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Miss Lucy and Jennifer Alfano Victorious in $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby

Jennifer Alfano and Miss Lucy. Photos © Anne Gittins Photography.

Boggus Wins FTI WEF 12 Beval Palm Beach Adult Medal; Haefner Takes Year-End Prize

Wellington, FL – March 31, 2013 – Jennifer Alfano rode Miss Lucy, an eleven-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare owned by Helen Lenahan, to the top of the $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby on the final day of the FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival (FTI WEF). The final round of competition was held on the grass derby field at The Stadium at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in Wellington, FL. Alfano and Miss Lucy were fourth going into the second round of competition for the derby with a first round score of 186. The pair galloped into first place with a round two score of 198.5 for an overall score of 348.5.

Inclusive and Victoria Colvin finished second with a combined score of 382. The pair was in fifth place after scoring a 182 in round one. Colvin and Inclusive’s spectacular second round performance earned the pair a 200, which helped them take over the lead late in round two before being succeeded by Alfano and Miss Lucy.

Temptation and Kristy McCormack rounded out the top three finishers with an overall score of 380. Temptation, owned by Autumn Janesky, earned a first round score of 166 before finishing with a second round high score of 203.

The first round of competition for the derby was held Saturday afternoon at the E. R. Mische Grand Hunter arena of the PBIEC. Forty-one attempted the course, but only the top twenty-five competitors would advance to the handy round held Sunday at The Stadium. Horses and riders faced a sprawling spread of several major tests of their horses’ bravery, including a derby bank, hand gallop, and four high option fences.

Alfano, no stranger to derby victories, ultimately clinched victory with Miss Lucy after beating both Colvin and McCormack’s top scores. Alfano’s name is most synonymous with 2012 USEF National Horse of the Year Jersey Boy.

Despite being the lesser known of Alfano’s derby mounts, she acknowledged the mare was actually the more dependable of the two. “You can always count on Lucy to give 110%. She’s actually a little more reliable than Jersey Boy. You never wonder [with her]. With him, he has his moments, as everybody knows. She’s one of those horses that just tries to do everything right all the time,” Alfano, of Buffalo, NY, commented.

Lucy’s consistency and remarkable suitability for the tests of a derby class are undeniable, given she has been on vacation for the past two weeks. “I did show her in the High Performance here [at the FTI WEF] this week, but that’s it. She doesn’t really take any special preparation.”

Watch an interview with Hunter Derby winner Jennifer Alfano
Watch an interview with Hunter Derby winner Jennifer Alfano

“She doesn’t have to practice,” Alfano continued. “She was here last year and did this and was great out here [on the derby field]. You don’t have to worry about anything on her. When you’re looking between her ears, you can aim at anything.”

Colvin, of Loxahatchee, FL, bested McCormack’s leading score late in the second round, determined to take over the lead from her fifth place finish in round one. Colvin took an exceptionally technical track aboard Inclusive as she attempted to climb the rankings and was overall pleased with their performance.

“I had a light rub, but I thought the rest [of our course] was really good. My plan today was to go as handy as I could and jump the big ones. If I had a rail, I had a rail. I had to move up,” Colvin acknowledged.

Despite not having a comparable course at home, Colvin had no doubt Inclusive would handle the demands of the derby field like a professional. “We just got a field [at home], but it’s not anything like this. I was confident he would be fine. I think he’s actually better out in the field than in a ring,” Colvin described.

McCormack, of Boston, MA, finished third with Temptation with the highest round two score, but was ultimately exceeded by Colvin and then Alfano. McCormack gave it her all knowing Temptation would be happy to step up to the plate.

“My strategy on that horse is always just to give as much as we’ve got. If we take a risk here or there, I’m okay with that. He’s the kind of horse that is so game, especially for this type of course. I got to show him here last year and I was just trying to go for it and move up as much as I could and he brought it,” McCormack expressed.

McCormack had plenty of ground to make up for after finishing seventh in the first round of competition, but knew the grass field would give Temptation the chance to shine. “He loves pace. He loves getting out there and galloping. He’s never as strong in the first round, when I’m going a bit slower and taking my time. Once we get out in the field, all we do is gallop,” McCormack explained.

Rachel Boggus Claims Another Equitation Victory with SS Whisper in Beval Palm Beach Adult Medal Final; Kathryn Haefner Awarded Top Honors for Series

Rachel Boggus and SS Whisper
Rachel Boggus and SS Whisper

Rachel Boggus, of Fort Wayne, IN, catch rode her way to another first place finish, this time with SS Whisper, in the Beval Palm Beach Adult Medal Final during the final day of competition for the 2013 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival (FTI WEF). SS Whisper, a nine-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding is owned by Wee Enterprises. Boggus was awarded a Beval bridle and gift certificate for her blue ribbon finish in the final class of the series.

Brett Burlington and Cassidy, owned by Sweet Oak Farm, finished second and won an Essex show shirt from Beval for their performance. Third place was awarded a Beval Saddlery logo saddle pad, which went to Sara Ballinger and her own Wanderprinz.

Overall high point finisher for the 2013 FTI WEF was Kathryn Haefner, who rode her own Bentley in Sunday’s class. Haefner was awarded the ultimate prize of a new Butet saddle, also courtesy of class sponsor Beval Saddlery.

Boggus recently brought home a blue ribbon in the Ariat National Adult Medal class aboard a completely unfamiliar horse and was equally successful on new mount SS Whisper, an experienced junior equitation mount. “When I sat on it yesterday, I loved it immediately,” Boggus smiled. “It was so trained, just light and ready to go. It framed up really easily. It was my type of ride, didn’t take too much leg.”

Boggus considers the Beval Palm Beach Medal course an integral part of her annual campaign for Ariat National Adult Medal Finals, held at the Capital Challenge Horse Show in September. She enjoyed the challenging course of Sunday’s class that allowed riders to show off their skills.

“We started with a rollback and there were some inside turn options, which I always like when they put those in. Abby and I always try to think about what I’m going to do at the National Medal Finals, so we try to make it as hard as we can and practice more difficult options. I liked that there was an inside turn option and some tighter rollbacks so you could tighten up and make it fancy if you wanted to,” Boggus described.

For the flat phase of the class, Boggus was thankful to have a mount so well-suited for the demands of the test. “I’m not admittedly the best flatter ever, so we really have to do a lot of work on the flat to get my heels down and I tend to grip too much – I clench my hands,” Boggus explained.

“The flat is really challenging for me, but with this horse it was really nice because it was so supple. I just barely had to put any pressure on the reins and it framed right up. It’s really big and slow and comfortable, so that was really nice,” Boggus commented.

While Boggus has shown at the FTI WEF intermittently in years past, the 2013 season was her first full circuit. “I lived in Denver until this past July, so I would go to [HITS] Thermal. Now that I’m back down in the Midwest and living in Indiana, we come to WEF because we have a barn down here,” Boggus explained.

“I really like it, the weather’s always nice. The competition is the best in the country, and that’s one thing we really wanted to concentrate on – putting myself in these higher pressure situations at bigger shows,” Boggus expressed.

Boggus’ dedication has clearly paid off as she stands on top of the current national standings for the Ariat National Adult Medal. She will take April off to let her horses recuperate before starting back up again in Kentucky next month and setting her sights on the Devon Horse Show on her way to finals.

Kathryn Haefner and Bentley
Kathryn Haefner and Bentley

Haefner has also been a force to be reckoned with this season at the FTI WEF, coming in first in circuit standings for the Beval Palm Beach Adult Medal class. Haefner swapped between her geldings Columbus and Bentley on the path to first place and finished the series on Sunday aboard Bentley, a nine-year-old Warmblood gelding. The pair finished fourth.

Haefner describes Columbus as more of a typical equitation horse, but is quick to acknowledge Bentley’s ability to be competitive in both hunter and equitation divisions. “Bentley is super comfortable. He’s really easy to flat. Columbus may have more of the equitation look, and Bentley’s a good mover, so he does well in the hunters. But when you put a Pelham on [Bentley], he’s got that smooth, pretty way of moving and going round,” Haefner explained.

Haefner also enjoys the opportunity that the Beval Palm Beach Adult Medal class gives adults to show off their equitation skills and compete for a top prize. “I love these classes; they’re really fun. There are not a whole lot of medals for the adults to do, so this is a really nice opportunity to do something like that,” Haefner commented.

“The saddle incentive is great,” she continued. “I ride in a Butet, so that’s always a good incentive because I get the saddle that I like. It’s really fun [to compete in the class] because besides the handy rounds, you never get the opportunity to do a course that’s a little more interesting [in the hunter divisions]. There’s also a flat test, which the other adult medals don’t have. They either don’t have a test or there’s a jumping test, so the flat test makes things a little more interesting, and I like that.”

Haefner, of Buffalo, NY, juggles competing on weekends at the FTI WEF with attending classes full-time at the University of Miami as an aerospace and electrical engineering student. “Sometimes it’s difficult; engineering is challenging. I’m in the top 5% of my class and I try to stay there, so it’s been a challenge, but I like it,” Haefner described.

Haefner’s trainer, Stewart Moran, also of New York, travels south with her each winter and Fort Lauderdale trainer Jimmy Torano also trains the busy young amateur. “It’s a lot of hard work and everybody at the barn works really hard to get the horses ready while I’m not there,” Haefner acknowledged.

The Beval Palm Beach Adult Medal Final was the among the final divisions to award end of circuit honors to the competitors of the FTI WEF, which concluded competition on Sunday at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center.

Jumper Competition Concludes

Wrapping up the final week of Jumper FTI WEF competition in the International Arena at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center, several of the Amateur-Owner Jumper divisions competed in their classics for week 12. The $10,000 Charles Owen Low AO Jumper Classic was first to go with 73 entries, ten advancing to the jump-off, and just one double clear round over the short course. Cynthia Fuller and Full Stride Farm’s Ingaletta had the winning round without fault and completed the course in 39.857 seconds. Megan Fellows and Belle Nuit had the fastest round of 33.92 seconds, but incurred four faults to finish second.

The $10,000 Maria Mendelsohn Low Junior Jumper Classic was held next with a win for Emanuel Andrade and Stransky’s Mission Farms’ Quebec Star. Seventy-six entries jumped in the class with 12 advancing to the jump-off. Six went clear over the second round course and the winning time of 32.882 seconds belonged to Andrade and Quebec Star. Kady Abrahamson and Basco H2 finished second in 33.429 seconds.

The final win of the circuit also went to Andrade with Hollow Creek Farm’s Crossfire 10 in the $10,000 Griffis Residential High Junior Jumpers. Twenty-two entries showed with only two clear rounds. The winning pair had the only double clear round and stopped the clock in 41.412 seconds to earn top prize. Second place honors were awarded to Eugenio Garza and El Milagro’s Bariano with eight faults in the jump-off in a time of 38.568 seconds.

For full results, please visit www.showgroundslive.com.

Laura Cardon for Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.

About the FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival
The 2013 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival has 12 weeks of top competition running from January 9 through March 31. The FTI WEF is run by Equestrian Sport Productions, LLC, and Wellington Equestrian Partners and held at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. All 12 shows are “AA” rated and Jumper Rated 6, and more than $7 million in prize money will be awarded. For more information, please visit www.equestriansport.com.

About FTI Consulting
FTI Consulting, Inc. is a global business advisory firm dedicated to helping organizations protect and enhance enterprise value in an increasingly complex legal, regulatory and economic environment. With more than 3,800 employees located in 24 countries, FTI Consulting professionals work closely with clients to anticipate, illuminate and overcome complex business challenges in areas such as investigations, litigation, mergers and acquisitions, regulatory issues, reputation management, strategic communications and restructuring. The company generated $1.56 billion in revenues during fiscal year 2011. More information can be found at www.fticonsulting.com.

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

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

Lechuza Caracas Defeats Piaget in Opening Game of 109th Maserati U.S. Open

Sapo Caset of Piaget controlling the ball on a breakaway downfield. Photos – David Lominska.

WELLINGTON, FL – March 30, 2013 — Piaget lost its opening game of the 109th Maserati U.S. Open on Saturday after its sixth-chukker rally fell short, losing to Lechuza Caracas, 14-11, at International Polo Club Palm Beach.

Piaget team captain Melissa Ganzi suffered a severe groin pull, according to trainer Jeremy Fedoruk, in the fourth chukker and was forced to leave the game.

Ganzi tried to return to the game but was replaced by 17-year-old Lorenzo Merlotti, a senior at Palm Beach Central High School who was watching the game on the sidelines. It was his 26-goal debut after playing two 20-goal games earlier this season for Crab Orchard.

Grand Champions Polo Club-based Piaget opened the game strong with a 3-0 lead in the first chukker with goals from the team’s two 10-goalers Sapo Caset (two goals), and Miguel Astrada (one). Piaget missed a penalty shot late in the chukker.

“The first half I felt we should have been up by three or four and we weren’t,” Piaget coach Joey Casey said. “I thought we outplayed them the first half and I thought things would go in our favor a little bit in the second half but it didn’t happen.”

Lechuza Caracas started chipping away at the Piaget lead behind Polito Pieres and Juan Martin Nero.

Lechuza Caracas outscored Piaget, 3-1, in the second and third chukkers and went into the half with a 6-5 advantage.

“We started strong and then after halftime I thought we were going to do really well, but then had a bad fourth chukker where they dominated,” Casey said.

Lechuza Caracas scored another three goals in the fourth chukker to increase its lead, 9-6, late in the chukker before Caset converted a penalty goal to cut their lead to 9-7.

Lechuza Caracas scored three consecutive goals for a 12-7 lead before Astrada lofted an amazing 90-yard shot to score in the final seconds of the fifth chukker.

Piaget continued to mount a charge early in the sixth chukker, closing the gap to 12-10 on a big neck shot goal by Caset and again to 13-11 on another amazing Caset neck shot with 2:28 remaining.

But Lechuza Caracas and its lightning-quick horses seemed to have an answer for every Piaget goal.

Nacho Badiola of Piaget fights for the ball against Lechuza Caracas' Juan Martin Nero
Nacho Badiola of Piaget fights for the ball against Lechuza Caracas’ Juan Martin Nero

“In the fifth chukker we did some really good things, but every time we would score they would answer with another one,” Casey said. “We just couldn’t get ahead. We came back strong again in the beginning of the sixth for the first four minutes.

“We would play really well and then we wouldn’t play well and they would score two or three goals,” Casey said. “After Melissa’s injury, Lechuza started back on fire. They came out on fire and killed us. They made a couple goals – boom, boom, boom. It felt like then we were desperate trying to catch up and over running some plays.”

Caset finished the game with nine goals, including four on penalty shots. Astrada, the team workhorse throughout the game, added one goal. Polito Pieres led Lechuza Caracas with nine goals, six on penalty shots. Team captain Victor Vargas had goals in the fifth and sixth chukkers.

“We started very strong but then they had a very good fourth chukker,” Astrada said. “They had good horses that chukker and played very well. Then Melissa got hurt. Melissa was playing really well and we lost the momentum.

“We had to re-organize the team and it was tough even though we did better in the last chukker,” Astrada said. “They are a great team with good horses and good organization. It is difficult to beat them.”

For Merlotti, it was an opportunity of a lifetime to go from watching a U.S. Open game to playing one.

“I wasn’t really nervous but it felt good definitely,” Merlotti said. “The horses felt great. The adrenaline is crazy when you play this kind of polo.

“It took me a while to get used to the game,” Merlotti said. “I didn’t really have to warm up, I guess because I am so young. As soon as I got on the field I was already into it. The players told me to have fun, don’t stress it. Victor has really fast horses; it was really hard. I could have been better – maybe next time.”

Sapo Caset of Piaget driving downfield on the way to scoring one of his nine goals
Sapo Caset of Piaget driving downfield on the way to scoring one of his nine goals

Ganzi hopes to return to the lineup for this week’s game against Alegria on Friday. She will undergo extensive physical therapy and is day-to-day.

“We won’t know how serious Melissa’s injury is until Sunday,” Casey said.

“We’re still in it,” Casey said. “We have two tough games left but we’ll regroup. Hopefully, we will win one of those games and get back in it. Anybody can win on any given day.”

In Saturday’s other U.S. Open game, Alegria defeated Faraway, 11-7. Facundo Obregon led Alegria with four goals. Nic Roldan scored four goals for Faraway, three on penalty shots.

Grand Champions Polo Club-based Audi will play Zorzal on Sunday at 12 noon on Field 2.

There are three brackets. Audi is in bracket one with Coca-Cola, Zorzal, ERG and Valiente. Piaget is in bracket two with Faraway and Orchard Hill. The third bracket is Lechuza Caracas, Alegria and Zacara.

The teams in bracket one will play within the bracket with the best four teams, by record, advancing to the quarterfinals. The teams in bracket two and three will play cross-bracket, with the best four out of all six teams, by record, also advancing into the quarters.

Zacara, led by 10-goaler Facundo Pieres and coming off its USPA Gold Cup loss to Valiente, is defending U.S. Open champion.

The U.S. Open Polo Championship, first played in 1904 at Van Courtland Park, celebrated 100 years in 2004. It is one of three major polo tournaments worldwide along with the British and Argentine Opens. It is also the third jewel of U.S. polo’s 26-goal Triple Crown that includes the C. V. Whitney Cup and USPA Piaget Gold Cup.

For the first half of the 20th century the U.S. Open Polo Championship was hosted in the northeast, primarily at Meadowbrook Polo Club. In 1954, the U.S. Open moved to Oakbrook Polo Club, outside of Chicago, where it stayed until 1978.

The next eight U.S. Opens were hosted by Retama Polo Club in San Antonio where Memo Gracida won the first of his record 16 wins. In 1987, the U.S. Open was played at El Dorado Polo Club in Palm Springs. The next four were played at Horsepark in Lexington, Ky.

Since 1996, the U.S. Open has been held in South Florida. In 2005, Julio Gracida added to the Gracida family’s combined record of 36 U.S. Open Polo Championship wins.

AUDI/PIAGET U.S. OPEN SCHEDULE

Sunday, March 31, Audi vs. Zorzal, noon, Field 2.

Thursday, April 4, Audi vs. Valiente, 2 p.m.

Friday, April 5, Piaget vs. Alegria, 4 p.m.

Sunday, April 7, Audi vs. ERG, noon.

Thursday, April 11, Piaget vs. Zacara, 10 a.m.

Sunday, April 14, Quarterfinals

Wednesday, April 17, Hall of Fame Cup, semifinal; U.S. Open Semifinals, 2 and 4 p.m.

Saturday, April 20: Hall of Fame Cup final, 4 p.m.

Sunday, April 21: Maserati U.S. Open final, 3 p.m.

GRAND CHAMPIONS POLO CLUB

WHERE: On the corner of South Shore Boulevard and Lake Worth Road, Wellington.

INFORMATION: There are great field side views for tournament action at the home base of pro teams Audi and Piaget. Everyone is welcome to watch polo in a relaxed atmosphere during the spring and fall tournament season and other special events including the International Cup in November, Buzz Welker Memorial Junior Tournament in March, Women’s Championship Tournament and Gay Polo League International Tournament, both in April.

Sharon Robb for Phelps Media Group, Inc. International

MEDIA CONTACT:
Phelps Media Group, Inc.
12012 South Shore Blvd #105
Wellington, FL 33414
561-753-3389 (phone)
561-753-3386 (fax)
pmginfo@phelpsmediagroup.com
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Geoffrey Hesslink Rides to Top of Leader Board in Both Phases of WIHS Equitation

Geoffrey Hesslink rode Bumacoemba to blue ribbons in both the hunter and jumper phases of the WIHS Equitation class. Photo By: Emily Riden/PMG.

Tampa, FL – March 30, 2013 – Geoffrey Hesslink kept his heels down and his scores high, earning him the top call in today’s WIHS Equitation class at the Tampa Bay Classic.

Hesslink finished first in the WIHS Equitation Hunter Phase this morning at the Bob Thomas Equestrian Center aboard Bumacoemba. The pair then returned to the ring later in the day to earn another blue ribbon in the WIHS Equitation Jumper Phase and the overall award sponsored by Dyer Equestrian.

The hunter phase tested riders over an eight fence Keith Bollotte designed course that included an in-and-out and a number of long approach oxers. Hesslink and Bumacoemba, owned by Lynnewood Stables, Inc., earned an impressive top score of 82 to win the class and put them in the top spot going in to the evening’s jumper portion of the competition.

Finishing close behind Hesslink in the hunter phase was Lizzie Van Der Walde riding App For That, owned by Dasilva Investments. Van Der Walde delivered an equally fluent ride, to earn a score of 81 and the second place ribbon. Rounding out the top three was Ashton Alexander aboard Meghan Flanagan’s Terrapin Station, finishing with a score of 80.

The field of talented equitation riders faced off again in the jumper phase, but no one was able to overturn Hesslink and Van Der Walde’s standings. Van Der Walde was the first to compete over Michel Vaillancourt’s course in the Covered Arena where she laid down the opening trip in a time of 67.59 seconds, slightly over the time allowed of 67 seconds. Van Der Walde’s equitation and riding ability throughout the course compensated for her faults and earned her a competitive score of 79. Combined with her earlier hunter score, Van Der Walde set the score to beat at 160.

Jessica Castillo was the third to return for the jumper phase aboard her own mount, Winston De Kalvarie. She delivered the fastest round of the night at 60.58 seconds and came close Van Der Walde’s jumper score, clocking in with a score of 78. Combined with a hunter phase score of 72, Castillo would finish with a score of 150, earning the third place award in the jumper phase and the sixth place award over all.

Hesslink followed Castillo in the order of go and turned in scores that would go unmatched the remainder of the evening. Hesslink slipped through the timers in 64.46 seconds while maintaining strong form to earn the high score of 85. Coupled with his previous hunter score of 82, Hesslink’s 167 total was unattainable for any of those who followed him.

“On a day to day basis, you can usually trust him to get the job done,” Hesslink’s trainer Don Stewart explained. “He is very enthusiastic about his performance, so you don’t have to worry about him not doing enough work to get to the ring.”

Stewart continued, “We knew the course, and we knew the horse, and we figured that would go fine. He made mistake at the liverpool and tried to get in there too early and did eight. That was the only thing that was wrong with the round-the rest was textbook. I am very proud of him.”

Along with his WIHS Equitation win, Hesslink rode to the ribbons in the Large Junior Hunters this morning, also aboard Bumacoemba. Finishing in first place in the Large Junior Hunter class was Michael Hughes riding Costes, owned by Anne Symes. The first place honor in the Large Junior Hunter Handy went to Hannah Holik aboard Tache Rouge, owned by Czech Mate, LLC.

In the Small Junior Hunters, Ashton Alexander delivered the perfect sweep, winning both the first course and the handy class aboard O’Ryan. Alexander started showing O’Ryan for fellow junior and owner Meghan Flanagan back in January and has enjoyed riding him whenever presented the opportunity.

“He’s unreal. His jump is just amazing, and no matter where you want to leave from he just does it and takes care of it. It’s so easy for him – that’s what I love,” Alexander exclaimed. “The first round was just so nice and smooth, and he’s so big strided that the lines are just right there. I liked the handy a lot too. The two last jumps were long rides to the oxers. I always like doing those on him because he makes such a beautiful jump out of them.”

Following the junior hunters, the Amateur-Owner 18-35 Hunters concluded the remaining three classes in their division, after which Callie Smith and Peron were named division champions.

“He was just a really good boy. He was champion my last week in Ocala too, so we’re kind of on a roll. He’s just been really good, and I’m so happy with him,” Smith shared.

The junior hunters will return to the Main Hunter Ring tomorrow morning for the final day of the Tampa Bay Classic. Following tomorrow’s competition, the Tampa Equestrian Series will return on Tuesday, April 2nd with the Tournament of Championships and more ‘AA’ hunter competition.

For more information on the Tampa Equestrian Series, please visit www.StadiumJumping.com.

Emily Riden for Phelps Media Group, Inc. International

Media Contact:
Phelps Media Group, Inc.
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Suite 105
Wellington, FL 33414
561-753-3389 (phone)
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Nancy Jones and Colorado Bring the Competition to Tampa

Nancy Jones and Colorado earned dual blue ribbons over fences in today’s Amateur-Owner Over 35 Hunters at the Tampa Bay Classic. Photo By: Emily Riden.

Tampa, FL – March 29, 2013 – Nancy Jones is coming off of a knee injury and going straight to the top of the leader board at the Tampa Bay Classic. She and her mount, Colorado, bested the competitive field in both classes of the Amateur-Owner Over 35 Hunter division this morning at the Bob Thomas Equestrian Center.

“I had a stirrup leather come off of my saddle in Ocala, and I tore my knee up really bad. I really thought I wasn’t even going to get to show,” Jones explained. “Today is the first day I’m back to doing the 3’3″.”

With sunny skies, quality horses and riders, and well-designed courses, today’s classes in the Tampa Equestrian Series provided the perfect opportunity for the Arkansas-native to get back in the show ring. There she won both the first Amateur-Owner Over 35 Hunter class and the Amateur-Owner Over 35 Handy.

“I’m kind of excited to be back,” Jones shared. “The courses rode beautifully. It’s such a nice big ring, and the footing is great.”

Joining Jones on this morning’s list of winners were Callie Smith and Darby Toben. The two riders dominated the first day of the Amateur-Owner 18-35 Hunter division, taking turns finishing in the one and two positions.

Darby Toben earned the top call over the first course with San Patricino II, owned by Doreen Toben. Smith came in a close second over the same course with Peron, owned by Smithfield Farms LLC. Over the handy course the roles were reversed, with Smith riding to the blue ribbon and Darby Toben claiming the red.

“This is my first time at Tampa, but I really like it. I think this is a great hunter ring. It’s really big, and the jumps are impressive,” Smith commented. “Peron was super today. He’s usually really spooky, and he can be a tough ride for a lot of people. It took a long time to figure him out, but once we got a system together he was really good. He was great today.”

With their finishes today, Jones will lead the quest for the division championship in the Amateur-Owner Over 35 Hunters, and Toben and Smith will sit tied atop the point standings for the Amateur-Owner 18-35 Hunters.

Prior to the conclusion of the Amateur Owner divisions tomorrow afternoon, the Junior Hunters will take to the Main Hunter Ring for their turn to shine over the Keith Bollotte designed courses in the first week of ‘AA’ hunter competition at the Tampa Equestrian Series. For more information about the 2013 Tampa Equestrian Series, please visit www.StadiumJumping.com.

Emily Riden for Phelps Media Group, Inc. International

Media Contact:
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Suite 105
Wellington, FL 33414
561-753-3389 (phone)
561-753-3386 (fax)
pmginfo@phelpsmediagroup.com
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Aaron Vale and Palm Sunday Ride to Win $25,000 Tampa Bay Welcome Stake

Aaron Vale piloted Palm Sunday to the top of the leader board, scoring the quickest of only three double-clear efforts. Photo By: Kendall Bierer/PMG.

Tampa, FL – March 29, 2013 – In a speedy fashion, Aaron Vale piloted Palm Sunday to victory under the spotlights during the $25,000 Tampa Bay Welcome Stake at the Bob Thomas Equestrian Center. The anticipation was tangible as eight riders moved into the heated jump-off this evening. Riders fought a battle to the top as they tried to qualify for the steadily approaching $200,000 Gene Mische American Invitational to be held at the Raymond James Stadium Saturday, April 6. With Vale’s win tonight, he has sealed his spot in the field of entries.

A field of 31 riders showed in the Covered Arena over Michel Vaillancourt’s first round course. It began with a large oxer with twin stone pillars leading to a vertical, where riders then had to make a left turn to move through the diagonal blue-and-white vertical. A right hand turn over the green and purple oxer on the far side of the ring prepared riders for the technical opening fence leading to the triple combination heading toward the out gate. Riders then had to take the outside double combination where they were faced with a vertical-oxer, and then make their way over the vertical set at the far end of the ring. It was fence 11 that saw the most rails fall with ten riders finding fault. After landing from the red-and-white skinny, they moved forward over the large final oxer.

Jordan Coyne and Lazaro
Jordan Coyne and Lazaro

Jordan Coyne and Lazaro were the first to master the track with a fault-free round. She was the tenth in the order of go, but she certainly set the standard with only seven other pairs navigating the course leaving all rails in their place. Eight horses in total continued on to the jump-off, adding pressure as the riders attempted to break the beam, while still navigating the technical course with accuracy.

The jump-off course began with the first round’s opening oxer, and was followed by fence 14, which was fence four from the first round set backwards. With a hard rollback to the right, riders took fence two from the first round in the opposite direction, and made a hard right rollback to 7b of the triple combination. The wide red-and-white oxer forced riders to take a left turn to the double combination, where they then made a hard left to the dreaded skinny vertical. Upon landing, riders raced for home over the final liverpool obstacle.

“I thought he did a great course,” New Zealand rider Sharn Wordley described. “It was a really good jump-off. Eight clear out of 31 is about the number that you want. It was tough enough, and there were faults coming everywhere. Both combinations were tough, the last fence was tough, the skinny before the last fence was tough. A lot of these horses haven’t jumped indoors in a long time or haven’t jumped indoors at all so to jump that course for their first Grand Prix indoors was tough.”

Coyne and Lazaro were the first to compete over the final test, and with a number of riders coming in behind them, they knew they needed to provide a time and a challenge the other riders would be forced to chase. Coyne picked up a speedy pace to the first fence, and kept the solid pace and tight turns on target. The nerves were high as Coyne sped through the double combination, but all rails stayed in their cups as the horse and rider sliced the outside turn to the skinny, took the oxer with ease, and stopped the timers in 42.936 seconds posting the first of only three double-clear efforts.

“I wanted to go fast, and I planned on making an inside turn after the second jump of the jump-off, but I didn’t look in time so I didn’t get it done, and I think that’s what cost me the class,” eventual second place finisher Coyne explained. “I’m just super happy. I tried to step it up as much as I could after I missed that inside, and I thought I did a pretty good job of making up time. Any top three or even top five finish in a $25,000 is a big deal still. I was really fortunate to have a great season in Ocala, so it’s really nice to come here in a completely different ring and have him go just as well.”

Sharn Wordley and Quick Blue Z
Sharn Wordley and Quick Blue Z

Vaillancourt’s short course soon became the story as faults consistently knocked the teams out of the top rankings. It wasn’t until Wordley and Quick Blue Z took a go that riders began to see the light of a possible victory. Wordley was the first to pilot his mount through the intertwining obstacles, using a different method to succeed – speed and a slight amount of conservancy. Unlike Coyne, Wordley took a bit of time with the grey gelding, falling nearly four seconds behind Coyne.

“I bought him as a 7-year-old and he’s 11 now. He’s really maturing,” Wordley described. “He won a couple of Grand Prixs last year, and he’s been placing in a couple of big Grand Prix this year. He’s just a little bit quirky, and he’s extremely moody. He’s extremely careful, extremely scopey, but he’s just a moody bugger. He’s maturing into it now, which is good.”

Wordley continued, “The ground was a little slippery in the jump off, so I was a little conservative in a couple places. I didn’t go to fast because I didn’t want him to slip. He’s got some Grand Prix coming up, and I want to do him on Sunday. I’m actually mainly up here so that I qualify for the Invitational on my other horse, but I think we’ve qualified now. I’ve got a really good horse for it, and it will be my first time, so I am quite excited.”

Michael Hughes and Dromma, owned by Vanessa Mannix of Calgary, Alberta, gave the other riders a run for their money. Hughes used speed to his advantage, and as the crowd held its breath, the horse and rider made their way through the track. It was an unlucky rail at 9b that sealed their fate in the eventual fourth place spot. They finished with a four-fault score in 42.149 seconds.

Aaron Vale blasted out of the in gate with his eye on the prize. He spurred on Palm Sunday, owned by Amen Corner Farm of Folsom, LA, taking the tight turns necessary while maintaining accuracy over the impressive obstacles. Vale used the opportunity to open Palm Sunday’s stride after the double combination, clearing the skinny and breaking the beam in 41.122 seconds. Vale posted the fastest time of the night, proving that the race against the clock was no deterrence for the focused pair.

“I was hoping to get a good check so that I can ride again next Saturday night,” Vale stated. “It’s always a treat to get to go jump in Raymond James Stadium. I know these classes count toward qualifying, and I picked up three checks this evening so hopefully that’ll be close enough. Maybe I can get another check or two on Sunday to help get in. Right now Palmer is kind of my longest tenured horse. He’s experienced himself. I mean he’s 14 years old so he’s had mileage before I got him. I know what he can do and what he can’t do. If we get it right he’s pretty competitive. We kind of got it just right tonight.”

It was Callie Smith and Captain Krutzmann, owned by Smithfield Farms, LLC of Bedminster, NJ, who finished with the fifth place award. Although they took a more conservative route than their competitors, Smith and Captain Krutzmann found fault at the last obstacle of the short course, the liverpool. It was heartbreak for horse and rider alike.

Vale had also shown his other mount Zippo II, owned by 2VR Show Jumpers of Morriston, FL, at the beginning of the jump-off. They had tried to follow in Coyne’s path early in the order to return, but Vale accrued 8 faults with his more recent mount, ending with a time of 45.443 seconds to take the sixth place prize.

“I didn’t ride the first line very well on Zippo-he’s kind of a newer horse for me, He’s got a right drift, so where we wanted to do six, I did seven when he jumped way to the right,” Vale elaborated. I didn’t really get what I wanted on him, but Palm Sunday I’ve had him almost a year now.

Vale continued, “There were a couple things – I figured I could just be quick away from the fences; I made sure to really line up the first line and get down there in the six which he did well, and then boy he ducked in and just kind of cut like a barrel horse off of number two. He was super across there, and then as soon as I hit the ground I ran. I was just fast away from the jumps and tried to make sure I got a good enough approach to clear them. I just played to his strengths in the jump-off their tonight.

Tomorrow will welcome the Junior and Amateur-Owner Jumpers to the Covered Arena for another day of competition, while the Adult and Children’s Jumpers will have the opportunity to showcase their skills in the race against the clock. Sunday afternoon will welcome top riders to compete in the long-awaited Grand Prix of Tampa where riders will compete in the battle of the best.

For more information about the 2012 Tampa Equestrian Series, please visit www.StadiumJumping.com.

Kendall Bierer for Phelps Media Group, Inc. International

Media Contact:
Phelps Media Group, Inc.
12012 South Shore Blvd.
Suite 105
Wellington, FL 33414
561-753-3389 (phone)
561-753-3386 (fax)
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Coca-Cola Rallies to Beat Audi in Opening Game of 109th Maserati U.S. Open

Audi team captain Marc Ganzi about to hit the ball downfield. Photos: David Lominska.

WELLINGTON, FL – March 29, 2013 — Audi dropped a 12-11 decision to Coca-Cola in the opening game of the 109th Maserati U.S. Open Thursday in front of a packed crowd at International Polo Club Palm Beach.

In control for the first four chukkers, Grand Champions Polo Club-based Audi led by many as four goals late in the third chukker (8-4) and maintained a three-goal advantage in the fourth chukker.

Audi penalties and mental errors allowed Coca-Cola back in the game in the fifth chukker.

Audi, winners of the 2009 U.S. Open, is hoping to find its winning form before the 26-goal season ends next month. For four chukkers Audi did just that behind the scoring and incredible passing of brothers Gonzalito and Nico Pieres and defense of American Jeff Hall.

Audi team captain Marc Ganzi returned to the lineup in the second half after 16-year-old Juancito Bollini, a Wellington High senior, started the game and played well the first three chukkers defending Coca-Cola Gillian Johnston, one of only two women in the high goal tournament.

Sugar Erskine started the Coca-Cola rally with a big pass to Julio Arellano who cut Audi’s lead to 10-8 with 4:44 left.

After a crucial Audi penalty, Sebastian Merlos hit a big shot downfield which Johnston converted into a goal to trail by only one goal (10-9) at the 2:57 mark.

Nico Pieres keeps eye on the ball as he goes for it mid-air
Nico Pieres keeps eye on the ball as he goes for it mid-air

Nico Pieres missed two scoring opportunities late in the chukker including a missed 30-yard penalty shot and a third goal attempt to open the sixth chukker.

Coca-Cola grabbed the momentum with Erskine coming up with an incredible neck shot to tie the game at 10-10.

Thirty seconds later, Hall came right back with a goal which was first waved wide and then ruled good for an 11-10 Audi lead.

Erskine continued his hot hand taking control of the ball in a crowd and driving for another goal to tie the game at 11-11.

After both teams exchanged penalties, Merlos drove downfield to score what turned out to be the winning goal with 3:09 remaining despite scoring attempts from Nico and Gonzalito Pieres.

Bollini was bumped off his horse with 3:30 left in the second chukker but regained his composure and returned to the game.

Hall and Nico Pieres each had four goals for Audi. Gonzalito Pieres, who had a strong first half, finished with three goals and was shut out in the fifth and sixth chukkers.

Arellano, a Cardinal Newman and Florida Atlantic alum, led Coca-Cola with five goals including three penalty shots. Erskine and Merlos each had three and Johnston added one.

In Thursday’s other U.S. Open game, Zorzal, behind Jason Crowder’s five goals including two in the sixth chukker, defeated ERG, 10-8. ERG team captain Scott Wood did not play and was replaced by 16-year-old Wesley Bryan.

Grand Champions Polo Club-based Piaget will play Lechuza Caracas Saturday in its first U.S. Open game at 2 p.m. Piaget is led by 10-goalers Sapo Caset and Miguel Astrada

Gonzalito Pieres keeps possession of the ball despite pressure from Coca-Cola's Julio Arellano
Gonzalito Pieres keeps possession of the ball despite pressure from Coca-Cola’s Julio Arellano

There are three brackets. Audi is in bracket one with Coca-Cola, Zorzal, ERG and Valiente, the only other team with two 10-goalers Adolfo Cambiaso and Pelon Stirling. Piaget is in bracket two with Faraway and Orchard Hill. The third bracket is Lechuza Caracas, Alegria and Zacara.

The teams in bracket one will play within the bracket with the best four teams, by record, advancing to the quarterfinals. The teams in bracket two and three will play cross-bracket, with the best four out of all six teams, by record, also advancing into the quarters.

Zacara, led by 10-goaler Facundo Pieres and coming off its USPA Gold Cup loss to Valiente, is defending U.S. Open champion.

The U.S. Open Polo Championship, first played in 1904 at Van Courtland Park, celebrated 100 years in 2004. It is one of three major polo tournaments worldwide along with the British and Argentine Opens. It is also the third jewel of U.S. polo’s 26-goal Triple Crown that includes the C. V. Whitney Cup and USPA Piaget Gold Cup.

For the first half of the 20th century the U.S. Open Polo Championship was hosted in the northeast, primarily at Meadowbrook Polo Club. In 1954, the U.S. Open moved to Oakbrook Polo Club, outside of Chicago, where it stayed until 1978.

The next eight U.S. Opens were hosted by Retama Polo Club in San Antonio where Memo Gracida won the first of his record 16 wins. In 1987, the U.S. Open was played at El Dorado Polo Club in Palm Springs. The next four were played at Horsepark in Lexington, Ky.

Since 1996, the U.S. Open has been held in South Florida. In 2005, Julio Gracida added to the Gracida family’s combined record of 36 U.S. Open Polo Championship wins.

AUDI/PIAGET U.S. OPEN SCHEDULE

Saturday, March 30, Piaget vs. Lechuza Caracas, 2 p.m.

Sunday, March 31, Audi vs. Zorzal, noon.

Thursday, April 4, Audi vs. Valiente, 2 p.m.

Friday, April 5, Piaget vs. Alegria, 4 p.m.

Sunday, April 7, Audi vs. ERG, noon.

Thursday, April 11, Piaget vs. Zacara, 10 a.m.

Sunday, April 14, Quarterfinals

Wednesday, April 17, Hall of Fame Cup, semifinal; U.S. Open Semifinals, 2 and 4 p.m.

Saturday, April 20, Hall of Fame Cup final, 4 p.m.

Sunday, April 21, Maserati U.S. Open final, 3 p.m.

GRAND CHAMPIONS POLO CLUB

WHERE: On the corner of South Shore Boulevard and Lake Worth Road, Wellington.

INFORMATION: There are great field side views for tournament action at the home base of pro teams Audi and Piaget. Everyone is welcome to watch polo in a relaxed atmosphere during the spring and fall tournament season and other special events including the International Cup in November, Buzz Welker Memorial Junior Tournament in March, Women’s Championship Tournament and Gay Polo League International Tournament, both in April.

Sharon Robb for Phelps Media Group, Inc. International

MEDIA CONTACT:
Phelps Media Group, Inc.
12012 South Shore Blvd #105
Wellington, FL 33414
561-753-3389 (phone)
561-753-3386 (fax)
pmginfo@phelpsmediagroup.com
PhelpsMediaGroup.com

McLain Ward and Super Trooper de Ness Are Unstoppable in $50,000 Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup Round 12

McLain Ward and Super Trooper de Ness. Photo © Sportfot.

Lauren Hough and Ohlala Fly to Victory in $33,000 G&C Farm 1.45m Speed; Darrin Dlin and Tienna Top $10,000 Adequan 5-Year-Old Young Jumper Final; Kaepernick and Havens Schatt Score Big in Perfect Products Pre-Green Level 1 Hunters

Wellington, FL – March 28, 2012 – McLain Ward (USA) and the powerful black stallion Super Trooper de Ness emerged victorious in the $50,000 Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup Round 12 on Thursday, March 28, as part of the twelfth and final week of competition at the 2013 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival (FTI WEF). Competing at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in Wellington, FL, Ward topped U.S. riders Charlie Jacobs, Christine McCrea and Reed Kessler to round out the top four in the international field.

Other wins for the day went to Lauren Hough and Ohlala in the $33,000 G&C Farm 1.45m speed class and Darrin Dlin and Tienna in the $10,000 Adequan 5-Year-Old Young Jumper Final. In the hunters, Havens Schatt and Kaepernick topped the Perfect Products Pre-Green Level 1 Hunters.

The 2013 FTI WEF circuit concludes with its final week of competition, sponsored by FTI Consulting, on March 27-31 featuring CSI 5* show jumping. Highlights of the week include Adequan Young Jumper Championship Classics with the $15,000 6-Year-old and $20,000 7 and 8-Year-Old Classics on Friday. The $33,000 Suncast 1.50m Classic and $500,000 FTI Consulting Finale Grand Prix CSI 5* will be featured on Saturday, and the $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby will conclude competition on Sunday.

The final round of the Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup Series featured 40 horse and rider combinations on Thursday afternoon. Ireland’s Alan Wade designed the course, and seven went clear to advance to the tie breaking jump-off. The challenging track for the short course saw five entries jump without fault with an unbeatable round set forth by McLain Ward and Grant Road Partners’ Super Trooper de Ness in the winning time of 34.82 seconds.

Ward and the eleven-year-old Belgian Sport Horse stallion (Vigo d’Arsouilles x Polydor) have had a fantastic circuit with many top finishes. They began with a win in the $6,000 Spy Coast Farm 1.40m jumpers during week two and moved up to top the $25,000 Suncast 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic later that same week. They also won the $43,000 Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup during week eight, among other top finishes. With this week’s win to cap off an excellent winter season, Ward praised course designer Alan Wade for the great track in Thursday’s class.

“Alan Wade is my favorite course designer in the world,” Ward asserted. “I think he is phenomenal; I think he is a horseman. I am a huge fan of his because I think he really thinks about not only the challenge that he is setting for us and how to get the right result, but also how it affects all of us. I think his courses are smooth and I think they allow you to ride well, and if you ride well and smooth, you are rewarded.”

Ward was definitely rewarded for his excellent ride in Thursday’s class. Although he admits to not having the smoothest round in the jump-off, Super Trooper put in a fantastic effort. When Charlie Jacobs and CMJ Sporthorse LLC’s Flaming Star blazed an amazing pace in 36 seconds right before their round, Ward and Super Trooper went in and immediately stole the lead.

“It is getting to the point at this level that even with a horse with this much quality, you don’t believe they can go as fast as they are going even when you are doing it,” Ward declared. “Charlie is a really competitive guy. He did six strides from fence one to two, which walked eight, so six strides off a triple bar away from home was pretty incredible. I saw that and I thought, ‘no, I don’t like that’, but my competitive nature always gets the best of me. I say, ‘ok, I have to do it to win’, and something clicks.”

“I got the first jump right and for four strides I was going for six and then I realized ‘this is not happening’,” Ward laughed. “I took a very severe half-halt, and it wasn’t textbook, but the horse really helped me out to jump the second fence clean. Then he finished up the jump-off great. He jumped spectacular and it came our way.”

Lauren Hough and Ohlala Fly to Victory in $33,000 G&C Farm 1.45m Speed

Lauren Hough and Ohlala. Photo © Sportfot
Lauren Hough and Ohlala. Photo © Sportfot

Thursday’s busy competition schedule also featured a $33,000 G&C Farm 1.45m speed class with the roster of top finishers including Lauren Hough (USA) and Ohlala, Rodrigo Pessoa (BRA) and HH Let’s Fly, and Eric Lamaze (CAN) and Wang Chung M2S. Course designer Alan Wade saw 52 entries with 16 clear rounds for the one round speed class.

Once again, the rounds got faster and faster as some of the best went late in the line-up. Lauren Hough and The Ohlala Group’s Ohlala were the winners with their typically fast time of 56 seconds flat. The success adds to a long list of FEI world ranking wins for the pair, including a top finish in this same class during week nine as well as a win in last week’s $33,000 Spy Coast Farm 1.45m speed class.

Rodrigo Pessoa and Double H Farm’s HH Let’s fly finished second in Thursday’s round with their time of 56.31 seconds. Last week’s winner, Wang Chung M2S, owned by Morningside Stud and Torrey Pines Stable and ridden by Eric Lamaze, finished third in 56.68 seconds.

For Lauren Hough and Ohlala, it was once again a smooth and easy gallop to the win.

“I went late, and there are a lot of fast horses, but I think mine just happens to be the fastest,” Hough declared. “She just looks for the jumps and she doesn’t spend a lot of time in the air. I even slowed up to the last and I thought that might have caught up with me, but once she cleared (b) she was like a torpedo through the timers. I say it time and time again, she makes my job easy. She just loves to compete and she loves to win.”

“I thought it was cleverly built today,” Hough said of the course. “It was probably more of a real 1.45m than what we have jumped in the last couple of weeks. That is good for her because it backs her up a little bit. I thought it asked plenty of questions and there were some good rollbacks and some good long runs. I really like Alan Wade as a course builder a lot.”

Darrin Dlin and Tienna Win $10,000 Adequan 5-Year-Old Young Jumper Final

Darrin Dlin and Tienna. Photo © Sportfot
Darrin Dlin and Tienna. Photo © Sportfot

The $10,000 Adequan 5-Year-Old Young Jumper Classic was held on Thursday morning with a win for Canada’s Darrin Dlin and Tienna, owned by Susan Grange. Held as the final for the division during this year’s FTI WEF circuit, the class saw 31 entries in the first round of competition with sixteen going clear to the jump-off. Darrin Dlin and Tienna completed the fastest of five double clear rounds in 37.201 seconds for the win. Peter Wylde and North Star’s Darthus finished second in 37.496 seconds. Jill Prieto and Hyperion Stud’s Dakota VDL finished third in 37.569 seconds.

Tienna is a Dutch Warmblood mare by the stallion For Pleasure and out of the Polydox mare Bequia. She is home-bred, born and raised at Susan Grange’s Lothlorien Farm in Cheltenham, Ontario, Canada. Tienna is a full sister to the mare Janou that Dlin rode to the win in this same class last year.

“It is a wonderful family,” Dlin said of the mares. “They go in the ring and they puff right up and they just really want to win. Tienna is so competitive. She is all heart; she is scopey, fast, careful. She has been very easy to bring along.”

“I started her a little bit last summer, just some very small things sporadically, and then she just started off really showing this winter,” he explained. “She did a few weeks of the five-year-olds here and then got turned out for three weeks and grew up a little bit. Then she just came back for the last two weeks and she was right back on her game.”

Commenting on their rounds, Dlin noted, “I thought the course was great today. Alan did a wonderful job. In the first round she was a little over-impressed, but then she came out and took a breath, really thought about it, and then in the jump-off she was great. She is wonderful; she just really wanted to win. In one word, she is a winner.”

Kaepernick and Havens Schatt Score Big in Perfect Products Pre-Green Level 1 Hunters

Havens Schatt and Kaepernick. Photo © Anne Gitttins Photography
Havens Schatt and Kaepernick. Photo © Anne Gitttins Photography

Kaepernick and Havens Schatt took home the championship prize in the Perfect Products Pre-Green Hunter Level 1 division during the final week of the FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival (FTI WEF). The five-year-old Warmblood gelding is owned by Schatt’s client, Debbie Stevens. Kaepernick and Schatt were first, third, and third over fences and placed fourth under saddle.

Reserve champion was Ransom, ridden by Nick Decosta and owned by Carolyn Gouse. Decosta rode Ransom to sixth, second, and second place over fences and wrapped up the division with a second place ribbon under saddle.

Schatt imported Kaepernick from Europe last fall but delayed showing him until the 2013 FTI WEF as he was still “very much a baby.” Kaepernick was clearly worth the wait, earning reserve championship honors at his first show during week ten in addition to the week twelve championship title.

Schatt’s slow but deliberate approach to bringing along her young horses has proven to be a winning approach judging by the myriad of successful young horses she’s shown at the FTI WEF this season.

“I really believe in taking my time with them. I brought Kaepernick over here [to the show grounds] maybe three times and did warm-ups on Tuesday but I kept it easy. If I jumped the course, I jumped the course. But if I jumped two jumps or even if he didn’t go in the ring that day, that was okay too. He told me what he was ready for and it’s worked perfectly,” Schatt described.

Schatt has plenty to look forward to with the talented young horse after his impressive debut at the FTI WEF. “I have really high hopes for him. He’s really scopey. He’s very brave. When he first came from Europe, he was quite spooky, and that’s one reason I took my time with him. But now, he’s been in two different rings and he’s very brave. He has a big stride and big scope. I think he’s ready to move on from the three-foot [division],” Schatt commented.

Kaepernick will continue to compete at his current level throughout the spring, but Schatt aims to have him moved up by the time they return to the FTI WEF in 2014.

“He’ll continue to show in the three-foot at the Kentucky Spring Shows [in May] and after that, I would like to move him up to 3’3,” Schatt revealed. “At some point, depending on when he says it’s time, Debbie will start to ride him a little bit in the Adults. Our plan moving forward is that he would be ready to do First Years and at the least the 3’3″ Amateurs next year if not the 3’6.”

Kaepernick caught Stevens’ eye the day he was imported and after watching Schatt work with the talented young prospect, she decided to make him her own. “I think she bought him with her heart,” Schatt smiled. “She liked him from the start. She watched us bring him along and what we did with him. She saw the good things and the naughty things he did and she just loved him.”

Schatt is eager to see the pair get to know each other and looks forward to watching Stevens compete with Kaepernick in the future. “I let her ride him at home and jump a few days. He’s still very green for an amateur, but they did get along very well. When she made mistakes, he didn’t hold it against her. I think when the time is right, it’s going to be an awesome match,” Schatt expressed.

Schatt is also grateful to have an owner completely on board with her approach to training. “For me, if you don’t start on a good note with amateurs, it usually doesn’t go well. She’s been nice enough to tell us when we’re ready, she’s ready, and she’ll enjoy watching him until then,” Schatt stated.

The final week of the FTI WEF, presented by circuit title sponsor FTI Consulting, will continue Friday with the Adult Amateur Hunter 36-50 division, hosted in the Rost Arena of the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. The Adequan Young Jumper Championship Finals will continue with the $15,000 6-Year-Old and $20,000 7 and 8-Year-Old Classics in the International Arena. For full results, please visit www.showgroundslive.com.

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

About the FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival
The 2013 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival has 12 weeks of top competition running from January 9 through March 31. The FTI WEF is run by Equestrian Sport Productions, LLC, and Wellington Equestrian Partners and held at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. All 12 shows are “AA” rated and Jumper Rated 6, and more than $7 million in prize money will be awarded. For more information, please visit www.equestriansport.com.

About FTI Consulting
FTI Consulting, Inc. is a global business advisory firm dedicated to helping organizations protect and enhance enterprise value in an increasingly complex legal, regulatory and economic environment. With more than 3,800 employees located in 24 countries, FTI Consulting professionals work closely with clients to anticipate, illuminate and overcome complex business challenges in areas such as investigations, litigation, mergers and acquisitions, regulatory issues, reputation management, strategic communications and restructuring. The company generated $1.56 billion in revenues during fiscal year 2011. More information can be found at www.fticonsulting.com.

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

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

Aaron Vale Proves Victorious throughout Open Jumpers for Second Day of Tampa Bay Classic

Aaron Vale guided Kryptonite to the 1.40m victory in only 42.398 seconds. Photo By: Kendall Bierer/PMG.

Tampa, FL – March 28, 2013 – The course was the talk of the day today at the Tampa Bay Classic, as each consecutive rider was faced with a technical track that tested the best of their abilities. Riders gathered at the Covered Arena early this morning, and the cold weather only added to the mounting anticipation as some of the nation’s top riders took their turn at the technical track in the Open Jumper classes at the Bob Thomas Equestrian Center at the Florida State Fairgrounds. Aaron Vale was one of the few riders to master the track, tackling the course with each of his mounts and taking away the victory in the 1.35m and 1.40m competitions.

Michel Vaillancourt of Canada was the course designer for today’s events in the Covered Arena, and he tested riders with a liverpool, vertical-oxer-vertical triple combination and an oxer-vertical double combination. The 1.35m and 1.40m riders were then asked to continue into the jump-off where they would be challenged by a number of tough rollbacks, tight inside turns and a snug time allowed as they took their turn at the short course. The track consisted of six obstacles including the opening oxer leading to fence two, a blue-and-white vertical, a tight left turn to the outside oxer where riders then had to quickly make a hard left rollback to take a skinny vertical, go through the double combination and finish over the liverpool set on the diagonal.

During the 1.40m Open Jumpers, only three riders were able to master the first course without fault. Aaron Vale and Palm Sunday, owned by Amen Corner Farm, were the first to continue into the speed round, accruing nine time faults in their attempt to control the course, and put accuracy above the risk of speed. They finished in a time of 53.842 seconds.

Greg Crolick and Landino were also up for the morning’s challenge. They easily navigated the first round, and moved into the jump-off where they met their four-fault score at fence 13. Although they kept to a speedy plan, a slow rollback put them over the 45 seconds time allowed. They ended with a total of two time faults, and combined with their prior four faults, eventually took the second place.

It was Vale who returned with a vengeance aboard Kryptonite, owned by Thinks Like a Horse of Morriston, FL, opting to take all inside turns and speedy rollbacks. Taking a chance, he sped around the course in 42.398 seconds, earning four faults in the jump-off, but sealing the victory.

“Kryptonite is a horse my wife has shown in the amateur jumpers for a year or two, and I took him over for a little while. He did a great job in Ocala, and we are working to further his education a little bit. He will probably go tomorrow evening, and Sunday, as well,” Vale described. “He is a very hot horse, and we are trying to figure out exactly what he needs. Sometime he gets a little wound up and loses focus, but he is starting to come around and become more consistent.”

Shortly after taking the blue in the 1.40m Open Jumpers, Vale rode Spray Tan, owned by Thinks Like a Horse, to the victory in the 1.35m Open Jumpers. He was the only rider to post a double-clear effort. Although Erin Haas and Casino van de Helle, owned by North Face Farm of Chelsea, MI, faced off against the eventual victors, two time faults stood in their way of the blue. Vale left all rails intact and crossed the finish in 42.902 seconds, well within the time allowed.

“He is a newer horse for us, and Mallory showed him in Ocala, and won some classes and had some good placings in some of the classes there. He was a little spooky in this ring yesterday, so I got on him to help knock some of the cobwebs out and get him going. He is a super horse, but then again, he is new for us, so we are getting to know him.”

Concluding the Open Jumpers today was the 1.30m Open Jumpers. The course changed as Vallaincourt continued to lay down a technical track. The class saw fierce competition as riders battled for the top slot. It was Vale who once again showed to the top of the leader board, this time with Zadermus, owned by Dasilva Investments of Ann Arbor, MI. The competitive duo was the last to attempt the course, and after leaving all the rails in their cups, they sped to the victory in the jump-off. Only three riders were able to move into the demanding short course, and none went without faults. Vale rode Zadermus to the fastest time, 29.181 seconds, finding fault at the second obstacle, a red-and-white skinny.

“He is a very quick horse, and he is quite young, too. He still needs mileage and all that. I am working on getting him in the ring,” Vale explained. “He has been doing a great job, and I am very happy with how far he has come along.”

Michael Hughes and Zammetje, owned by Christina Fried of New York, NY, posted a speedy time of 32.030 seconds, but when the final fence fell, they sealed their second place position. Deborah Connor and Jedi Warrior, owned by DC Sales & Entertainment, LLC of Reddick, FL, rode to the third place finish with four faults and a time of 36.969.

“I have been riding him for three years now, but he has really come so far since we bought him,” Michael Hughes explained. “The course was a little more technical than what they have been. We used today’s 1.30m as a schooling round, and we will be showing in the High Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumpers for the remainder of our time in Tampa. We are planning on doing the Welcome Stake tomorrow evening, too. He doesn’t have the biggest stride, but no matter where you put him, he always has enough jump to get out of it, I’m really happy with how far we have come.”

“This is my first year coming here; it is very laid back, and not nearly has hectic as the other shows,” Hughes concluded. “It is very exhibitor friendly, and offers a great change of venue.”

The first week of the Tampa Bay Classic holds numerous highlights for the jumpers. Tomorrow will introduce the Junior and Amateur-Owner Jumper divisions, seeing riders vie for the championship. Tomorrow night will feature the $32,000 Tampa Bay Welcome Stake beginning at 5 pm with the Welcome Party Cookout.

For more information about the 2013 Tampa Equestrian Series, please visit www.StadiumJumping.com.

Kendall Bierer for Phelps Media Group, Inc. International

Media Contact:
Phelps Media Group, Inc.
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Suite 105
Wellington, FL 33414
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Springtime Is Jumpin’ in Atlanta

Devin Ryan and Eagle Valley Partners, LLC’s Zosja clear a jump in the $5,000 Open Jumper Welcome Class. Flashpoint Photography.

March 28, 2013 – Conyers, Georgia – The Atlanta Spring Classic kicked off on March 20 and as it enters its final spring week, the competition is jumping!

Welcome!

The $5,000 Open Jumper Welcome Class kicked off the weekend of world class show jumping at the Georgia International Horse Park yesterday and saw New Jersey native Devin Ryan of Long Valley, in the irons aboard Eagle Valley Partners, LLC’s Zosja, take the win in a fault free first round time of 82.617 seconds and a second clear round in 35.402 seconds.

Second place finisher, internationally known rider Joe Fargis, of Middleburg, Virginia, riding Sandron’s Lariat, took the red ribbon by just fractions of a second after posting a clean first round in a time of 82.388 seconds and a second round score of 35.884 seconds.  Fellow New Jersey rider, Amanda Flint, also from Long Valley, finished in third aboard Amanda Flint and the Coverboy Group’s Superbad in a four fault, first-round time of 84.154 seconds, while Ryan, this time aboard No Worries, owned by Barbara Rowland, came in fourth with a four fault first round in a time of 81.837 seconds.  MaryLisa Leffler, of Brookeville, Maryland aboard Quastor Van De Helle Z, owned by Paulexi, LLC, was awarded fifth place after posting a four fault first round in 82.523 seconds.  Flint returned for the sixth and seventh place ribbons, aboard the Coverboy Group’s VDL Theresa Lady in a four fault round in 82.930 seconds, and with VDL Zedaldine, owned by the Coverboy Group, with 11 faults and a time of 87.874 seconds, respectively.  Daphne Alcock of Upperville, Virginia finished in eighth with Nicole Perry’s Just A Jet in a first round time of 92.340 seconds and twelve jumping faults.

With Fargis, Ryan, Leffler, Land, Rosichan, Flint and Cramer in the irons, tomorrow’s Grand Prix will be a good one!  It kicks off at 6 pm and VIP tables are still available, so see Jennifer in the show office.

Quaker Vale wins the inaugural TAKE2 Thoroughbred Hunter and Jumper Division. Flashpoint Photography
Quaker Vale wins the inaugural TAKE2 Thoroughbred Hunter and Jumper Division. Flashpoint Photography

TAKE2

Yesterday also featured the inaugural $2,500.00 TAKE2 Thoroughbred Hunter and Jumper Division won by Quaker Vale, owned by Morgan Connelly and ridden by Julie Curtain of Roswell, Georgia.  “I think it’s nice that the Thoroughbreds have their own class and get a chance to shine at the shows because they are such nice horses,” she commented.

Welcome Merial!

Sponsors, Merial, are back and located in front of the show office this week bringing you an exciting offer from the makers of ULCERGARD!  Be sure to stop by their booth to see what they may have for you and thank them for their support!

The Atlanta Spring Classic Shows coincide with the Cherry Blossom Festival at the park, so be prepared for the most beautiful display of blossoming cherry trees as a backdrop to the magnificently decorated show rings. The classes wrap up on Saturday, so be sure to stop by if you’re in the area – admission is always free.

Anyone who has shown with the Classic Company knows what sets them apart from the rest:  Classic Shows are FUN!  And, this year the fun continues at the Gulfport show with complimentary exhibitor parties, breakfasts, luncheons and office snacks to make your showing experience the best ever.

Classic Company never charges a scratch or add fee for those last minute adds and scratches, so if you haven’t entered yet, go to the prize list or simply click on Equestrian Connect to fill out your entry form and stabling requests.

Equestrian Connect is Classic Company’s Official Service Provider and allows exhibitors to store their data one time, on the web, and then use that data to automatically fill out hunter/jumper entry forms across the country.  The service offers a free 45 day trial period for new members.  At the conclusion of the trial period, Equestrian Connect offers an annual subscription, or a “pay as you go” service.    The service allows exhibitors to save both time and money.  This is the one-minute online entry service that will help you get your entries in on time and you to the show!

So, whether you are a seasoned veteran or a novice looking for a positive show experience, look to the Gulf Coast Classic shows in Gulfport, and let the good times roll!

The Classic Company is a USHJA’s Members Choice Award winner, recognized for producing top quality show jumping events in the United States.  For more information on Classic Company and its exhibitor-friendly, top quality hunter jumper events, please visit them at www.ClassicCompany.com or call them at 843-768-5503.

All sponsorship, marketing and press inquiries should be directed to Lisa Engel, Sponsorship, Marketing and Public Relations Director at classicsponsorship@gmail.com.  All program advertising should be directed to Nate Poliquin, Program Sales Representative at classicshowads@yahoo.com.

Stay up to date:  Like us on Facebook and Follow us on Twitter!

See you at the ring,
Bob Bell
The Classic Company, Ltd.
www.ClassicCompany.com
Phone/FAX:  (843) 768-5503
Post Office Box 1311  Johns Island  SC 29457

Tampa Bay Classic Attracts Top Riders for First Day of Hunter Competition

Amanda Steege and Zidane were among the first blue ribbon winners at the 2013 Tampa Bay Classic, earning the top honors in the High Performance Hunters. Photo By: Kendall Bierer/Phelps Media Group.

Tampa, FL – March 27, 2013 – Two weeks of top hunter and jumper competition kicked off today at the Bob Thomas Equestrian Center as the Tampa Bay Classic got underway, marking the start of the Tampa Equestrian Series.

In the Main Hunter Ring, it was Amanda Steege who claimed the 2013 Tampa Bay Classic’s first blue ribbon over fences. Steege and Zidane, owned by Susan Darragh, kicked off their time in Tampa by topping the first class of the High Performance Hunters.

The High Performance Hunters also served as the hopeful launching pad to a successful Tampa circuit for Hunt Tosh. Tosh took control of the handy class aboard Dr. Betsee Parker’s Lone Star.

“He went fabulously in the handy,” Tosh commented of Lone Star. “With the quarantine in Ocala it held him up, so he hasn’t shown since week two there, and that’s the only other time that he’s shown this winter. Considering that, he was really, really good.”

After bringing one mount to Tampa last year, Tosh was extremely impressed with the show, and he decided to return this year with a full winning line up.

“They did a great job running it, and it was a fun time so we, and all of our customers, decided to come this year,” Tosh explained. “We’re excited to be here for the extent of the circuit.”

In addition to Lone Star, among Tosh’s winning line-up is Whiskey Blue, owned by Douglas Wheeler. Tosh rode Whiskey Blue to a blue ribbon in this morning’s first class of the First Year Green Hunter division, and the pair finished in second in the division’s handy class, putting them in a solid position going in to tomorrow’s portion of First Year Green Hunter competition.

“He went great for his first class in there, and to be a first year horse and go that well – I was very happy with him,” Tosh shared. “He’s very scopey, and he’s a quiet horse. He went beautifully today.”

Also performing strikingly over the Keith Bollotte designed courses was Maximus, owned by Redfield Farms and shown by Adrienne Iverson.

Maximus and Iverson finished the day with two first places and a second in the Conformation Hunters. The well-built, six-year-old American-bred stallion took the blue in Conformation Hunter Model before going over fences to earn the first in the first round and second over the handy course.

“He’s such a brave horse. He doesn’t spook; he doesn’t look at the jumps, and he moves nicely. That’s why I kept him a stallion – because he’s such a beautiful type,” owner Emil Spadone of Redfield Farms said.

Spadone bred and raised the stallion in nearby Ocala, FL, and for him the Tampa Equestrian Series is a definite must on their competition calendar each year.

“I’ve come here since I was a kid, I love the American Invitational; I don’t think I’ve missed it for twenty years. Every year we plan on coming here for the two full weeks, and we bring everything – ponies, hunters, jumpers, everything,” Spadone praised. “The management really treats us nicely, and we just really enjoy it.”

Throughout the duration of the Tampa Equestrian Series, Steege, Tosh and Iverson will be among the riders vying for the championship and reserve championship honors in the Professional Hunter divisions, Junior Hunter divisions, and Amateur-Owner Hunter divisions. The event also features the Tampa Series Hunter High Score Circuit Awards in several hunter divisions, which will be awarded during the 41st Annual Gene Mische American Invitational presented by G & C Farm, at Raymond James Stadium.

For more information on the 2013 Tampa Equestrian Series, please visit www.StadiumJumping.com or call (941)744-5465.

Emily Riden for Phelps Media Group, Inc. International

Media Contact:
Phelps Media Group, Inc.
12012 South Shore Blvd.
Suite 105
Wellington, FL 33414
561-753-3389 (phone)
561-753-3386 (fax)
pmginfo@phelpsmediagroup.com
PhelpsMediaGroup.com