Note earned the championship title. The duo received a first, two seconds, third, and fourth place ribbons.

Stewart, of Wellington, FL, has had the ride on Love Note for three years. The pair has shown twice this season and has taken home a championship ribbon both times.

“I showed him as a first year horse pretty regularly, and last year we showed a couple times and he was very good,” Stewart explained. “He primarily does the Amateur-Owner Hunters with his owner, Nancy Hooker.”

For more information and results, please visit www.PBIEC.com.

Minikus and Michan Open WEF 2 with Wins in $6k Bainbridge Companies 1.40m Jumpers

Todd Minikus and Napoleon of Picobello. © Sportfot.

January 20, 2021 – Wellington, FL – Todd Minikus (USA) and Alberto Michan (ISR) bested a field of 105 entries in the $6,000 Bainbridge Companies 1.40m Jumpers as the second week of the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) got underway at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC).

For more information and results, please visit www.PBIEC.com.

GR1 Winner Bellamy Road to Old Friends

Photo by Antonio Marin.

GEORGETOWN, KY – JANUARY 16, 2021 – Grade 1 winner and Grade 1 sire Bellamy Road has been pensioned to Old Friends, the Thoroughbred Retirement Facility based in Georgetown, KY.

A Florida-bred son of Concerto out of Hurry Home Hillary, Bellamy Road, now 19, retired from racing in 2007 following an illustrious career.

Owned by the late George Steinbrenner’s Kinsman Stable and trained by Nick Zito, Bellamy Road broke his maiden in his first start at Delaware Park in 2004. He earned his first stakes next time out, capturing the GR3 Miller Genuine Draft Cradle Stakes at River Downs.

In 2005, he roared back as a 3-year-old setting a stakes record in the GR1 Wood Memorial, a race he won by a record 17 ½ lengths. The victory made him the odds-on favorite for that year’s Kentucky Derby, where he finished 7th behind winner Giacomo.

His last start was the 2005 Travers at Saratoga, where he finished second to Flower Alley. Plagued by injuries, Bellamy Road retired that year with four wins from seven starts and earnings of $811,400.

Since 2016 Bellamy Road has stood at Dutchess Views Farm in Pine Plains, N.Y. He had previously stood at Kentucky’s WinStar Farm and Hurricane Hall.

At stud Bellamy Road sired numerous stakes winners, including 2011 Wood Memorial winner Toby’s Corner and the GR1 winning filly, Constellation.

His son, Diversify, GR1 Whitney Handicap winner and 2018 New York-bred Horse of the Year, also currently resides at Old Friends.

“Bellamy Road has always had a special place in my heart,” said Kinsman President Jessica Steinbrenner, daughter of George. “His Wood Memorial is the most exciting race that I have ever been to. I remember going back to the hotel afterward and being escorted through the kitchen because of all the people gathered outside. To this day, I still watch his Wood Memorial on YouTube, and to hear the announcer say ‘a dazzling performance by a dazzling 3-year-old’ brings me to tears every time.

“Bellamy is a rock star,” Steinbrenner continued. “He deserves a retirement where his fans can visit and reminisce. It’s exciting to think he will be amongst the other great retired racehorses residing at Old Friends.”

“Jessica is following in her father’s footsteps,” added trainer Nick Zito. “George would have done the same thing. They’re very special people.”

“We were privileged that Kinsman, WinStar, and the other syndicate members sent Bellamy to us, and have allowed us to stand him in New York for so long,” said Dutchess Views Farm’s Michael Lischin, on behalf of the Syndicate Manager, Irish Hill & Dutchess Views Stallions LLC. “He is sound and could continue as a stallion but the consensus was that, at his age, it would be in his best interest to retire him to a magnificent facility like Old Friends while he is still healthy and happy. We thank the Syndicate and Old Friends for doing what was right for Bellamy Road.”

“We want to thank Jessica Steinbrenner for trusting us to care for her great horse,” said Old Friends’ Blowen. “I know she went out of her way to make sure he’d get to us. Thanks also to Elliot Walden at WinStar who expedited everything, and to everyone at Dutchess Views for taking such great care of him.”

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

Kevin Mealiff and Cool Hand Luke Cruise to Victory at To-Kalon, Turf Tour Week 2

Kevin Mealiff and Cool Hand Luke (Photo by Romeo Ghete)

Wellington, FL (January 20, 2021) – Turf Tour week 2 at To-Kalon Farm wrapped up Friday with Kevin Mealiff dominating the field aboard the fast and scopey Cool Hand Luke, marking the second Turf Tour Grand Prix victor of 2021.

Mealiff’s early double clear effort set the standard for the rest of the class with a jump-off time of 43.599, and would prove to be the only double clear effort. Unfortunate rails plagued most of the rides throughout the day, with the fastest four fault jump-off round going to Hector Florentino and D’Artagnan for second place, while Riley Mackillop and Amigo took third. The Turf Tour’s Grand Prix courses are designed to provide a versatile stepping stone for progressing FEI horses and riders. Course designer Hector Loyola delivered a field with inviting turns, options to challenge technique, and a few questions including an oxer to double vertical triple combination.

For full results, visit www.HorseShowing.com.

For more info, visit www.RidgeShowJumping.com.

The 2021 Grand National

2011 Grand National. RacingKel.

0As a National Hunt horse race held annually at Aintree Racecourse, near Liverpool, England, The Grand National was first run in 1839. It is a handicap steeplechase over an official distance of about 4 miles and 2½ furlongs (4 miles 514 yards), with horses jumping 30 fences over two laps. The 2020 Grand National was cancelled for the first time since WW2 due to Covid-19.

The Grand National is the most valuable jump race in Europe. Get the best Grand National tips, take the best odds and ante post outlook for April 2021. With Grand National odds on offer all-year-round, the modern-day punter has the opportunity to try one’s luck on the world’s greatest steeplechase at all stages through the year.

Top Six Grand National 2021 Favourites are:

  1. Tiger Roll – Winner of the 2018 and 2019 Grand Nationals and became the first ‘back-to-back’ winner since Red Rum in the 1970s.
  2. Burrows Saint – Won the 2019 Irish Grand National so have a pedigree in these races. Still young so has time on his side.
  3. Any Second Now – Winner of the Kim Muir Chase at the 2019 Cheltenham Festival. A faller in the 2019 Irish National but was running well at the time.
  4. Presenting Percy – Joined trainer G. Elliott’s stable earlier this year, and soon after came back on top in style at Thurles in November 2020.
  5. Santini – A classy staying chaser that was a close runner-up in the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2020. Would probably have that race as a target again this season, but there has been some small talk of a National bid.
  6. Kimberlite Candy – Laid down some claims of Grand National success to come with a fine victory in the Classic Chase at Warwick. Ground conditions are likely going to be the dictating factor when deciding on an Aintree return.

Previously we have had Rule the World at huge odds of 50-1 in 2016, Pineau De Re at 33-1 in 2014, and Neptune Collonges at 40-1 in 2012.

Experience counts in the Grand National and 20 of the last 26 winners were aged either 9, 10, or 11. In that period there have also been four eight-year-old and two twelve-year-old winners.

The festival always starts with Grand Opening Day renamed to Liverpool’s NHS Day (renamed to honour the work of dedicated NHS staff) on Thursday, Aintree Ladies’ Day on Friday, then Saturday’s Grand National Day. The next Grand National three-day meeting will run between Thursday 8th April to Saturday 10th April 2021, with the Grand National always staged on the final day – in 2021 this will be on 10th April.

Liverpool’s NHS Day, formerly known as Grand Opening Day, traditionally features four Grade One contests, including the Betfred Bowl and Betway Aintree Hurdle.

One of the most glamorous days of the sporting calendar is Aintree Ladies’ Day which has become one of the most revered days of the season, not only for the action on the course but also for its finery and luxury.

Three Grade One races including the JLT Melling Chase and Mildmay Novices’ Chase are the highlight of the day, while the Topham Chase allows fans to see horses take on the Grand National fences over a shorter two-and-a-half miles.

Then comes Grand National Day on Saturday, which is the highlight of the festival.

Randox has agreed to a five-year extension to its current sponsorship of the Grand National meeting at Aintree. The new agreement will run from 2022-2026 and follow on from the initial five-year contract which runs until next year.

As well as being the headline sponsor of the festival, Randox will lend its name to the three races over the Grand National fences at the fixture – the Randox Foxhunters Chase, the Randox Topham Chase, and the big one itself, the Randox Grand National.

Cheltenham Festival Hurdle Horse Races 2021

Cheltenham racecourse in 2010. Carine06 from UK.

The Cheltenham Festival Jump Horse Racing Festival is from Tuesday 16 to Friday 19 March 2021, including Gold Cup Day. Cheltenham follows British government’s guidance to allow spectators when it is safe to attend. Until then, when you want a winner, we have the guide and schedule for your favourite horses.

Will there be people in attendance like there was last year when they just missed the Covid-19 quarantines? Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that restrictions would be lifted, if possible, in mid-February which could allow for crowds at Cheltenham.

Last year’s Cheltenham was one of the final major sporting events to go ahead as normal before the UK was sent into its first national lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic. The 2021 Cheltenham meet is scheduled to get under way on Tuesday, March 16 with The Champion Hurdle being the headline race on Day One.

The Queen Mother Champion Chase and The Stayers’ Hurdle will follow on the next two days, ending with the Gold Cup on Friday, March 19.

The way they run the Cheltenham Festival is by splitting it in two sections, running four days in total. Days one and two will be run on the Old Course, days three and four on the New Course.

The Old Course was used for the Champion Hurdle and Queen Mother Champion Chase. The New Course, which hosts the longer Stayers’ Hurdle and Cheltenham Gold Cup, takes a toll on a horse’s stamina. The field can drastically change and morph as the horses gallop up the fabled Cheltenham hill.

There is also a cross-country course which is laid out inside the main racecourse and is used for cross-country steeplechases.

The first race is the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle which starts the Cheltenham Festival and sees runners sent off with the famous “Cheltenham roar”. The Supreme has an impressive roll of honor, including the likes of Vautour and Douvan, but one of the most notable winners in recent years was Altior.

The Arkle Challenge is the second race and is offered for top two-mile horses. The Arkle has been won in the past by Moscow Flyer, Azertyuiop, Sizing Europe, and Sprinter Sacre, to qualify to run r the Champion Chase. Willie Mullins has dominated the race in recent years, including victories for Un de Sceaux, Douvan, Footpad, and Duc des Genievres.

The third race is the Festival Handicap Chase which has seen one of the best rides in Cheltenham Festival history when Wichita Lineman was carried home by A. P. McCoy in 2009.

The National Hunt Chase is one of three races at the Cheltenham Festival restricted to amateur riders. It is the longest race of the meeting, run over three and three-quarter miles where Irish trainers have had plenty of success in recent times. Gordon Elliott has won two of the last three runnings, including with Ravenhill in 2020.

Then they have the Novices’ Handicap Chase first run in 2005. It often brings the most progressive novices together, and has a history of representing strong form.

The Cheltenham Festival is one of the “meetings” (British term for horse races, etc.) in the National Hunt racing calendar in the United Kingdom. Its race prize money is second only to the Grand National. It takes place annually in March at Cheltenham Racecourse in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. It usually coincides with Saint Patrick’s Day and is particularly popular with Irish visitors.

The meeting’s Grade I races include: the Cheltenham Gold Cup, Champion Hurdle, Queen Mother Champion Chase, and Stayers’ Hurdle. Large amounts of money are gambled, hundreds of millions over the course of the week.

Cheltenham is known for its atmosphere, including the “Cheltenham roar”, referring to the enormous amount of noise that the crowd generates as the starter raises the tape for the first race of the festival. It was initially titled the Grand National Hunt Meeting and took place at several locations.

After additions and major improvements made at Cheltenham, including a new stand (the fourth one), miles of drain to prevent unsuitable racing ground, tar paving in the enclosures, and the paddock extended to 35 saddling boxes, proved enough to make the National Hunt Committee decide that the 1911 meeting was to return at Prestbury Park, Cheltenham where it remained to the present.

Hilary McNerney and Singuletto Take Top Honors in the $30,000 Pilates Rocks Grand Prix

Hilary McNerney and Singuletto. © Sportfot.

January 17, 2021 – Wellington, FL – Hilary McNerney (USA) flew to the top of the podium aboard Singuletto in the $30,000 Pilates Rocks Grand Prix on Sunday afternoon, January 17, at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) to close out 2021 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) competition for the week.

Tessa Downey Pilots Symbolic to the Large Junior Hunter 3’6” 15 and Under Championship

Competition in the Rost Arena began on Sunday morning with the Large Junior Hunter 3’6” 15 and Under division. Tessa Downey aboard Symbolic earned the tricolor ribbon with first, second, and third-place ribbons.

Downey, of Houston, TX, recently began leasing Symbolic from owner Bella Kay. The new partnership, trained by PJP Farm, has only shown together twice, but they are already proving to be a pair to watch out for.

“He is actually owned by one of my mother’s closest friends and was with Beacon Hill Show Stables before,” commented Downey of the 13-year-old Hanoverian gelding by Carenzo. “I love his color. He is always so shiny, and he has such a great personality too!”

For more information and results, please visit www.PBIEC.com.

LaGoy-Weltz and Rassing’s Lonoir Conclude Week One of AGDF with Personal Best

Olivia LaGoy-Weltz (USA) and Rassing’s Lonoir. ©SusanStickle.com.

Wellington, FL – January 17, 2021 – Olivia LaGoy-Weltz and Rassing’s Lonoir danced to yet another victory on Sunday, January 17, concluding week one of the 2021 Adequan® Global Dressage Festival with their personal best score, an 81.545% in the FEI Grand Prix Freestyle CDI-W presented by Lövsta.

Second place in the class was awarded to Yvonne Losos de Muniz (DOM) on Aquamarijn, her own 16-year-old KWPN mare by United (78.165%), while third place went to USA’s Anna Marek on Dee Clair, Diane Morrison’s 13-year-old KWPN mare by Sir Sinclair, who earned a 76.100%, another personal best.

“It’s great to get a personal best,” LaGoy-Weltz began. “Whenever you’ve been out for a long time – it’s been since February 2020 for us because of COVID – you always wonder if you’ll remember how to do it. You’re a little rusty, the test riding needs polishing, and the horse has to settle. It’s nice to be coming out this strong, and that makes you feel good about the whole program.”

Riding to pieces of the Simon and Garfunkel hit “Cecelia” with freestyle music created by Marlene Whitaker, LaGoy-Weltz and the 17-year-old Danish Warmblood by De Noir 3 owned by LaGoy-Weltz and Mary Anne McPhail perfected some of the suggestions given to them during the Grand Prix CDI-W on Friday.

“Last night I went over my test in detail,” explained LaGoy-Weltz, “and went over judges’ feedback from the last test to figure out where we are in the evolution of trying to allow more of this horse out, to look at the things I held back on Friday. For example, feedback on my last test was ‘Open up more in the changes,’ and I knew I could do that this time around. Here and there, taking the feedback and making the best of it is really important.”

For more information and results, please visit www.GlobalDressageFestival.com.

Actress Beth Behrs Joins EQUUS Foundation as an EQUUStar

Beth Behrs and her rescue horse, Belle.

The EQUUS Foundation is excited to announce that actress Beth Behrs will be joining its esteemed roster of EQUUStars, who are popular and iconic horse lovers that assist the Foundation in raising awareness and support for horse welfare across the country.

Fans of the current hit CBS sitcom, The Neighborhood, and those who tuned in to the enormously popular sitcom, 2 Broke Girls, created by Michael Patrick King and Whitney Cummings, will know actress Beth Behrs — especially in her role as Caroline Channing with her horse, Chestnut!

In addition to being one of Hollywood’s most exciting actors working today, Beth is a huge animal lover and horse welfare advocate and owner of rescued horse, Belle, who has inspired her to get more involved in horse protection and equine therapy programs for survivors of sexual assault. She is also the host of her very own podcast called HARMONICS which explores themes of creativity, healing, and wellness and has released a health and wellness book titled The Total Me-Tox published in the summer of 2017.

“There is nothing I feel more passionate about than protecting America’s horses and strengthening the bond between horses and people. When I rescued my horse, Belle, I didn’t realize that she was actually going to be the one rescuing me.” — Beth Behrs        

“Horses force us to live in the present moment with a zen-like tranquility,” said Behrs. “They are the greatest healers, and we must treat them with the respect and love they deserve. I am so excited to inspire and educate the public on the value of horses in our lives.

“The EQUUS Foundation is the only national charity in the United States 100% dedicated to ensuring the welfare of America’s horses and fostering the horse-human bond. I am beyond honored to be named an EQUUStar and cannot wait to better the lives of both humans and horses through the incredible work of the EQUUS Foundation.”

“We could not be more thrilled to welcome Beth as our newest EQUUStar,” said Valerie Angeli, VP Engagement for the EQUUS Foundation. “Beth walks the walk in promoting the welfare of all animals, but especially horses, and her social media is filled with inspiring messages and information on how to make the world better for the horses we love. With her large following of fans, we know Beth and her beautiful, rescued paint horse, Belle, will significantly help further our message of compassion, action and responsibility for horses across the country and engage more horse lovers to #HorseProtector!”

Beth will be joining current EQUUS Foundation EQUUStars Georgina Bloomberg, Brianne Goutal-Marteau, Clementine Goutal, Paige Johnson, and Jessica Springsteen. Look for Beth in the future on EQUUS Foundation social media as well as in EQUUS Foundation virtual events — and even live events — For the Love of Horses!

To learn more about the EQUUS Foundation and their mission, please visit www.equusfoundation.org.