Conyers, GA — March 31, 2010 — Classic Company’s president Bob Bell announced the first ever Musical Freestyle Hunt Seat Equitation Championship will premiere at the upcoming Atlanta Summer Classics, June 16-27, in the former Olympic Grand Prix arena of the Georgia International Horse Park.
The idea came to Bell while outside a schooling ring on an off day of his show, sitting in a golf cart chatting on his phone the sound of a nearby stereo drifted over causing his attention to shift towards the horse and rider working over the fences to the beat of the music playing. “I saw the look of pure enjoyment on the rider’s face. Both horse and rider were having a great time with the music as a backdrop to their workout, so it started me on a quest to recreate that fun in our class offerings,” Bell mused.
Ocala, FL (March 31, 2010) – Combined Driver Chester Weber continued his title as “record-breaking champion” during the Live Oak International competition, breaking his own record by winning the USEF National Four-In-Hand Championship for a record eight years in a row. Weber’s win took place at the prestigious Live Oak event in Ocala, Florida, during a weekend filled with thousands of fans, bad weather and an incident on course that required Weber to utilize his nerves of steel and vast driving experience.
Weber and his team turned in flawless dressage and cones performances, but Weber faced an incident on the marathon that he described as the longest 45 seconds of the year. “We had a very competitive marathon, winning four of the first five hazards and finishing second in number four by tenths of a second,” Weber said. “Then came the ‘Gulch,’ a signature hazard for Live Oak. We split the two lead horses on a post and it took us 45 seconds to get them going again. It was bad luck to split them on a post but good luck to get them free without needing a navigator to get down to get them free, because that costs additional penalties. The horses remained calm the entire time awaiting the direction to move, but it was the longest 45 seconds of the last year for me, and some slight confusion for them.”
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.
FEI TV – Re-live the excitement of today’s competition and enjoy highlights, interviews and archive footage at www.feitv.org.
BENGTSSON BAGS THE HONOURS IN THE LAST QUALIFIER AT ‘S-HERTOGENBOSCH
‘s-Hertogenbosch (NED) 28 March 2010 – Sweden’s Rolf-Goran Bengtsson scorched to victory in the last qualifying leg of the Rolex FEI World Cup Jumping series at ‘s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands today when pipping Ireland’s Jessica Kuerten by the smallest of margins. In a thrilling 16-horse jump-off that kept spectators rooted to their seats it was Kuerten who seemed to have set an impossibly fast target for the rest when eighth to go against the clock. But the coolest of cool Swedes cruised home to shave one-tenth of a second off her time when last to go with his 11 year old stallion Casall la Silla.
London (GBR), 24 March 2010 – Last night (Tuesday, 23 March) the Greenwich Council’s Planning Committee voted in favour of the planning application submitted by the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (LOCOG) for the temporary use of land at Greenwich Park, the National Maritime Museum, the Old Royal Naval College and Blackheath Circus Field for the London 2012 Equestrian and Modern Pentathlon events.
“The FEI is thrilled by the decision of the Greenwich Council’s Planning Committee in regard to the planning application for Greenwich Park,” FEI President HRH Princess Haya declared.
The Cheltenham Gold Cup produced more drama to end a week in which only 3 clear favourites won, producing a succession of unexpected results. Crowds reached an all time high but Britain’s bookies were last night celebrating their 45-million-pound windfall after the odds-on favourite, Kauto Star and his stable companion rival, Denman, failed to win this coveted prize.
Kauto Star was bidding for a third Gold Cup victory and a second in a row but the Paul Nicholls trained 10-year-old had a crashing fall four fences from home after making a blunder early on. Denman, who won in 2008, took up the running and a battle ensued but even with champion jockey Tony McCoy on board, they couldn’t hold off an impressive challenge by younger rival, Imperial Commander (7/1). Locally trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies, this handsome son of Flemensfirth (USA) surged clear to win by seven lengths, giving trainer and jockey Paddy Brennan their first Gold Cup victories. Mon Mome who won the 2009 Grand National finished third.
A cheer of relief erupted from the crowd as Kauto Star returned unscathed. He will now have a well earned rest until next season. Mon Mome will now head to Aintree to attempt to become the first dual Grand national winner since Red Rum and Denman will likely have the Grand National as his principal target next season.
Despite his disappointment on Kauto Star, Ruby Walsh was leading jockey at the festival for the fifth time. Nicky Henderson won the top trainer award.
Wellington, FL – March 19, 2010 – Seven top equestrians will go head to head in the exciting $25,000 Puissance class scheduled for the Stadium at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center on Friday night.
With the huge throng expected to attend the Akon concert that follows the Puissance, organizers feel that this could be one of the largest crowds to ever witness this exciting show jumping event.
The stage is already constructed at the Stadium in what is promised to be a gorgeous setting for the top show jumping action and the fabulous music scheduled for tomorrow night as part of this dynamic dual performance event.
Wellington, FL (March 18, 2010) – Each week at the Top Shelf Dressage under the Stars competition at the Player’s Club & Restaurant the dressage community is treated to world-class riders, judges and entertainment, including a recent demonstration by the Gypsy Vanner Horse Society. Esmeralda and Kuchi, two Gypsy Vanners owned by Bill and Wendy Ricci of WR Ranch in Oxford, Florida, wowed the crowd with their beauty, color and grace.
Esmeralda, who was born in England, was one of the first Gypsy Vanners imported to the United States. Esmeralda has a long list of accomplishments to her name, including being named the Number One Tandem Driving team in 2001 with her partner Jasmine. Esmeralda and Jasmine continued their winning ways last month, winning the Pair Championship at the Florida Carriage Festival.
Esmeralda, the current centerfold in the March 2010 issue of Horse Illustrated, was driven at Dressage under the Stars by owner Bill Ricci, the current President of the Gypsy Vanner Horse Society. Heather Caudill, of Olympus Sport Horse, rode Kuchi, the first Gypsy Vanner born in America. Kuchi’s sire, The Gypsy King, was immortalized as the first Gypsy Vanner Horse Breyer model. Last year Kuchi, who currently competes at second level in dressage, followed in her sire’s hoof steps to become Breyer’s second Gypsy Vanner Horse model.
Mild sunny weather welcomed the return of enthusiastic crowds to Prestbury Park with the promise of 4 days of top quality National Hunt racing and the pinnacle of the racing year – the Cheltenham Gold Cup on Friday.
The first day of the Cheltenham festival hit punters pockets hard with surprise results when 5 favourites failed to win. Champion jockey Tony McCoy’s joy was evident when winning the feature race, the Champion Hurdle, on Binocular. Up until last week it was unclear if the Nicky Henderson trained gelding would run because of recent injury. This French bred six year old, who finished 3rd in 2009, was always travelling sweetly and took command between the last two hurdles to win comfortably giving his popular Irish owner, J. P. McManus, his 22nd festival success.
But much of the festival focus remains on Friday’s eagerly anticipated Gold Cup which will see a clash for the 3rd time of super equine heroes, Kauto Star and Denman. The Paul Nicholls trained duo have captured the hearts of the nation and Kauto Star’s bid to win this three and a quarter mile chase would secure a place in the history books with former champions Arkle, Best Mate, Golden Miller and Cottage Rake.
West Palm Beach, FL (March 11, 2010) – Tina Konyot proved just how special her Danish Warmblood stallion Calecto V was during the 2010 Palm Beach Dressage Derby CDI, riding away the winner of the Grand Prix Special. Konyot’s class was sponsored by Classic Equine Equipment, a nationally recognized leader in quality horse stall systems and stable accessories, and their South Florida distributors, Idlewild Furnishing.
“Tina and Calecto turned in a beautiful ride,” said Adam Busse, owner of Classic Equine, who along with John Grimes, owner of Idlewild Furnishing, presented Tina with a teak braiding stool for her win. “It is always great to see a friend win. I could not be happier for Tina and her successful ride. The Palm Beach Dressage Derby is a fantastic show, and Tina and Calecto certainly raised the performance bar.” Grimes added.
It was Calecto’s third time to compete in the Grand Prix Special, and the stallion, by Comeback II, earned a score of 71.958%. The winning score was the highest non-freestyle score to date for the 12-year-old stallion.
Konyot suffered a back injury prior to the Derby, but followed the old adage that the “show must go on” and competed, although in pain. Despite her bad back, Konyot was pleased with her stallion and gave much of the credit for the pair’s advancing success to trainer Lars Petersen.