Category Archives: *Featured/Spotlights

Special features, spotlights, headlines

Steffen Peters and Suppenkasper Dance to Victory in FEI Grand Prix Freestyle CDI5*

Steffen Peters and Suppenkasper ©SusanStickle.

Wellington, FL – February 26, 2021 – The USA’s Steffen Peters and Suppenkasper welcomed a victory in the FEI Grand Prix Freestyle CDI5*, presented by CaptiveOne Advisors, in the first “Friday Night Stars” competition of the season. Peters and Suppenkasper, Akiko Yamazaki and Four Winds Farm’s 2008 KWPN gelding by Spielberg, danced under the lights at Equestrian Village to a score of 80.995%.

“There were lots of things that were great,” began Peters. “The piaffe felt really good, great half-passes, the pirouette felt good. To me, one of the highlights of ‘Mopsie’ now, that used to be so difficult, is the collected walk. I used to have to hide that a little bit in the corner, but now I’m doing it on the diagonal because I can really show the relaxation. That might look like a boring movement, but to me it’s huge. Of course, I risked a little bit much in that one extension, so he broke: one little fumble. The rest felt great.”

Despite having no general attendance, the night still had its usual buzz of excitement, and Suppenkasper handled the atmosphere like a pro. Peters rode to a slightly different floor plan than normal, and despite some miscommunication, still pulled off the +80%.

“The floor plan was different this time,” he said. “I do the extended walk 20 meters and then another 20 meters collected walk across the diagonal. So, the half-passes are going the opposite way. I think that was slightly confusing to the judges. There was a little miscommunication before, but it was my fault. I should have been clearer about it.

“One thing you don’t want to do, you don’t want to confuse the judges. And I did,” he said with a smile.

The pair has finished competing at AGDF, and they will resume their training with the hope of making it onto the final USA Dressage shortlist. Peters concluded, “We decided to bubble wrap him from here and preserve him and head back to California next week.”

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

Steffen Peters and Sabine Schut-Kery Shine in Grand Prix CDI5* Classes at AGDF 7

Steffen Peters and Suppenkasper ©SusanStickle.

Wellington, FL – February 25, 2021 – Week seven of the 2021 Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) began at Equestrian Village at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in Wellington, FL on Thursday, February 28, with top placings for the USA’s Steffen Peters in the FEI Grand Prix for Freestyle CDI5*, presented by CaptiveOne Advisors, and Sabine Schut-Kery with Sanceo in the FEI Grand Prix for Special CDI5*, presented by Palm Beach Equine Clinic.

Peters and the 2008 KWPN gelding by Spielberg, owned by Akiko Yamazaki and Four Winds Farm, kicked off their week on a high note, besting the FEI Grand Prix for Freestyle CDI5*, presented by CaptiveOne Advisors, with a score of 77.109%.

“After the test he felt like he had another two tests in there,” began Peters. “This is actually the right weather for him, where I can ride him a little bit and he settles down a bit more. That warm weather is what we are going to face in Tokyo, maybe even quite a bit hotter than this, and Mopsie seems to be ready for it. He’s been very consistently in the 76, 77 percentile, and that’s super exciting that I can ask for a bit more. Today he had a very clean test with a good, relaxed walk, so I’m extremely happy.”

Peters and the gelding have won every class they have competed in this season, and Peters is moving into the freestyle with hopefulness. “I think it’s always fun to support the organizers in the five-star freestyle,” he explained. “If we do well then, it’s nice to give back to our people, and help to pay the bills a little! We’re really looking forward to it. The freestyle is one of my favorite tests to ride, though sometimes it’s not Mopsie’s, but the night atmosphere is still something he needs to get used to.”

Sabine Schut-Kery and Sanceo Top the FEI Grand Prix for Special CDI5*

In the FEI Grand Prix for Special CDI5*, presented by Palm Beach Equine Clinic, the USA’s Sabine Schut-Kery and Sanceo took the highest honors of the class with a 74.522%.

Schut-Kery and Alice Womble’s 2006 Hanoverian stallion by San Remo re-entered competition after a summer break in November, earning scores of over 74% in the CDIs in California before arriving in Florida in January. Those classes, along with a national class last week at AGDF, helped prepare the pair for their biggest competition in a year.

“Sanceo was really great,” noted Schut-Kery. “Any errors made today were rider errors, and I think I lost him in the zigzag. However, he felt great in the first part of the test and then recovered quite well [from those rider errors]. I have no complaints, and I feel like we are getting to the point where we can see where we want to push more, and where we need to finesse things.”

She exclaimed, “Having this five star is amazing. When I look around, a lot of the places are closed down all over the world. We are so fortunate. I think everybody agrees that we would follow any protocol, just to be able to keep going. Speaking for myself, I have a horse that’s 15 years old. It’s not like he’s eight or 10, and one year doesn’t matter. For me, it’s very special to be here and be invited to this competition, to the five star, and that there is that caliber of show. Thank you to everyone that puts this on and supports it.”

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

Harsh Realities & Boundless Opportunities: EQUUS Foundation 2020 in Review

Without a doubt, we can all agree that 2020 was by far the most challenging year in our history. We are hopeful that you are staying heathy and that there will be a return to some normality this year. Despite event cancellations caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, we are persevering and continuing to make a lasting difference in the lives of America’s at-risk and transitioning horses and in the lives of individuals who benefit from their magic and power.

During our fiscal year ending in August 2020, we were able to help provide care for nearly 5,000 horses at 160 charities nationwide. We’d like to double that number and provide a lifeline to 10,000 horses in 2021. We awarded over $500,000 in grants, including awards of new and gently used riding apparel, valued at $240,000, to 547 individuals through The Rider’s Closet program.

We believe that for horses to remain an important part of American life and have a viable future, we need to embrace a fundamental shift in our attitude towards horses – from the horse as a commodity to the horse as an athlete, companion, teacher, and healer.

We focus our efforts on raising awareness of the issues impacting the future of horses and inspiring horse lovers to be horse protectors. However, at the heart of our mission is our effort to empower and invest in the very best equine charities that are finding homes for at-risk horses and horses in transition, providing a safe haven for aged horses, and increasing opportunities for all people to engage and partner with horses in new and innovative ways. Informed giving has never been more important.

View our 2020 Annual Report here.

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

Brittany Fraser-Beaulieu and All In Conclude AGDF 5 with Top Honors

Brittany Fraser and All In ©SusanStickle.

Wellington, FL – February 14, 2021 – Week five of the 2021 Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) concluded on Sunday, February 14, with another victory for Canada’s Brittany Fraser-Beaulieu and All In in the FEI Grand Prix Freestyle CDI-W, presented by Helgstrand Dressage.

Personal best scores for every big tour class winner in the FEI Grand Prix and Grand Prix Special CDI 3* presented by CabanaCoast, and FEI Grand Prix and Grand Prix Freestyle CDI-W, presented by Helgstrand Dressage were recorded this week. Fraser-Beaulieu and Brittany Fraser and Marc-Andre Beaulieu’s 2005 KWPN gelding by Tango added to that tally, beating their personal best with a 79.330%, while earning two scores above 80% from judges at both M and B.

“I’m so happy,” began Fraser-Beaulieu. “This is like a dream come true, to be back here with a personal best. At the five star and the Nations Cup last year we had great rides, and after such a long break you hope that it’s going to be the same, but after 10 months I was a little nervous. You want to keep those scores and keep hitting personal bests, and All In has come out this season and really proven that he knows his job so well. He tries his heart out for me every time we go down centerline, and I just have to hang on for the ride. I’m ecstatic with him.”

Fraser-Beaulieu rode to a freestyle created by Joost Peters, with Celine Dion music beginning and concluding the ride. “Joost Peters made new music for me for the Nations Cup last year,” she explained, “so this is only the second time I’ve ridden to this new freestyle. I love Celine Dion. My husband is French, I live in Montreal now, and I love the song, so I asked him to incorporate it into the beginning and the end, and I think he did a great job.”

President of the Ground Jury, William Warren (USA), noted the quality of the day’s class and of the pair’s ride. “For me,” he said, “the entire class was a nice quality to judge. It challenged us judges to up our game and really get it right. Brittany hit a lot of strong technical points, and to really have a good freestyle, it has to be technically solid. Today everything was spot on. That really supports the artistic side of the freestyle, because if the ride has technical issues you have a problem. There was wonderful harmony between horse and rider.”

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

Kellock Earns Back-to-Back Personal Bests during Week Five of AGDF

Lindsay Kellock and Sebastien ©SusanStickle.

Wellington, FL – February 13, 2021 – Canada’s Lindsay Kellock and Sebastien notched a victory today in the FEI Grand Prix CDI 3* Special, presented by CabanaCoast, topping a class of 13 competitive horse-and-rider combinations.

Kellock and the 2006 Rheinlander gelding by Sandro Hit, owned by Enterprise Farm Equestrian LLC and Lindsay Kellock, received a 73.319% from the judges, concluding a momentous weekend for the duo.

“I had more confidence going in today based on his performance in the Grand Prix on Thursday,” Kellock began. “He went in and really tried his heart out and gave me a good feeling, which then gave me confidence to ride him a bit more in the ring today. Normally I’m like, ‘Oh, can I do this? Maybe I can push this button?’ but today he just felt so great. I was able to really ride him, take a deep breath, and I think that showed a lot more with those higher scores.”

Though the pair didn’t enter an international competition arena for almost 10 months, they spent their time at home perfecting the basics and working on their overall performance together.

“[2020 was] a very unfortunate year in many ways,” Kellock explained, “but it was a positive for my horse because he was still green last year. I was really able to work through the training [last] summer and then getting back to work with Ashley [Holzer] in November, ramping up the training then, and having the time to work on weaknesses from last year has been huge for us. We’ve worked really hard at that all summer.”

The pair posted a personal best score in the Grand Prix on Thursday with a 72.326% and came back to earn yet another. “I can’t describe the feeling; it’s amazing,” Kellock admitted. “I couldn’t be happier, and I’m speechless. The horse is an incredible horse, and I’m glad that I’m finally able to bring that out in him.”

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

Fraser-Beaulieu and All In Top the FEI Grand Prix CDI-W at AGDF 5

Brittany Fraser-Beaulieu and All In ©SusanStickle.

Wellington, FL – February 12, 2021 – Week five of the 2021 Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) continued on Friday, February 12, at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in Wellington, FL with a winning ride in the FEI Grand Prix CDI-W presented by Helgstrand Dressage for Brittany Fraser-Beaulieu (CAN) and All In.

Coming into the Global International Arena as the final combination of the day, Fraser-Beaulieu and the 2005 KWPN gelding by Tango, owned by Brittany Fraser and Marc-Andre Beaulieu, climbed to the top of the leaderboard with a final percentage of 73.696.

“I feel really relieved that we had such a good test today,” began Fraser-Beaulieu. “To be honest, I think this was probably our best Grand Prix to date. He was really on the aids and totally focused. Last year I started cutting my warmup to 15 minutes because he’s so big. I take him out and stretch him in the morning and then have a very short warmup. It’s working for us so far, and today he stayed totally with me through the whole ride. It was really incredible.”

Fraser-Beaulieu and the gelding earned their highest Grand Prix CDI-W score ever, after competing for the first time in over 10 months at AGDF 3. “I was a little nervous getting back into the ring,” she admitted. “I had such an amazing finish to last season, and I had almost 10 months of no showing, I was praying I was going to come out strong, but you never know! All In and I have such a long partnership and I know him so well. I’ve had him since he was five. We’ve shown everywhere, so as long as I know he’s feeling well, and I ride well, I know we’ll have a good test. I just had to get my confidence back and get the nerves out, and then I was able to ride more confidently today.”

After their performance, Fraser-Beaulieu has decided to set her sights on the FEI World Cup™ Finals, but will play the rest of the winter competition by ear, depending on All In.

“I just decided that I’m going to try for World Cup™ Finals,” she stated. “Things are a little up in the air still with the rest of the season. I’d like to do the five star, to get another [Grand Prix] Special under our belt for the Olympics. We are just going to take it show by show and see how All In feels. If he needs to go, we’ll go; if he feels tired, we will take a break. I’m pretty flexible. We are fortunate to have so many shows here, so we’ll take it as it comes.”

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

Grand National 2021

The 2021 Grand National is scheduled to be the 173rd annual running of the Grand National horse race on April 10th, for three days at Aintree Racecourse near Liverpool, England, giving it the name Aintree Grand National. The event will once again be sponsored by Randox Health, also giving it the name Randox Health Grand National.

One of the biggest horse racing events in the world presents you with lucrative free bets for the Grand National. To separate the fine grain from the chaff, we thoroughly scrutinize the deals before endorsing any of them.

On February 3rd, 106 entries were announced for the Grand National, of which a maximum of 40 will start. The early favorite in ante-post betting was the 2018 and 2019 winner Tiger Roll, with weights due to be announced on 16 February 16th. Being a proven winner of the race, we can expect the horse to have to carry much more weight. The two-time Grand National winner didn’t get the chance to defend his crown in April 2020, but he should be back for another shot in 2021.

Tiger Roll has time on his side being the age of 11 in 2021. This Gordon Elliott-trained runner become the first back-to-back winner of the Grand National since Red Rum (1973 & 1974). Will we see him become trainer Gordon Elliott’s fourth winner in the race as he also won the 2017 National version with Silver Birch?

Pleasant Company is another potential Willie Mullins runner. This horse does, however, have plenty of Grand National experience as many will remember him running a head second in 2018. He also finished ninth in the 2017 renewal. In the 2019 Grand National, he was in fourth at the time when he threw his jockey four fences from home, so at 13 years old, he could be well to place in 2021.

Anibale Fly is a horse Aintree Grand National fans will remember from 2019 as he had an outstanding run to be fifth. He was beaten by 11 lengths twelve months ago but with now that he has that experience and has another year on his back, he can be expected to be a big player in 2021. He’ll be 11 years old in 2021 and also is considered in top form after running a fair third in the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2018 and following that up with a second in the 2019 Cheltenham Gold Cup a year later.

Talkischeap is an improving long-range chaser in the making. He rounded off the 2018-19 season by winning the Gold Cup in great style. He’ll only be 9 years old when the 2021 Grand National comes around. His strength will be better after he has run another summer and certainly looks a horse to have in your sights for the 2021 Grand National.

Burrows Saint is a Willie Mullins runner who won the 2019 Irish Grand National.  We use that race often as being a good guide for the Aintree Grand National showing then he’s another horse to note. He will only be 8 years old by the time of the 2021 Grand National comes around and the last horse of that age to win the race was back in 1940! He loves extreme distances so he might be a National horse in 2 or 3 more seasons time as it is hard to ignore that 8-year-old age stat.

The mare Magic of Light is a Jessie Harrington-trained stayer with a gallant second in the 2019 Grand National, and with age on her side she can go well in the 2021 running. She’s likely to have more weight in 2021 after having 11 lbs. in 2019. With that proven experience of the fences, she could be in for a big season ahead in the top staying races.

The average odds of a winning Grand National horse are around 20/1 – while 23 of the last 29 Grand National winners returned a double-figure price. Seven winners had minimum of four runs before going on to win the Aintree Grand National. The only three who had fewer in recent years were Ballabriggs in 2011, One for Arthur in 2017, and Tiger Roll in 2019 with only 3 runs each.

Do note that the best each-way bet usually combines the most likely winner and good odds. Having said that, they may also look into things like outsiders and handicappers and how the first could make a great pick, especially if the market underestimates them.

AGDF 5 Welcomes Win and Personal Best Score for Nick Wagman and Don John

Nick Wagman and Don John ©SusanStickle.

Wellington, FL – February 11, 2021 – The 2021 Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) continued competition during AGDF 5 at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in Wellington, FL on Thursday, February 11, with a win for the USA’s Nick Wagman and Don John in the FEI Grand Prix CDI 3* for Special, presented by CabanaCoast.

Riding to a personal best score of 73.848%, Nick Wagman and Beverly Jean Gepfer’s 2008 KWPN gelding by Johnson TN didn’t let their nerves hinder their day’s performance.

“This is our first real show in a year, so we were both nervous,” Wagman began. “Don John was pretty hot in there, but he knows his job, so I think that was his biggest strength, despite the fact that I was nervous. He didn’t let me down. I just watched the video [before the awards ceremony], and there are always things that you want to do better. I felt like he was exuberant but he did look fairly controlled when I watched the re-play. I’m glad that I got this one under my belt, so now we can really focus on getting our confidence back.”

Wagman continued, “He’s been around the block a few times now, coming to Florida, so he knows the routine. I was a little surprised at how hot he was in the warmup, but I think it’s just a weird time of day for us to ride, because he’s been such a Steady Eddie since we’ve been here.”

Wagman has his hopes set on the Tokyo Olympics, and his overall plan here in Florida will cater to that goal, but this week, the pair is working on having a solid start in the FEI ring after almost a year away. “There was a lot riding on today because I’m trying to get qualified for the five star, so I just need to get through this weekend. My number one goal is to have a successful show where we both get our confidence up, and I do what I need to do, and move on to the next one. To win like this is a wonderful bonus.”

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

WEF Season Success for OMA Students

Taylor Landstrom and Inferno (Photo courtesy of Jen Wood Media)

Wellington, FL (February 10, 2021) – Open Minds Academy is a popular winter season academic hub for ambitious young riders, and with the Winter Equestrian Festival well underway, OMA is celebrating excellence not only in the show ring, but also in the classroom! Their individualized tutoring makes it easy for equestrians and equestrian families to execute a seamless transition from the barn to the classroom, or even to bring the classroom to the barn. OMA’s custom learning programs include virtual options, in-person 3-1 groups at their COVID-protocol optimized Wellington center, weekly status updates, extracurricular classes, and monitoring for seasonal students to ensure they keep up with their home school. Wellington’s seasonal equestrians are one of the main groups utilizing OMA to excel both in school and the show ring.

Sophia Ercolano finished WEF 3 with numerous top placings in the Low Children’s Hunters. As a 12-year-old student currently in the 6th grade, Sophia attends OMA’s virtual schooling sessions, maximizing her time with their certified teachers and time for training at the farm. She is based out of Flemington, New Jersey most of the year where she trains with Linda Sheridan and returns each season to Wellington for the winter horse show.

Taylor Landstrom is another OMA student with blue ribbons in hand for 2021. She and Inferno were the top rider in the EMO Insurance Group USHJA 3’3″ Jumper Seat Medal Section A during WEF 4. Taylor’s schedule at OMA is centered around her morning training, meaning she spends the afternoon as an in-person student at OMA’s Wellington learning center, which is located behind the Kick Back Tavern (formerly Backstreets). She enjoys the learning environment and seeing her seasonal friends each year at OMA, where Language Arts is her favorite subject.

“During season many of our equestrian clients are thrilled with the flexible scheduling and full service offered by Open Minds Academy,” said co-founder Sara Frost. “Whether they’re children of equestrians here to show or showing themselves, we work to make sure they can focus on learning and making the most of their schedule. If there’s a big show week 6, we adjust the curriculum to be lighter that week and distribute the work over less busy weeks to make sure they stay on course in school and at the horse show.”

Open Minds Academy was founded by Tyler Shernoff and Sara Frost in 2014 to meet the growing demand for individualized tutoring and teaching. Their student list has grown to include many seasonal equestrians and Wellington residents as well as students from across south Florida. Their full range of tutoring, personalized teaching, and virtual learning includes classes ranging from Pre-K through the 12th grade, while the equestrian programs generally focus on Pre-K through the 8th grade. From the beginning, their deliberately small class sizes have ensured optimal learning, and now they are the most ideally situated for COVID friendly teaching protocols as well as virtual schooling. Open Minds Academy is a one stop resource for parents and students to achieve their academic goals, boost enrichment activities, and maximize their Wellington learning program.

For additional information on Open Minds Academy, visit www.OpenMindsAcademy.org.

Media contact:
Equinium Sports Marketing, LLC
Holly Johnson
holly@equinium.com
www.equinium.com

Florida Horse Racing Fans Face First Year without Calder Track

Horse race at Fonner Park, Grand Island, Nebraska. Grand Island Tourism.

For horse and racing fans in Florida, 2021 will mark the end of an era. The 40-day run at Calder Race Track (which has been rebranded as Gulfstream Park West), which took place last October, was the last that is ever hosted at Calder race course. The track has been an integral part of the Florida racing calendar since it first started operating in 1971. With that in mind, we take a look back at the long and illustrious past of the Calder Race Track.

First Opened in 1971

Horse racing has long been in the blood of many Florida residents, and that was shown no more than on the day that Calder opened: 6th May 1971. There were officially 16,263 race fans in the park that day, but reports showed that so many people were trying to get into the track to ensure the racing on its opening day that people were being turned away, and the gates were closed to new arrivals. Fifty years later, and it looks like those days of Calder Park being a bustling hive of activity will be a thing of the past.

It was thanks to Calder that the concept of year-round horse racing in Florida was introduced. At that point, there was a gap between the winter and early spring meets in the State, and the meets at Calder served to bridge this gap. It may not have been one of the most glamorous tracks on the racing schedule, but it has made its mark on racing history, thanks to the huge number of world class horses, trainers and jockeys who all got their start there. Calder is perhaps best known for the initiative it introduced in 2000, the ‘Summit of Speed’: this was a series of sprints which were all high stake races, ensuring that the meet attracted plenty of attention, and for all the right reasons.

In 2014 the racing operation on the site was leased to Gulfstream Park’s current owners, The Stronach Group. It was the Stronach Group who renamed the race track Gulfstream Park West. This has been the status of the track site until the end of 2020, when the lease between Churchill Downs Inc and the Stronach Group expired and, for the first time in fifty years, the TSG created a 2021 racing schedule that didn’t have any racing at Gulfstream Park West (or Calder) included on it.

A Working Man’s Racetrack

At its heart, Calder was a no-nonsense, working man’s racetrack. But when it was taken over by Churchill Downs Inc in 1999 (at a cost of $87 million), the focus of the track began to change. In 2010, Churchill opened a casino at Calder, and this became the main focus of the site: in order to maintain a casino license for Calder, Churchill had to run a race on the site at least once every 40 days but found a loophole in the law and argued that any form of pari-mutuel wagering would satisfy the requirements for a casino. Sadly, this didn’t fly with Florida State’s Department of Business, and the courts determined that the track was not fulfilling its obligations. The rest, as the saying goes, is history.

Whilst there will be horses continuing to be stabled at Calder, the agreement to keep the horses there expires on April 1st. Whilst many people will continue to remember the heydays of this glorious race track, those days are gone and the many great horses and jockeys that raced at Calder will be a thing of the past.