Kathryn Haefner and Columbus Find Victory in the Hunter Ring
Wellington, FL – February 5, 2012 – Week four of the 2012 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF), sponsored by Adequan, concluded on Sunday with a win for Great Britain’s Scott Brash and Whisky Mac in the $25,000 Suncast 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic.
Week four of the FTI WEF was sponsored by Adequan. Week five, sponsored by Spy Coast Farm, will run February 8-12. The 2012 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival has 12 weeks of competition that conclude on April 1, 2012, and they will be awarding more than $6 million in prize money through the circuit.
Forty-four entries showed in the 1.50m class over a track set by 2012 Olympic course designer Bob Ellis of Great Britain. Six went clear to jump-off and five completed double clear rounds. Scott Brash and Whisky Mac, owned by Stan Brash, finished with the fastest time of 44.670 seconds taking the top prize.
Following Brash, Ben Maher (GBR) guided Rowan, owned by Mrs. Louise Flower, to the second fastest time in 45.608 seconds. Andrew Welles (USA) rode Boo Van Het Kastanjehof, owned by Peter Welles, into third in 46.121 seconds. Great Britain’s Tina Fletcher and Unique IX stopped the clock in 47.365 seconds to finish fourth. Ireland’s Cian O’Connor and Sinead and Oonagh Kennedy’ KEC Alligator Alley finish fifth in 47.650 seconds, and Nick Skelton (GBR) rode Unique, owned by Beverly Widdowson, to eight faults in 48.016 seconds to take the sixth position.
Class winner Whisky Mac, a nine-year-old Scottish Sporthorse gelding by Emilion x Burggraaf, is a new horse for Brash since August. Brash started Whisky Mac when the horse was a four-year-old in Scotland and the gelding then showed with his owner for several years. When it came up that Whisky Mac was for sale last year, Brash bought him.
“He had not done a whole lot; he was really an inexperienced horse, so I thought that I would bring him to this circuit for good experience,” Brash explained. “This was one of the first big classes that he has done and I can’t talk highly enough of the horse. He is a really, really good horse. Hopefully this tour is going to bring him forward in the education that he has missed in the last couple of years. I am really excited about his future.”
Brash acknowledged course designer Bob Ellis on a great effort throughout this week’s competition and praised today’s course. “I thought it was a really good course. I must say, I think the course builder got it right all week,” Brash said. “He has gotten the right number of clears in every class. Course builders don’t really get credited enough when they do a good job and I think Bob did a fantastic job this weekend.”
“It was really good to ride those sort of courses,” Brash continued. “You have to think, you have to be able to ride, and your horses have to be good horses at the end of the day. It’s the quality horses at the end of the day that are winning the classes. For me, in the grand prix last night, Big Star was the best horse in the class and he won. It was a really good course and he has done a good job.”
On his ride in the jump-off today, Brash detailed Whisky Mac’s success in one of his biggest starts. “He is dead easy and he is the nicest horse to work with, but he is actually still very green,” Brash noted. “I went against the clock with him today, but even when I’m turning him he still doesn’t really know where he is going and he is just not totally with me at the moment. It can make it a little bit hard work at the fence. At fence number two, I turned him back and because he fought with me a little bit on the turn we were quite far off the fence, but when he gets there he tries his best for you. I think he is a great horse and when I get his rideability a bit better, I think he is going to be really good.”
Riding to the Tricolor in the Adult Hunters
Kathryn Haefner and her mount, Columbus, captured the championship tricolor in this week’s Voltaire Adult Amateur Hunter 18-35 division. The pair scored two firsts and a second over fences and finished at the top of the under saddle to earn a total of 36 points. In a race for the reserve tricolor, Music Street and Alexa Weisman finished just one point ahead of Pacifico and Moira Corcoran. Weisman was fourth, second and third over fences and finished third under saddle, earning 16 points.
The victorious bay gelding, Columbus, is a six-year-old Westphalian imported from Germany by Stewart Moran. Owned by Kathryn Haefner LLC, Columbus is new to the FTI WEF circuit and recently began showing in the Pre-Green Level 2 Hunters with rider Jimmy Torano.
Following her win, Haefner commented on her performance in the ring. “I was a little more relaxed today,” Haefner explained. “I do get very nervous so I try to just take a deep breath before I go in the ring and let Columbus do his thing. Jimmy and Stewart are great about helping me focus and just being supportive of my rides. Today, we were super consistent and he jumps fantastic, so I was glad I could let him go and cruise around.”
Haefner is a sophomore at the University of Miami where she majors in Aerospace Engineering. With hopes of working for NASA and designing cutting-edge exploratory space crafts, Haefner considers school her top priority. “I refuse to miss school,” Haefner said, “so during circuit, I don’t get to ride very often. Usually Friday afternoons I’ll get here in time to ride one and if I’m not showing too early on Saturday morning, I’ll ride before I go show. I get most of my practice in on the weekends.”
Describing her routine before competing, Haefner commented, “I’ll come up to the ring a class before or at the beginning of my class because I really like to watch. That way, I can see the lines to different jumps or, you know, see if there is a funny distance off the corner that’s giving people trouble. I like to come and prepare myself and know when I go in the ring if I have to be careful in certain parts of the course.”
For Haefner, a balance between school and competition has been a challenge met with attention to detail and strict time management. She is especially thankful for the support of her father, Bob Haefner, who makes a concerted effort to watch her ride as often as possible. For Haefner and Columbus, the coming weeks promise several more chances to achieve success in the Voltaire Adult Amateur Hunter 18-35 division.
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.