Category Archives: *Featured/Spotlights

Special features, spotlights, headlines

Remembering Panimetro

From 2008 to 2010, I owned an ex-racehorse, Panimetro (1999-2010), a Thoroughbred rescue from the Virgin Islands. He was cared for by VICCTRE (Virgin Islands Community Cooperative Thoroughbred Retirement Effort) until he was adoptable. He was a multiple graded stakes winner with career earnings from 2001-2005 of $300,500.  We assembled a list for all your information about horse racing betting from bookmakers to racetracks to help in choosing whether you want to head over to the racetrack and place your bets, or go online and make a horse racing wager from home.

During “Metro’s” last race, he had a horrible accident where he suffered four major fractures in his left front ankle, an injury similar to the one suffered by the famous racehorse, Barbaro, the Kentucky Derby winner that was euthanized due to complications in the healing of his leg.

“Metro” could have met the same sad fate but he was able to heal himself by lying down for long periods over a year and a half and allowing VICCTRE caretakers to attend to him. He loved the attention. The fetlock had a lot of calcification, but it healed enough for him to be a regular horse for a while.

Metro was on the cover, and the inside, and as the December horse on the 2009 VICCTRE calendar. You’ll see him running around still like a racehorse, even with his injured left front leg.

Metro came to the equine rescue organization, Habitat for Horses, in March of 2009 when he was brought here from the Virgin Islands. He was such a character and loved people! He was able to run around, buck and play and jump over a water puddle in front of his paddock that filled up when it rains a lot.

He had a wonderful stall with a ceiling fan and open access to paddocks that opened into his own pasture. It was so cool to see him run in from the pasture for his dinner. Metro was such a gentleman and was trained well at the track to stand quietly for the farrier and when being washed. He got fed 3 times a day plus a lot of loving and TLC, so he was in horse heaven. He even “learned to use the bathroom” in the paddock instead of in his stall.

He was a wonderful companion-horse to my mare, Rocki. Early on he and Rocki were turned out together, but it proved to be too much for Metro. He wanted to run and play too much so I closed him in the back pasture and my mare in the front pasture. But of course, they played with each other over the tall fence between their stalls.

Sadly, Metro passed in the Fall of 2011. His leg finally gave away. He is buried in my back pasture. I cried so much over this – I had never had my own horse euthanized before.

Werth Breezes to a “Special” Victory with Bella Rose in Stuttgart

Isabell Werth with Bella Rose. (FEI/Leanjo de Koster)

She has won everything there is to win in her sport, many times over, but there was a huge sense of achievement for Germany’s Isabell Werth (49) when she steered Bella Rose to victory in the third leg of the FEI Dressage World Cup™ 2018/2019 Western European League at the German Masters in Stuttgart (GER).

“This was her last show before her injury four years ago, so to come back today and to win like this is something special!” said the super-champ who scooped double-gold with the 14-year-old mare at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2018 in Tryon, USA two months ago.

On a day when Germany dominated the podium as Werth’s Rio 2016 Olympic gold-medal-winning team-mate, Dorothee Schneider (49), finished second with Sammy Davis Jr and 2013 FEI Dressage World Cup™ champion Helen Langehanenberg (36) lined up third with Damsey, spectators were treated to a feast of top sport. And the fourth-place finish for Denmark’s Daniel Bachmann Andersen and Blue Hors Zepter was another highlight. Not only was the 10-year-old stallion competing in his very first World Cup competition, he was also doing his very first Freestyle test, yet he was relaxed, confident and full of promise for even greater things to come.

From the outset there was a big buzz in the Schleyer Halle, with The Netherlands’ Emmelie Scholtens and Desperado, who finished last of the 14 starters in the Grand Prix, bouncing back to set the standard with a nice pathfinding test at 75.365. Marie Emilie Bretenoux and the expression-filled Quartz of Jazz from France kept spectators spellbound with their intriguing floorplan for a mark of 75.225, and then seven-time Olympian, Sweden’s Tinne Vilhelmson Silfven, pushed the target score up to 79.670 with the veteran Don Auriello.

But Germany’s Benjamin Werndl was the first-half show-stealer when, last before the break with the 14-year-old gelding Daily Mirror, he carried the crowd through a test that oozed energy and excitement to throw down a new marker at 80.340.

With extraordinary accuracy and control, Langehanenberg went into the lead when posting 81.470 when fourth-last to go, and she was still out in front when Bachmann Andersen put 81.190 on the board. But it was compatriot Dorothee Schneider’s 81.840 that Werth was chasing when last into the arena. And she nailed it by a considerable margin, posting 85.660 despite one major blip.

“She was a bit tense in the canter work and I got behind the music, so I had to push it and that was the reason for the mistake in two-tempis!” — Isabell Werth (GER)

But as the athlete who has collected eight World Championship and six Olympic gold medals pointed out, “She was brilliant again for the rest of the test. The piaffe/passage couldn’t have been better and her half-pass extensions were super!” she said, and that was borne out by the number of maximum scores she earned from the judges which put the result beyond doubt.

It was some busy day for the defending series champion who will be going for a back-to-back hat-trick of wins, and her fifth in total, at the Final in Gothenburg (SWE) next April. It began with a practice ride at 06.00 and then a win riding Emilio, with whom she topped the qualifier in Lyon (FRA) two weeks ago, in the German Dressage Masters before flying to Northern Germany for an awards ceremony and then rushing back to compete in the FEI World Cup qualifier.

Werth seems to thrive on pressure, however, and she really wanted to show the home crowd that her precious mare is back to her best after that long four-year injury break during which she was patiently nursed back to full health. “It was a special situation and a special atmosphere here today; the arena was absolutely full of spectators and a lot of horses were tense and spooky, but Bella Rose was fantastic; she really wanted to give everything; she was just brilliant!” Werth said.

Watch highlights here.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

Cheltenham Festival Tips and Predictions

Even if you’re not entirely invested in betting on horse racing, the opportunity to bet on some of the bigger race meetings is something that a lot of people will take an interest in. This is an occurrence that’s been proven through the sudden interest that vast numbers of people take in the Aintree Grand National when it arises, where it seems like everyone across the UK will place their bets on a horse to win or finish each-way.

In terms of festivals, Cheltenham Festival is likely to be the only horse racing event where everyone remains engrossed from start to finish. If you’re yet to try your hand at backing your own Cheltenham Festival tips, it’s not something that you should completely rule out, as it’s certainly worth considering due to the fun that can be had from horse racing betting when it’s done responsibly.

Whether you’re a regular punter with an eye for winning horse tips, or if you like the thought of having a go and seeing what all the fuss is about, we’ve considered the factors that make betting on Cheltenham Festival tips so worthwhile:

More than one hotly-contested race meeting

Although the Cheltenham Gold Cup is undoubtedly the biggest race at Cheltenham Festival, there’s more races to indulge in, with it being one of the only festivals where it’s not primarily focused on one race ahead of all others. This is very different to Aintree Festival, where everything hinges on the massively popular Grand National.

Bookmaker odds available months in advance

If you’re interested in betting on The Festival to such a point that you want to lock in your bets as soon as possible, you’ll be able to do this on most bookmaker websites and apps months before all horses are even confirmed to race. By doing this, experienced punters are able to get the best available price before anything changes, but it’s unlikely that any newcomers to betting on horse racing will be quite so keen.

Plenty of places to pick up a tip and back your bets

Building your own Cheltenham Festival tips is possible through the many websites that provide all of the statistics and form necessary prior to placing your bets. While it’s to be expected that you might have a go at making your own bets, there are other means of finding a Cheltenham bet, including on the many horse tipster websites on the internet. The same can be said for backing your bets, where bookmaker websites and apps come in high numbers to accommodate you in choosing the one that best suits your needs.

Kuhn Weathers the Storm to Win on Second Day of 2018 US Dressage Finals

Friday morning at the 2018 US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan® at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington dawned with the type of weather conditions more suitable for staying in bed than having the ride of one’s life. Hailing from New Berlin, Ill., Martin Kuhn (Region 4) is no stranger to chilly weather, but when he entered the ring at 10am for the Training Level Open Championship, the persistent rain and 40-degree temperature was admittedly tough to handle. But his mount, Debra Klamen’s five-year-old Hanoverian gelding Ronin (Romanov Blue Hor x Something Royal by Sir Donnerhall I, bred in the U.S. by Marcia Boeing) held steadfast, earning the championship title with an impressive score of 72.803%.

“It was really cold and wet, but my horse seemed unaffected by the conditions – they bothered me much more!” Kuhn laughed. “Situations like this can often be ‘interesting’ with young horses, but even though he’s only five, at this point in the show season he’s been out a lot and in some challenging environments. So when the time came to go down centerline today, he put his head down and did his job. I couldn’t be more happy with him.”

Kuhn is no stranger to success at the US Dressage Finals, finding the winner’s circle with several talented mounts over the last six years. But in his opinion, Ronin stands out. “He’s an amazing athlete – I think he’s the most talented young horse I’ve ever sat on,” Kuhn explained. “I’ve had the privilege to work with lots of horses who have ability, are willing and fun to ride, but on top of that, Ronin is easily the most athletic and elastic horse I’ve ever ridden.”

Also impressed with the maturity of her young partner under adverse weather conditions was Reserve Champion Kelsey Broecker of Celina, Texas (Region 9), who rode Molly Huie’s four-year-old Hanoverian gelding Caelius (Christ x Hauptstutbuch Bonny by Buddenbrock) to a score of 71.818%. “By our ride time, I was ready to be done,” she laughed. “But like Martin’s [Kuhn’s] horse, mine was also unfazed by weather and the overall atmosphere. He doesn’t act like a typical four-year-old – he’s a bit of an old soul, so agreeable and so much fun to ride. He’s just a joy to bring to shows.”

Hometown Girl Laura Crowl Wins Big in Second Level Adult Amateur Championship

Almost 40 competitors from all across the country entered the Claiborne Ring to compete for this year’s Second Level Adult Amateur Championship title, but local eventer and newlywed Laura Crowl of Lexington, Ky. (Region 2) only had to drive a few miles down the road to claim the blue ribbon with her six-year-old U.S.-bred Dutch Warmblood mare Hana (UB-40 x Jolien E by Chronos). After overcoming an untimely hoof abscess right before the Region 2 Championships, Crowl and Hana successfully made it to the Finals and became the only combination to top the 70% mark from all three judges, earning the unanimous victory with 71.585% to earn their first national title.

“I loved almost everything about our test,” said Crowl. “She was really spot on the entire time and did everything I asked. Over the last month I’ve asked her for a little more expression in the movements, and I think the judges appreciated it. She really stepped up to the plate.”

As an eventer who has competed through the FEI 2* level, Crowl originally found Hana in the local barn of her breeder, Reese Koffler-Stanfield, when searching for her next prospect. But the relationship got off to a rocky start. “The first time I rode her she bit me, and it turned out she hated stadium,” Crowl laughed. “But she loved dressage so I had to adjust to what she wanted to do, and along the way I realized it’s fun, not just something you get through to go cross-country. It definitely was a little interesting in the beginning, but we’ve grown to love each other since then.”

In her first trip to the US Dressage Finals, Amanda Lopez of Sarasota, Fla. (Region 3) earned Reserve Championship honors with her nine-year-old Westfalen gelding Rubitanos Dream (Rubitano x Diva by Dream of Glory) with 69.431%. “I like horses with a little character, and we joke that he’s like one of the ruby slippers in The Wizard of Oz – it has to fit, and we just really ‘click’ with each other,” said Lopez of her mount. “I feel so lucky that he chose me as his person. He aims to please with a heart of gold, and I was so honored to show him today in front of these judges and against this caliber of competition.”

Growing Confidence Earns Sandeman the Third Level Open Championship

Angela Jackson of Henderson, Ky. (Region 2) already knew Sandeman was a nice horse, since earlier this summer the six-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Sir Donnerhall x Flora by Florencio, owned by Julie Cook) earned reserve honors at the Markel/USEF Young Horse Championships at Lamplight. But it was the youngster’s ever-growing confidence in himself that carried the pair to the unanimous victory under all judges in Friday’s Third Level Open Championship with a total score of 73.632%.

“It was one of our nicest rides of the year, so to do that here is special,” Jackson explained. “Sandeman has grown up a lot. I could finally ride each movement of the test with a little more confidence today, and everything fell into place. This is definitely ‘the’ show of the season. I’m so thankful for all of the sponsors who support this event, and everyone who makes it possible. It’s the highlight of our year.”

Martin Kuhn (Region 4) participated in his second awards ceremony of the day, this time taking Reserve Champion with 72.265% at Third Level aboard Elizabeth Cronin’s seven-year-old Westfalen gelding Venivici (Vitalis x Sabrina by Sherlock Holmes), who earned First Level Open Reserve Championship honors last year. “It was a little exciting in the cold and the rain, but he stayed with me,” Kuhn noted. “It was definitely a little bit of a conservative ride, but he trusted me and was happy to do his job. He used to be a little bit of a nervous type, but like Angela’s [Jackson’s] horse, as he’s matured, he’s become much more confident.”

Sara Stone Rises to the Challenge in Fourth Level Adult Amateur Championship

As Sara Stone of Lake in the Hills, Ill. (Region 4) and her seven-year-old American Warmblood gelding Gotham (Gabriel x Mystic, bred in the U.S. by Indian Hills Stables) prepared for their afternoon ride in the Fourth Level Adult Amateur Championship, she knew she was facing quite a challenge. “It was a very tough class, and I didn’t think we had a chance at all,” Stone admitted. “But Gotham was in a great mood this afternoon, and he actually likes this chilly weather. When we came out of the ring, I was so focused on what we were doing that I actually wasn’t sure what to think about our test.”

Not long after, all Stone could think about was how proud she was of her mount as the pair emerged as victors with a winning score of 67.704%. “I bought him when he was just three, and he’s the first horse of my own that I have ridden at this level. He’s my best friend,” said Stone, who works in commercial insurance in addition to raising a family. “As an adult amateur, all of the hard work, passion, sweat and tears that goes into having an everyday job and being a mom all while trying to ride…to be able to come to a show like this and lay it all on the line with so many people supporting you…it’s the icing on the cake at the end of the year, and I can’t wait to come back again next year.”

Reserve Champion Amy Gimbel of Oldwick, N.J. (Region 8), who also works in the insurance field when not in the saddle, was equally delighted with her nine-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare Eye Candy (UB-40 x Wednesday by Weltmeyer, bred in the U.S. by Judy Barrett) and their second-place score of 67.407%. “We had some nice moments as well as some tense moments, but overall I was pleased,” Gimbel noted. “We’ve been to the Finals before but took a few years off – Eye Candy had an injury and it’s been a bit of a slow, arduous journey back, something that so many horse people can relate to. Just to be back here is a big accomplishment for us and means a lot.”

Romantico SF Bounces Back to Claim Intermediate I Open Championship

Over the course of more than four straight hours of hard-fought competition on Friday afternoon in the Alltech Arena, competitors battled for top honors in the Intermediate I Open Championship. With a score of 72.157%, ultimate victor Heather Mason of Lebanon, N.J. (Region 8) explained how her 12-year-old Hanoverian gelding Romantico SF (Romancero H x Wesermelodie by Wenzel I) had already proven to be the winner of a much bigger battle – for his life.

“He was laid up for a year with an injury, and I only had about two rides on him when he went in for colic surgery the week after I returned home from last year’s Finals,” Mason remembered. “But amazingly here we are. He’s not an easy horse, which is how I originally ended up with him for just a dollar. But he was great today: the first medium trot was a little bit tentative, but as we got more comfortable in there he was very good. His canter work is generally strong, his pirouettes were very solid, and his zig zag was good. He’s back and better than ever.”

Finishing in Reserve with 71.373% were last year’s Prix St. Georges Open division champions Nora Batchelder of Williston, Fla. (Region 3) and the 10-year-old U.S.-bred Hanoverian gelding Faro SQF (Fidertanz x MS Rose by Rotspon, bred by Jill Peterson). “He was super brave and ready to go today – there’s always a lot of atmosphere in the Alltech Arena but he dealt with it really well,” Batchelder said of her mount. “The canter work is always his strong suit, and I also thought his trot extensions were nice. It’s even more exciting for him to do well because his co-owner and my cousin Andrea Whitcomb is here to watch this year, which makes it extra special.”

Finals First-Timer Hannah Hewitt Wins Intermediate I Adult Amateur Championship

It may have been Hannah Hewitt’s very first time cantering down centerline into the impressive atmosphere of the Alltech Arena, but she and Tammy Pearson’s eight-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding Fidens (Tango x Bliss by United) looked like Finals veterans as they came away with the victory in the Intermediate I Adult Amateur Championship on a score of 67.745%.

“I’m so excited to be here for my first Finals, and it’s been amazing. My trainer, Karen Lipp, has been here several times and really encouraged me to try for this,” said Hewitt, of Atlanta, Ga. (Region 3), who attends law school and finds time to train by being in the saddle before 7am almost every day. “I was very happy with the energy we had today: a little more expression in the trot, and I loved our pirouettes. He’s still young, but has grown up a lot even in just the last few months, and he surprised me a little bit in that he was unaffected by the Alltech Arena – he was very steady and good. He’s a small horse with a big personality, and is just a joy to ride.”

After claiming the 2017 title at this level, defending champion and director/cinematographer Elma Garcia of Mill Spring, N.C. (Region 1) returned to the Finals to claim this year’s Reserve Championship with her 16-year-old Hanoverian mare Wenesa (Westernhagen x Dancing Girl by Davignon) with 67.696%. “Since this spring I have a new program with Wenesa because we’re preparing for the Intermediaire II, so she’s changed a lot since last year – she’s feeling very powerful and is more sensitive,” Garcia explained. “I love coming here and showing in front of so many top judges, and experiencing the camaraderie among the competitors from all over the country and seeing so many different breeds, all in one place. It’s a special feeling.”

Alice Tarjan Wins Second Straight 2018 Finals Title in Grand Prix Adult Amateur Championship

After emerging victorious in Thursday’s Intermediate II Adult Amateur division, Alice Tarjan of Oldwick, N.J. (representing Region 1) is now two-for-two at this year’s US Dressage Finals with her eight-year-old Hanoverian mare Candescent (Christ x Farina by Falkenstern II). The pair returned to the winner’s circle in the Grand Prix Adult Amateur Championship with a score of 64.203% to claim the new George W. Wagner Jr. Perpetual Trophy (presented by the International Georgian Grande Horse Registry). “She was on fire in the warm-up,” said Tarjan. “Even though we had a couple of mistakes today, I’m thrilled because she’s a young horse and the quality keeps getting better and better. She’s so much better than she was just six months ago.”

Fellow Region 1 rider Kristin Herzing of Harrisburg, Pa. and her Hanoverian gelding Gentleman (Grusus x Rumpelstilzchen by Raphael, bred in the U.S. by Kathryn and Jeffrey Nesbit) have been together for 15 years, and traveled to Kentucky this year for their fourth US Dressage Finals. The pair’s persistence paid off with Reserve Champion honors in the Grand Prix Adult Amateur division with 61.667%. “Coming to the Finals is on my list of goals every year,” Herzing explained. “I’m so pleased with my horse today. He may be 20 years old, but he is a bit of a nervous type. He knows his job and the test, so I just try to keep him calm and steady. I knew I needed to have a clean test, and we did.”

Adiah HP Wows the Crowd in Grand Prix Open Championship

At first glance, the colorful mare Adiah HP may not look like your stereotypical Grand Prix dressage champion. But everyone knows a book can’t be judged by its cover, and this 11-year-old Friesian Sport Horse (Nico x Marije ANT by Anton, owned and bred in the U.S. by Sherry Koella) is no exception. In the experienced hands of James Koford of Winston-Salem, N.C. (Region 1), Adiah HP had the crowd cheering in the Alltech Arena as she claimed the Grand Prix Open Championship and Veronica Holt Perpetual Trophy (presented by USDF Region 5 and Friends) with 69.130%.

“I am so pumped! She’s getting so mature – now she goes in the ring and gets excited, but I can channel that energy,” said Koford after the win. “I saw her in a clinic four years ago and thought she was the most fun horse I’d ever seen, and I had to sit on her. Now she’s gone on to do everything I’ve asked and more. She’s like my dirt bike: I just get to run around and have fun, without stress or drama. It just gives me goosebumps because it’s so much fun to get on a horse like this that loves to go in the show ring.”

Last year’s Intermediate II Open Reserve Champion Judy Kelly of Clarkston, Mich. (Region 2) returned to the Finals with her 14-year-old Hanoverian mare Benise (Breitling W x Rubina by Rubinstein) and added another Reserve title to their resume, this time in the Grand Prix Open division with 67.862%. “This is her second year at the level so she can do everything; I just wanted to be able to guide and direct her and show her off. Now we’ll try to do the same thing tomorrow night in the freestyle,” said Kelly.

To learn more about the US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan®, download competition information, review day sheets and results, and read daily news releases, visit the official event website at www.usdressagefinals.com.

Irish Sport Horse Studbook Reigns Supreme Once Again

Kitty King and Cristal Fontaine. (FEI/Libby Law)

The Irish Sport Horse Studbook won the overall title for the second consecutive year at the FEI WBFSH World Breeding Eventing Championships for Young Horses 2018 which drew to a close at the Haras National at l‘Isle de Briand in Le Lion d’Angers (FRA). The title is decided by the best three scores of each Studbook in both categories, and it was the performances of Emerald Jonny ridden by Great Britain’s Piggy French, Cooley Moonshine with America’s Elisabeth Halliday-Sharp, and Universal Cooley with Britain’s Camilla Millie Dumas that decided the result when these three finished second, third and fourth in the 6-year-old division.

The combined score for the Irish-bred horses was 79.5, giving them almost three points of an advantage over the second-placed Selle Français Studbook while the KWPN Studbook of The Netherlands finished third on a score of 102.0.

There were 25 Irish horses representing eight nations in the two categories, but it was the Selle Français gelding Cristal Fontaine that claimed the 6-Year-Old title for Britain’s Kitty King while the Brandenburg mare, Asha P, was steered to success in the 7-year-old class by Germany’s Ingrid Klimke.

6-Year-Olds

King and the French-bred grey owned by Alex Wakeley posted a score of 25.4 for third place on Dressage day and never faltered. America’s Halliday-Sharp and Cooley Moonshine were the dressage leaders ahead of Dumas and Universal Cooley in second while British compatriot, Piggy French, sat in fourth spot going into cross-country day when the 20-fence track presented relatively few problems.

However, single showjumping errors cost the top two dearly, dropping Halliday-Sharp to third and Dumas to fourth while clears for King and French saw them claim the top two places.

King (36) is an Olympian and a veteran of multiple Young Horse Championships at Le Lion where she previously finished third with Zidante as a 6-year-old before returning to win the 7-year-olds with the same horse the following year. She was filled with emotion when she realised she’d done it again and was mighty proud of her lovely grey gelding.

“He’s just tried really, really hard. I always said to the owner he was as good as Zidante… and I’m just chuffed to bits with him. Millie (Dumas) and Liz (Halliday-Sharp) are on really good jumpers; I know what their English form is like so I would have been delighted to just finish third on my dressage score. It’s wonderful; I’m so pleased for my team at home, my sponsors and especially my owners!” — Kitty King (GBR)

A total of 40 horse-and-rider combinations started in this category and 36 completed.

7-Year-Olds

In contrast to the younger horses, the 7-year-olds found the cross-country test set by master course designer Pierre Michelet much more challenging, with 19 different horse-and-rider combinations racking up penalty points including three that retired and seven that were eliminated. A total of 69 started in this category, and 56 completed.

Newly-crowned team and individual world champion, Great Britain’s Rosalind Canter, made it all the way to fence 20, four from home, before her Irish-bred Rehy Royal Diamond collected 20 penalties for a refusal. Well down the line in 17th place after dressage she finished 44th in the final analysis, while dressage leader, Germany’s Michael Jung, was eliminated for a fall with Chocolat at fence 8 which left the three-time Olympic gold medallist with a shoulder injury.

As a result, second-placed Klimke and Asha P rose to pole position when cruising round the cross-country track well inside the time-allowed of 9’14”, but going into the final phase they had only 0.3 of a lead over Britain’s Nicola Wilson and JL Dublin who posted the second-quickest cross-country time. However, a fence down saw this pair drop to fifth and it was Great Britain’s Tom Jackson with the Irish-bred Capels Hollow Drift who slotted into runner-up spot behind Klimke and her bay Brandenburg mare who never put a foot wrong. Third place went to Astier Nicolas from France with Babylon de Gamma (SF) and Belgium’s Karin Donckers and Leipheimer van’t Verhah (BWP) finished fourth.

Double Olympic and double World Championship team gold medallist Klimke, who clinched individual bronze with SAP Hale Bob at the FEI World Equestrian Games in Tryon, USA last month, was delighted with her result.

“It’s my third win at the Mondial du Lion and the happiness is still the same! I love more and more bringing young horses to top level, and winning here is really important. My mare is really good and I believe she will easily rise to 3-Star level. I have no doubt she will step into Hale Bob’s shoes!” — Ingrid Klimke (GER)

Full results here.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

Kat Fuqua Takes Tennessee before Jumping onto the Set of Billy & Blaze

Warrenton, VA (October 11, 2018) – Lighting up the show ring has been a common occurrence for Kat Fuqua and her team of hunter horses and ponies, but the accomplished pony and junior hunter rider found her talents being used in a totally new way this September. Fuqua and Finesse RF, known around the barn as Ladybug, recently starred as the protagonist’s competition during two weekends of shooting for a live action remake of the 1930s equestrian classic, Billy and Blaze, produced by Michael Erkel. Fresh off a series additional championship finishes with Ladybug and her other mounts during the Brownland Farm Fall I & II, Fuqua hopped on an early morning flight to make it on the set of Billy and Blaze, mounting up to add a new and exciting dimension to her equestrian career.

Ladybug, the top ranked USEF Medium Hunter Pony, and Fuqua, who was recently awarded overall Grand Champion Pony Hunter at the 2018 USEF Pony Finals, switched gears from competition mode to get in character for their role. The pair plays Billy’s top competition during one of the movie’s jumping scenes, where Fuqua, playing herself, and Ladybug, playing Pickles the pony, are bested by Billy, played by Henry Lesko, and Blaze during the final round of competition.

Director Cyndi Erkel guided Fuqua and her co-stars through the ins and outs of the movie business, ensuring that they were able to play their parts without getting nervous. Associate Producer Pat Hommel selected Fuqua for the part, and as the only female rider among a cast of men, Fuqua’s excitement to be involved and to see herself and her pony on the big screen could not be overstated: “Being on the movie set was really fun and so exciting,” said Fuqua. “Ladybug was a natural and didn’t mind the cameras above her while jumping! I had so much fun and would love to do it again. I made a lot of new friends: Catherine, Hugh, Wyatt, Ivan, Chloe, Jack, and Henry! I can’t wait to see how it all turns out.”

Billy and Blaze is set to be released by independent producer Michael Erkel next year after post production and is based on the series of children’s books by C. W. Anderson. Written and set in the 1930s, the classic equestrian story is a timeless story that is still in print today and is being adapted for the screen for the first time. For more information, visit www.billyandblazemovie.com.

Before getting a dose of Hollywood, Fuqua racked up 6 Championships and two Reserve titles aboard Ladybug, Brighton, RS Levitation, a.k.a. Jett, and Prestige, a.k.a. Prince, during the Brownland Farm Fall I & II. Held in Franklin, Tennessee, a suburb of Nashville, the picturesque show grounds of Brownland Farm, owned by Sissie Brown Anderton, were a unique and beautiful backdrop for a fall horse show. Prince is a new large green pony mount for Fuqua, and the pair in their first show together took Champion week two and Reserve week one against a field of professionals in the USHJA 2’6″ Hunter division. She and Jett once again rode to victory during week one, Reserve during week two, and double wins in the Classic in the Under 15 Junior Hunters, while her USEF Pony Finals Grand Champion mount, Brighton, lit up the Large Pony division, taking both Champion and Hunter Classic Champion both weekends. Finally, her movie star mount Ladybug was awarded the Championship Medium Hunter Pony title both weekends and the Classic the second weekend, just before their career on the silver screen began.

As of October 8, the USEF ranks Kat Fuqua and her ponies as follows:

#1 Small Junior Hunter 15 and Under, RS Levitation
#1 Large Pony Hunter, Brighton
#1 Medium Pony Hunter, Finesse RF
#4 Large Pony Hunter, Chic In Time

As of October 8, Fuqua is ranked as follows in the USHJA Zone 4 Hunters:

#1 Junior Hunter Small Under 15, RS Levitation
#2 Junior Hunter Small Under 15, Calvaro
#1 Medium Pony Hunter, Finesse RF
#1 Large Pony Hunter Chic In Time

Fuqua narrowly takes second for the Leading Pony Hunter Owner, after finishing ranked #1 in 2017, while her ponies Finesse RF and Brighton are ranked Grand Pony Hunter Champion and Reserve Champion, respectively. Fuqua kicks off October with her two Junior Hunters, two large ponies, and the very special Ladybug in Harrisburg for the Pennsylvania National Horse Show followed by the Washington International Horse Show Championships. In total Fuqua qualified seven mounts, 5 ponies and two horses, with two being sold last spring, and is looking forward to seeing them there with their new riders.

For more information on Kat Fuqua, visit her website at www.KatFuqua.com.

Media contact:
PR and Marketing
Holly Johnson
Equinium Sports Marketing, LLC
www.equinium.com
holly@equinium.com
+1 954 205 7992

2018 British Champions Series and the Breeders’ Cup

The 2018 British Champions Series is a series of 35 of the UK’s top flat races. It began with the 2,000 Guineas Stakes at Newmarket on May 5th, and culminates with British Champions Day at Ascot on October 20th, where thousands of punters at courses across the country will be primed to take a bet on this horse race.

British Champions Day is a thoroughbred horse race which has been held at Ascot Racecourse in October annually since 2011, acting as the end of season show piece of British flat racing. The culmination of the British Champions Series, it features the finals of the five divisions of the series, together with a valuable one-mile handicap race. The richest day in British racing; more than £4 million in prize money was earned across the six races in 2016.

Beginning in 2007, the Breeders’ Cup, this year to be held in Lexington, Kentucky, USA, developed the Breeders’ Cup Challenge, a series of races in each division that allotted automatic qualifying bids to winners of defined races. Each of the 13 divisions has between two and 12 of these “Win and You’re In” qualifying races. In the Breeders’ Cup Turf Division, runners are limited to 14 with up to 11 automatic berths.

Starting in 2011, the Breeders’ Cup also pays the entry fee and provides a travel allowance for the connections of the challenge race winners. For 2018, NBC Sports Group will both broadcast and live stream 11 shows, from June to October, covering many of the “Win and You’re In” challenge races.

Cheltenham Festival: No Horsing Around

If ever in doubt about the popularity of horse racing and the excitement it evokes in enthusiasts, bookmakers, and pundits, it is important to note that even with six months to go for the Cheltenham Festival, punters are already analysing horses and jockeys, looking for the next big bet.

March 12th will see the commencement of the four-day festival that is considered one of the top racing events in the entire world. Cheltenham Festival, in comparison with the Grand National, is more local with few international entries. It also has more hurdle races unlike the flat tracks of other competitions. These differences make Cheltenham a lot more challenging and thrilling for jockeys as well as bettors who have more than 25 races to place bets on, increasing their chances of winning.

Altior

Punters are eagerly awaiting March 13, 2019 to see Altior in action at the Cheltenham Festival. With odds of 6/4, he is already a favourite among bookmakers to win the all-important Queen Mother Champion Chase. Altior dominated the Champion Chase during the festival in 2018 coming in first and had won the Arkle Chase year before that. With speed and stamina both evident in every stride, punters need to keep a keen eye on this one as he is bound to perform spectacularly in 2019 as well.

Samcro

Samcro has been one of the most debated horses in the competition. Whether he will run in the Gold Cup or should he wait out another year, everyone associated with horse racing has been discussing his future and second-guessing decisions taken by the owners. Nevertheless, he remains a favourite when it comes to the Arkle Trophy with 5/1 odds and the RSA Chase with 8/1 odds, both of which are undoubtedly favourites when it comes to betting. Trained by the legendary Gordon Elliott, Samcro won the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdles in 2018 in a remarkable manner, making him the one to look out for.

Midnight Bite

The “big one” at the Cheltenham Festival is the Gold Cup. A dream win for every jockey, trainer, and horse, it is hotly contested, on the field and in the stands. For a punter too, this is the ultimate race to partake in at the festival and Cheltenham betting offers for 2019 are already looking positive with options that can add to the winnings. The nine-year-old Midnight Bite is presently the favourite with 5/1 odds having come in second at last year’s Gold Cup. He is followed closely by Presenting Percy, another horse that has proven its popularity, and Native River, both of whom are listed at 6/1 odds.

Commander of Fleet

Not ignoring some of the other races that are part of this institutional festival, Commander of Fleet is among bookmakers’ choice for winning the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at 16/1 odds and also the Champion Bumper with 25/1 odds. The “smaller” races are an excellent opportunity for bettors to further their winnings and with limited horses running, they require less analysis, which is a big bonus. But, do keep in mind that Cheltenham is an experience that not only consists of racing but also dance, music, food, and even shopping, so make sure you enjoy every aspect of this great festival.

Game Winner on Course for Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Success?

Source: HR_Nation via Twitter.

Game Winner is the horse to watch at the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, heading into the showdown at the beginning of November with a 100% record in his three races. Bob Baffert has a potential star in the two-year-old, with the veteran trainer aiming to secure his first win at the event since 2013.

The American horse does have the strongest credentials entering the meet, although, with only three races under his belt, it’s difficult to predict the outcome at the Churchill Downs. Both Endorsed and Mind Control will be out to dethrone the leading contender for the crown. Therefore, while he may look one of the best horse racing bets with odds of 7/4 at William Hill, it may be worth waiting before committing to a punt on the race, given there is ample time for the prices to alter before the fences are opened.

Game Winner only took to the track for his first race during August in the Maiden Special Weight at Del Mar. He was not considered the favourite for his debut as Dueling was present in the field. However, Baffert’s charge quickly made a statement in his bow over six furlongs, dominating the meet to win by five-and-three-quarter lengths ahead of Dueling. The two-year-old’s display did not earn him the respect of the bookmakers for his next outing in a Grade One meet at Del Mar.

His stable-mate Roadster was the leading contender for the Del Mar Futurity, but Game Winner was able to brush aside him, along with the rest of the field, to claim his second career victory by one-and-a-half lengths. Baffert put his charge forward for the American Pharoah Stakes in his first race over a mile at Santa Anita. With Joel Rosario in the saddle, the bay colt was able to clinch his first major triumph, defeating his nearest rival, Gunmetal Grey, by four-and-a-half lengths. Game Winner has improved at every race, although bigger challenges lay ahead for the two-year-old.

Mind Control made his debut in July at a Maiden Special Weight at Delaware Park. He was off the pace in his first outing, finishing behind Call Paul at Delaware Park. However, the two-year-old was able to bounce back in his second meet – this time competing at Monmouth Park.

Gregory Sacco’s charge controlled the race and was able to secure the victory by a comfortable margin to get off the mark in his career over six furlongs. Mind Control faced his first major test at the Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga. He was not considered the favourite for the event but produced a brilliant effort to defeat the perceived leading contender, Mucho, displaying the pace down the stretch to claim the win by three-quarters of a length.

Sacco’s charge along with Endorsed will be the challengers to Game Winner. Endorsed has only competed once in his career, which came in August at Saratoga in a Maiden Special Weight. He produced an accomplished display to defeat Ahead Of Plan by a neck, setting up a potential challenge for Game Winner along with Mind Control at the Churchill Downs at the beginning of November.

Exell Wins Individual Gold as Team USA’s Golden Victory Thrills Home Crowd

Australia’s Boyd Exell (FEI / Liz Gregg)

On a day when the home nation USA secured a stunning victory in the Polaris Ranger driving team competition to round off a triumphant FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon (WEG), Australian driver Boyd Exell proved he remains in a league of his own by securing a third successive individual WEG gold medal.

Despite the valiant efforts of crowd favourite Chester Weber, who showed icy composure to drive his team to gold and also grab individual silver, no one was able to rival Exell from the moment he entered the dressage arena on day one.

First in the dressage, third in the marathon stage despite driving with broken brakes, and second in the closing cones phase, Exell finished with an overall score of 154.14, almost 10 points clear of Weber. Edouard Simonet, the 29-year-old Belgian who was once a back-stepper for Exell, took the bronze medal with a final score of 174.15.

“I love training horses. It is a relief to win, I have a huge team of people who have been with me 20 years.” — Boyd Exell (Australia)

Weber, who also finished second to Exell at the 2014 WEG in Normandy, France, was overjoyed to take an unexpected team title in front of a raucous North Carolina crowd.

“I can tell you it was a surprise. I thought we came here with a chance of a medal but if you had asked me if I was going to have a bet on whether we were going to be world champions, I would have said I am not sure,” said Weber, whose USA team finished with a winning score of 353.39.

Teammate James Fairclough, who introduced Weber to the sport as a 13-year-old, already has an eye on the future after the USA beat the Netherlands, the 2010 and 2014 champions, into second and Belgium into third.

“I hope it’s going to inspire a lot of people to come forward and try the sport. It’s a great boost for us,” Fairclough said.

Basking in the glow of winning a WEG bronze medal to go with their 2017 European team bronze, the Belgium team also served notice of their intention to change driving’s established order.

“We are the future not only of Belgium driving but of international driving,” said Glenn Geerts, who like individual bronze medal winner Simonet is 29 years old, while Dries Degrieck, the third member of the team, is just 23.

In comparison, traditional powerhouses the Netherlands finished Tryon 2018 lamenting unexpectedly poor marathon performances from their often all-conquering father and son duo Ijsbrand and Bram Chardon.

The pair did come out firing on the final day, with 25-year-old Bram Chardon producing the only double clear round. But it was not enough to deliver a third successive team gold.

“We wanted to get our spot back; that spot was meant for us,” said a dejected Bram Chardon.

Click here for full results.

By Luke Norman

Media contact:

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