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Observation Sessions Wrap Up for the Markel/USEF Young Horse Dressage Program

Sigrid Wolff and Kodaly, owned by Alex Holland (Cavallis)

Lexington, KY – Two observation sessions for the 2013 Markel/USEF Young Horse Dressage Program have taken place in Wellington, FL February 13-14 and Burbank, CA February 22-23. Between the two sessions, USEF Young Horse Coach Scott Hassler has been able to observe close to 40 young horses. The majority of riders attended the sessions with their personal trainers, allowing them to develop plans for their horses with the help of Hassler. He has seen great improvements in horse quality and an exciting number of promising combinations.

“We had terrific participation,” said Hassler. “2013 looks like a very exciting year with high quality young horses. Several of the combinations have potential to be future international competitors and I am really excited to watch them develop through our pipeline of trainers and programs.”

The goal of these observation sessions is to seek out up-and-coming talented young horses and provide guidance for riders, trainers, and owners. The Markel/USEF Young Horse Dressage Program also includes open training sessions which are conducted in a clinic format and not only focus on the education of young horses but also on the education of those attending the training sessions as auditors. There will be three upcoming training sessions: March 2-3 at Oak Hill Ranch in Folsom, LA, April 13-14 at Rosebrook Farm in Georgetown, MA, and April 27-28 at Oak Hill Farm in Lockport, IL.

For more information on the 2013 Markel/USEF Young Horse Dressage Program or if you are interested in auditing the training sessions, click here or contact Hallye Griffin by email at hgriffin@usef.org or by phone (859) 225-6918.

Coca-Cola Defeats Audi in Overtime to Win Ylvisaker Cup

WELLINGTON, FL – February 25, 2013 — Making its second consecutive championship final appearance, Audi lost a heartbreaking 9-8 overtime decision to Coca-Cola in the Ylvisaker Cup final Sunday at International Polo Club Palm Beach.

The victory avenged Coca-Cola’s loss to Audi in last year’s semifinals knocking them out of the tournament.

The fast-paced, emotionally-charged game was physical and defensive from the opening chukker.

Grand Champions Polo Club-based Audi grabbed an early 2-1 lead in the opening chukker when Mariano Gracida followed up his own long hit towards goal with a short shot to score with 2:39 left.

Audi didn’t regain the lead until the fifth chukker at the 2:16 mark on Nico Pieres’ penalty one goal for a 7-6 lead.

The teams battled back and forth the remainder of the game. Coca-Cola team captain Gillian Johnston tied the game at 7-7 with 58 seconds and seconds later Pieres defended well against a Julio Arellano goal attempt.

At the end of the fifth chukker, Sugar Erskine scored one of his two goals to put Coca-Cola ahead, 8-7.

Audi, known for its second half heroics, came roaring back when Erskine fouled Nic Roldan. Roldan converted the 40-yard penalty shot with 5:42 left in regulation to tie the game at 8-8.

Audi and Coca-Cola had several scoring opportunities throughout the game including the sixth chukker but neither could take advantage because of outstanding defensive plays.

No goals were scored from the field in the final regulation chukker.

Audi's Nico Pieres goes after the ball before a run downfield
Audi’s Nico Pieres goes after the ball before a run downfield

Pieres stole the ball from Johnston and made a run downfield getting the ball to Ganzi, who just missed a cut shot with 1:14 left in the game. Audi had another late scoring run but came up short sending the game into overtime.

A controversial penalty called in the goal mouth after Audi tried to stop Coca-Cola on defense sent Arellano to the penalty line where he converted a 15-yard shot for the winning overtime goal.

“We knew it was going to be that kind of game,” said Erskine, who edged out Tommy Collingwood for Most Valuable Player honors and won Best Playing Pony with Leyla.

Both teams were changing out polo ponies frequently because of fatigue from the fast-paced game and hot weather.

“It was an intense game, it could have gone either way,” said Coca-Cola’s Julio Arellano, the highest rated American player at 9 goals. “Audi played very well. It was two tough teams. There were no easy goals today. Both teams missed goals.”

Said Coca-Cola coach Boone Stribling: “They are a great team. Audi played very well, not to take anything away from them. Nic Roldan is a fantastic player. It came down to the horses at the end.”

It was Audi’s second consecutive appearance in the finals. Audi lost to Crab Orchard in the Joe Barry Memorial Cup.

Roldan, who was averaging nearly eight goals per game, was held to four goals and finished the tournament with 42 goals, the most scored by any player in the 14-team tournament.

Audi team captain Marc Ganzi gets set to hit the ball despite a fractured thumb on his mallet hand
Audi team captain Marc Ganzi gets set to hit the ball despite a fractured thumb on his mallet hand

Nico Pieres added three goals and Mariano Gracida scored one.

Audi team captain Marc Ganzi turned in a gutsy performance competing with both a well-taped fractured thumb, suffered in last week’s CV Whitney tournament opener, and knee injury.

In the George Haas Cup subsidiary final, Port Mayaca defeated Faraway, 9-8 in overtime. Carlucho Arellano was named MVP after scoring five goals including the game-winner. Marianito Obregon’s Portena, a 12-year-old Chestnut mare, was Best Playing Pony.

CV WHITNEY CUP SCHEDULE

Wednesday, February 27: Semifinals, 1 and 3 p.m.

Sunday, March 3: Les Armour Cup CV Whitney Subsidiary, 10 a.m.; CV Whitney Cup Final, 3 p.m.

LES ARMOUR CUP SUBSIDIARY SCHEDULE

Wednesday, February 27: Semifinal, Piaget vs. ERG vs. Valiente, TBA.

Thursday, February 28: Semifinal, Audi vs. Orchard Hill, 10 a.m.

Saturday, March 2: Les Armour Cup Final, 3 p.m.

AUDI/PIAGET TOURNAMENT LINEUP

Feb. 19 – March 3, CV Whitney Cup

March 5 – March 24, USPA Piaget Gold Cup

March 26 – April 21, 109th Maserati U.S. Open Polo Championship

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 during the spring and fall tournament season and other special events including the Buzz Welker Memorial Junior Tournament, Women’s Championship Tournament and Gay Polo League Tournament.

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

Talented Mother-Daughter Pair Prepares Pas de Deux for Challenge of the Americas

Wellington, FL – February 25, 2013 – The Challenge of the Americas unfailingly draws top riders from around the world, and this year’s duo from Canada is no exception. The accomplished mother-daughter pair of Evi Strasser, an Olympian dressage rider and a longtime Canadian National Team member, and Tanya Strasser-Shostak, an up-and-coming Young Rider, will perform a pas de deux at the March 9 event.

Both mother and daughter support the Challenge of the Americas in its effort to raise funds for breast cancer research. “It’s for a very good cause, for breast cancer fundraising,” Strasser said. “I want to support that and be part of it.”

“It’s such a good cause and it’s something that’s affected everybody, or someone that we’ve known,” Strasser-Shostak added.

The pair is choreographing a test that will showcase the best qualities of the two horses they choose for the event. Strasser plans to ride her Grand Prix horse, Action Tyme, while 17-year-old Strasser-Shostak has yet to decide between Dancing Tyme and the Karen Soupcoff-owned Ruby Tyme. Strasser-Shostak, who will take on the challenging task of fitting music to the test, is enjoying her involvement in all aspects of the planning and preparation.

“I’m looking forward to riding whatever horse I’m going to be riding,” she said. “I’m excited to be working on the choreography with my mom, and I’m looking forward to hopefully making the music properly, because it’s something that really interests me. I just think the whole experience is really good.”

Tanya Strasser-Shostak and Dancing Tyme at the 2013 Wellington Classic Dressage Spring Challenge
Tanya Strasser-Shostak and Dancing Tyme at the 2013 Wellington Classic Dressage Spring Challenge

With their extensive competitive experience, the mother-daughter duo fit right in among the renowned international riders who gather at Challenge of the Americas to support breast cancer research and put on a show for spectators. Evi Strasser has been among Canada’s top dressage competitors for the past two decades. Born in Germany, she moved to Canada in 1988 and founded Good Tyme Stables in 1994. She represented Canada at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, riding Lavinia.

In 2003, Strasser helped secure a team Silver Medal for Canada at the Pan American Games in Santo Domingo, where she also finished eighth individually with Quantum Tyme. She and Quantum Tyme earned the highest result for a Canadian pair at the 2006 World Equestrian Games and also competed at the 2005 and 2007 World Cup Finals. Strasser has often been selected as the alternate for Canada’s teams at such major events as the Olympics and World Equestrian Games. She continues to compete at the highest levels of the sport and collected many top results on the international circuit in 2011 and 2012.

Strasser’s influence on the dressage world extends beyond her own impressive competitive results. She specializes in training young horses up to the Grand Prix level, and several of the horses she’s worked with have gone on to make their marks on the international dressage scene. Hiscox Artemis was the most recent of a number of graduates of Strasser’s program to compete at the Olympic Games. Strasser trained Hiscox Artemis through to the World Cup before selling him, and, with rider Richard Davison, he was chosen as the British team’s individual entry for the 2012 Olympics in London. He also finished fourth in the 2012 World Cup Final.

Strasser-Shostak has already compiled an impressive record and appears poised for another successful show season in 2013. She was the youngest competitor in the Young Rider division at the 2012 FEI North American Young Rider Dressage Championships (NAYRC), where she collected a team Bronze Medal and finished eighth individually on Dancing Tyme. She also rode Dancing Tyme to several top-three finishes in the Young Rider divisions. With Ruby Tyme, she earned top placings in the Junior divisions, including several wins at CDI competitions in West Palm Beach.

Strasser and Strasser-Shostak are in South Florida for the winter competitive season, training and campaigning several of their horses. Strasser-Shostak hopes to return to NAYRC and will try to qualify for the Young Rider World Cup in Europe, while Strasser is taking her time preparing new Grand Prix mount Action Tyme for the international scene.

Strasser-Shostak is looking forward to making her Challenge of the Americas debut after watching her mother perform previously. “I think it’s pretty neat that we can do this one together,” she said. “I used to watch it when I was younger, and my mom participated a couple of years ago in it. It’s something I grew up watching and now I get to be a part of it, and it’s great.”

“Most of the time, you see older people do it and it’s good, I think, that there’s someone a bit younger also in it,” she continued, noting that breast cancer research is an important cause for her generation to support as well.

Strasser, who has ridden at The Challenge of the Americas in previous years, enjoys the event’s electric atmosphere and devotion to the cause. “It’s always amazing,” she said. “It’s always a great turnout. They always do a fantastic job organizing it and really emphasize the reason for why it’s done. Lots and lots of people are supporting it.”

“It’s always a lot of fun to do this with your daughter, and it is always a lot of excitement,” Strasser added. “We really enjoy working together and figuring out what we’re going to do with this and how we’re going to present it. (Show organizers) thought it was a good routine because it’s mother and daughter, and we’re doing this for breast cancer.”

“I think it’s just a fantastic job by all,” Strasser concluded. “I really enjoy doing it.”

For more information about the Strassers, visit their website at www.goodtymestables.com.

To learn more about The Challenge of The Americas, go to challengeoftheamericas.com.

To buy tickets, contact Mary Ross at (561) 433-0988 or Anglot@aol.com.

Find us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ChallengeOfTheAmericas.

The Challenge of The Americas Fast Facts

What:

The Challenge of The Americas (COTA) presented by SSG Gloves, known throughout the equestrian world for its spectacular performances on horseback, returns for its 11th anniversary to continue its fight against breast cancer. This annual fundraiser is a one-of-a-kind affair that highlights the equestrian sport of dressage. Competing riders include the “Who’s Who” of top equestrian competitors in the United States, Canada, Latin America and Europe.

There are few, if any, places throughout the world where an audience can delight in the performances of such a large and distinguished group of riders and their magnificent equine partners. The Challenge of The Americas’ teams of international riders compete in quadrilles to world-class music and choreography in an effort to raise money to help find a cure for breast cancer. Proceeds benefit the Breast Cancer Research Foundation through Play for P.I.N.K.

When:

Saturday, March 9, 2013
5:30 p.m.        Cocktails and hors d’Oeuvres
6:15 p.m.        Opening Ceremonies
6:25 p.m.        Reining Freestyles and Pas de Deux
6:45 p.m.        Quadrille Team Challenge
7:30 p.m.        Award Presentation
7:45 p.m.        The Challenge Gala: Dinner and Dancing

Where:

Jim Brandon Equestrian Center
West Palm Beach, Florida
www.pbcgov.com/parks/equestrian/jimbrandon/#.UP1pfqHjmFc

Sponsors:
Back on Track Products
Cunningham & Cunningham Livestock, Inc.
International Polo Club Palm Beach
MatchnRide.com
Merrill Lynch, The Seley Parker Group
Purina Mills
Red Barn Feed & Supply
Samshield
SSG Gloves
Steed Training
Tackeria
United States Dressage Federation
Wellington Classic Dressage

Ticket Information:

Mary Ross
8067 Montserrat Place
Wellington, FL 33414
(561) 433-0988
(561) 251-7945
Anglot@aol.com

Ticket prices:

VIP Tables of 8:
Gold Patron               $6,500 per table
Silver Patron              $4,500 per table
Bronze Patron            $2,000 per table

VIP Individual Seating:
Competition and Gala (includes dinner and dancing)       $250 per person
Competition (includes hors d’oeuvres and cash bar)        $100 per person

General Admission seating $20 per person at the gate
Children 12 and under admitted free (General Admission)

News and Information:
Phelps Media Group
Sue Weakley
skw@phelpsmediagroup.com
(561) 753-3389
12012 South Shore Blvd., Suite 105
Wellington, FL 33414
PhelpsMediaGroup.com

Website:
www.challengeoftheamericas.com

Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/ChallengeOfTheAmericas

The Challenge of The Americas Beneficiaries:

Play for P.I.N.K.

Play for P.I.N.K. (Prevention, Immediate diagnosis, New technology, Knowledge) is a grassroots organization dedicated to raising funds to fight breast cancer, by creating and promoting awareness of breast cancer through sporting and lifestyle events including men’s and women’s golf tournaments, tennis, swimming, card games, equestrian events, and shopping benefits.  Our commitment is to contribute 100% of all funds raised to our beneficiary, The Breast Cancer Research Foundation. In 2012, PFP donated $4 million to BCRF for a cumulative total of $29.75 million. For more information about PFP, visit playforpink.org.

Website: playforpink.org
Facebook: www.facebook.com/playforpink

The Breast Cancer Research Foundation

Website: www.bcrfcure.org
Facebook: www.facebook.com/TheBreastCancerResearchFoundation

Mary Adelaide Brakenridge 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

Jay Land and Nepal Win the $35,000 Nutrena Grand Prix

Gulfport, Mississippi [February 24, 2013] – What a day for Jay!  Jay Land and his own Nepal galloped away with the win in the $35,000 Nutrena Grand Prix today under perfectly clear skies and seventy degree weather at the Harrison County Fairgrounds and Equestrian Center.

Twenty horses took to the course designed by Michel Vailancort but only six returned for the jump-off.  Devin Ryan of Long Valley, New Jersey was first to go aboard Eagle Valley Partners, LLC’s Zosja *** and went clean in a time of 85.289 seconds. However, they incurred eight faults and a time of 37.817 seconds in the jump-off round which would finish them in fourth overall.  Second to go was Theo Genn of Lebanon, Ohio, riding Thomas Bruinsma’s Paradox *****.  The pair incurred four jump faults and a time of 84.309 seconds which would not qualify them for the jump-off, but placed them in tenth overall.  The next fastest four fault round was Bryn Sadler of Santa Fe, New Mexico riding Showcase 81 LLC’s Bon Giorno which, after earning a time of 80.670 seconds, would place them in eighth overall.

Devin Ryan returned to the grand prix field, this time aboard his own Calissandro, and after accumulating four faults and a time of 82.842 seconds, would finish in ninth place overall.  Theo Genn also returned to the arena, this time aboard his own Cola and qualified for the jump-off with their fault free round in a time of 85.753 seconds.  Although they went clean in the jump-off, their time of 42.640 seconds would put them in second place overall.  Next to go was Kelsey Van Ackeren of Austin, Texas riding her own Vernon G, but with four faults and a time of 87.368 seconds, the duo would place twelfth overall.  Bob Brawley of Flower Mound, Texas, riding DDM Equestrian, LLC’s Obelix, was the next clean round in the grand prix field with a time of 86.868 seconds.  Their jump-off round resulted in eight jump faults and a time of 39.389 seconds which would finish the pair in fifth overall.  Jay Land of Alpharetta, Georgia was next to go aboard his own Nepal and secured a clean round with a quick time of 86.806 seconds.  His subsequent clean jump-off round in a time of 39.107 seconds would win the class overall.

Click here to see Jay Land and Nepal’s winning jump-off round.

Devin Ryan again tackled the course, this time aboard No Worries, owned by Barbara Rowland, and went clean with a time of 82.808. But after an unplanned dismount in the jump-off round, the pair would finish in sixth place overall.  Holly Shepherd of Grand Bay, Alabama, winner of last Sunday’s $35,000 Adequan Grand Prix, rode Triompf, owned by Loretta Patterson, to a clean first round in 84.945 seconds, but after accumulating eight faults in 36.548 seconds in the jump-off round, would settle for a third place finish in today’s grand prix. Wilhelm Genn of Lebanon, Ohio riding his own Happy Z had four jump faults in his first round in a time of 80.112 seconds which would finish the pair in seventh place overall.  Son Theo Genn followed, this time aboard Bridlebourne Stables LLC’s Winchester, but with four faults in a time of 86.471 seconds, would finish in eleventh place overall.

“Michel [Vailencort] did a great job,” commented Land, “The course was very technical in some places and it took a very scopey and adjustable-strided horse and today, Nepal was really adjustable and he really jumped well. It was his day,” he smiled. “Nepal is an Argentine horse and we’ve had him since he’s been five.  My daughters and I have all brought him along, shown and won on him.  We call him our ‘utility player’ and lucky for me, today I got to ride him,” he added.

“There’s a tough group here. It’s always hard to win. The Genns are here and they have at least six or seven in a class; Holly [Shepherd] is here and she won last week. And, this is probably the only time we haven’t seen Wilhelm in the jump-off for how many years?” he laughed. “But he had his son Theo in there, and he gave me a good run.”

Land continued, “Luckily this week I got to go after them; the first week I had to go in front of them all and didn’t have the advantage to see how they all rode it.  Today I didn’t go as fast as possible, but fast enough to keep the pressure on,” he said.

“It’s obviously great to be in the winner’s circle.  It’s fun to be my age, doing what I love – it’s really great,” said Land.  “We had a bad accident at the end of the circuit last year and I’m just getting back now. It’s nice to be back,” he added.

Land continued, “This is such a great friendly place and everyone is so nice to us. Our girls have grown up riding here and we’ve had a good time. This is as good as show jumping as you would want to do and we’re just happy we’re here!” he added.

Don’t forget, tomorrow night is the Exhibitor Happy Hour at Gulf Coast Classic’s sponsor, the Beau Rivage.  Complimentary food, drink and entertainment will be offered to Gulf Coast Classic exhibitors from 6 to 8 pm tomorrow night.  After the rave reviews from last week, you won’t want to miss it!

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

Andrew Bourns and Gatsby Win $50,000 Hermès Jumper Derby in an Irish Sweep

Praise and Sheila Motley Win Big as World Championship Hunter Week Concludes at the FTI WEF

Wellington, FL – February 24, 2013 – The 2013 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival concluded its seventh week of competition, sponsored by Hermès, with action at two parts of the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center on Sunday. At The Stadium, Irish riders Andrew Bourns, Darragh Kenny, and Shane Sweetnam swept the top three in the $50,000 Hermès Jumper Derby with a win for Bourns and his mount Gatsby. In the International Arena, Praise and Sheila Motley won the Peggy Cone Memorial WCHR Adult Hunter Classic. Tina Allen and French Kiss were victorious in the $5,000 WCHR Amateur-Owner 3’3″ Hunter Classic.

Richard Jeffery of Bournemouth, England, set a demanding track for Sunday’s jumper derby that featured 20 numbered obstacles, including the derby bank, table bank, open water, devil’s dyke and more. The number of challenging natural obstacles along with the length of the course and the heat of the day tested the stamina of all of the horses and riders competing. With only two clear rounds completed in the faults converted format, speed was key, and the top three riders finished with just three one-hundredths of a second separating them.

Andrew Bourns and Gatsby went third in the order and cleared the course in 138.27 seconds to take the early lead. Two rounds later, Shane Sweetnam and Spy Coast Farm, LLC’s Little Emir had the time well in hand in 134.30 seconds, but a rail cost them four faults to eventually finish third in 138.30 seconds. Luis Larrazabal (VEN) and Gustavo Mirabal’s G&C Lepanto were even faster in 131.17 seconds, but had two rails down to finish fourth with a final time of 139.17 seconds. Darragh Kenny took the second place prize with Hays Investment Corporation’s Any Given Sunday. The pair had a total time of 138.29 seconds with time taken after a refusal at the devil’s dyke.

Winning horse Gatsby is a nine-year-old Irish Sport Horse stallion by Simba x Cruise On. Andrew Bourns purchased Gatsby four months ago in Ireland and just recently brought him over to the U.S. This is the pair’s fourth week showing together and they have had consistent results.

Watch an interview with Andrew Bourns
Watch an interview with Andrew Bourns

“I am very happy for him today,” Bourns stated after the class. “It was a big ask and I think it was a big step up for him and he really answered the call. I was a little worried about the length of the track and the heat. I thought it might take its toll, but he actually held up very well. Coming to the last fence he was pulling me just as hard as he was to the first fence. I was very happy with that.”

“He has never shown on this field before,” Bourns added. “Our relationship is very new, the combination is very new, so we are still trying to figure each other out. There were a few moments on the course where it got a little bit hairy, but he stayed careful and he just kept trying right away to the end.”

Bourns did not think that his time would hold up with the horses and riders that followed in the class, but he knew that he had a great round.

“I thought it was a fantastic round and I was extremely happy with the horse,” he stated. “I was very confident in a top two or three finish. I did not realize it would be as close as it was. When Darragh was coming down the last line I really thought he had me and then he stopped. As the class went on, I realized the track was quite tough and it wasn’t riding as easy as we thought, so I got more and more confident. When you are talking hundredths of seconds, it is very hard to be confident that you are going to win a class right until the very end.”

“I am glad I was as fast everywhere because there was nothing in it,” Bourns reflected. “It was right down to the wire. For even the top four spaces, it was so close. Over a track that length, you have to be a little bit relentless. You have to keep being fast everywhere because it is so long and it is such a large amount of time to stay riding. It was a big ask, but I think a lot of the horse and everything I have done so far he has been very consistent and extremely brave.”

Second place finisher Darragh Kenny was also very happy with his mount, Any Given Sunday. Despite a stop on course the pair still had one of the fastest times.

“My horse was brilliant,” Kenny praised. “He did everything I wanted, even probably faster than I expected. I didn’t even school any of these jumps or test the waters at all, so he was really brave. I was a little bit too fast to the dyke and I probably should have showed it to him first. It shocked him a little bit the first time and I just spun right around. He was fantastic. He is a super horse and he is so easy and brave. It was really simple for him. He stayed really careful at a really fast speed and tried so hard. It makes my life easier.”

Third place finisher Shane Sweetnam has had a lot of success with his experienced mount Little Emir, including the same placing in this class last year. Sweetnam noted that he had a fast time last year as well and ironically had the same jump down, but he was very happy with his horse.

“He was a good boy and he really tried hard,” Sweetnam stated. “My speed was good enough. I thought that I might still have them with one down, but I think I might have gone a bit wider up on the bank than I did last year. I was still very happy with him. He gives you everything when he goes in there, so he doesn’t owe me much. I thought it was a good class and a good crowd.”

Bourns agreed that the class was a real crowd pleaser. “Any time a class goes down to the wire with such a tight margin, it makes it fun for everybody. It was thrilling,” he noted.

“I have to thank the sponsors as well,” Bourns added. “Thank you to Hermès. I think they did a very nice job and I hope they all had a nice time. We put on a good show for them.”

Praise and Sheila Motley Win Big Again as World Championship Hunter Week Concludes at the FTI WEF

Praise and Sheila Motley. Photo © Anne Gittins Photography
Praise and Sheila Motley. Photo © Anne Gittins Photography

World Championship Hunter Rider (WCHR) Week came to a close Sunday afternoon with the $5,000 Peggy Cone Memorial World Championship Hunter Rider (WCHR) Adult Hunter Classic. Praise and Sheila Motley bested a field of 56 over two rounds of competition during the fiercest week of competition for hunter divisions during the FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival (FTI WEF).

Praise, an eleven-year-old Royal Dutch Warmblood stallion owned by Dr. and Mrs. Kenneth Garber, and Motley were the pair to beat after a high score of 85 early on in round one and secured their victory with an 87 as the final trip in round two. With an overall score of 172, the pair edged out second place finishers Arriana Boardman and Gatsby by only a quarter of a point.

Motley returned to the show ring during the 2013 FTI WEF after taking time off to have her son, Collins. Motley is happy to be back in competition, especially aboard a horse as spectacular as Praise. The pair has is currently first in the FTI WEF circuit standings for the La Mundial Adult Amateur Hunter 18-35 Section B division after taking home an extraordinary four championship titles.

“I have a great horse in Praise. He’s done the derbies with Kelley [Farmer] and Holly [Orlando] for a couple of years, so there’s nothing like having one of those horses under you going into the Adults. I couldn’t be more thankful to Ken and Selma Garber for letting me show him down here all circuit,” Motley stated.

Although Motley and Praise have been unstoppable in the ring every week at the FTI WEF, Sunday’s victory was especially significant. “WCHR week is the most prestigious week for hunters. Missing champion [Saturday] was a little bit of a let-down, so I couldn’t be happier,” Motley commented.

Praise and Motley led the class after round one, but were last in the arena for round two as they chased Boardman and Gatsby’s first place standing. “Arriana is a great rider and [Gatsby] is a wonderful horse, so I knew that she was going to be good. I was maybe little more nervous than I would have been ordinarily. When you have other great riders like that with you, it makes you rise to the occasion,” Motley acknowledged.

Not only is Motley managing to juggle motherhood with the demands of showing, she also runs her own event management company in Wellington. She credits the team at Lane Change Farm with enabling her to remain competitive at a high level.

“It’s all about the people you ride with. You have to be able to show up and trust that the horse has been prepared and if you have the right team with you, there’s no need to worry. I hire the right people for my business, and Kelley and Larry [Glefke] do the same,” Motley described.

While Motley’s professional life will continue in high gear, Praise will be enjoying a well-deserved slow down from showing while he continues being marketed to be bred. “Maybe he found some dates today. He’s on the market; he’s dating!” Motley joked.

Tina Allen and French Kiss. Photo © Anne Gittins Photography
Tina Allen and French Kiss. Photo © Anne Gittins Photography

The $5,000 WCHR Amateur Owner 3’3″ Classic was the final class held in the International Ring on Sunday afternoon. Tina Allen and French Kiss won the class with an overall score of 168.5. French Kiss, a nine-year-old Westphalian gelding, was in third place after round one of competition with a score of 82 and came back late in the second round with an 86.5 with Allen in the irons.

“French Kiss felt great; it was his second time in the International Arena this week. He felt comfortable on Friday and again today,” Allen described. “The courses rode nicely; they felt a little ‘handy-ish.’ The turns keep his interest. The ring is beautiful and the fences are all inviting.”

French Kiss and Allen have been showing at the FTI WEF for most of the 2013 circuit, picking up reserve championship honors in the FarmVet Amateur-Owner Hunter 3’3″ 36 and Over division just last week. “He’s been really consistent and I’m really happy with him,” Allen commented.

Like the rest of her fellow competitors, Allen takes extra pleasure in winning during the hunters’ biggest week at the FTI WEF. “It’s special for sure to win this week. I’m really happy to have won today. Everyone loves competing during Hunter Week and it draws a big crowd,” Allen concluded.

Florida Children’s and Pony Classics were the final rounds of WCHR competition during week seven. Francesca Dildabanian and Larkspur earned the top prize for the $2,500 Children’s Hunter 14 and Under Classic with a combined score of 176. Larkspur is a twelve-year-old Oldenberg gelding owned by Ashley Whitner. Gabriella Hurtadorode Dragonfly, an eight-year-old Oldenberg gelding, to a blue ribbon finish in the $2,500 Children’s Hunter 15-17 Classic with an overall score of 165.

The winner of the Large Children’s Pony Hunter was Chatsworth and Emma Kurtz. Chatsworth, a nine-year-old Dutch Riding Pony gelding owned by Victoria Press, jumped to a final score of 168 with Kurtz in the irons. Sophia Marino and her own Posh, a thirteen-year-old Welsh Pony/Connemara cross mare, emerged victorious in the $2,500 Small/Medium Children’s Pony Classic with a combined score of 163.

The $2,500 Large Pony Hunter Classic was topped by Daisy Farish and her own Beau Rivage, a seventeen-year-old Holsteiner/Welsh Pony cross gelding. The pair won the class with a total score of 174. Emma Kurtz collected another first place prize aboard Grand All Over in the $2,500 Medium Pony Hunter Classic. Kurtz rode Grand All Over, a fifteen-year-old Welsh Pony gelding owned by David Gochman, to a winning overall score of 176. Farish also championed the $2,500 Small Pony Hunter Classic aboard Further Lane Farm’s Rolling Stone with a final score of 170. Rolling Stone is a fifteen-year-old Welsh Pony gelding.

Week eight of competition for the FTI WEF, sponsored by G&C Farm, runs February 27 – March 3, 2013 at the PBIEC in Wellington, FL. 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

Victoria Colvin Secures USHJA/WCHR Peter Wetherill Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular Title

Cian O’Connor and Walk Tall II Win $25,000 Suncast Championship Jumper Classic

Wellington, FL – February 23, 2013 – Week seven of the 2013 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival (FTI WEF), sponsored by Hermès , continued on Saturday with the $50,000 USHJA World Championship Hunter Rider (WCHR) Peter Wetherill Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular. Fifteen-year-old Victoria Colvin of Loxahatchee, FL, took home her second win in a row in the prestigious class, this year riding Dr. Betsee Parker’s Ovation to victory. Previous winners filled the second place spots; Liza Boyd and Brunello placed second, while Louise Serio and Castle Rock were third.

Hunter horses and riders have been showcased throughout week seven of the FTI WEF during WCHR competition, featured in the International Arena at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC).

Saturday night’s Hunter Spectacular competition saw the best of the FTI WEF’s Professional, Amateur and Junior riders, who qualified for the class during competition for their respective divisions throughout the week.

Four panels of two judges each were on hand for the class, each stationed at different points around the arena. The judges for the class included: Panel 1 – Danny Robertshaw and Mary Lisa Leffler, Panel 2 – Scott Williamson and Bill Moroney, Panel 3 – Rachel Kennedy and Scott Hofstetter, Panel 4 – Julie Winkel and Patrick Rodes.

The competitors with the top twelve scores from round one advanced to the second round of the class; among them was the 2012 Hunter Spectacular winner, Victoria Colvin (who won last year with Way Cool). Colvin returned this year on another of Dr. Betsee Parker’s mounts, Ovation, and set the bar high for the night’s competition with a score of 91.5 early on. The duo finished with a second round score of 90.37 for a top score of 181.87.

Colvin was elated to win the Hunter Spectacular two years in a row, especially in such good company as Boyd and Serio.

“Winning two years in a row is amazing. It feels really great. There’s amazing riders in this class, including lots of professionals. It’s great to compete against them,” Colvin stated.

“This year, I was on a different horse. I think this was Ovation’s first or second time under the lights, so I didn’t know how he was going to be, but I felt strong going into the second round and was confident that he was going to be good,” Colvin continued.

Colvin did not put any extra pressure on herself or Ovation to repeat last year’s win. “I don’t really get nervous,” the fifteen-year-old phenom simply explained.

“Ovation is pretty straight-forward and very smooth across the ground,” Colvin described of her winning mount, a thirteen-year-old Warmblood gelding.

Brunello, a fifteen-year-old Hanoverian gelding owned by Janet Peterson and Boyd, was the only horse to compete at the four-foot height and was first on course for round two. The pair made their presence known in no uncertain terms, galloping to an impressive 91.5 right off the bat.  While no one caught their score, combined with their first round score of 86.5, their total score of 178 put them in second place.

“It was a little hard to go back to back,” Boyd admitted. “He actually went better the second round. He’s older now and he likes the pressure. I just went in I said, ‘We’re going for it, buddy.’ We were sitting in eighth and both of us just weren’t quite as pumped up the first round, and you have to get that way with him. You kind of have to give him blood and get him excited.”

Boyd was incredibly impressed by course designer Steve Stephens’ ingenious approach to the night’s courses. “You had to be a rider. It wasn’t just your typical outside, diagonal hunter course and I like to see that these days. I think that the hunters are going that direction and it makes them jump crisper and higher and it’s fun. It makes us better riders in the long run. I think Steve has helped that in a very good way,” Boyd stated.

Boyd likened tonight’s competition to the World Cup Finals of the hunter world, emphasizing the importance of showcasing hunter competition. “It’s a really big deal for us to have this show. It’s nice for us to get highlighted,” Boyd explained.

“All three of us wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for our owners. We have great owners that believe in our program and we wouldn’t be here without them. They’re horses of a lifetime and we’re just really lucky to have them in our lives,” Boyd emphasized.

The only pair to beat Colvin and Ovation in round one was veteran competitors Louise Serio and Castle Rock, a fourteen-year-old KWPN gelding owned by Bryan Baldwin. Castle Rock and Serio also received a score of 91.5, but had a higher score from the tie-breaker judge’s panel. Serio and Castle Rock couldn’t catch Colvin and Ovation during round two, scoring an 86.18 for a total score of 177.6.

“Castle Rock was more relaxed the second round. I was a lot more nervous,” Serio admitted. “It’s hard [going last] when you’re in that hot seat. He’s just a wonderful horse and he just gives you confidence and always tries so hard.”

Serio had equally high praise as Boyd did for Stephens’ course design. “I think what’s really fantastic is that he’s done the Olympics and put as much time and thought into this for us as he did for that, or at least it feels like it,” Serio stated.

“I think that course made the class. I think our horses rose to the occasion. They weren’t taxed too much, but they were taxed enough to jump really well. The lines rode beautifully and he’s just an amazing course designer,” Serio continued.

Serio was equally complimentary of the WCHR showcase throughout week seven of the FTI WEF. “I think it’s really amazing how important it is as a rider to get into this class. I’ve been doing this a long time and I stress every year about getting into this class,” Serio emphasized. “You see everybody gearing up and working for it and trying to get in it. It’s really fun to see that and I think it’s really great to see the class go so well.”

The WCHR Calcutta, hosted in the International Club immediately prior to the class’s start, raised $28,500. Proceeds will benefit the USHJA Foundation.

The Peter Wetherill Cup was awarded to Lynn Rice, owner of Gramercy Park. The Peter Wetherill Cup was established in October of 2011 to honor the life and legacy of well-known equestrian, Peter Wetherill, and to recognize the WCHR “Hunter of the Year.” Rice was joined for the presentation by Gramercy Park’s professional rider and trainer, Tom Brennan and Tony Workman.

Several other special awards recognized the night’s top competitors following round one of competition. The Charlie Weaver Memorial award, which recognizes the conformation horse with the highest average score during round one, was awarded to Taken, ridden by Kelley Farmer and owned by Jessica Stitt.

Empire, ridden by Peter Pletcher and owned by David Gochman, was recognized as the Best Conditioned Horse of round one with the Mark Gregory Memorial Award. Empire is groomed by Gustavo Hernandez.

Amateur-Owner and Junior Hunter Division Champions

Amateur-Owner and Junior riders had qualified for the evening’s class only a few hours prior, with divisions awarding championship honors earlier on Saturday.  The Bainbridge Amateur-Owner Hunter 18-35 division saw championship honors go to Lexi Maounis and her eleven-year-old Hanoverian mare Sienna. Sienna and Maounis were first and sixth over fences during day one and secured the championship title with a first place finish in Saturday’s stake round. Reserve champion was Humor Me and Stephanie Danhakl, who were fifth and first over fences.

Lexi Maounis and Sienna. Photo © Anne Gittins Photography
Lexi Maounis and Sienna. Photo © Anne Gittins Photography

Maounis was thrilled to secure a spot in Saturday night’s prestigious Hunter Spectacular class. “It’s so special to win during Hunter Week. She’s been champion the past few weeks here [at WEF] and I’m just so happy we could do it again.”

Maounis’s always dependable mare was unfazed by the wide open spaces of the International Arena. “She was perfect in the International Ring. The handy was just really fun, especially getting to do the tight turns with her,” Maounis commented.

Rock Steady and Katie Robinson triumphed in the Hunt Limited Amateur-Owner Over 35 Hunter division. Robinson and her thirteen-year-old Warmblood gelding were first and second over fences during day one of competition and finished second over fences and third under saddle on day two. Reserve champion was Gia, ridden by Katie Gibson.

The pair was first and third over fences and seventh under saddle.

Robinson described Rock Steady as her perfect match, and credited their success to his love of the show ring. “He’s got just the right amount of sass. He gets to the jumps and has fun with it. He just enjoys showing,” stated Robinson.

This week is the highlight for many hunter competitors at the FTI WEF, and Robinson welcomes the extra attention it brings to hunter riders and horses. “Hunter Week really is a special week. It’s so nice to be showcased and to get out in the big ring.  It’s nice to feel special and it’s so much fun,” Robinson described.

Junior rider divisions also competed throughout the day on Saturday for a spot in the night class, beginning with the Antares Large Junior Hunter 15 and Under division. Tori Colvin and Dr. Betsee Parker’s Inclusive were champions of the division after placing fifth under saddle and sweeping the over fences classes. Reserve champion was Kyle Owens’ Cinema, ridden by Kirklen Peterson. The pair was fourth and second over fences.

Colvin also emerged victorious with Ovation in the Small Junior Hunter 15 and Under division. Ovation won the under saddle class and placed second, first and third over fences. Reserve champion of the division was Whatever, owned and ridden by Vivian Yowan. Yowan and Whatever were fifth under saddle and third, second and first over fences.

Colvin is already a veteran competitor in the Hunter Spectacular despite only being fifteen, and was especially pleased to have two of her mounts qualify. “Every win is significant to me, but it’s really special to win during Hunter Week. WCHR is the biggest show of WEF, and it’s an honor to win at WEF in general,” Colvin stated.

Colvin described her mounts – Inclusive, a ten-year-old Warmblood gelding, and Ovation, a thirteen-year-old Warmblood gelding – as an exceptionally talented pair.

“[Ovation] is an amazing mover, and he just sweeps across the ground. He may not jump as well as Inclusive, but he creates such a pretty picture that the judges always love him,” Colvin described.

“Inclusive just has an unreal jump,” Colvin continued. “He was great today and is an amazing horse. He’s very easy to ride; you can just let go and let him do his job. He gets up to the jump and just snaps his legs up perfectly.”

The older Junior divisions wrapped up the qualifying rounds for the Hunter Spectacular. Garfield and Alexandra Crown triumphed in the Antarés Large Junior Hunter 16-17 division after the pair jumped to first, second, and second place finishes over fences and fourth place under saddle.  Reserve champion was Chansonette Farm, LLC’s Madison, ridden by Lillie Keenan. Keenan and Madison were second, second and third over fences and third under saddle.

Crown and Garfield have accumulated an array of championship titles at the FTI WEF, but edging out the competition at Hunter Week was especially meaningful for Crown.

“A lot of people wait to come [to the FTI WEF] this week just to show during Hunter Week. The judging is a little harder, the courses are harder, but Garfield was on it today. He’s always perfect though,” Crown grinned.

Keenan and Jennifer Gates’ Parkland, another duo intimately familiar with the FTI WEF championship circle, unsurprisingly won the Small Junior Hunter 16-17 division. Parkland, a nine-year-old KWPN gelding, and Keenan clinched this week’s title with three blue ribbon finishes and one third place round over fences in addition to another first place prize under saddle. Reserve champion of the Small Junior 16-17 division was Good Humor, owned and ridden by Madeleine Thatcher.

“This horse makes me feel pretty confident all the time,” Keenan admitted. “He was a lot of fun in the International Ring today. He has a huge stride, so to be able to go in a big ring like this and gallop around is a lot of fun for both of us.”

Cian O’Connor and Walk Tall II Win $25,000 Suncast 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic

Week seven of the 2013 FTI Winter Equestrian Festival continued on Saturday afternoon with the $25,000 Suncast 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic featured on the grass derby field at The Stadium at PBIEC. Richard Jeffery, of Bournemouth, England, is the course designer on the derby field for the week. On Saturday afternoon, Jeffery set the track for 31 entries in the $25,000 Suncast 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic. Only three entries cleared the first round course to advance to the jump-off, and two cleared the short course. Ireland’s Cian O’Connor and Darragh Kenny finished first and second.

Cian O'Connor and Walk Tall II. Photo © Sportfot
Cian O’Connor and Walk Tall II. Photo © Sportfot

Young American rider Blythe Marano was the first rider to jump-off aboard Riverview Farm, LLC’s Urban and finished with eight faults in 48.83 seconds to place third. Darragh Kenny and Cavallo Farms, LLC’s Twister jumped next and cleared the jump-off course in 45.22 seconds to finish second. Last to go, Cian O’Connor and Ronnoco Jump Ltd.’s Walk Tall II took the win with their time of 43.53 seconds.

Both of the top horse and rider combinations in Saturday’s class came in strong with wins earlier in the week. Kenny and Twister won the $8,000 G&C Farm 1.45m speed class on Wednesday and O’Connor and Walk Tall II topped Friday’s $6,000 Spy Coast Farm 1.40m Speed Challenge. Saturday’s course on the grass tested many of the competitors on the roster, but they both mastered the track.

A new horse for Olympian Cian O’Connor, Walk Tall II is an eleven-year-old Anglo European gelding by Kannan x Farhaan. Walk Tall previously showed with Irish rider Keith Doyle and won last year’s Queen’s Cup in Hickstead. O’Connor got the horse just before Christmas but did a lot of traveling before coming to Florida, so this was their first show together.

“He is a really talented horse,” O’Connor stated after the class. “He has had good results before. He won a big class in Hickstead last year, so he likes the big open space and I think the field suited him well today.”

“He has been ridden by the same rider since he was four, so I am a different rider and it takes time to adjust,” O’Connor noted. “I just feel that we are getting to know each other a little bit better today after just a few classes. In our second week jumping he won a 1.40m yesterday and a 1.50m today, so I can’t really ask for much better than that. If I can train him to listen to me and understand me and really get all of the gears, I think I can jump any course. He is so careful and so brave.”

The rider described Walk Tall further, explaining the details that they are working out as they get to know each other. “He has a very big stride,” O’Connor said. “Ideally, you’d want a horse to have a big stride and a short stride, but he has not learned the short bit yet, so that can present problems sometimes if you are not extremely on the ball yourself when riding. You have to adjust quite quickly when landing if the distance is quiet, but he is very willing and honest and he is super careful. He is by Kannan, which is French, out of an Irish mother. He has a lot of blood. When you warm up outside he is not that impressive, and then when you go into the ring he is really careful, so it is a good attribute. He saves energy for the class.”

Last to go in the jump-off, O’Connor was warming up when the other two riders jumped, but he asked U.S. rider Kent Farrington to watch their rounds and report.

“It was a great advantage going last,” O’Connor acknowledged. “I had asked Kent to keep an eye on proceedings for me. Sometimes it is quite hard to concentrate when you are warming up. I watched Darragh Kenny go out of the corner of my eye. I thought he was neat because he did an inside turn inside the water to the double of verticals. I said to Kent, ‘I won’t beat him because I don’t want to take that turn yet’, and Kent said that I could be quicker if I kept the rhythm up and went around, so it was great to have Kent there for that bit of advice.”

O’Connor is done showing now for week seven and will be gearing up for week eight’s CSIO competition and $75,000 FEI Furusiyya Nations Cup presented by G&C Farm. He hopes to help the Irish team to victory.

“We are happy with our week and we have a big week next week for the Nations Cup,” O’Connor stated. “I hope to be jumping Splendor on the team and hopefully we have a good result there. The Nations Cup is important here. We have so many Irish riders based here in Wellington and they have great sponsors and supporters, so it would be really nice to give them all something to cheer about.”

The Irish team will be named next week.

Week seven of the FTI WEF will conclude on Sunday with the highlight $50,000 Hermès Jumper Derby featured on the grass derby field at The Stadium at PBIEC at 3 p.m. WCHR competition will conclude in the International Arena featuring the Peggy Cone Adult Amateur Hunter Classic. The Children’s and Pony Hunter divisions will also complete their competition for the week. For full results, please visit www.showgroundslive.com.

Laura Cardon and Lauren Fisher 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

Watch an Action-Packed Behind-the-Scenes So8ths/Nikon Three-Day Video on YouTube

The third annual So8ths/Nikon Three-Day Event in the “Heart of the Carolinas” takes place May 2-5 in Chesterfield, SC. Now’s your chance to see what this event is all about by reliving all the action thanks to a creative video produced by nFocus Pictures and visible on Southern 8ths’ YouTube channel.

This video showcases Long Format Eventing at the amateur level but with the aplomb of a professional level event.  If you are a horse lover, have a passion for Eventing or are simply curious to peek behind-the-scenes at the 2012 So8ths/Nikon Three-Day Event then settle into your seats and fasten your seatbelts for  an amazing 4-minute ride by going to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QUBHfKnVc_E.

You’ll get a chance to watch not just the competition but see who is teaching the educational clinics and how up close and personal the competitors are with the clinicians. These clinics are taught by some of the top horsemen in the Eventing community. Well-known riders and trainers Charlie Plumb, Will Faudree, Holly Hudspeth, Rebecca Howard and Susan Beebee are joined by “R” Dressage judge Sue Simpson and FEI course designer Tremaine Cooper educating the competitors on all aspects of the Long Format. FEI veterinarian Dr. Debbie Williamson and local vet Dr. Marsha Severt ensure the horses are fit to compete. Groom Natalie Varcoe Cox covers caring for the horses. Marc Donovan walks his show jumping course with the competitors.

Continue reading Watch an Action-Packed Behind-the-Scenes So8ths/Nikon Three-Day Video on YouTube

Piaget Loses CV Whitney Cup Opener

WELLINGTON, FL – February 22, 2013 — Piaget fell behind early in the first half and never recovered losing its CV Whitney Cup opener to Alegria, 14-6, Friday at Isla Carroll East.

Grand Champions Polo Club-based Piaget was playing with a new lineup for the first time in the nine-team, single-elimination 26-goal season opening tournament.

Despite playing with two of the world’s top 10-goalers, Sapo Caset and Miguel Astrada, Piaget was unable to find its chemistry or put together consistent scoring opportunities.

“They were a difficult team to play,” Astrada said. “We played so much on defense we couldn’t go on offense.”

Piaget took an early 3-1 lead in the first chukker, but Alegria’s stingy defense and offensive teamwork frustrated Piaget for the remainder of the game.

Alegria 2-goaler Julian Mannix scored the tying goal (3-3) at the end of the first chukker and scored another quick goal to open the second chukker for 4-3 lead. Alegria never relinquished the lead after that.

“It was our first game together so we are going to build off of this,” Piaget coach Joey Casey said. “I think we’ll be fine. We just didn’t have our rhythm; we will get back into it.”

Alegria was led by a balanced scoring attack. Nine-goaler Hilario Ulloa led with five goals, followed by Mannix with four, Facundo Obregon with three and 9-goaler Mariano Aguerre added two.

“I didn’t anticipate that out of Alegria, but they’ve got some great players, four great players,” Casey said. “We knew they were a good team but we didn’t expect that.”

Caset led Piaget scoring with three goals while Astrada was held scoreless for the first time this season. Piaget player-padrone Melissa Ganzi scored the opening and closing goals for her team.

“We were always on the defense to try and cover the back,” Astrada said. “We had to play a lot differently. It was a difficult team to play in the beginning of the tournament, moreso for the first game.”

Alegria outscored Piaget, 3-1 in the second chukker and 2-1 in the third chukker for an 8-5 halftime lead.

Piaget's Melissa Ganzi on her way to scoring one of her two goals
Piaget’s Melissa Ganzi on her way to scoring one of her two goals

“At the half we were doing okay,” Casey said. “We were doing really well on some of our throw-ins and some of our set plays. We were just outmanned on the field today, that’s all. We had a bad day. We’ll get better, it was our first game.”

Alegria extended its lead to 9-5 after four chukkers and 11-5 after five while Piaget kept trying to dig itself out of a hole.

“We tried to make adjustments at the half but it still didn’t work,” Astrada said. “They played a lot better than us. It looked like they had better teamwork.”

Aguerre, the 2012 Argentine Open MVP, said his team had only one day to practice together because of the heavy rainstorms. Still, Alegria was able to find the chemistry that eluded Piaget.

“We are a solid team with an extremely good defense,” Aguerre said. “We are strong everywhere on the field. We have a good defense and great offense. We are well-mounted. We have a little bit of everything.

Astrada battles Alegria's Julian Mannix for the ball
Astrada battles Alegria’s Julian Mannix for the ball

“We made this team to win,” Aguerre said. “Today we played well and hopefully we can keep it up. Piaget looked like the team to beat on paper but I like our chances.”

Piaget will return to the practice field to prepare for the prestigious USPA Piaget Gold Cup that begins March 5.

In other Friday CV Whitney games, Lechuza Caracas outlasted Orchard Hill, 10-9, in overtime and Coca-Cola knocked off Audi, 11-7.

The CV Whitney Cup is the first jewel of America’s Triple Crown of polo.

Valiente I is defending champion of the CV Whitney Cup after defeating Valiente II, 10-8, in the final that featured father vs. son player-padrones with father Bob Jornayvaz prevailing for the win. Polito Pieres of Valiente I was named Most Valuable Player. Valiente returns with only one team this season featuring 10-goalers Pelon Stirling and Adolfo Cambiaso.

The CV Whitney Cup was created in 1979 and first played at the Retama Polo Center in San Antonio, Texas where it was the handicap counterpart to the U.S. Open Championship. It was moved to IPC in 2003 and has been held every year in Wellington.

Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney was an American businessman, film producer, writer, government official and owner of a leading stable of thoroughbred horses. He followed in his father’s footsteps as an avid polo player and won the U.S. Open three times.

The other two 26-goal tournaments are the USPA Piaget Gold Cup and 109th Maserati U.S. Open Polo Championship.

CV WHITNEY CUP SCHEDULE

Wednesday, February 27: Semifinals, 1 and 3 p.m.

Sunday, March 3: Les Armour Cup CV Whitney Subsidiary, 10 a.m.; CV Whitney Cup Final, 3 p.m.

YLVISAKER CUP AUDI SCHEDULE

Sunday, February 24: Haas Cup Final, Port Mayaca vs. Faraway, 10 a.m.; Ylvisaker Cup Final, Audi vs. Coca-Cola, 3 p.m.

AUDI/PIAGET TOURNAMENT LINEUP

Jan. 31 – Feb. 24, Ylvisaker Cup

Feb. 19 – March 3, CV Whitney Cup

March 5 – March 24, USPA Piaget Gold Cup

March 26 – April 21, 109th Maserati U.S. Open Polo Championship

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 during the spring and fall tournament season and other special events including the Buzz Welker Memorial Junior Tournament, Women’s Championship Tournament and Gay Polo League Tournament.

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

Coca-Cola Defeats Audi, 11-7, in CV Whitney Cup Opener

WELLINGTON, FL – February 22, 2013 — Audi and Coca-Cola renewed their longtime polo rivalry Friday in the 26-goal season-opening CV Whitney Cup at Isla Carroll West.

In a hard-fought, physical game that featured Audi team captain Marc Ganzi forced to leave the game after the first half with a possible fractured thumb, Audi mounted a late comeback, but fell short losing to Coca-Cola, 11-7.

Audi, still in the midst of the 20-goal season preparing for Sunday’s final against Coca-Cola in the Ylvisaker Cup, switched gears with a different lineup and needed time to make the transition.

Grand Champions Polo Club-based Audi, with brothers Gonzalito and Nico Pieres, American Jeff Hall and Ganzi fell behind early, 3-0, in the opening chukker and came within one goal (4-3 in the second chukker) but were unable to overtake the lead for the remainder of the game.

There were some flashes of outstanding play on Audi’s part including big hits from the playmaking Pieres brothers, but unforced errors and missed scoring opportunities worked against Audi.

Ganzi, with some outstanding back hits and defensive plays, came up with a big defensive stop on Coca Cola’s Julio Arellano penalty-four scoring attempt at the end of the third chukker, but it may have been a costly one. Ganzi was hit with Arellano’s ball injuring his thumb.

After being treated in the players’ tent by Audi trainer Jeremy Fedoruk, Ganzi returned to finish the first half wearing a thumb brace but was in obvious pain and unable to hold a mallet.

Marc Ganzi of Audi steals the ball
Marc Ganzi of Audi steals the ball

Ganzi left immediately after the game to undergo x-rays and determine the extent of the injury. He may be sidelined between two and six weeks depending on the severity of the injury, Fedoruk said.

Fifteen-year-old Manuel Jimenez Villamil, a top juniors player who replaced Lechuza Caracas’ Victor Vargas in the Feb. 20th 20-goal game against Coca-Cola, was called on to replace Ganzi in the second half.

Villamil, wearing blue jeans and Audi No. 1 red jersey held his own against the more-experienced players in his first 26 goal game.

“I was sitting in the crowd over there watching the game when they called me to play for the second half,” Villamil said.

“I was very excited to play,” Villamil said. “I wanted to play well; I am sorry we couldn’t win at the end. This was a good opportunity for me. I don’t know if I am playing again on Sunday.”

Nico Pieres Audi led scoring with five goals. Gonzalito Pieres scored on a penalty shot and Jeff Hall scored from the field in the sixth chukker.

Coca-Cola’s Sebastian Merlos, still nursing broken ribs suffered in a polo game two weeks ago, scored three goals; Julio Arellano scored three goals, Sugar Erskine had three goals and team captain Gillian Johnston had two goals.

Audi will return to the practice field to prepare for the prestigious USPA Piaget Gold Cup that begins March 5.

In other Friday CV Whitney games, Lechuza Caracas outlasted Orchard Hill, 10-9, in overtime and Alegria defeated Piaget, 14-6.

Nico Pieres of Audi hits a neck shot to get the ball downfield
Nico Pieres of Audi hits a neck shot to get the ball downfield

The CV Whitney Cup is the first jewel of America’s Triple Crown of polo.

Valiente I is defending champion of the CV Whitney Cup after defeating Valiente II, 10-8, in the final that featured father vs. son player-padrones with father Bob Jornayvaz prevailing for the win. Polito Pieres of Valiente I was named Most Valuable Player. Valiente returns with only one team this season featuring 10-goalers Pelon Stirling and Adolfo Cambiaso.

The CV Whitney Cup was created in 1979 and first played at the Retama Polo Center in San Antonio, Texas where it was the handicap counterpart to the U.S. Open Championship. It was moved to IPC in 2003 and has been held every year in Wellington.

Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney was an American businessman, film producer, writer, government official and owner of a leading stable of thoroughbred horses. He followed in his father’s footsteps as an avid polo player and won the U.S. Open three times.

The other two 26-goal tournaments are the USPA Piaget Gold Cup and 109th Maserati U.S. Open Polo Championship.

CV WHITNEY CUP SCHEDULE

Wednesday, February 27: Semifinals, 1 and 3 p.m.

Sunday, March 3: Les Armour Cup CV Whitney Subsidiary, 10 a.m.; CV Whitney Cup Final, 3 p.m.

YLVISAKER CUP AUDI SCHEDULE

Sunday, February 24: Haas Cup Final, Port Mayaca vs. Faraway, 10 a.m.; Ylvisaker Cup Final, Audi vs. Coca-Cola, 3 p.m.

AUDI/PIAGET TOURNAMENT LINEUP

Jan. 31 – Feb. 24, Ylvisaker Cup

Feb. 19 – March 3, CV Whitney Cup

March 5 – March 24, USPA Piaget Gold Cup

March 26 – April 21, 109th Maserati U.S. Open Polo Championship

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 during the spring and fall tournament season and other special events including the Buzz Welker Memorial Junior Tournament, Women’s Championship Tournament and Gay Polo League Tournament.

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

Matthias Hollberg and Orphan Car Prevail at The Ridge at Wellington $15,000 Grand Prix

Wellington, FL – February 22, 2013 – Matthias Hollberg and Orphan Car set a speedy pace early in the order and held on to the first spot during today’s class at The Ridge at Wellington’s $175,000 1.40m Invitational Grand Prix Series. Hollberg and Orphan Car completed the jump-off in 38.448 seconds, taking a sharp inside turn between the first two fences and leaving all the rails up to secure the win.

The $15,000 Grand Prix class, held under sunny skies at the beautiful Mida Farm in Wellington, drew a sizable field of top riders. Those who reached the jump-off had to choose whether to cut inside of a stand of palm trees after the first fence, with riders who successfully navigated the turn shaving valuable seconds off their time. As course designer David Ballard intended, the option shaped up to be the major question of the jump-off.

“If you make the inside turn and you go clean, you should be one of the winners,” Ballard said. “It really is a quality decision.”

Hollberg chose the riskier route and was rewarded with the fastest time of the day on Fernando Cardenas’ Orphan Car. He praised the horse’s effort in the class. “The horse is a real trier and tries to jump clear and go fast,” Hollberg explained. “Just staying with him is all you need to do.”

This was Hollberg’s first ride in The Ridge at Wellington’s Grand Prix Series, and he is already looking forward to making a return. “I only have one horse at this level right now, and he’s a sale horse,” he said. “Provided I get to keep him for a little while longer, I will keep coming, for sure.”

“It’s quiet, and you can take your time,” Hollberg added. “The course is fair without being too easy. I think it’s a good place for inexperienced riders or inexperienced grand prix horses to go out and jump at a beautiful venue. It’s a super addition to the season. I wish the whole horse show would be like this.”

Andres Rodriguez and Aberdeen 33
Andres Rodriguez and Aberdeen 33

Andres Rodriguez, winner of two previous classes in The Ridge at Wellington’s Grand Prix series, finished just a tick behind Hollberg in second aboard Aberdeen 33. Rodriguez noted that fence two of the first round, the Global Champions Tour wall, provided a challenge early in the course. “It was kind of the biggest question of the course, and I’m really happy my first two horses just came and didn’t hesitate and jumped really well this week,” Rodriguez said. “Aberdeen 33 is probably one of my favorite horses. He did his job, and he was just a little bit behind the winner.”

Rodriguez explained that he enjoys the series because it gives his young horses a change of pace and keeps them more alert. “Once you bring them to the 1.40m level, all the classes are in the same ring during season,” he said. “When they jump so much in the same ring, they get a little bit too comfortable, and it becomes a little bit like home. I don’t want my horses to think of that place as home. That’s where I want them to be as clever as they can be. I just want them to know that when they cross the bridge, it’s for a big competition.”

“So when the Ridge at Wellington Grand Prix series came out, I thought it was a good idea,” Rodriguez continued. “It is good just to change a little bit; a little bit of a different atmosphere. It all started really well. I was really happy at the Ridge, Nona’s place. And then we came here. Here, there is nothing more to ask. Here is just a perfect venue for a young horse.”

Jeffery Welles and Merlin
Jeffery Welles and Merlin

Jeffrey Welles rode Merlin to a third place finish in 39.085 seconds. Welles said his horse can be high strung, but went nicely for him in the class. “The field is beautiful, and the jumps are nice,” he said. “It’s a very relaxed atmosphere here. Everyone’s making a big effort to make it super nice. I’m very happy, very pleased that I came over.”

Agatha D’Ambra and Airbus closed out the top four with the only other double clear round of the day. “He was very good,” D’Ambra, who was making her debut in the series, said. “I think overall the relaxed feeling here just helps all around. It helps the horses, the riders, and the trainers. It’s nice to go at your own pace.”

“It’s a change of scenery and a change of pace from the main showgrounds,” she went on. “My parents can come over and have breakfast and watch me. I had heard great things about the facility, and it’s nice to get a chance to ride on a grass field. It’s really beautiful out here.”

The $175,000 1.40m Invitational Grand Prix series will return to Mida Farm next Friday, March 1, for the seventh week of competition. Inclement weather forced the cancellation of last week’s class. The 10-week series will culminate with the $24,750 Ridge at Wellington Invitational Grand Prix Finale on Saturday, March 23, 2013.

$15,000 The Ridge at Wellington 1.4m Invitational Grand Prix – Mida Farm

  1. Orphan Car – Matthias Hollberg – 0/0, 38.448
  2. Aberdeen 33 – Andres Rodriguez – 0/0, 38.698
  3. Merlin – Jeffery Welles – 0/0, 39.085
  4. Airbus – Agatha D’Ambra – 0/0, 45.458
  5. Tilghman – Sarah Segal – 0/4, 38.296
  6. Sil – Geoff Case – 0/4, 40.256
  7. Imothep – Nicole Simpson – 0/4, 41.618
  8. Oh La La – Lauren Hough – 0/4, 45.590
  9. HH Sandor – Anna McKnight – 0/8, 37.836
  10. Rolex – Joseph Sorce – 0/8, 45.551
  11. Caspar T – Cara Anthony – 0/12, 46.964
  12. Via Veneto – Paul Halpern – 0/elim.

Mary Adelaide Brakenridge 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