Tag Archives: Ben Maher

Ben Maher and Contigo 37 Win $25,000 Nutrena Jumper Classic at WEF

Ben Maher and Contigo. Photo © Sportfot.

Wellington, FL – February 25, 2015 – The 2015 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) got underway with its eighth week of competition on Wednesday with a win for Great Britain’s Ben Maher and Contigo in the $25,000 Nutrena Jumper Classic. CSIO competition also kicked off with wins for Victoria Chiappero (ARG) with Grama Solitario and Adam Prudent (FRA) with Vasco in the $5,000 Wellington Equestrian Realty Welcome Stake, held in separate day and evening sessions.

The Winter Equestrian Festival’s eighth week features CSIO 4* competition on February 25 – March 1 at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC). Highlights include the $34,000 Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup Round 8 on Thursday; the $10,000 Wellington Equestrian Realty Speed Stake and $100,000 Nations Cup presented by Kingsland Equestrian on Friday; the $34,000 Nutrena 1.45m Jumper Classic, $25,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic and Hollow Creek Farm Children’s, Junior and Young Rider Nations Cup classes on Saturday; and the Hollow Creek Farm Children’s, Junior and Young Rider Grand Prix classes followed by the $150,000 Grand Prix CSIO 4* presented by Lugano Diamonds on Sunday.

Anthony D’Ambrosio (USA) is the course designer in the International Arena for week eight. D’Ambrosio began the week with 48 entries in the $25,000 Nutrena Jumper Classic with a 15-horse jump-off and six double clear rounds. Olympic team gold medalists Ben Maher (GBR) and McLain Ward (USA) each qualified two mounts for the tiebreaker.

Paul O’Shea (IRL) and Michael Hayden’s Primo de Revel were first to jump-off and finished fifth overall with a time 45.05 seconds. Maher and his first mount, Wyndmont’s Valinski S, were next to clear the short course in 43.57 seconds to eventually place fourth. Andrew Ramsay (USA) jumped the next clear round in 42.48 seconds to take the second place prize with his own Winn Winn. One round later, Maher returned with his second mount, Contigo, to complete the winning round in 42.37 seconds.

Tim Gredley (GBR) jumped into third with his time of 43.16 seconds aboard Unex Competition Yard’s Handyman, and McLain Ward completed the final clear round with Double H Farm’s HH Azur in 49.04 seconds to finish sixth. Ward also had the fastest time of the day in 41.20 seconds aboard Double H Farm’s HH Ashley, but a rail at the final fence in the jump-off put the pair in eighth place.

Class winner, Contigo 37, is a nine-year-old Holsteiner gelding by Calato x Quidam de Revel.

“He came to us when he was five. He was bought for the owner’s son to ride and he has been studying a lot in college, so we have brought the horse along,” Maher explained. “He is a nice horse. This is the first time that he has probably jumped this level and gone this quick, and he coped absolutely fine.”

Maher went first with Valinski S, who is a new mount for him this winter. He aimed for a nice, clear round with Valinski and was then able to increase his speed on Contigo.

“It was hard to know how the jump-off was going to go and then he (Valinski S) jumped the first couple of jumps not quite as quick as I would have hoped,” Maher detailed “I just kept the round neat. We are hoping to produce him for bigger things in the next couple of weeks, and I am still getting to know him.”

“Obviously I could gauge my time with Contigo a bit more and know where I could take some risks,” Maher continued. “I wasn’t sure whether to jump a steady clear because he is inexperienced, or try. He felt good, so I took a very tight turn back to the Sotheby’s fence and then left a stride out to the last oxer, which is probably the first time he has ever seen a stride like that at speed to that high of a jump. There may have been an element of shock, but he jumped it great and I am happy to finally get a win here at WEF.”

Maher was also pleased to have Contigo’s owner in the crowd for his first big win of the 2015 WEF circuit.

“This was the first time his owner saw him in about three years actually. She flew over here to watch him, so she can come more often!” Maher laughed. “He will probably go back to the farm and be put out in the paddock and come back out next week or the week after. We will slowly produce him up to the 1.50m and maybe the WEF class on a Thursday.”

Also showing on Wednesday, CSIO competition got underway with a $5,000 Welcome Stake, sponsored by Wellington Equestrian Realty, which was held in two sessions. The win in the day session went to Argentina’s Victoria Chiaperro aboard Grama Solitario. The night session saw a win for France’s Adam Prudent with Patrick Flin and Plain Bay Sales’ Vasco.

Competition continues on Thursday with the $34,000 Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup featured in the International Arena in the morning. The Perfect Products Pre-Green Hunter 3’3″ will award championship honors in Ring 6. For full results and more information, please visit www.pbiec.com.

Lauren Fisher for Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.

Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.
info@jenniferwoodmedia.com

Scott Brash and Hello Sanctos Steal the Show in $500,000 FTI Consulting Finale Grand Prix CSI 5*

Scott Brash and Hello Sanctos. Photos © Sportfot.

Ben Maher Wins $100,000 FTI Consulting Rider Challenge; Todd Minikus and Babalou 41 Top $100,000 Suncast 1.50m Championship Jumper Series Final; Tim Gredley Scores 1.50m Series Bonus

Wellington, FL – March 30, 2014 – The 2014 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival concluded on Sunday with an exciting line-up of world-class show jumping and the presentation of special awards to round out a very successful winter circuit at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center in Wellington, FL. Although inclement weather caused Saturday night’s classes to be postponed, the final afternoon of FTI WEF competition was blessed with beautiful clear skies and sunshine for Sunday’s feature events.

Concluding the 2014 competition, the $500,000 FTI Consulting Finale Grand Prix CSI 5* saw an exciting win for the world’s number one ranked rider and 2012 Olympic Team Gold Medalist, Scott Brash (GBR), with his talented mount Hello Sanctos. British teammate and world #2 ranked rider Ben Maher took home the top bonus in the $100,000 FTI Consulting Rider Challenge for his incredible success throughout the circuit. Todd Minikus (USA) and Babalou 41 won the $100,000 Suncast 1.50m Championship Jumper Series Final, and Tim Gredley (GBR) and Unex Omega Star topped the 1.50m series overall to earn a $25,000 bonus.

Watch an interview with Scott Brash.

Anthony D’Ambrosio (USA) designed the courses for Sunday’s competition and set a challenging track for the finale grand prix featuring 38 of the best competitors from the circuit. Riders from 14 different countries were represented, including 17 Olympic veterans.

Seven entries from the first round advanced to the jump-off, where four jumped double clear. Nineteen-year-old Ben Asselin (CAN) and Attache Stables’ Makavoy began the jump-off with a clear round in 46.01 seconds to eventually finish fourth. Jessica Springsteen (USA) and Stone Hill Farm’s Vindicat W upped the ante in 44.87 seconds to earn third place honors. Richie Moloney (IRL) and Equinimity LLC’s Slieveanorra were faster in 44.64 seconds to take home second place honors. The final clear round belonged to Scott Brash and Hello Sanctos, who blazed through the course in 43.44 seconds to secure their victory. Last to go, Kent Farrington (USA) had the fast time of the jump-off in 42.72 seconds with Amalaya Investment’s Voyeur, but had a rail at the final oxer to finish fifth.

Along with the winner’s share of $165,000, Brash was presented with the Dennis D. Dammerman Perpetual Trophy. The trophy was created to honor the contributions to equestrian sport of Dennis D. Dammerman, a longtime owner of horses and founding member of the Wellington Equestrian Partners. Brash had a lot of top finishes throughout the circuit and was happy to get his win in the end with Hello Sanctos, a twelve-year-old Belgian Sport Horse gelding (Quasimodo Vd Molendreef x Nabab de Reve) that has given the rider many great moments in his career.

“I have been coming second a lot to this man,” Brash said, pointing to Maher. “So to win a class at the end is very rewarding and good for my team that has worked so hard for the circuit, because it is hard work. Sanctos was fantastic today. I gave him a rest when I first came here and then I started him back, and he felt just a little bit rusty and not quite jumping fit. I jumped two weeks and then I gave him last week off. This week he has just felt great and feels like he is jumping back to how he was, and I’m very happy going home looking forward towards Europe. There are a lot of big shows coming up with the championships and everything, so it is good to feel him in such good form early on in the year.”

Brash and Sanctos were a new partnership when they were last in Wellington in 2012. That was before they won an Olympic team gold medal in London that year and went on to many other victories that led Brash to his current position as the number one ranked rider in the world.

Looking back on the progression of their partnership, Brash recalled, “It’s a bit different now. Back in 2012 I had just gotten the horse. My owners bought the horse with the Olympic Games in mind, so we chose to come to Wellington because there is no better place to get as many rounds in as you can and get to know a horse like you can here. That is why we chose to bring him here then, but we were quite inconsistent. We had a win in the World Cup one week, but we had some bad rounds also. We were just getting to know each other, but since then we have just gone from strength to strength as a partnership. I must say, he is a fantastic horse and he is just an absolute privilege to ride.”

Richie Moloney and Slieveanorra
Richie Moloney and Slieveanorra

Sunday’s second place finish was a fantastic conclusion to the circuit for Richie Moloney as well with Equinimity LLC’s Slieveanorra. The twelve-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Voltaire x Flagmount Diamond) jumped a great round and was very fast through the course. Moloney got the ride on Slieveanorra a few years ago after his sponsors, Equinimity LLC, bought the horse from his brother as a nine-year-old. The horse had won the nine-year-old national championships in Ireland and has gone on to great things.

“It is a very good finish,” Moloney smiled after the class. “Slieveanorra is very good. It is nice for the horse to get his result here in the end. He was double clear week nine in the World Cup and finished seventh, so it is nice to end up second today. My plan was to go as fast as I could and try to leave the jumps up. Maybe I could have been a little bit quicker, but I am very happy with second.”

There was long gallop down to the last oxer that caused rails for Beezie Madden and Farrington in the jump-off, but Moloney said he was not worried about that. “Maybe there was one less stride there, but it was a bit risky I thought. I just held steady and kept going on the stride that I knew he could jump from. I would just like to say well done to Scott, and I would also like to thank my owners and all of the staff who work very hard at the farm. It is nice to get this result for them. It is for everybody that works there.”

Jessica Springsteen has been very consistent with top finishes throughout the circuit aboard Vindicat W, her twelve-year-old KWPN gelding (Guidam x Libero H) that Peter Charles rode to team gold alongside Brash and Maher in the London Olympic Games. Commenting on her circuit and another top placing, Springsteen smiled, “He has been jumping amazing. I had a week off last week, so he felt really fresh and ready to go. Every time I go out there he always tries his hardest. He never puts a foot wrong, and I could not be happier with him.”

Springsteen explained where she thought she lost time in the jump-off, stating, “I was maybe planning on doing five strides to that black vertical so that I could swing back tighter to the oxer, but then the four just kind of showed itself, and I did end up getting a little bit stuck in that turn. I think that’s where I could have been quicker, but everywhere else he was really good, so I was happy.”

Brash commented on the day’s course from Anthony D’Ambrosio and praised the success of this year’s circuit. “I thought the course builder did a fantastic job actually. It was big, it was hard, and to get seven clears was a good number,” he acknowledged. “The jump-off I thought was very good and entertaining for the public. It is a really spectacular class. It’s a shame it didn’t run last night, but no one can help the weather. It is all credit to Mark Bellissimo, who puts on a fantastic tour here, and now with Rolex sponsoring it really brings the prestige of the show up to a top standard of high level sport. I think that is what everyone is looking for, and I think it’s great.”

Bellissimo was also thrilled with the circuit and the successful finale grand prix, and thanked title sponsor, FTI Consulting, for their longtime support.

“FTI has been an amazing sponsor for the last six years,” Bellissimo stated. “In the genesis of the transition we have, this festival started at about $2 million in prize money and we have brought it to over $8 million, which is a spectacular amount of money. We are very excited about their commitment to the sport and that partnership that we have had over the years.”

“We have really appreciated all of the great competition,” Bellissimo added. “I don’t think I have ever seen such an amazing number of jump-offs. Scott has been in a lot of them. I think in general it has been a great year. We are very excited about it and very excited about the future. There are a lot of things that we are going to be doing next year to make it even that much more significant, so thank you to everyone for all of their participation and all of their great work throughout the circuit. Also a special call to Rolex, who has been a great addition to the circuit this year and allowed us to take this to a different level in the context of prize money and a huge investment. We have some exciting new initiatives that we will be announcing shortly that I think will be another level, even beyond where we are today.”

In addition to the day’s grand prix, the $100,000 FTI Consulting Rider Challenge concluded on Sunday after 12 weeks of jumper competition at the 2014 FTI WEF. Ben Maher led the standings and earned a $50,000 cut of the bonus money for his record-breaking number of grand prix wins and top finishes throughout the circuit. Beezie Madden finished in second place to earn $25,000, Kent Farrington was third and received a $15,000 check, and Scott Brash finished fourth for a $10,000 bonus.

Several other awards were presented on Sunday for the final week of competition in Wellington as well. For the second year in a row, Maher’s mount Cella earned Jane Clark the Simba Run Perpetual Trophy as the owner of the open jumper who has earned the most prize money in classes held at 1.45m or more during the 2014 FTI WEF. Clark was also presented with The Harrison Cup Perpetual Trophy, which is awarded to the owner whose horses won the most jumper money in all of the open jumper classes held throughout the circuit. In addition, Cella’s groom Joy Montgomerie was presented with the Oliver O’Toole Perpetual Memorial Trophy, which is awarded to the groom of the horse who has earned the most money in the grand prix jumper classes.

Maher had an unfortunate rail in Sunday’s grand prix, but had an incredible circuit and thanked everyone who made his success possible.

“First I would like to say thank you to FTI Consulting,” Maher stated. “It is a hard earned bonus, but it is a nice challenge to have from the beginning of the circuit. I didn’t get a piece of it today, but again thank you to Rolex. It was a great competition. A lot of people came and it was fun to watch the jump-off and not have the stress of being in it this time. I would have preferred to be in it of course, but it was a fun jump-off to watch.”

“I have had a great circuit,” Maher continued. “It was unfortunate today that I had a jump down, but I can’t complain. All of my horses have been great and consistent. If somebody was to say at the start of the circuit that it was going to come together like it had, I would not have believed it. I am grateful for everything and looking forward to a short rest now.”

Other awards included the Leading Lady Grand Prix Rider for the circuit, which was presented to Lauren Hough (USA) on behalf of Martha Jolicoeur of Illustrated Properties in memory of Dale Lawler. Eric Lamaze (CAN) and Artisan Farm LLC’s Zigali P S were presented with the Champion Equine Insurance Jumper Style Award for the overall circuit, which is awarded to the jumper whose style best exemplifies a show jumper based on scope, rideability, technique and competitive spirit. Lamaze and Zigali P S also won the overall WEF Challenge Cup Series Award. Sweden’s Alexander Zetterman earned the Hermès Talented Young Rider Award as the young jumper rider between the ages of 16-25 that has earned the most points in all FTI WEF FEI rated jumper competition.

Todd Minikus and Babalou 41 Top $100,000 Suncast 1.50m Championship Jumper Series Final; Tim Gredley Scores 1.50m Series Bonus

The $100,000 Suncast 1.50m Championship Jumper Series Final concluded on Sunday with a win for Todd Minikus (USA) and Babalou 41, a nine-year-old Oldenburg mare by Balou du Rouet x Silvio I.

The competition saw 84 entries in the first round on Saturday and the top 25% returned to compete in round two on Sunday, where their cumulative scores from both rounds were combined to determine the winner. Three riders chose not to return for the second round, leaving 18 entries to show on Sunday.

Todd Minikus (USA) and Babalou 41, Andres Rodriguez (VEN) and Caballito, and Daniel Deusser (GER) and Fyloe v/h Claeyssenhof were the only three to complete double clear rounds, and their times in round two served as the tiebreaker.

Todd Minikus and Babalou 41
Todd Minikus and Babalou 41

Minikus and Bob Haefner’s Babalou 41 jumped double clear through both rounds and completed the fastest time of the competition in 48.78 seconds to earn top honors. Rodriguez and Arao Enterprises Caballito cleared the second round course in 49.97 seconds to finish second. Deusser and Fyloe v/h Claeyssenhof, owned by Stephex Stables and Double H Farm, finished third in 50.59 seconds.

Although the schedule was changed due to weather, Todd Minikus did not mind the overnight break between rounds for his young horse and was happy with her performance in the final round on Sunday.

“Unfortunately the rain put a damper on things last night, but I was a little concerned even with the gap that we would have had yesterday,” Minikus noted. “That mare is very green and she has never done something like that where she went once and then had to come back hours later, so maybe the entire night’s rest worked out for me. She went like a professional show horse today, so it was all good.”

“She is a mare that I have been showing for three years now,” Minikus explained. “We did schooling jumpers basically for two years. She was always an exceptional mare. Everybody that saw her for the first time always came up and asked about her. She was always extremely extravagant with her jump. We often wondered if that was going to hold her back, where she was maybe too exuberant with her jump, but she kind of leveled out here this past year and she has done some good things. Stewart Moran is her trainer; basically I just catch ride her. She lives with Stewart and his team, and I just ride her at the ring. They have done a great job with her. Santa, who flats her, has done a fantastic job. I would like to thank Mr. and Mrs. Haefner for the opportunity to ride her. It has been a good team so far.”

Speaking about his blazing fast jump-off round, Minikus detailed, “I know that mare can go fast, and I was one of the first clears to come back. We kind of saved her for this class. She did one WEF (Challenge Cup) and we have kind of nursed her along, so they gave me the green light to press on the gas pedal. She is extremely careful, so if you can get her into the middle of the jump, chances are she is going to leave it up.”

Minikus hopes to continue showing the talented mare and looks forward to seeing her future success. “Hopefully I can take her a little bit more with me this summer,” he noted. “She is ready to go now. We have babied her along enough. She is ready to be a show horse now, so hopefully they will let me take her with me and do a little bit more.”

As the conclusion to the twelve-week Suncast 1.50m Championship Jumper Series, Sunday’s class served as the final allocation of points for the overall standings for the $25,000 Leading Horse and Rider Award. The bonus money was presented to Great Britain’s Tim Gredley and Unex Omega Star as the horse and rider combination who gained the most points throughout all twelve classes of the circuit. Unex Omega Star is a 12-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding by Quick Star x Quatoubet du Rouet, owned by Unex Competition Yard Ltd.

Speaking about the bonus, Gredley stated, “It is really nice, because although I haven’t won one of the 1.50m classes, he has been consistently in the top three or five all the way through. It is nice for the horse to be rewarded for doing that. Over the last couple of weeks I noticed that I was up there in the standings for the bonus and Nick Skelton, my trainer, basically said that we should aim to just try to get a result in that. We jumped a double clear last week and got sixth. Then getting a time fault yesterday actually, in a funny way, kind of helped me today because I knew I couldn’t really win the class. These guys were all clear, so the plan was just to jump another clear and try to get a few more points, and luckily it went to plan.”

Gredley has had Unex Omega Star for a year now and explained that he has made a lot of progress with the horse since he started training with Skelton this winter.

“I struggled with him a little bit because he is by Quick Star and he is a bit sharp in his head, but the last three or four months especially, we have changed a lot with him in the way that I ride him,” Gredley said. “The whole program that we have with him at home now is very different and it seems to be working. I changed a lot with all of the horses in the last few months with the feed and the stuff that we do at home. We tend not to ride him as much at home now. Just little things that I really didn’t think would make much of a difference have made a big difference for him. I have been training with Nick now for the last four months, and he has made a big difference for all of them, but especially that horse.”

Gredley first came to Wellington in 2006 when he was 20 years old and then took a couple of years off from riding to learn the family real estate business. He now splits his time between riding and real estate and travels between Wellington and his home in England.

“The weather is always a good start, especially when you speak to everyone at home,” he said of the perks of competing in Florida. “It is really nice, especially because I have a really great team of people at home, and it is nice for them not to have to change shows every single week. The horses can basically jump from home. I especially find when we go home that it is hard for them to have to keep changing and going on the road every single week, so that is probably one of the biggest plusses to be here.”

Sunday’s competition concluded a fantastic 2014 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival. Equestrian Sport Productions would like to thank everyone for a wonderful circuit and looks forward to 2015. For full results, please visit www.showgroundslive.com.

About FTI Consulting, Inc.

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 4,000 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 $1.58 billion in revenues during fiscal year 2012. For more information, visit www.fticonsulting.com.

About the FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival

The 2014 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival has 12 weeks of top competition running from January 8 through March 30. 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.

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

Lauren Fisher for Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.

Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.
Equestrian Public Relations
info@jenniferwoodmedia.com

Alexander Zetterman Wins $50,000 Artisan Farms Young Rider Grand Prix Final

Alexander Zetterman and Flecu. Photos © Sportfot.

Victoria Colvin Takes Overall Series Victory; Ben Maher and Diva II Top $84,000 Suncast 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic; Rachael Barnes and Tye Donaldson Triumph in ASPCA Maclay

Wellington, FL – March 23, 2014 – Week eleven of the 2014 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival (FTI WEF), sponsored by Artisan Farms LLC, concluded on Sunday with jumper action on the grass derby field at The Stadium at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC). Sweden’s Alexander Zetterman and Flecu topped the $50,000 Artisan Farms Young Rider Grand Prix Series Final. Victoria Colvin of Loxahatchee, FL, was the winner of the series overall. Great Britain’s Ben Maher won the $84,000 Suncast 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic with Diva II. The ASPCA Maclay sponsored by Sidelines Magazine was held in two sections at the main showgrounds, with wins for Rachael Barnes and Tye Donaldson.

Watch an interview with Victoria Colvin and Alexander Zetterman.

Starting off Sunday’s competition on the derby field, Sweden’s Alexander Zetterman and Flecu jumped to victory in the $50,000 Artisan Farms Young Rider Grand Prix Series Final, presented by the Dutta Corporation in association with Guido Klatte.

Twenty-eight entries showed in the final, with eight entries qualifying for the jump-off and three double clear rounds over the short course. Zetterman and Flecu were the winners with the fastest round in 40.21 seconds. Sarah Hubbard and Chamcara finished second in 42.36 seconds, and Hayley Barnhill and Cara Cheska’s Zephire placed third in 43.91 seconds.

Flecu is a ten-year-old Swedish Warmblood gelding by Hip Hop x Flamingo. Zetterman has been showing the horse in bigger classes such as the 1.50m and the WEF Challenge Cup this winter and decided to use the young rider classes to help build the horse’s confidence.

“I got him when he was six,” Zetterman detailed. “I wasn’t overly sure about how far he could go because he has a little bit his own style, but we started off and we won the big seven-year-old young horse final in Falsterbo. He did that very good, and he has been developing along the way. He was just a horse who needed a lot of time to get to the solid 1.50m level, to do it week in and week out. That took an extra year. Last year here, we went up, we went down. We did one 1.50m and then we went down to the 1.40m. We gave him one more year and now he is 10 this year and he has just responded so well. We have never had to play around too much. We have basically been able to go in and do the big stuff, and he has been very good.”

“He has been doing quite a lot of tough classes, so it was actually a little bit of a step down for him to do a nice class,” the rider noted. “He likes the big grass ring as well, so that was good for him. He is always good in a big field with a lot of galloping. It definitely helps him in the jump-off because he is good at covering the ground.”

Building Flecu’s confidence definitely paid off in Sunday’s jump-off when Zetterman took a big risk to the last fence that worked out in their favor. “I was a little bit nervous I wasn’t going to get there,” he admitted. “I kind of felt from the turn that I could get there, but then he was kind of backing off too much, so I started kicking and eventually we got there and he was good.”

Although he shows in many big grand prix classes against some of the best riders in the world, Zetterman values the opportunity to show amongst his peers and gain valuable experience under a little less pressure.

“It helps you in so many different ways,” he noted. “We all know how difficult the step is from being a young rider and then getting into the seniors. To have a class like this every now and then is nice. When you are going into the jump-off for example, if you are in against some of the best riders in the world, you sometimes do a little bit more than what you or your horse is capable to do. You go a little bit over your head sometimes. When you feel that you are in an equal league, then you have a good feeling and you make better decisions. In that way, it is very good; you have a chance at least. Wilton has been amazing in the big classes and Lillie Keenan and all of those riders, but still, getting in against Ben Maher and those riders is not so easy for anyone in the world to do, especially not when you’re young.”

Zetterman showed in one young rider grand prix last year and decided to get more involved in the series this year when he realized the opportunity that the classes provided.

“Many years ago they had a similar series in Europe, but I think for sure this series is a lot better setup,” he noted. “It is a little bit like a championship because you have the speed round, a team competition. The team competition was very good out here because you got a bit of atmosphere to it. The semi-final I didn’t jump, but the final today was super. It is a fantastic idea, and I think they should do it more in Europe.”

Sarah Hubbard, who finished second in Sunday’s class with Chamcara, just recently stepped up to the bigger classes and also valued the experience of the series. She is 20 years old and from Cornwall, CT.

“I actually just used her for today. I used my other horse for the speed and the semi-final,” Hubbard noted. “I usually use her for the 1.50m and some of the WEF (Challenge Cup) classes. She is really special to me because she has let me move up and do some bigger classes where I have never done anything like that before. It is nice to come in here and jump around on the grass and she was really good. She was really good to me in the jump-off. I kind of got down between jumps nine and ten, and she just tried really hard for me. I am very happy.”

Hayley Barnhill (20) of Colliersville, TN, got several new experiences with her mount Zephire in the series and had a great round on Sunday to finish third.

“She is 10 this year, and she has never done anything like this before,” Barnhill stated. “She jumped 1.35m in Europe. The Cheskas got her this time last year and showed her a little in the 1.35m and 1.40m stuff. I got her in September and did a few 1.40m classes before I came down here, so this has all been a new experience for her and it has been great to test her through everything. She had never jumped under the lights before and she did that great. We haven’t ever jumped on a grass field before and she was great out there, so this was a good experience.”

“My plan for the jump-off was to go for it a little bit,” Barnhill noted. “I know where I could have been faster; I could have done one less after the wall, but I actually haven’t done a jump-off on her all circuit. We were a little rusty on some of the turns, but I thought she jumped great and I was really happy with her.”

Victoria Colvin and Don Juan
Victoria Colvin and Don Juan

Sunday’s class was the final event in the 2014 Artisan Farms Young Rider Grand Prix Series, which also awarded top prizes on Sunday for its overall standings. Sixteen-year-old Victoria Colvin was the series winner for her performance in all four of the series’ events. Jordan Macpherson finished second and Wilton Porter placed third. Jennifer Goddard, Hayley Barnhill, and Sarah Hubbard were fourth, fifth and sixth respectively.

As the winning rider of the series, Colvin was awarded free entry to the Chantilly CSI 2* horse show on the Global Champions Tour in France in July, with tickets to the VIP lounge, and transportation provided by the Dutta Corporation in association with Guido Klatte. She was also awarded a custom Bruno delGrange saddle.

“It feels amazing to win,” Colvin smiled. “I didn’t think I was going to win it. I thought Jordan was going to win it, but I guess my four faults today counted, so that was good. I feel like I have gotten a lot of experience this year. Me and Don Juan are not perfect all of the time, but I think doing all of these classes, and to keep doing them, I think it has gotten a little better.”

“We change bits all of the time,” she noted of Don Juan. “He is delicate. He is careful, so that’s good, but sometimes he is too quiet and sometimes he is too fresh, so we just have to go in and see how he feels that day.”

Colvin is excited for the opportunity to travel to Europe for the first time to compete and plans to keep doing what she is doing to get ready. “We will go to the Devon Horse Show and then just keep going until I get there, and we will see what happens. I have never shown in Europe before, so that will be my first time and I am very excited.”

Second place finisher Jordan Macpherson (24) is from Toronto, Ontario, and has had great success in this young rider series with her horse Piccobello du Val de Geer.

“Pico is amazing,” the rider smiled. “I have had her for four years, and since the first time I stepped in the ring in the young rider series, it has been amazing. I have learned and grown from her. She came out here like a pro and was amazing today. I over-achieved the nine-stride a little bit and had a rail, but it happens unfortunately. [My trainers] the Millars are always talking about consistency and if you ride consistent, eventually you will win and start doing well, so I think I have learned that lesson this year.”

Wilton Porter (20) of Dallas, TX also performed consistently with his horse Radio City this year and has earned valuable experience and knowledge throughout the series. “It was a great series,” Porter acknowledged. “Radio City was the only horse that I used throughout the series, and she was fantastic. I think the series had a lot more structure to it this year. That’s not to say that it wasn’t good in the past, but it was really solid on other fronts as well as the jumping this year, with the interview training and the sponsorship opportunity, and I am really thankful to the Zieglers and Dutta Corporation for sponsoring it. This last competition was really special. I think they had a great jump-off. There were just the right number of clears and it ended well.”

The winner of the Equiline Young Rider Sponsorship was Chloe Reid of Washington, D.C. Reid was part of a group of riders who wrote an essay, completed interviews, did sponsorship networking, and was observed for attitude, spirit, and performance during the AFYRGP Series. Reid will represent Equiline America by wearing their products, participating in advertising and outreach events, and provide feedback on the functionality of products. Also participating for the sponsorship were riders that were recognized for the following awards: Best Essay – Caitlin Ziegler, Most Creative Essay – Lucas Porter, and Best Interview – Nicole Bellissimo. The Equiline Amateur Sportsmanship Award went to Wilton Porter of Dallas, TX. All of the winners will be presented with their awards next weekend at FTI WEF 12.

Artisan Farms owner Carlene Ziegler commented on the event, stating, “I’m really pleased with the progression of the series. We had some new things this year; we made it more of a true championship. We went through four classes and this was a $50,000 FEI class and that was really exciting. It’s been nice to see the riders progressing and we saw a new crop of riders this year. It’s really gratifying to see their progress. That’s been one of the most gratifying parts. The first year we knew we had a group of strong riders – Reed (Kessler) that won, the group that went to Leipzig, the Coulters, (Caitlin) Ziegler, (Katie) Dinan. They have truly made the next step. Nayel Nassar winning the World Cup West Coast standings. It’s really exciting. We hope that happens to the more recent winners as well; we think it could. The trip to Chantilly – one of the exciting things this year is that the winner gets the opportunity to go to Global Champions Tour in Chantilly. It’s one of the things that these young riders wouldn’t have the opportunity to do. I think that it’s a big incentive to the participants in the series. Additionally this year, they had the ability to vie for a sponsorship from Equiline; that’s something that they wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do otherwise.”

Sunday’s competition on the derby field also featured the $10,000 Horseware Ireland Don Little Masters Classic with a win for Deborah Ball and Cypriano.

Ben Maher and Diva II
Ben Maher and Diva II

Ben Maher and Diva II Top $84,000 Suncast 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic

Ben Maher has been unstoppable lately and added another victory to his tally with a win in Sunday afternoon’s $84,000 Suncast 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic at the FTI WEF. The class was held on the grass derby field at The Stadium at the PBIEC with 53 entries over the Olaf Petersen, Jr. (GER) designed course. Petersen saw ten clear rounds to advance to the jump-off with six double clear rounds. Maher was once again the winner, this time with a new mount in Tatiana Korsakova’s Diva II. The pair jumped the fastest track without fault in 43.20 seconds for the win.

Ian Millar (CAN) and Team Works’ Star Power finished second in 43.70 seconds. Daniel Bluman (COL) and Alberto & Ricardo Simhon’s Apardi placed third in 44.25 seconds.

Diva II is a nine-year-old Anglo European mare by Kannan x Berlioz that Maher got at the beginning of December. Tatiana Korsakova had previously owned a horse for Maher that got injured and decided to buy him, “a horse to have some fun with,” as the rider explained. “I chose Diva and I said that she could be a fun horse, and she seems like she’s working out well right now. I had already tried the horse beforehand for somebody else and that didn’t come of anything. I always thought the horse was talented. She was with Liz and Ted Edgar in England. They bred her and they had her whole life, so she has been very well brought up and looked after.”

“She had not done a lot for her age,” Maher continued. “She was still in the 1.35m division towards the end of last year. Week one or two here, we were in the back ring in the schooling jumpers and she was jumping high and I was having to ride hard because of the shadows and everything, and she has just gradually improved more and more. She has been clear in a couple of ‘WEFs’ and things in the last two weeks with one or two down in the jump-off when I’ve gone quick, just where she’s not ready. Today I took a chance again because the prize money is so big, and some parts didn’t feel so comfortable. In the double we came very hard in on the angle and kind of swerved around a little bit, but luckily it paid off today.”

Maher trained with Liz and Ted Edgar for almost two years as a working student, starting when he was 16 years old, before moving on to work with Beat Mändli. He knew that Diva had a great upbringing and saw the mare’s potential.

“They know a good horse, and they really believed in this horse all along,” he stated. “I think she has a way to go yet; we are only kind of halfway there. She needs to gain a lot of experience, but she’s a real mare, she’s a fighter and she’s always feels like she wants to win as well, which I love in a horse.”

This was the second win in two days showing on the grass for Maher after he topped Saturday’s $50,000 Live Oak Grand Prix CSI-W 2* in Ocala as well. He noted the refreshing atmosphere of the beautiful derby field in Wellington.

“It has been a great change. We took Aristo up to Chester Weber’s Live Oak to support that show yesterday and it was a great arena and grass field, as is this one. It is slightly different here; it’s a lot bigger in Wellington, which suited Diva actually. It is just nice; it’s great to have a change from the sand arena. Diva in particular hasn’t jumped here, but I did jump one class with her on a field, so I knew she was okay on grass. She needed to jump on grass to see if she was comfortable and she certainly felt fine today, so it is nice to know that we have all those options when we go back to Europe now for what shows we will go to. I think everybody loves the atmosphere over here. It is slightly more relaxed, more space for the horses, and the more they can use this arena, the better it will be over here, I think.”

Maher looks forward to progressing with Diva after they head back to Europe in a few weeks after all of the horses take a break in April.

“We have gone slow with her during the circuit; we just kept her behind the others,” he explained. “Obviously I am in a very lucky position that I don’t need to rush her. I think she will probably be done for circuit now. Maybe we were going to do one class next week, but maybe we are better to quit while we’re ahead. All my horses will pretty much take April off and start up again in May. They have worked very hard for the last few months, so they all deserve a rest.”

First, there is one more week of competition still to come at the 2014 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival. Maher has Jane Clark’s Cella fresh and ready to go for next Saturday’s $500,000 FTI Consulting Finale Grand Prix CSI 5*. He has won five of the eleven grand prix classes on the circuit so far and hopes to take home the big pay day in the final week.

Rachael Barnes and Tye Donaldson Triumph in ASPCA Maclay Sections A and B

Barnmates Rachael Barnes, 18, and Tye Donaldson, 15, emerged victorious from Sections A and B, respectively, of the ASPCA Maclay on Sunday afternoon at the FTI WEF. Barnes and Donaldson both train with Missy Clark and John Brennan of North Run, who also enjoyed top finishes in Friday evening’s George Morris Excellence in Equitation class, presented by Alessandro Albanese.

North Run continued its winning ways on Sunday morning, first with Barnes, who topped Section A of the ASPCA Maclay aboard Salt Lake, a 12-year-old Warmblood gelding owned by Joe and Mary Tyree. Barnes, of Buffalo, NY, started leasing Salt Lake at the beginning of the FTI WEF circuit and was thrilled with their early success.

“We just immediately clicked,” Barnes said of Salt Lake. “It all came together today, and I’m just so happy with him. We get along really well, and he’s such a good boy.”

Of their quick bond, Barnes remarked, “I tried him in November, and I got on him and it worked out really well. I just knew I could do well on him. He’s a little horse, but he has a nice big stride and covers the lines well. He’s very adjustable, and I really like that about him.”

Salt Lake has proven to be a versatile mount for Barnes, who also contests the Platinum Performance USEF Show Jumping Talent Search, WIHS Equitation, and Pessoa USEF Hunter Seat Medal classes with him. While she enjoys the unique challenges posed by all four classes, she appreciates the type of courses typically seen in the ASPCA Maclay. Barnes also finds it easier to take a breath and stay focused without the pressure of a timer.

“I like that there’s no time allowed in the Maclay, so you have time to know what you’re doing. I like that there’s a lot of bending lines in the Maclay, so you have a lot of options in the course,” Barnes described.

Sunday’s course offered several different options for riders, which Barnes believed helped her earn a score high enough to be called back on the flat.

“I definitely think the last three jumps [made the difference in my round]. It was kind of like a half circle at the end of the ring. I saw [other riders do] six [strides], I saw sevens, I saw eights. I ended up doing a seven to an easy eight. I think I just really smoothed that out and that made me get called back,” Barnes explained.

Donaldson was equally happy with her ride with Cortes 7, a 14-year-old Warmblood gelding owned by Royal Palm Equine LLC. Donaldson, of Chepachet, RI, admitted the course didn’t ride exactly as it walked, but her horse’s big stride helped her stay steady.

“The last two lines, I walked it an eight [stride] to an eight [stride] and then ended up doing a seven. Most people did eight strides in the second line, but he has such nice big stride and landed left that I just went for seven,” Donaldson noted.

She continued, “I really liked the course. I thought it was great. A lot of it was off the left lead, which is easier to land with him, so that was better for us.”

A stand-alone combination with butterfly wing standards tripped up several riders that tried to cut the turn a little too sharply. Donaldson stuck to her plan, knowing if she rode a wider track to meet the jump head-on, Cortes 7 could take care of the rest. She had good reason to put her complete confidence in the gelding; he helped Adeline Audette and Charlotte Jacobs to multiple equitation wins throughout their highly successful junior years.

“He’s an amazing horse,” Donaldson beamed. “I love him to death. He’s an old pro and a good guy.”

She continued, “I love his huge stride. He’s really nice to get up in a light seat with; he keeps his pace really nicely. He’s got a great jump, and he’s great to flat. He’s pretty much all around an amazing horse.”

Donaldson was happy to share her victory with fellow North Run rider Barnes, especially since Sunday marked the first time Donaldson had ever won a class at the FTI WEF. “We’re really good friends. It’s both of our first time winning this week, and it’s my first time ever winning at WEF. I started doing the equitation here last year,” Donaldson shared.

Donaldson also expressed gratitude for the entire North Run team’s hard work and contributions to her riding. She described Missy Clark’s thorough preparation for the ring as one of her favorite elements of the North Run training program.

“I love how Missy gets you to the ring. When she explains [the course] to you, you can see how she wants you to jump every jump, the line and track you’re supposed to have. She maps out a great plan for you, and if you follow that, you’ll be great,” Donaldson smiled.

Donaldson and Barnes’ wins wrapped up hunter competition for Week 11 of the FTI WEF, presented by Artisan Farms. For full results, please visit www.showgroundslive.com.

About FTI Consulting, Inc.

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 4,000 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 $1.58 billion in revenues during fiscal year 2012. For more information, visit www.fticonsulting.com.

About the FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival

The 2014 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival has 12 weeks of top competition running from January 8 through March 30. 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.

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

Lauren Fisher and Laura Cardon for Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.

Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.
Equestrian Public Relations
info@jenniferwoodmedia.com

Record Breaking 10,000 Attendees – Record Wins

Chester Weber and his team on course in the marathon. (Photo courtesy of PicsofYou.com)

Ocala, FL (March 23, 2014) – The motto on its show program, Chase Perfection, Catch Excellence, perfectly encapsulated this year’s Live Oak International, March 20-23, at Live Oak Plantation in Ocala, FL, as history was made in U.S. National Four-in-Hand competition, Olympic Show Jumping champions converged, and Super Bowl stars of both the commercial TV screen and stadium met in one superlative week of competition in front of a record 10,000 fans.

Writing yet another chapter in American combined driving history, Chester Weber of Ocala, FL, defended his U.S. Four-in-Hand Horse title with a record 11th victory on a final score of 116.33, also accepting the Jean Keathley Award sponsored by Michael Freund for lowest dressage score by an FEI whip.  Second place went to Sarasota, FL whip Misdee Wrigley-Miller, who accepted the Anne Bliss Memorial Award sponsored by Michael Freund as the most elegant lady driver throughout the competition.

Bringing an Olympic cachet to the show jumping competition was reigning 2012 Olympic Individual Gold medalist Ben Maher, whose flawless rounds on Jane Clark’s Aristo Z led to another Florida championship for him this season after victory in Saturday’s $50,000 CSI2*W Live Oak Grand Prix (42.48 seconds).  Second place was Ashlee Bond Clarke riding Little Valley Farm’s Agrostar, whose win qualified her for the World Cup.

After four classes of show jumping competition, the luck of the Irish in the $10,000 E2 Leading Rider Award went to 2012 Olympic Individual Bronze medalist Cian O’Connor.

Clydesdales
The Budweiser Clydesdales

Super Bowl sports star power was apparent in a double dose at Live Oak International. The 6’5” two-time National Football League Super Bowl linebacker Max Montoya of Hebron, KY, known and loved for his signature lime-green ‘fauxhawk’ helmet, was large and in charge as he drove to the top of the Intermediate Pair Horse championship with his Georgian Grandes.  Also drawing thousands of fans and rightly winning applause throughout the week were the world famous stars of the Super Bowl television commercials, the Budweiser Clydesdales.

While the big boys had star power some of the littlest riders stole the show on Sunday when a small herd of small riders entered the ring for the leadline class to resounding applause.  Special thanks to sponsors Sleepy P Ranch.

Demonstrating that driving horses (or ponies) isn’t just for the gentleman was Misdee Wrigley-Miller of Sarasota, FL, the reserve champion in the U.S. National Four-in-Hand and winner of the Anne Bliss Memorial award as the most elegant lady driver of the event. Wrigley-Miller, who drove her first pony at age four, was adamant that combined driving was not about muscle, but finesse and saw her reserve championship as an a opportunity to serve as a role model for younger equestriennes.

Ten thousand spectators and 17 nations added up to a winning equation for Live Oak International organizers and brother-sister team, Chester Weber and Juliet Reid.  Weber intimated that there is still more to come, with plans in 2015 of expanding the program to embrace Three-Day Eventing, too.

“I foresee Live Oak International as America’s Aachen,” Weber said, comparing the goals of the Ocala venue to the esteemed European venue.

In Florida’s ‘horse capital,’ it’s amply possible. For more information on Live Oak International, visit www.liveoakinternational.com.

For more information contact:
Damian Guthrie
561 290 9668
Live Oak International
www.liveoakinternational.com
info@liveoakinternational.com

Ben Maher Wins $50,000 CSI2*W at 2014 Live Oak International

Ben Maher and Aristo Z. (Photo courtesy of PicsofYou.com)

Ocala, FL (March 22, 2014) – It only took 42.48 fault-free seconds for Ben Maher of Great Britain to prove why he is show jumping’s reigning Olympic Individual Gold medalist as he boldly negotiated Jane Clark’s Aristo Z over Leopoldo Palacio’s eight-fence jump-off and, in front of a full house of spectators at its John Deere stadium, clinched this year’s $50,000 CSI2*W at the 2014 Live Oak International in Ocala, FL.

“It was a fantastic ride,” said Maher, who no sooner completed his victory gallop than was boarding a plane for a second grand prix in south Florida that evening at FTI Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington.

“He stayed quiet and adjusted to the temperature,” Maher continued, referring to the exceptionally fine weather on Saturday.  “Chester (Weber) put on a great show and it was a pleasure to come.”

Second to Maher, but successfully clinching her berth for this year’s World Cup, was U.S. rider Ashlee Bond Clarke, who was also penalty-free in the jump off, on Little Valley Farm’s Agrostar, crossing the timers just three-tenths of a second behind Maher (42.73).

“I won’t lie; I was sweating,” said Clarke, 29.  “I’m not so young anymore.  I still feel twenty but today was stressful.  I knew if Jenni (McAllister, the first to go in the jump-off) went clear she could beat me for a place on the World Cup.  I had to be no worse than fifth.  Her rail made my life easier!”  McAllister set the pace in the jump off — 45.30 seconds – but also collected four faults.

Continuing the international caliber of the field was Angel Karoyli of Venezuela, who was third on Hollow Creek Farm’s Indiana 127.  Karoyli, who has been riding the chestnut KWPN gelding for just under two years, was no stranger to Palacios’ courses, and made an aggressive grab at the win only to find his nemesis going from Palacios’ wall into its grand prix plank fence.

“He has a tendency to drift a little to the left, but I over-adjusted,” said the 27-year-old show jumping star.

Watching the CSI2*W finale was its host, Chester Weber.  This is only the third year that grand prix show jumping has been added to Live Oak International’s 21-year tradition of equestrian competition, and Weber foresees the Ocala venue only broadening its worldview.

“I’d like to offer three-day eventing as well.  We’re exploring that. One day, I would like to see Live Oak International bring to Ocala the equivalent of Aachen,” said Weber, referring to one of Europe’s most time-honored equestrian sport venues.

Elite entertainment after the victory gallop continued with the Lugano Diamonds Competitor’s Party on Saturday night, which swapped the golden luster of Maher’s Olympic-level performance for the chic shimmering sparkle of diamonds amid a silver and white décor befitting its 007 James Bond theme.

The final day of the 2014 Live Oak International promises to deliver another show of precision and athleticism during the Driving Obstacle Competition beginning at 9 a.m.  A Coaching Presentation at 1:15pm will feature the history and tradition behind carriage driving, followed by a children’s Leadline Class at 1:30pm. The $33,000 CSI**W Hollow Creek Winning Round completes the week’s competition.

Admission is $10 at the gate for adults and $5 for seniors and children under 12. It is strongly recommended that spectators bring lawn chairs. Concessions and a Vendor Village will be open during the entire competition.

For more information on Live Oak International, including a full schedule of events, visit www.liveoakinternational.com.

For more information contact:
Damian Guthrie
561 290 9668
Live Oak International
www.liveoakinternational.com
info@liveoakinternational.com

Maher Reigns Supreme in $125,000 Horseware Ireland Grand Prix CSI 3*

Ben Maher and Urico. Photos © Sportfot.

Isabella Usenza Wins THIS Children’s Medal 15-17 with Sebastian

Wellington, FL – March 15, 2014 – British superstar Ben Maher added an unprecedented fifth grand prix win to his tally at this year’s FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival (FTI WEF) with a win in Saturday night’s $125,000 Horseware Ireland Grand Prix CSI 3* aboard Jane Clark’s Urico. Competing in the tenth week of competition at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in Wellington, FL, Maher topped Lauren Hough (USA) and Ohlala, and Daniel Deusser (GER) riding Fyloe v/h Claeyssenhof, who finished second and third in a six-horse jump-off.

FTI WEF week 10, sponsored by Horseware Ireland, concludes on Sunday with the $34,000 Suncast 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic. The FTI WEF features 12 weeks of world-class competition through March 30, awarding $8 million in prize money.

Richard Jeffery (GBR) set the course for 45 competitors in Saturday night’s $125,000 Horseware Ireland Grand Prix CSI 3*, yielding six clear rounds to advance to the jump-off, where all six then completed double clear rounds and raced against the clock for top honors. Continuing the streak of a lifetime, Ben Maher mastered yet another grand prix track, speeding through the course last to go with Urico in the winning time of 41.01 seconds.

Maher topped Lauren Hough and Ohlala’s time of 41.25 seconds to put the pair in second place. Daniel Deusser and Stephex Stables’ and Double H Farm’s Fyloe v/h Claeyssenhof stopped the clock in 41.53 second to finish third.

Also competing in Saturday night’s jump-off, Peter Wylde (USA) and Federico Fernandez’s Zorro were first to go, and set the fourth place time of 42.43 seconds. Lorenzo de Luca (ITA) and Mike Collins’ Zoe II finished fifth in 42.87 seconds, and Georgina Bloomberg (USA) guided Gotham Enterprizes’ Juvina to the sixth place prize in 46.73 seconds.

Maher has been on an incredible roll in Wellington and kept the winning streak alive on Saturday night. So far, he has won week one’s $30,000 Mar-a-Lago Club Grand Prix with Kavanagh IV, week three’s $125,000 Fidelity Investments Grand Prix CSI 3* with Cella, week five’s $370,000 FEI World Cup Grand Prix CSI-W 5* presented by Rolex with Cella, and week eight’s $150,000 Grand Prix CSIO 4* presented by Wellington Equestrian Realty with Urico. Urico also won week five’s $125,000 Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup Round 5 Section A in a California Split.

“It is unbelievable,” Maher smiled on Saturday night. “I am on a lucky run right now, and Urico felt great. We saved him specifically for this class this week. Luckily, I was pre-qualified, and he just jumped a training round earlier in the week.”

“He was quite fresh tonight under the lights,” Maher noted. “It seemed like a big atmosphere. I thought it was going to be a bit quieter tonight, but it was quite popular. The course was very difficult, probably one of the most technical courses we have had here and it caused a lot of problems all over. It was not a big course, but very technical and it just felt very hard. Then the jump-off was flowing. I saw Daniel go. I had the lucky draw again to watch all of the riders go, and Lauren was very quick. I just did what I could do, and kind of wanted to get to the last fence as fast as possible. I said to Lauren, it looked like it was coming in slow motion, and luckily I was just fast enough.”

Urico’s other two wins this season have each been during the daytime, so Maher had the added challenge of the lights and atmosphere to take into consideration in his preparation for the night class.

“I think all the horses are different under the lights,” Maher pointed out. “If they are experienced enough, I think they come alive and jump sharper and better, and I think good horses rise to the occasion with a great atmosphere. It just seems great fun every Saturday night. It goes well and everyone really seems to be enjoying it here. It is always nice when the crowd gets behind you in the jump-off.”

Speaking of the jump-off, Maher added, “I have no idea where I got the time over Lauren. It was one of those jump-offs where I met every jump where I wanted to meet them. I had quite a tight turn back to the wall. Urico is probably one of the fastest horses we have in the stables. He is incredibly fast before, over and after the jump, so I think he gains time everywhere. I tried not to panic when I saw Lauren go. I just did what I had to do and tried not to make a mistake.”

Maher has put a lot of hard work into forming a solid partnership with Urico since they began competing together last winter and has seen his efforts pay off this year.

“It’s always fantastic to win a class, and especially on Urico,” he stated. “We are still trying new things all the time; we’re testing him, and the other week it was during the day. This was under the lights, so that was nice to get that out of the way and just to get the consistency. He’s a really exciting horse to ride. He wants to be so competitive, he wants to win, and you just have to keep him quiet enough. He had quite a lot of work today because I knew he would be fresh and excited tonight. I am enjoying a great streak for now, and at some point it’s going to change for sure. We lose a lot more than we win in our sport, and at the moment it’s going my way, so I just enjoy great horses, great support from Jane and the team, and make the most of it while it’s happening.”

Lauren Hough and Ohlala
Lauren Hough and Ohlala

With a very fast second place finish, Lauren Hough had a great round with her speedy mount Ohlala, and was happy with another top placing this week. She knew she had a good time, but still had a tough competitor to follow.

“You’re never certain you’re the winner, especially when you have Ben following you with the streak he’s been on,” Hough admitted, “but my horse has been fantastic all week. She was second in the ‘WEF’ (Challenge Cup) as well, so we have kind of been knocking on the door, but I was thrilled. I thought Richard did a super job with the course. It suited my horse very well. Perhaps I could have been a bit faster to the last jump, but it was very, very close.”

Deusser was also pleased with his mount, Fyloe v/h Claeyssenhof, explaining that this was the horse’s first outdoor grand prix. “He did a very good job,” the rider acknowledged. “He is a very careful horse. Especially under the lights today he was very impressed with the course. I had to work quite hard in the first round, but the jump-off, that was the best I could do I think. With two experienced combinations behind me, it’s always difficult. You never know quite how fast you have to go, but I am very happy with the round. If I think back, maybe from jump one to two I could have done one stride less, but at the end of the day I am very happy with this. I did a few jump-offs in 1.45m classes and a couple of 1.50ms, but he is not too experienced in jump-offs. It was one of his fastest.”

On behalf of week ten title sponsor and presenting sponsor of the evening’s class, Horseware Ireland founder Tom MacGuinness and his daughter Lorraine were on hand for a fantastic night of competition.

Tom MacGuinness commented on the growth of the competition at the FTI WEF, noting, “I came here probably 15 years ago when it was a grass ring with a mound of sand where people could sit and watch, and then I came back about six years ago and I saw what was going on here, and I said that this was going to be the best horse show in the world. We had been sponsoring Triple Crown blankets for the presentations, but when I came here that time, I just saw the organization. I felt the determination and the focus that they had to make it the best horse show in the world. It is a fantastic show. It is the best show in the world as far as I’m concerned.”

Lorraine MacGuinness explained the incredible contribution that Horseware Ireland has made to this year’s circuit at PBIEC by providing the blankets and coolers that are presented to the winners at not only the FTI WEF, but the Adequan Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) as well.

“We did 1,400 blankets for the whole circuit between the Global Dressage Festival and here, so that’s a pretty big sponsorship for us; it’s a lot of resources,” MacGuinness noted. “The printed blankets like Ben won tonight are new for us, and they are unique. No other circuit does them. We did 55 of them with all of the sponsors’ logos, and we are really proud of how they work.”

Equestrian Sport Productions thanks Horseware Ireland for their fantastic support as week ten of the FTI WEF and AGDF circuits conclude.

Isabella Usenza and Sebastian
Isabella Usenza and Sebastian

Isabella Usenza Wins THIS Children’s Medal 15-17 with Sebastian

Fifteen-year-old Isabella Usenza earned top call with Sebastian in the THIS Children’s Medal 15-17 on Saturday morning at the FTI WEF. Usenza and Sebastian earned an 85.5 in the first round to return third for the test, which called back the top four riders to face off over fences. Usenza ultimately came out on top for her well-executed track aboard Sebastian, a six-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding she recently purchased from trainer Monty Kelly.

Second place went to Jennifer Hunt, who enjoyed the first round high score of 87 with Winston. Haley Zimmerman and San Paolo finished third after a first round score of 86, and Ashley Denmark was fourth with Vince. The pair earned an 86 in round one.

Usenza has been riding Sebastian for the past eight months and made him her own at the beginning of the FTI WEF circuit. Usenza had watched several videos of the horse go over the years, and after sitting on him once, made the decision to begin competing with him. The pair clicked almost immediately; Usenza praised the gelding for infinitely boosting her confidence level.

“He is so easy for me to ride. I used to have a horse that didn’t get my confidence high. He just takes me around like ‘It’s okay, relax; I’m going to jump.’ He really taught me a lot about how to be more relaxed, and my confidence has gone up a lot,” Usenza explained.

The pair picked up circuit championship honors last fall at HITS Saugerties (NY) as well as a win in the THIS Children’s Medal 15-17 during Week 1 of the FTI WEF. Usenza has been thrilled with their early success and is excited to have her first horse to learn on and eventually move up to 3’6″ divisions with.

Usenza felt her first round course went well but had room for improvement, despite earning well over 80 in a field of over 30 talented young riders. She planned on working on not twisting her body and maintaining a straighter track when she contested the Equitation 15-17 division later in the day.

For the test, the judge asked riders to canter fence one, then halt before continuing at the canter to fence two, which created a bending line to fence three. The final fence was a trot jump in the middle of the ring that aimed riders directly at the judge. Usenza opted to promptly halt after fence one and return to the walk almost immediately after the trot jump to exit the arena.

“I had to be very consistent. Since I was third, I would have to move up some points to win,” Usenza noted. “I had to make sure I was really concise with my halt. I had to make sure I halted right away and got a good canter going to the bending six to make sure that rode well. To my trot jump, I made sure I kept it together and trotted early enough. Then I walked right away after the jump. I walked as soon as I could because that’s what the judge asked.”

While one rider attempted to earn extra points by asking for a flying lead change in the bending line, Usenza purposefully stuck with the lead she landed on.

Of her strategy in the bending line, Usenza shared, “I landed on the left lead and counter cantered the line. My trainers always say, every lead you land on in a line that’s only six strides, you just stay on that. You don’t want to risk changing it and missing the change in a line. I’ve been very [well] schooled in my counter canter; I’ve been practicing a lot. So we just stay on whatever lead we land on.”

Usenza trains with Monty and Sandy Kelly, Shaine Brooks, and Amy Momrow of Stepping Stone Farm. She enjoys the fun atmosphere where having a good time is just as important as doing well in the ring. Usenza has travelled back and forth from Albany, NY, to Wellington to have the opportunity to compete with Stepping Stone at the FTI WEF, an endeavor her school has been more than happy to support.

“It’s sort of hard, but they’ve been really good about it. [My school is] really supportive. They’ve given me all my work. They’re really enjoying the fact that I’m pursuing my dream of coming here,” Usenza smiled.

Hunter competition for the tenth week of the FTI WEF, presented by Horseware Ireland, concludes on Sunday with Section B of the Camping World Adult Amateur Hunter 51 & Over division in the Rost Arena at the Main Grounds of PBIEC. For full results, please visit www.showgroundslive.com.

About FTI Consulting, Inc.

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 4,000 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 $1.58 billion in revenues during fiscal year 2012. For more information, visit www.fticonsulting.com.

About the FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival

The 2014 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival has 12 weeks of top competition running from January 8 through March 30. 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.

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

Lauren Fisher and Laura Cardon for Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.

Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.
Equestrian Public Relations
info@jenniferwoodmedia.com

Kent Farrington and Voyeur Triumph in $125,000 Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup Round 9

Kent Farrington and Voyeur. Photos © Sportfot.

Ben Maher and Aristo Z Top $34,000 G&C Farm 1.45m Speed; Nicole Bellissimo and VDL Bellefleur Win $25,000 Artisan Farms Young Rider Grand Prix Semi-Final

Wellington, FL – March 7, 2014 – The 2014 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival (FTI WEF) hosted a full schedule of international show jumping at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) on Friday with several feature competitions during the day and night. The morning kicked off with the remaining jump-off competitors from Thursday’s $125,000 Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup Round 9 and a victory for Kent Farrington (USA) and Voyeur. A $34,000 G&C Farm 1.45m speed class was held later in the afternoon with a win for Ben Maher (GBR) and Aristo Z. The $25,000 Artisan Farms Young Rider Grand Prix Series Semi-Final was also held in the evening with a win for Nicole Bellissimo (USA) and VDL Bellefleur.

FTI WEF week nine, sponsored by The Bainbridge Companies, continues through Sunday, March 9. The $280,000 FEI World Cup Grand Prix CSI-W 4*, presented by The Bainbridge Companies, will be the highlight on Saturday night and the $84,000 Suncast 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic will be held on Sunday. The FTI WEF features 12 weeks of world-class competition through March 30, awarding $8 million in prize money.

FTI WEF hosted the start of its $125,000 Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup Round 9 on Thursday with 89 entries and 23 jumping clear to advance to the jump-off over the Alan Wade (IRL) designed course. Unfortunately, only ten of the jump-off entries were able to complete their rounds before a severe storm blew through the show grounds. The remaining 13 entries showed on Friday morning with Kent Farrington (USA) and Amalaya Investments’ Voyeur jumping to victory. The pair cleared the course in the fastest time of 42.86 seconds.

Lauren Hough (USA) and Ohlala were the leaders coming into Friday morning after completing their jump-off round on Thursday in 45.21 seconds. Hough then beat her own time in 44.91 seconds aboard Karina Rotenburg’s Böckmanns Lazio on Friday. Hough finished third and fourth with her two mounts when Farrington and Voyeur blazed the fastest pace, followed by the second fastest round of Daniel Deusser (GER) and Stephex Stables’ Cornet d’Amour in 44.55 seconds.

Farrington explained that Voyeur, a 12-year-old KWPN gelding by Tolano van’t Riethof x Goodwill, has had some time off since an injury last summer and is just coming back. “This is his first bigger class back,” the rider noted. “I have been bringing him back real slow and jumping just smaller classes here. He is naturally very fast and he is a spectacular horse, so hopefully he stays healthy. He’s an unbelievable horse.”

“He is on the attack right from the get go,” Farrington said of his impressive jump-off round. “He has a massive, massive stride and he is very fast on his feet at the same time, so he has sort of the best of both. He has the foot speed of a small horse and the stride length of a big horse.”

“Over the time bringing him back, I have really worked on his control,” Farrington added. “He has always been a great jumper and obviously his gallop has always been like that, but my control wasn’t very good before. He was running off with me a lot of times in the jump-offs, so rollbacks or a very short line at the end was a real challenge with him.”

It was a little bit of a different situation for the riders that had to compete in the jump-off on Friday as their first round of the day, but that did not affect Farrington or Voyeur’s performance. “It was a little strange,” he admitted. “It is kind of like a speed class with only eight jumps, but it is very good money for this class and for me it is more about getting this horse back and going well. I wanted Voyeur to be able to do this jump-off more for my practice and his experience.”

“I think you have to make the best of the situation,” he said of the decision to postpone the remainder of the jump-off. “Had there been a way to see the weather coming, obviously it would have been better if everybody in the jump-off went together, but that wasn’t possible. I don’t think they had any other choice.”

Farrington plans to show Voyeur again on Saturday and will plan the horse’s schedule from there. “I haven’t planned too far ahead,” he explained. “I am just excited that he is back in the sport and that he feels good and that he is going as well as he is. I will go step by step and see where it takes us.”

In addition to the prize money for the class, Farrington earned a special $3,000 bonus as part of the SSG ‘Go Clean for the Green’ promotion for wearing his SSG ‘Digital’ Riding Gloves. Each week of the Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup Series, a $3,000 bonus will be awarded to the winning rider if they are wearing SSG ‘Digital’ Riding Gloves in all rounds of competition with the SSG logo clearly visible.

Ben Maher and Aristo Z
Ben Maher and Aristo Z

Ben Maher and Aristo Z Top $34,000 G&C Farm 1.45m

A $34,000 G&C Farm 1.45m speed class was held Friday afternoon in the International Arena at PBIEC with an exciting win for Ben Maher (GBR) and Jane Clark’s Aristo Z. The class saw 60 competitors with 20 clear rounds and an increasingly fast pace as the rounds went on. Fifth to go, Shane Sweetnam (IRL) and Spy Coast Farm LLC’s Cyklon 1083 set a very tough time to beat at 63.23 seconds. The pair held the lead through most of the class until two of the finals competitors eventually pushed them into third.

Darragh Kenny (IRL) and Oakland Ventures LLC’s Picolo were the first combination to edge out Sweetnam’s time in 62.97 seconds, eventually finishing second. A few rounds later, Ben Maher and Aristo Z completed the fastest round in 62.23 seconds. Last to go, Meagan Nusz (USA) and Amalaya Investments’ Vesuvius jumped into fourth in 64.11 seconds.

Aristo Z is a ten-year-old Zangersheide gelding that Maher has had for several years, but is showing this year under new ownership for Jane Clark. Since the change, this is Aristo Z’s first win.

“He is normally a winner at those sorts of speed classes,” Maher noted. “Jane secured him for me just before Christmas. He was with another owner for the last couple of years, and he has won a lot of classes in different arenas. He is a great asset to the team.”

“I said to Jane before we got here that he might not love Florida,” Maher said. “It is a really big ring, and he is quite good in small arenas where he can kind of bounce off the walls a little bit. He has been jumping well, but we put him back in his old bridle today because I switched him to something else when I arrived and he wasn’t winning. I spoke to Jane on the phone, and I said that I was going to try him in the old bit. We put it on and Jane made it back to watch and he won, so I am just happy that he has kind of ‘broken the duck’ for Team Clark.”

Maher explained that Aristo Z’s speed and agility are what gave him the winning time in Friday’s class. “He is a useful horse,” he stated. “He has jumped some bigger classes in one or two grand prix when I have needed him to, but this is kind of his division here, the 1.45m or 1.50m speed classes. He can bend his body very well. He is naturally very fast everywhere and today there were options to leave strides out in the course and I actually didn’t. I kept the correct amount of strides, especially early on, and luckily his speed over the jumps and across the ground just was fast enough. These are difficult classes to win. There are quite a lot in them and a lot of galloping, and I am just happy he won a class here now.”

Also showing on Friday, Laura Chapot earned her fifth win of the week in the International Arena at FTI WEF. Chapot has been unstoppable this week, winning back to back classes on Wednesday in the $6,000 Spy Coast Farm 1.40m speed class with Bradberry and the $6,000 Spy Coast Farm 1.40m jump-off class riding Mary Chapot’s Umberto. On Thursday, she won the $8,000 G&C Farm 1.45m jump-off class aboard Quointreau un Prince, a horse she co-owns with McLain Ward. On Friday, Chapot added two more wins to her week, topping the $6,000 Spy Coast Farm 1.40m Speed Challenge with Bradberry and the $6,000 Spy Coast Farm 1.40m jump-off class riding Umberto.

Bradberry, a 16-year-old Selle Francais gelding, has been winning classes for several years with Chapot in the irons and kept his streak alive this week. He also posted back to back victories in both the $6,000 Spy Coast Farm 1.40m speed class and the $6,000 Spy Coast Farm 1.40m Speed Challenge during weeks six and eight.

Chapot has won classes outside of the International Arena this week as well, winning both the $2,500 Derby Gold Pine Shavings 1.35m speed and jump-off classes with Mary Chapot’s Castellana, and topping a $1,500 Adequan 8-Year-Old Young Jumper class with Out of Ireland for owner The Edge. She continues to be one of the top riders at FTI WEF each year.

Nicole Bellissimo and VDL Bellefleur
Nicole Bellissimo and VDL Bellefleur

Nicole Bellissimo and VDL Bellefleur Win $25,000 Artisan Farms Young Rider Grand Prix Series Semi-Final

The $25,000 Artisan Farms Young Rider Grand Prix Series Semi-Final was held on Friday night, presented by the Dutta Corporation in association with Guido Klatte. Fifty young riders under the age of 25 competed under the lights in the International Arena, with seven clear rounds to jump-off, and a win for 20-year-old Nicole Bellissimo of Wellington, FL.

Riding Bellissimo LLC’s VDL Bellefleur, an eight-year-old KWPN mare by Cardento x Emilion, Bellissimo jumped the only double clear round in the jump-off to take top honors in 51.64 seconds. Twenty-four-year-old Jordan MacPherson of Toronto, Ontario finished second aboard JEM Stables’ Piccobello du val de Geer with the fastest four-fault round in 45.39 seconds. Twenty-year-old Adrienne Sternlicht of Greenwich, CT jumped into third with four faults in 47.24 seconds aboard Starlight Farms’ Oreade de Dames.

The young rider series was developed thanks to Artisan Farms as a stepping stone for up-and-coming riders as they gain experience competing at the grand prix level. In addition to great experience for the riders, it can also be a stepping stone for young horses. In the case of Nicole Bellissimo and VDL Bellefleur, the series serves as an amazing opportunity for both horse and rider.

“She is actually a very special horse for me,” Bellissimo stated after her win. “I have had her for about a year and a half. She is only eight, so I got her when she was turning seven, and I am the only one that has shown her. I did her throughout her seven-year-old year and I brought her to Spruce Meadows last summer, so she has done a lot as a young horse. We moved her up this year and this is the biggest class that she has ever done, so it is really exciting for me that she went out and did so well. She is just stepping up to doing this level.”

Bellissimo showed in the young rider series two years ago in 2012, but explained that she did not have a horse to compete with last year. “This year is the first year that I have done all of the classes,” she noted. “It is fantastic for bringing up young horses that aren’t quite ready to go in the WEFs (Challenge Cup) or the grand prix classes, but maybe you want to step them up from the High Amateurs or the High Juniors. It is also great for riders such as me who are stepping up to the WEFs, but maybe aren’t as competitive in that, and want another stepping stone. I want to thank Artisan Farms for sponsoring the series because it is really great for the young horses and riders such as me that are moving up to the next level.”

In her freshman year at Harvard University in Boston, Bellissimo commutes back and forth from Wellington each week to compete between a full schedule of classes. This week was especially busy, but the extra traveling paid off in the end.

“This week was a little bit hectic because I had a midterm,” Bellissimo detailed. “I go to school in Boston, and I actually had an exam yesterday. I usually fly in Wednesday nights so I can show my horse on Thursdays. I am the only one that shows her, so we didn’t want to change anything and have my trainer (Candice King) show her, but I was a bit panicked because I couldn’t fly in to show yesterday. She just had to walk into the class tonight and I was really scared going in, but she really took care of me. She ended up being fantastic.”

Going second to last in the jump-off with everyone before her having rails, Bellissimo’s main goal was a clear round. “I just wanted to go in and do a nice clear and hope that it was nice enough to be quick enough if the last person went clear, but at the same time if the last person had a rail also,” she said.

This is the biggest win of the young rider’s career, and a very exciting accomplishment on home turf. “It is my biggest win so far and it is extra special with a horse that I have kind of brought along myself,” Bellissimo acknowledged. “She means a lot to me, and she is always fighting for me so much every time she goes in the ring. She has never done anything wrong. It was just really exciting that other people can see how great she is.”

A student in her fourth year at the University of Western Ontario in Canada, Jordan MacPherson has had success in the young rider series before and was very happy with her rounds aboard Piccobello du val de Geer, a 15-year-old Swedish Warmblood mare (Kannan x Skippy II).

“It was exciting,” MacPherson smiled after the class. “I have had her for about four years now, and I have done two other years with her in this series. She came out here like a pro tonight and was amazing. She gave me her heart, so I couldn’t be happier.”

Adrienne Sternlicht, a sophomore at Brown University, also had a great experience with her mount Oreade des Dames, a 12-year-old Selle Francais mare by Kannan x Hurlevent. “I have had her for three years, and she was really my horse that we intended for these classes,” Sternlicht explained. “I bought her as a nine-year-old for these young rider classes, and she has ended up doing some more. She jumped the ‘WEF’ yesterday. I think it is nice for her to be challenged with a bigger class every once in a while and then we bring her in this level and 1.45m/1.50m is really her comfort zone and she is quite a fast horse. I was really just trying to be a medium double clear and that didn’t work out, but she was fantastic tonight and I am thrilled with the way she went.”

Sternlicht first jumped in the young rider series two years ago and then was out last winter with an injury. “This year for me has been the first year that I really feel competitive at this level, and I am starting to be competitive at a bigger level,” Sternlicht acknowledged. “For me, I was more nervous for today than I was for the WEF (Challenge Cup) because I kind of put pressure on myself in these classes to really perform. I think it is a fantastic series, and it is a really neat experience.”

Week nine competition will continue on Saturday with the feature $280,000 FEI World Cup Grand Prix CSI-W 4*, presented by The Bainbridge Companies at 7 p.m., which will be live streamed at http://www.chronofhorse.com/article/2014-280000-fei-world-cup-grand-prix-live. For full results, please visit www.showgroundslive.com.

About FTI Consulting, Inc.

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 4,000 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 $1.58 billion in revenues during fiscal year 2012. For more information, visit www.fticonsulting.com.

About the FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival

The 2014 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival has 12 weeks of top competition running from January 8 through March 30. 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.

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

Lauren Fisher for Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.

Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.
Equestrian Public Relations
info@jenniferwoodmedia.com

Ben Maher and Urico Win $150,000 CSIO 4* Grand Prix

Ben Maher and Urico. Photos © Sportfot.

McLain Ward and HH Carlos Z Top $25,000 Suncast 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic for Second Win in Two Days; Nicole Lyvere and Wink Champion the Bainbridge Companies Amateur-Owner 18-35 Hunters

Wellington, FL – March 2, 2014 – Week eight of the 2014 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival (FTI WEF), sponsored by G&C Farm, concluded on Sunday with another big win for Great Britain’s Ben Maher in the $150,000 CSIO 4* Grand Prix, presented by Wellington Equestrian Realty. Maher guided Jane Clark’s Urico to victory over USA’s Laura Kraut and Nouvelle in second and Ireland’s Cian O’Connor aboard Quidam’s Cherie in third. Also showing at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) on Sunday, McLain Ward (USA) and HH Carlos Z won for the second day in a row with a top finish in the $25,000 Suncast 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic.

Steve Stephens concluded a fantastic week of world-class competition with a challenging course for Sunday’s $150,000 CSIO 4* Grand Prix. There were riders from 18 different countries in in today’s grand prix, and 36 of 50 riders were from outside of the United States.

Watch an interview with Ben Maher about Urico and his four wins at FTI WEF.

The course yielded 12 clear rounds out 50 entries for an exciting jump-off of top international riders from eight different countries. In the end, it was once again Ben Maher who led the victory gallop after completing the fastest clear jump-off round in 40.85 seconds aboard Urico. The pair finished over three seconds faster than second place finishers Laura Kraut and Nouvelle with a time of 44.09 seconds.

Cian O’Connor and Quidam’s Cherie took third place honors in 44.23 seconds. Sharn Wordley (NZL) and Ashland Stables’ Derly Chin de Muze finished fourth in 46.86 seconds, and Kent Farrington (USA) and Robin Parsky’s Blue Angel had the fastest time in 38.30 seconds, but had the last jump down to place fifth.

“It was a difficult course actually in the first round,” Maher said after the class. “I thought it got big; after the water jump it really changed. The fences before it weren’t too difficult, and then once the water took its toll on the horses, the jumps got bigger and a lot of faults came. There were a lot of clears today and certainly a lot of fast ones in the jump-off. I tried to ride the jump-off that I could do, not one that I couldn’t do.”

“Urico is an incredibly fast horse,” Maher described. “He kind of anticipates turns before you’re even there. It looked like one of those jump-offs where rails were falling, and it maybe wouldn’t get too quick. I know that Cian’s horse is quite inexperienced; jumping very well, but I did not know how quick he would go. I knew that Beezie would be faster than me probably whatever I did, so I rode the round that I could, and fortunately it was just quicker than Laura today and good enough to win.”

Maher described the win with Urico as an important moment in his partnership with the 13-year-old KWPN gelding (Zandor Z x Fedor). “I think this is probably even more special for me today because we took a lot of time with Urico since this time last year,” he stated. “We had a few teething problems and a lot of work has gone into him for six or seven months. Jade Steinsdorfer, who looks after him, has put a lot of time in. Jane Clark believed in my system and has let me get on with it and it has really paid off. He certainly feels a very, very useful horse to go along with Cella and my other horses right now. It is a big milestone and a confidence boost for us today.”

“He did start very well here,” Maher detailed. “He had some good results here last year as well; I just felt that we needed a slightly different program. I went home and worked on building him physically in a different way and getting him stronger and more confident. I am just gaining his trust really. I think that he really believes in me now, and he trusts me. He is a very sensitive horse and a very careful horse. You have to be careful when to push the right buttons and when not to.”

Maher has now won four of the eight major grand prix classes at this year’s FTI WEF. He also won week one’s $30,000 Mar-a-Lago Club Grand Prix aboard Kavanagh IV and topped both week three’s Fidelity Investments Grand Prix CSI 3* and week five’s $370,000 FEI World Cup Grand Prix CSI-W 5* presented by Rolex aboard Cella.

“It has been incredible here so far for me,” Maher acknowledged. “I think Jane’s horses love being at home. They get to go in the paddock and be real horses and come to the ring here fresh. Things seem to be going my way right now and I know how quickly things can change around, so I am enjoying it as much as I can while it is happening.”

“I love jumping here,” he added. “I enjoy the fact that Jane can come and watch as many events as we can get to. The horses haven’t jumped too much. We make a very careful plan for here. It’s only early in the year, but Urico had three months off the end of last year, and I chose not to use him in the indoor season and keep him ready and fresh for here. Cella also didn’t jump so much towards the end of last year. They come over here about four or five times each and don’t have to jump too many classes when we’re here because I have been pre-qualified for some of the grand prix. The plan is going great so far and I hope it continues, but I am just going to enjoy what’s happening so far.”

Behind Maher and Urico, Laura Kraut finished second aboard the Evita Group’s Nouvelle, a ten-year-old KWPN mare by Solitair x Contango. Nouvelle is just coming back this season after an injury and had a great finish.

“She got hurt last June; she broke her pedal bone in her foot, so basically from June until I got here she was off,” Kraut explained. “The first fences she jumped were here in January, so today is her very first grand prix and I am really pleased with how she performed. She has matured and I don’t think the time of rest seemed to hurt her too much because she has come back sort of where she was ready to be before she got hurt.”

Kraut was a little worried about Nouvelle’s inexperience in the class, but was hoping for a good result. “I knew that I had Ben and Beezie and Kent and quite a few people behind me,” she said. “I was really hoping to finish in the top six, and I was hoping to be double clear. Ben beat me by a lot; he beat me by three seconds. It wasn’t like he just beat me. I am really proud of her. I did the inside turns, the one back on the vertical, and she handled that well. I am just thrilled. Her owners are here and they have been long-time supporters of me. Their last grand prix horse was Anthem, so I know they are so excited.”

Commenting on Maher’s great success, Kraut noted, “He rides great; he has super horses and he deserves to win the classes that he has won. I would like to have a shot to try to beat him at some point. I will get Cedric revved up here hopefully at some point and we will give it a shot, but at this level you appreciate the superior riding and horses. He and Scott (Brash) are so impressive. It is going to raise the level of riding here. To have number one and number two in the world is just a great opportunity for WEF and for all of the riders here.”

In third, Cian O’Connor was jumping Adena Springs’ Quidam’s Cherie, a nine-year-old Oldenburg mare by Quidam’s Rubin x Lifestyle, that the rider has only been partnered with since December.

“I got Cherie in middle of December and did one show before coming here,” O’Connor explained. “With her previous rider she did 2* grand prixs in Germany, so she is very green. That is the brilliant thing about coming to this festival is that the horses really get mileage, you get experience. I jumped her in the Nations Cup the other night, and she jumped a very good clear in the first round. She was a little tired in the second round and then I gave her a day off yesterday to freshen up, and she really jumped her heart out today.”

“I am very excited about her because it has been a while since I have had a horse as talented as that,” O’Connor said. “She is so careful and I am just going to drop her down and move her up and not do too much because it is hard when you only have one horse like that. You really want to spare them, and I am looking forward to a good year with her.”

On behalf of Wellington Equestrian Realty, Craig Martin spoke about Sunday’s fantastic class and his company’s continued support of equestrian sport in Wellington.

“Wellington Equestrian Realty, we really love sponsoring this class,” Martin stated. “I have known Ben for a long time since he was a young fellow. He is definitely a tactician of the sport, and I would love to congratulate him on his win. Congratulations to Laura and Cian as well. The show for us is a very important part of our whole marketing strategy. The way that we feel the direction the show is going, it is only getting bigger and better. It is definitely, without a doubt, one of the best horse shows in the world.”

Several special awards were also presented during Sunday’s Grand prix. In memory of Niall Grimes, the “CHEERS” perpetual trophy was awarded to Cian O’Connor as the top Irish rider during the CSIO, Nations Cup week.

Brazil’s Alvaro ‘Doda’ de Miranda was presented with the Kate Nash Boone Style Award, a perpetual trophy presented by Michael Meller, friends and family to honor the memory of Kate’s support and love of “all things equestrian.”

Beezie Madden (USA) also earned a special award as the Leading Lady Grand Prix Rider for week eight, an award presented by Martha Jolicoeur of Illustrated Properties in memory of Dale Lawler.

McLain Ward and HH Carlos Z
McLain Ward and HH Carlos Z

McLain Ward and HH Carlos Z Top $25,000 Suncast 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic for Second Win in Two Days

After topping Saturday’s $25,000 Nutrena Jumper Classic at the FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival, the brand new partnership of McLain Ward (USA) and Double H Farm’s HH Carlos Z went on to their second victory of the week in Sunday’s $25,000 Suncast 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic. The class saw 52 entries with six to jump-off.

Laura Kraut and MH Sporthorse’s Andretti S were first to jump-off and incurred 16 faults (8 jumping and 8 time in 55.88 seconds) to finish sixth. Caitlin Ziegler (USA) and Artisan Farms LLC’s Touchdown jumped next and cleared the course in 44.94 seconds to eventually place third. Ward and HH Carlos Z followed, posting a time of 40.64 seconds to take the lead.

Kristen Vanderveen (USA) and Bull Run’s Holy Smokes jumped into second with a clear round in 43.45 seconds. Germany’s Johannes Ehning had eight faults in 47.59 seconds to place fifth with Nybor Pfere GMBH & Co. KG’s Balounito. Last to go with his second mount, Ward also took fourth place honors with a clear round in 45.77 seconds aboard Arnoud Dobber’s Cannavaro D.

Ward first sat on HH Carlos Z for the first time two weeks ago and is quickly getting to know the talented 12-year-old Zangersheide gelding (Chellano Z x Voltaire). “He is a phenomenal horse,” Ward praised. “I am just trying to get to know him a little bit. He is electric careful, fast. It is like having a 12-year-old Goldika again, so it is very exciting for us.”

“He has had a good past,” the rider pointed out. “The horse won the Grand Prix of Falsterbo already, that’s a 5* grand prix. I think he has a great future. He is maybe not a horse that you jump every day 1.60m, but you go up and down a little bit because he has so much carefulness, and he is going to be a phenomenal addition to our string.”

With two wins in a row, it is obvious that Ward and Carlos have good things to come. Ward has already learned a lot about Carlos is a short period of time and looks forward to the future.

“He knows the game and we are still getting to know each other and we will be for a while,” Ward noted. “I will get to know to know little things about him and he will get to know me, but he knows his job and I mostly know my job, so hopefully we can be somewhat competent.”

“I have learned little things already just about the warm-up and preparation for the class and just how he reacts to different things in the ring, which have all been positive feeling,” Ward added. “I am just getting to know him and it is exciting. It is an exciting venture with Hunter (Harrison). He likes to win and I like to win, so it’s a good combination.”

Ward also jumped a brand new mount, Cannavaro D, in the jump-off on Sunday and had a great round with him to finish fourth. “It wasn’t a very big jump-off. There weren’t many clear, but I thought the course was difficult enough,” Ward commented. “I had a pretty strong feeling that I had the fastest horse in the jump-off with Carlos. I was pretty confident in that, but I also knew that Kristen Vanderveen was coming behind me and she would always give it a good try, so I wanted to make sure that I did enough that I didn’t leave the door open. The other horse that I did in the jump-off I have only been riding for ten days. He is a little less experienced, so I knew that I couldn’t go as fast with him as I did with Carlos.”

Nicole Lyvere and Wink Champion the Bainbridge Companies Amateur-Owner Hunter 18-35 Division at the FTI WEF

Nicole Lyvere of Denver, CO, topped the Bainbridge Companies Amateur-Owner Hunter 18-35 on Sunday morning at the FTI WEF. Lyvere and her nine-year-old Warmblood gelding Wink were third in the under saddle, won two over fences classes, and were second in another over fences round to clinch the division title.

The reserve champion of the division was Humor Me, owned and ridden by Stephanie Danhakl. Danhakl rode Humor me to second place under saddle and first, fifth and fifth over fences.

Nicole Lyvere and Wink
Nicole Lyvere and Wink

Lyvere has owned Wink for the last few years after buying him from Don Stewart in Ocala. She admitted Wink was quite green when she got him and was happy to see her journey with the gelding come full circle.

“He was super, super green when I got him. He’s come a long way,” Lyvere smiled. “Now, he’s getting in the routine where he loves the horse show and he hates to be at home! When he’s at a horse show, he’s happy.”

Despite Wink being green when Lyvere first tried him, there was something about the gelding that instantly clicked with her.

“He just had this really cool feeling and he was the first fancy horse that I got. I’d never had a horse that jumped as well. He wasn’t very broke, and I’m out there flopping around. He would even bear down at the jumps a little bit, but we just clicked at the beginning. We’ve had our battles, but he’s just so fun to ride,” Lyvere described.

Wink has made a lot of progress, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t occasionally give Lyvere a run for her money.

“He’s super comfortable. He’ll always push your buttons, though. If you give him an out, he’ll take it most of the time. He has an attitude, a sassy attitude that he knows he’s good. But he’s perfect! The best ones always have some sort of attitude,” Lyvere remarked.

Bringing Wink along with the help of trainer Cindy Cruciotti has been a rewarding experience for Lyvere, who prefers working her way up the levels with her horse instead of going for one that’s a bit more push-button. After Cruciotti campaigned the horse in the First Year Green Working Hunters, Lyvere contested the 3’3″ amateur-owner divisions with Wink before making the move up to 3’6″ in 2013.

“It’s awesome. That’s my favorite thing. It’s nice to have a made horse and go in there and win, but for me that’s not as fulfilling. Most of my horses, I’ve had them since they were younger and brought them up through the ranks,” Lyvere expressed.

Lyvere’s victory with Wink wrapped up the eighth week of competition at the FTI WEF, presented by G&C Farm. Week 9, presented by the Bainbridge Companies, kicks off on Wednesday, March 5, with a full schedule of show jumping and hunter competition. For full results, please visit www.showgroundslive.com.

About FTI Consulting, Inc.

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 4,000 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 $1.58 billion in revenues during fiscal year 2012. For more information, visit www.fticonsulting.com.

About the FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival

The 2014 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival has 12 weeks of top competition running from January 8 through March 30. 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.

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

Lauren Fisher and Laura Cardon for Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.

Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.
Equestrian Public Relations
info@jenniferwoodmedia.com

Ben Maher and Cella Top Another British Showdown in Saturday’s $370,000 FEI World Cup Grand Prix CSI-W 5

Ben Maher and Cella. Photos © Sportfot.

Olivia Woodson Claims THIS Children’s Medal 14 & Under at FTI WEF

Wellington, FL – February 8, 2014 – Scott Brash and Ben Maher proved once again why they are the number one and two ranked riders in the world on Saturday night as the British superstars battled it out for top prize in the $370,000 FEI World Cup Grand Prix CSI-W 5*, presented by Rolex, at the FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival (FTI WEF). Competing in front of a large, enthusiastic crowd at the Palm Beach Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in Wellington, FL, the FEI World Cup Qualifier saw an exciting victory for Maher and Cella, with Brash and Ursula XII finishing second, and up-and-coming U.S. star Lucy Davis guiding Barron to the third place prize.

FTI WEF week five, sponsored by Rolex, will conclude on Sunday with the $84,000 Suncast 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic to begin at 11 a.m. (NEW REVISED TIME) in the International Arena at PBIEC. Schedules have been revised for some rings, so please check www.showgroundslive.com for an updated schedule of Sunday’s competition. The FTI WEF features 12 weeks of world-class competition through March 30, awarding $8 million in prize money.

Great Britain’s Robert Ellis set a difficult track for Saturday night’s class, with 45 competitors and seven clear rounds to advance to the jump-off. Tiffany Foster (CAN) and Artisan Farm’s Verdi III were the first pair to qualify for the jump-off, and cleared the short course in 38.61 seconds to earn the sixth place prize. McLain Ward (USA) and Sagamore Farms’ Rothchild had an unfortunate stop on course for four faults in the jump-off in 47.36 seconds to place seventh.

Audrey Coulter (USA) and Copernicus Stables’ Acorte were next to jump-off, and cleared the course in 37.52 seconds for a fifth place finish. Scott Brash took the lead next in 35.70 seconds aboard Lord and Lady Harris and Lord and Lady Kirkham’s Ursula XII, but eventually settled for second place. Lucy Davis and Old Oak Farm’s Barron placed third with a time of 35.98 seconds. Charlie Jayne and Chill R Z jumped into fourth in 37.04 seconds.

Last to go in the jump-off, Ben Maher and Jane Clark’s Cella cleared the course in an electrifying 35.30 seconds to secure the victory. The crowd exploded as the pair took a huge leap to the final Rolex oxer and raced through the finish line. They had done it again.

Maher has had an incredible FTI WEF circuit so far with wins aboard several of his talented horses. He and Brash had their first duel of the season in week three’s $125,000 Fidelity Investments Grand Prix CSI 3*, where the results were the same – Maher and Cella first, Brash and Ursula XII second. As the results prove, Maher and Cella, a 12-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare by Cento x Chin Chin, have become quite the dream team.

“It’s been an incredible start to the year so far,” Maher acknowledged after Saturday’s win. “Cella had quite a long rest after the European Championships last year and she came back to do a couple of shows towards the end of last year, and actually has not jumped so much. She seems to love WEF here. She loves the ring, and she feels fresh and on form. She is just an incredible horse to ride.”

“I think Bob Ellis did a great job with the course tonight,” Maher noted. “I think a few riders were walking the course tonight and saying it looked big, or it looked technical and quite tight in places, but with $370,000 I didn’t really expect any less. That’s huge prize money, and he was definitely going to make us work for it. I think the course was great. Obviously it suited me. It had everything; faults all over the course, and again, this arena seems to provide some of the fastest jump-offs anywhere in the world. Luckily for me, I had a good draw tonight, and seeing Scott go, he was obviously fast. I was lucky enough to watch them, and it was definitely a big help to me tonight.”

For the winner’s share, Maher earned an impressive $122,000 for the night’s victory. He gave it everything in the jump-off, and the effort certainly paid off. Maher was so focused, he admitted that he was not even sure where he made up the fractions of time.

“I don’t know, everything was going so fast to be honest!” he laughed. “I actually planned to take a stride out and do six on the bend from the first to the second jump (the plank), but when I rode in I was a little nervous with the trees on the side that if I angled the plank, she might stop (and) not look where she was going, so I decided to not take too much risk there. I think the way I can gallop Cella to a double like that and a liverpool afterwards is like no other horse. I can gallop her and she kind of stops, backs up, jumps up and that’s where I can make up the time.”

“It probably looked erratic to the last fence, almost hurtling I guess, but it wasn’t by choice,” he said. “I turned back tight to the vertical, and she cut left on me, which I was ready for, but she did it a little harder than I thought and she landed a little flat-footed. I knew I had to be committed from the first stride, and I was going, and I got four strides down there and that oxer looked like it was still on the other end of the arena, but I kept going. I don’t know how she jumped it, but she did it. I knew if I pulled to the last fence I would be giving it to Scott, so I gave it my best shot.”

Scott Brash and Ursula XII
Scott Brash and Ursula XII

Brash also gave it his best shot with Ursula XII, a 13-year-old Scottish Sport Horse mare by Ahorn x Papageno, and was happy with his finish.

“Ursula jumped fantastic tonight,” Brash smiled. “The first round, everything went according to plan until she jumped the triple bar, and I don’t know, she stumbled or something but I got the six strides very late to the combination and I was very late going in, and she was really good to jump the combination. Everything else went according to plan. She jumped amazing. My jump-off, I was really happy with. I have been working on my jump-offs with her, and when I first got her it felt like I was going too fast and out of control, then I would go fast for the first half and have to make an adjustment half way around. That was the first time of being able to ride a very smooth jump-off and be very quick. She has kept her head, and I am very pleased.”

Maher and Brash have become show jumping superstars and see huge crowds and great fans in Europe. They spoke about the fantastic attendance for Saturday night’s class in Wellington and how great the competition was.

“I think it’s great wherever we go, we are very fortunate to have a lot of fans,” Brash stated. “It is great; it gives you an extra boost when you are in the ring with a lot of people cheering you on, and it just makes you want it more. It was good to see such a busy crowd tonight.”

Maher added, “I think it’s important not to forget to thank Rolex for the sponsorship tonight. It is unbelievable the money and support that they are putting in to the sport over here, and especially in Wellington. I think it certainly looked like one of the biggest crowds to come out for the first major Rolex grand prix here. It was full from every side, and Bob Ellis did a good job of using the whole arena so the whole crowd could watch. We have the best riders here in the world. It is great sport and great entertainment for a Saturday night.”

California’s twenty-one-year-old Lucy Davis finished third with her horse, Barron, a ten-year-old Swedish Warmblood gelding by For Pleasure x Nabab de Reve. Davis, who trains with Germany’s Meredith-Michaels Beerbaum and Markus Beerbaum, earned the biggest victory of her young career this past September when she won the Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix in Lausanne with Barron. The young rider continued to make her mark on the world of show jumping Saturday night with a close finish behind two of the world’s best.

“I have a very, very special horse,” Davis praised after the class. “We have been together for a year now, and he has improved so much over the year and I have improved with him. It is really special to be able to ride in competitions like this, and being behind two Olympians is very inspiring. It makes me believe my goals and dreams are possible.”

“I’d ideally like to do the world championships at the end of the year, but that’s a long shot and that’s a lot of people’s goal right now and it is very early in the year,” Davis said of her plans. “My immediate goal is to keep consistent with what we are doing, and we’ll see what happens!”

Olivia Woodson Claims THIS Children’s Medal 14 & Under at FTI WEF

Olivia Woodson and Victor V.D. Sent
Olivia Woodson and Victor V.D. Sent

Fourteen-year-old Olivia Woodson, of Wellington, FL, finished on top of the THIS Children’s Medal 14 & Under class on Saturday morning at the FTI WEF. Woodson and her horse Victor V.D. Sent were one of the final horse-rider pairs to contest the first round before qualifying for the test with a high score of 87.

The top four riders from round one were called back to test over fences. In addition to Woodson, Maria Moore qualified after laying down an 83 and ultimately finished second. Third place went to Gina Kumar, who earned an 83 in the first round, and Ava Stearns rounded out the top four with a first round score of 86.

Victor V.D. Sent, shortened to “Victor” in the barn, has been partnered with Woodson since October of last year, and she has quickly fallen in love with the handsome bay gelding.

“He’s the best horse in the world. He saves my butt all the time!” Woodson grinned.

Woodson, who trains with Geoff Teall, described Victor’s willingness to take care of her as one of his most endearing traits, along with his brave attitude and natural talent.

“I really like his jump; it’s really scopey. He has a huge stride, and he never looks at anything. He jumps anything; he would jump out of the ring if you wanted him to! He does everything you ask him to,” Woodson detailed.

Going late in the class and last in the test didn’t make Woodson nervous, which doesn’t come as a surprise considering the accomplishments she has to her name, even at her young age. Woodson won the USEF Pony Medal Finals last summer to cap off her pony career and, now that she’s moved up to horses, is already trying her hand at “big eq” classes like the ASPCA Maclay Medal and the Washington International Horse Show Equitation Medal.

The test in Saturday morning’s class was short and relatively simple, asking riders to canter jump three, a single oxer on the diagonal, before counter-cantering jump four, a vertical on the quarter line, and trotting jump five, which had been part of a troublesome diagonal line in the first round.

Woodson immediately formulated her plan for the test, which focused on the counter-canter that she admits is her and Victor’s weakness.

“After the first jump, I was planning on landing right since we have trouble holding the counter-canter sometimes. So I wanted to land right and go through the turn on the right lead, and then when I got straight to the jump I would change to the counter-canter,” Woodson detailed.

When Victor landed on the left lead and was already in the counter-canter, Woodson had to quickly readjust.

“I landed [left], and I tried to do the inside turn and fell off the lead. I was able to fix it, though,” Woodson explained. After returning to the walk and picking up the counter-canter with a few strides to spare before the next fence, she finished the test as the final rider to go. All four riders had suffered from minor missteps in the test, and Woodson was ultimately crowned the winner.

Hunter competition continues for the FTI WEF on Sunday morning with the Coldwell Banker Children’s Hunter 15-17 division. The $84,000 Suncast 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic will begin in the International Arena at 11 a.m. For full results, please visit www.showgroundslive.com.

About FTI Consulting, Inc.

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 4,000 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 $1.58 billion in revenues during fiscal year 2012. For more information, visit www.fticonsulting.com.

About the FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival

The 2014 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival has 12 weeks of top competition running from January 8 through March 30. 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.

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

Lauren Fisher and Laura Cardon for Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.

Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.
Equestrian Public Relations
info@jenniferwoodmedia.com

Honours Go to Ben Maher in Highlight of Week 5 Presented by Rolex at the Winter Equestrian Festival

Peter Nicholson from Rolex USA presents Ben Maher with his Rolex watch.

Wellington, Florida – 9 February 2014 – Under the floodlights of the International Arena in Wellington, Florida, the first 5* competition of the 2014 FTI Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) was dominated by the world’s top two riders who went head to head in a tense competition, with World Number Two Ben Maher taking the honours from his fellow Britain and World Number One, Scott Brash, in the FEI World Cup Grand Prix CSI-W 5* presented by Rolex.

Watched by a big crowd enjoying the warm Florida evening, clear rounds were hard to come by on a tough and demanding track set by Olympic course designer, Bob Ellis, and Maher was one of only seven horse and rider combinations that went clear from 45 starters.

Maher had the advantage of going last into the jump-off and was able to benefit from knowing exactly the line to take, but the leading time set by Brash still looked tough to beat. But Cella, owned by Jane Clark, was up to the task and with a winning margin of 0.41 seconds, Maher took the honours. Third on the winner’s podium was Lucy Davis from the United States, who was watched over from the stands by her trainer and Rolex Testimonee, Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum.

Speaking about the WEF, Ben Maher said, “I think that the biggest advantage of being here at the Winter Equestrian Festival is that we get to spend a lot more time on our horses, and are able to give them one on one attention. Tomorrow, the first thing I will do is ride Cella. I notice things here in Wellington that I wouldn’t when competing in different competitions each weekend. That is one of the biggest benefits of staying in one place for a longer period of time.”

This is the first year of an unprecedented 10-year partnership between WEF and Rolex which was announced in December 2013. Rolex became the “Official Timepiece” of both the Palm Beach International Equestrian Centre and the WEF.

This follows on from the launch of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping in April the same year, which features the three equestrian ‘Majors’ – the CHIO Aachen, the CSIO Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ Tournament and CHI Geneva – and is the first global initiative to reward the outstanding rider who wins the Grand Prix at each show in succession.

Website:
www.rolex.com

Rolex Equestrian Press Room:
equestrianismpressroom.rolex.com

Revolution Sports + Entertainment
Rod Kohler
rod@revolutionsports.co.uk
+44 7770 647 662