Paul O’Shea and Primo Level Win $35,000 Hermès Puissance

Lauren Tisbo and Welinde Gallop to $35,000 VitaFlex Match Races Victory, Reed Kessler and Onisha Triumph in $32,000 G&C Farm 1.45m Classic, Eric Lamaze and Wang Chung M2S Capture Equine Couture/Tuff Rider Speed Stake, John Ingram and Hush Earn Tricolor in Elite Shavings Amateur-Owner Over 35 Hunters

Paul O'Shea and Primo Level. Photos © Sportfot

Wellington, FL – March 3, 2012 – The FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival had a very exciting day of competition on Saturday with a full schedule of hunters and jumpers. In the International Arena, the night session hosted two classes that highlighted power and speed. In the $35,000 Hermès Puissance, Paul O’Shea (IRL) rode Primo Level, owned by Michael Hayden, to win in four rounds of the high jump competition. Lauren Tisbo and Welinde were the fastest through four rounds for victory in the $35,000 VitaFlex Match Races. Earlier in the day, Reed Kessler scored an international win in the $32,000 G&C Farm 1.45m Classic, while Eric Lamaze (CAN) and Wang Chung M2S captured victory in the $25,000 Equine Couture/Tuff Rider Jumper Stake.

Week eight of the FTI WEF, sponsored by G&C Farm, will feature CSIO competition through Sunday, March 4. The week will conclude tomorrow with the $150,000 Wellington Equestrian Realty CSIO 4* Grand Prix on Sunday, March 4. The 2012 FTI WEF has 12 weeks of competition that conclude on April 1, 2012, and will be awarding more than $6 million in prize money through the circuit.

The $35,000 Hermès Puissance was a highlight event on Saturday night with Paul O’Shea and Michael Hayden’s Primo Level clearing the wall at 6’8″ (2.02m) for the win. Anthony D’Ambrosio, of Red Hook, NY, was the course designer for the evening. D’Ambrosio raised the wall from 5’8″ (1.72m) at the start, all the way up to a towering 7’2″ (2.17m) through four rounds of competition.

The class began with nine entries jumping vertical, oxer and triple bar obstacles leading up the wall at a height of 5’8″ (1.72m). Three of the original duos faulted in the first round to tie for fourth place.

Steven Bluman and Percynality had a rail at the triple bar before clearing the wall, knocking him out of the competition. Mark O’Sullivan and Milord De Kergane, owned by Patrick Dwyer, dropped a rail at the first fence and were also unable to continue. Last to go, Alvaro Lozada and Ronan Group Inc.’s Urileva knocked a block off of the wall in round one and would also continue no further.

Six other combinations jumped clear to advance to a second round, where the wall moved up to 6’2″ (1.87m) in height. All six went clear to also return for a third round.

In round three, the wall increased in height to 6’8″ (2.02m). David Will and Colorit, owned by Isaak Klaus, Filip De Wandel and Dacha De Toulon, owned by Sophie Laforce, Richard Spooner and Caretol, owned by Molly Ohrstrom, and Charlie Jayne and Balougris SL Z, owned by Pony Lane Farm, all dropped blocks off the top of the wall in the round to tie for third place.

Defending champions Pablo Barrios and Gustavo Mirabal’s G&C Quivola returned against Paul O’Shea and Michael Hayden’s Primo Level as the only entries to clear the 6’8″ wall and advance to a fourth and final jump-off round. With the wall set at 7’2″ (2.17m) in height for round four, neither pair was able to clear the obstacle. Barrios and G&C Quivola finished in second place after two refusals ended their evening. O’Shea and Primo Level jumped the final wall, but knocked the top blocks, earning their victory with the 6’8″ clearance.

O’Shea and Primo Level, a ten-year-old Hanoverian gelding by Landor S x Zeus, also competed in last year’s Puissance class and finished in third place after clearing 6’6″ (1.95m). That was Primo Level’s first Puissance, and O’Shea explained that he was easier to ride to the wall this year.

“Last year he was a little bit harder to ride down to it; he was a little bit spooky,” O’Shea said. “This time he was really confident. He was really taking me to the wall.”

Primo Level usually shows at the 1.40m level and O’Shea noted the difference in riding the gelding to a much larger jump. “I think I have him more in my hand coming to a wall like this, really pressed and with quite a lot of pressure, especially at the last stride to help him kick off the ground. That’s the main difference; the wall backs them up, so you can do that in this class.”

O’Shea enjoys the Puissance class and has done several others in his career. “I’ve won two before and I’ve been in seven or eight,” he said. “I love Puissance classes. It’s just different, I suppose. It’s a different test and it’s exciting. I think the crowd loves it. It is a fantastic atmosphere here and I think the horses know; they really try harder.”

Primo Level cleared the 6’8″ wall, but faulted at the 7’2″ height. O’Shea explained the ride, stating, “The second to last time, he tried very hard in front and rubbed it behind, so the last time I kept him a little bit further away so I could press him more. It didn’t matter if I knocked it, I knew that. That’s why I rode it that time. If I got too deep, he’d climb in front and not be able to kick off behind.”

Primo Level’s owner, Michael Hayden, was present for the class tonight and O’Shea was happy to get a win for him. “It was very nice to have him here. This is his third time over this year, and he’s been here for two weeks. He loves it. We have another horse that is jumping her first 1.50m tomorrow,” he said. “It’s great. This year I haven’t had a grand prix horse, so it’s really nice to be back and jumping on Saturday night.”

Lauren Tisbo and Welinde

Prior to the Puissance, 16 horse and rider combinations showed in tonight’s $35,000 Vita Flex Match Races with a win for 27-year-old Lauren Tisbo of Wellington, FL aboard Tequestrian Farms LLC’s Welinde. The class was held in a bracket style format with four rounds of head-to-head competition. Entries competed in pairs over identical courses, racing to the finish side by side against the clock.

Tisbo and Welinde jumped clear and fast in the final round against Haylie Jayne and Fly Away, owned by Alex Jayne, to earn the victory following three rounds of competition. In round one, the pair out jumped Anna Murphy and Caladesi. Moving on to the second round, they beat out Mikala Chesler and Ruth Armstrong’s Ilian De Taute. Round three set the duo against Daniel Bluman and Fatalis Fatum to win once again. In each round, Tisbo and Welinde prevailed.

In order to make it to the final round against Tisbo, Haylie Jayne and her mount Fly Away beat out Kelsey Thatcher and Pony Lane Farm’s Sorina in round one, Amy Millar and Brookstreet Stable’s Victoria in round two, and defending champion, Richard Spooner aboard C&S Partnership LLC’s Pariska 2, in round three.

The final four came down to Tisbo, Bluman, Jayne, and Spooner, then Tisbo and Jayne for the final round.

Tonight was Tisbo’s first time competing in a match race competition, and she enjoyed the class. “It was a lot of fun. It went well for me,” she smiled. “It was kind of a last minute decision to do this and I am a little in shock right now to be honest. I thought I would maybe make the second round or something, so I am excited.”

Tisbo has had Welinde, a nine-year-old KWPN mare by No Limit x Ahorn, for two years. Welinde also showed in last year’s FTI Great Charity Challenge and excelled in the atmosphere of the night class. Tisbo thought she would be great for tonight’s competition.

“She has been in this ring before and she was great, so that is why when someone had suggested doing this class I thought ‘I have the perfect horse for it.’ She is a really good speed horse; she is especially good off the right turn. I just tried to keep the rails up and keep going forward,” Tisbo explained.

The young rider enjoyed the course and noted that her plan did not change in between rounds. “The course was really nice and flowing and it was good for this type of class,” she stated. “I don’t know about other riders, but for me it was so hard to even know where your opponent was that I just was like, ‘Don’t have a rail, keep going.'”

Kessler and Lamaze Pick Up Blues

In the $32,000 G&C Farm 1.45m Classic, 17-year-old Reed Kessler notched yet another win at the FTI WEF, this time with Onisha. They sped around the course in 62.24 seconds, more than three seconds faster than second place finishers, Shane Sweetnam (IRL) and Little Emir, owned by Spy Coast Farm. Cian O’Connor (IRL) and KEC Alligator Alley were third in 66.57 seconds. There were 45 entries in the class and 13 clear rounds.

Reed Kessler and Onisha

Kessler has been victorious in multiple classes so far this season, including the $25,000 WEF Challenge Cup Round 6, but this class added the bonus of ROLEX FEI ranking points and something special.

“It’s CSIO week, so it means a lot for the national anthem to play, no matter what class it is,” Kessler stated. “You want America to win on home turf during Nations Cup week. I was immensely proud that I could be the one to bring in the national anthem. It’s great for the ranking points too. It’s great that G&C Farm has put up the money to bring more ranking classes at WEF. I think that’s another reason why they’ve attracted so many international riders this year. It makes a big difference. I’m really happy. I’ve been successful, but I’ve been winning in national classes so far. A lot of invitations to shows are based on ranking points, so it’s nice to have won a FEI class.”

Kessler commented on Rodrigo Pessoa and HH Palouchin, who have been racking up speed victories again this year. “He’s beaten me every class and I’ve been second and third behind him,” Kessler said with a smile. “I think I even had the time today though he had the rail. Any day that I can be faster than Rodrigo is a great day for me.”

Kessler said that Onisha, a 1999 Holsteiner mare by Caretino x Athlet Z, is “freakishly careful.” She continued, “I don’t think there’s another horse at this horse show that’s more careful than she is. She’s totally master of the 1.45m speed. I can go belly to the ground. She was great and it worked out well.”

Giving credit, Kessler said, “All of the horses have been going great. I’m lucky; I have a fantastic string, great owners in my parents, and a phenomenal trainer. If I can just do my part, I have all the factors to do it. I have no excuses but myself.”

In this afternoon’s $25,000 Equine Couture/Tuff Rider Jumper Stake, there were 56 entries. Fifteen were clear in the first round to advance to the jump-off, and six of those ended up double clear. The fastest in the jump-off was Wang Chung M2S, ridden by Eric Lamaze (CAN) for Morningside Stud and Torrey Pines. They set the winning time at 38.308 seconds. Reed Kessler (USA) nearly came away with her second win of the day but settled for second place in 39.316 seconds on Ligist. Ben Maher (GBR) and Cloud Nine were third in 39.728 seconds.

Eric Lamaze and Wang Chung M2S

Lamaze has been riding Wang Chung MS2 since this past summer, and the horse is owned by Lamaze and Tom Reed of Ireland. Lamaze described, “The horse has been really competitive all his career. He knows how to go fast! I’ve been trying to see if he has a gear to jump bigger fences. Running around at a 1.45m he’s really good at and has done that. I’m hoping he has a little more in him. That’s what I’ve been aiming for. I’m taking my time because he’s really careful. It’s a new horse for me.”

Speaking of his jump-off plan, Lamaze said, “Reed was quite fast. My plan was to go faster to fence number one in the jump-off more than most people did. I was fast to it because he turns really well to the left. So I wasn’t worried about missing my turn. I had a short turn to the liver pool, and then to the second to last fence, I turned really short to that. He’s great in that he only needs a second to see it and jump it. I trust he’ll do the right thing. Experience comes into play there. I know my way around the ring a little bit, so I know where to try to shave off some time in the turns. I saw Reed go and a few others with the screen now in the warm-up ring. That’s great to have. Before, we all had to jam ourselves at the in-gate, which was difficult. But now we can see everyone go, so I could see where she (Reed) went, and had in my head where I could be a little quicker and it worked out.”

Lamaze plans to compete in tomorrow’s $150,000 Wellington Equestrian Realty Grand Prix, CSIO 4* with Derly Chin de Muze, his mount that went double clear in Friday night’s FEI Nations Cup. He will start with Verdi next week, another new horse in his string.

He said of his summer plans and string, “Derly Chin is doing more than I thought she would be at this stage. I knew she was a good horse so it’s great to be ahead of where I thought I’d be at this point of the circuit. She has surprised me with her attitude and everything else. Scendix I think is out of this world. Verdi has the most mileage in regards to London. But I’ve come to learn with horses you never know. You just have to compete in the season and see who steps up. It’s hard to get used to any horse in such a short amount of time in preparation for an Olympic Games. I think the best way is to spend three to four years with a horse. Even in this stage in my career, the horse and rider need to have a rapport. I’m on a short track here, but London is really important to me, so we’ve done the best we could. Hopefully, in that short amount of time, I make a team with any one of these horses to be competitive there.”

In the $15,000 Show Jumping Hall of Fame High Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic, Danielle Goldstein sped to the win with Waliba VDL. They were the only double clear in the class. Second place went to Meagan Nusz on Vesuvius, while Jennifer Waxman and Shakira were third.

Competitive Hunters Contend for Champion

John Ingram of Nashville, TN, captured this week’s Elite Shavings Amateur-Owner Hunter Over 35 division atop his mount, Hush. Ingram and Hush finished first, fourth and sixth over fences and topped the under saddle, claiming the championship tricolor with 22.5 points. Reserve honors went to Meredith Lipke of Boston, MA, who scored a first, second and fifth over fences, earning 17 points atop Sundance.

The winning mount, Hush, is a thirteen-year-old Hanoverian by Compliment. The dark brown gelding has been competing at FTI WEF for years and is known for his moves in the under saddle. “He’s a great mover,” Ingram explained. “Most of the time you can count on a hack ribbon, so if you do decently over fences, it’s a nice advantage. Clara Lindner bought him as kind of a project and she and Tom (Wright) were the ones who really made him famous.”

Following today’s victory, Ingram commented on Hush’s performance in the show ring. “He went around beautifully in the first round and unfortunately, knocked the top of the brush off in the handy,” Ingram said. “This is actually the first week we’ve show him at WEF this season, so yesterday was like knocking a little rust off both for him and for me. He’s been going really well and I felt that today he was going to march right into the ring and do his thing and he did.”

Describing the high level of competition in the Over 35 Amateur-Owner division, Ingram commented, “This group has a lot of good riders and wonderful horses. It’s very competitive, but at the same time, it’s friendly too. There is a real camaraderie and a level of mutual respect out there. We all know that everybody can ride and any given day, anyone can win. The good news is, we’re all Amateurs and we have other things to do as far as families and work, so this is just for fun. Of course, we all want to win, but we are happy for other people to do well too.”

Ingram, a rider since childhood, feels fortunate to be able to have nice horses that are competitive in the show ring. “Tom Wright and Dominique Vonsiatsky do a great job of keeping the horses well prepared,” Ingram said. “So, if I do my job right, we’ve got a shot.”

While at home in Nashville, Ingram reserves time to practice at his farm, where his wife Stephanie and daughter Martha participate in the sport as well. “I enjoy my time in the saddle,” Ingram said. “I have two older girls who don’t ride anymore and a younger boy who pretty much likes to do everything but ride, so I get to do a lot of other things as well.”

In the coming weeks, Ingram and Hush will have a few more chances to achieve victory in the hunter ring. “Hush has done a fair number of shows in his day,” Ingram added. “Two years ago we qualified for the night class here and had a lot of fun, and then he was out last year with an injury. So now, it’s kind of like having an old familiar pair of jeans back, but a very fancy pair of jeans.”

Week eight will conclude tomorrow with the $150,000 Wellington Equestrian Realty Grand Prix, CSIO 4*, the $25,000 Suncast 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic, as well as Marley Goodman Small Junior 16-17 Hunters.

For full results please visit www.showgroundslive.com.

About the FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival
The 2012 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival has 12 weeks of top competition running from January 11 through April 1. The FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival 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 $6 million in prize money will be awarded.

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 23 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 $1.4 billion in revenues during fiscal year 2010. More information can be found at www.fticonsulting.com.

Please visit www.equestriansport.com or call 561-793-5867 for more information.

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