McLain Ward and Zander. Photo © Sportfot.
Ben Maher Wins 1.50m Series Bonus; Absolut and Tracy Scheriff-Muser Top Bainbridge Amateur-Owner 18-35 Hunters
Wellington, FL – March 23, 2013 – McLain Ward (USA) and his promising young mount Zander were the winners in Saturday night’s $100,000 Suncast 1.50m Championship Jumper Series Final during week eleven of the 2013 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival (FTI WEF) in Wellington. The pair led a high-speed jump-off over second place finishers Janne Friederike Meyer of Germany aboard Cellagon Lambrasco and third place duo Pablo Barrios of Venezuela riding Zara Leandra. Great Britain’s Ben Maher and Quiet Easy 4 topped the eleven-week series championship standings and were awarded the top bonus following the class.
Week eleven, sponsored by Artisan Farms, will conclude on Sunday, March 24, with the $15,000 Artisan Farms Young Rider Grand Prix, Don Little Masters Classic and $101,000 Pennfield Feeds CSI 4* Grand Prix all held on the derby field at The Stadium at PBIEC. The 2013 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival features 12 weeks of competition running from January 9 – March 31, 2013, and will be awarding almost $7 million in prize money throughout the circuit.
Richard Jeffery of Bournemouth, England, set the course for 48 entries in Saturday night’s 1.50m final, held under the lights in the International Arena at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC). Only six were able to master the track to advance to the jump-off and four went double clear in an exciting race against the clock for the tie breaker. McLain Ward and Zander, a nine-year-old KWPN gelding by Cantos x Saygon, took the win with their pace of 43.86 seconds.
Finishing in second, Janne Friederike Meyer and Cellagon Lambrasco, owned by Meyer, Friedrich and Anne Sophie, stopped the clock in 45.12 seconds. Pablo Barrios and ZL Group, Inc.’s Zara Leandra were close behind in 45.32 seconds, and Reed Kessler and Ligist had the fourth double clear round in 45.94 seconds. Brazil’s Carlos Ribas and Ronaldo, owned by Ribas and Roberto de la Real, actually had the fastest round of the jump-off in 43.53 seconds, but had the second to last fence down for fifth place.
In a class that is usually held during the day, it was a different environment for many of the horses on Saturday night, showing under the lights with a big crowd. Some of the horses had more experience than others, and even though it was his first night class ever, Zander seemed to flourish in the impressive atmosphere.
“He’s a horse I’m really excited about,” Ward said after the class. “We got him at the beginning of last year with high hopes and then I got hurt and lost almost four months. He was really good last year at Spruce Meadows and he won a nice grand prix at Valkenswaard in the summer. We’ve done him in a bunch of WEF (Challenge Cup) classes here and he won one and he had the fastest time in two others. We hoped he would develop through this Florida and it was just a really nice way for him to end. [It was] the first time under the lights, [and there was] the water under the lights, which he was a bit a green about as a young horse. I think he’s a really exciting horse and I’m lucky to have him.”
“He’s got a really big stride and he’s a very careful horse,” Ward detailed. “He’s such a flamboyant jumper, he loses his parts once in a while, but through this Florida he has kind of figured that out, where you can really gallop at a fence and he really has control of his body. I think that’s going to continue to get better. He’s been fast from the beginning. He can do some numbers that a lot of other horses have to struggle to do a little bit, so I think the future is bright for him. We’ll keep our fingers crossed.”
Each new course and different atmosphere continues to cultivate Zander’s knowledge and Ward counts the competition in Wellington as a great platform for development.
“We have been building his confidence and just showing him a million different experiences,” Ward stated. “Florida, on one hand, is very hard when you’re trying to develop a young grand prix horse because they are always a little bit over their head, but if they can make it through and come out on top at the end and they get a rest, they gain a year’s worth of exposure here. It’s just making sure they survive it. I think he finished much stronger than he started, so hopefully it worked well for us.”
Second place finisher Janne Friederike Meyer was in Wellington for the first time this winter and has had a great experience herself.
“For me, it’s a really nice time,” Meyer noted. “It’s pretty expensive to fly all the horses over and if you don’t know everything, you have to take a little time to get in the system. Like from the warm-up to the office, until you know everything maybe you take one or two weeks and then it’s like normal. But the courses are pretty nice, the money is good and for me it’s kind of a little showing and a little vacation. It’s a little bit in between, so it’s a really nice time for me.”
“The last weeks, every jump-off was really fast, so you have to learn that here,” Meyer described. “I hurried up a lot, but in the end McLain was faster. What can I do? I think my horse tried his best.”
“It’s funny, when you work him at home he is really a lazy horse and he’s relaxed and not hot at all, but when you go in the ring, then he wants to go,” Meyer said of Cellagon Lambrasco. “I think that’s a special thing about him. You just go in and he really wants to jump. He wants to run and is looking for the first fence. He likes it here. He likes the weather and he likes the floodlights. It’s good for him. I really have had some nice rounds with him here.”
Pablo Barrios finished third with Zara Leandra and was very happy with her performance. The pair won a smaller grand prix pre-circuit under the lights and has been gradually moving up to the bigger classes.
“I’m really pleased with that mare and the way she’s jumping now,” Barrios stated. “She won one class in the pre-circuit and then I had a little trouble in the big classes. I think she was not ready, but she grew a lot and she learned a lot. After week eight, in the Nations Cup, she started approaching the jumps in a different way. She was calmer in the ring and she has been amazing the last two weeks. She’s had only one rail in the last two weeks, so I am very pleased with her.”
“I know McLain is super fast, but I think the mare was ready to go fast today,” Barrios said of the jump-off. “Today I really tried to go for the class, but there were good horses and good riders and I’m still very happy about it.”
As the conclusion to the eleven-week Suncast 1.50m Championship Jumper Series, Saturday night’s class served as the final allocation of points for the overall standings. $50,000 worth of bonus money was presented to the top three leading horse and rider combinations that accumulated the most points throughout the eleven weeks of competition. Awarding their consistency overall, Ben Maher took home the top bonus of $25,000 with Mrs. Phillips’ Quiet Easy 4, Alise Oken won $15,000 for second place with Hi Hopes Farm LLC’s Teirra, and Laura Kraut finished third and was awarded $10,000 for her performance with the Evita Group’s Nouvelle.
Maher and Quiet Easy finished second in the series last year, and this year the rider made it a goal to come out on top. The pair had such great results that they were well ahead of the others without even showing in all of the classes.
“He has been great,” Maher said following the presentation. “We missed a few of the classes and he just proved that he was pretty consistent in all of the other classes to be so far ahead today. He loves to show here and he has been on form. He jumped well all circuit, so I am happy with how he finished up.”
Also showing in the International Arena on Saturday, Peru’s Michelle Navarro-Grau rode Alfi to victory in the $15,000 RCG Farm SJHOF High Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic. Victoria Colvin and Waminka, owned by Rivers Edge, were victorious in the $10,000 Griffis Residential High Junior Jumper Classic. Colvin was later honored with a special award during the night class. She was presented with the Potcreek Meadow Farm Junior Sportmanship Trophy, in memory of Candida C. Fortsmann.
Absolut and Tracy Scheriff-Muser Top Bainbridge Amateur-Owner 18-35 Hunters
Tracy Scheriff-Muser and her eleven-year-old KWPN gelding, Absolut, brought home the championship title for the Bainbridge Amateur-Owner Hunter 18-35 division during week eleven of the FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival (FTI WEF). Scheriff-Muser and Absolut eked out the championship by a narrow margin of only one point with three second place finishes over fences in addition to a third in the handy round and a blue ribbon in the under saddle class.
Reserve honors went to Darwin, owned and ridden by Kelly Tropin. Tropin piloted Darwin to three first place ribbons over fences and a fifth place ribbon under saddle. Darwin and Tropin just barely fell short to Scheriff-Muser in a tightly contested division of twenty-one entries.
Scheriff-Muser, of Wellington, FL, acquired Absolut after he had already begun a successful show career with trainer Havens Schatt. “We bought him as a five-year-old and he’s now eleven. Havens brought him along through the Pre-Greens and the First Years, and he became mine after that. She did a phenomenal job with him and I’m really lucky to have him,” Scheriff-Muser explained.
Week five of the FTI WEF was the pair’s first week back in action in Florida following time off while Scheriff-Muser recovered from an injury. “We just slowly got back together and when we showed a few weeks ago, finally I felt comfortable again and he felt more himself. He’s been going great,” Scheriff-Muser commented.
Everything seemed to fall back into place perfectly for the pair during Friday and Saturday’s classes, which Scheriff-Muser attributed to Absolut’s dependability. “You can always depend on him and you know he’ll be there for you,” she described.
“He’s pretty consistent, so I try to do my best because I know he’ll do his best. Luckily, today it worked out. He was a good boy,” Scheriff-Muser smiled.
Absolut may be fiercely competitive in the show ring, but Scheriff-Muser describes her lovable grey’s fondness of lounging around his stall in his off time. “He’s a funny horse. He’s very lazy in the barn. He’s laying down probably more than half the day. He’s very happy to eat his hay lying down and just sleep. He’s very sweet,” she laughed.
While Absolut enjoys his down time, he is quick to perk up when it’s time to go in the ring. Scheriff-Muser believes the gelding’s dashing good looks also help him get noticed in tough competition.
“I’m partial because he’s my horse, but I think he’s beautiful. I love greys and I think they stand out a little bit. When he walks in the ring, you want to watch him. He has his ears perked up and he just floats around,” she described.
Week eleven of the FTI WEF, sponsored by Artisan Farms, concludes Sunday with the Visse Wedell Medium Pony Hunter division, hosted in Ring 11 of the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC). The $15,000 Artisan Farms Young Rider Grand Prix, Don Little Masters Classic and $101,000 Pennfield Feeds CSI 4* Grand Prix will all held on the derby field at The Stadium at PBIEC. For full results, please visit www.showgroundslive.com.
Lauren Fisher and Laura Cardon for Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.
About the FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival
The 2013 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival has 12 weeks of top competition running from January 9 through March 31. The FTI WEF is run by Equestrian Sport Productions, LLC, and Wellington Equestrian Partners and held at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. All 12 shows are “AA” rated and Jumper Rated 6, and more than $7 million in prize money will be awarded. For more information, please visit www.equestriansport.com.
About FTI Consulting
FTI Consulting, Inc. is a global business advisory firm dedicated to helping organizations protect and enhance enterprise value in an increasingly complex legal, regulatory and economic environment. With more than 3,800 employees located in 24 countries, FTI Consulting professionals work closely with clients to anticipate, illuminate and overcome complex business challenges in areas such as investigations, litigation, mergers and acquisitions, regulatory issues, reputation management, strategic communications and restructuring. The company generated $1.56 billion in revenues during fiscal year 2011. More information can be found at www.fticonsulting.com.
Please visit www.equestriansport.com or call 561-793-5867 for more information.
Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.
Equestrian Public Relations