Tag Archives: featured

Theo Genn and Winchester Win the $50,000 Budweiser Grand Prix of Gulfport

Theo Genn and Winchester clear the Budweiser jump on their way to the winner’s circle yesterday. Flashpoint Photography.

March 11, 2013 – Gulfport, Mississippi – Theo Genn of Lebanon, Ohio, in the irons of Bridlebourne Stable LLC’s Winchester, rode away with the big check and first place in yesterday’s $50,000 Budweiser Grand Prix of Gulfport which wrapped up the 2013 Gulf Coast Circuit yesterday afternoon.

More than 3,500 spectators watched a field of 24 attempt the course set by noted course designer Allen Rheinheimer of Zionsville, Indiana, but only three emerged to the jump-off round.  Rheinheimer changed the course up for the grand finale.  “We used a few new jumps, like the casino jump, and some they haven’t seen in the triple combination that caused some problems.  The main thing was there was a different look to the field,” he said.  Fence 7 looked to be unlucky for half the class as most dropped a rail.  The skinniest fence with natural rails and two ponds, followed by a sharp left hand turn and a big three bar oxer, gave the horses a lot to look at.  “I couldn’t have gotten enough good reviews on the course from the riders, whether or not they won, they loved it,” he added.

First to go in the jump-off round was Bryn Sadler from Santa Fe, New Mexico, riding Bon Giorno, owned by Showcase 81, LLC.  The pair went clean and set the time to beat at 45.135 seconds.  Next to jump off was Devin Ryan, of Long Valley, New Jersey, riding Zosja, owned by Eagle Valley Partners.  Ryan looked to add another grand prix win to his list of winter achievements, but with four faults despite a fast time of 39.087 seconds, the pair would settle for third place overall.  Last to go in the jump-off was Theo Genn and Winchester.  The pair went clean and with a time of 41.276 seconds, bested Sadler’s time, putting her in second place and them in the winner’s circle.

“I was very excited to win and very relieved,” said Genn.  “I had been second weeks 1 through 4 and I really wanted to win, badly!  My horse deserved to win; he was incredible every week!  When we walked the course, it was really big and pretty technical too, but I had a good feeling about it.  The most difficult part for me was the triple combination.  There was an oxer, a one stride to a vertical and then another vertical.  It was a bending seven and depending on how you jumped in it could be really long or short — it was pretty tricky,” he said.

“I was happy to see Theo win,” said Rheinheimer. “He has been second quite a bit this circuit and he really deserved it.  It’s really great when people who support the show win.”

Devin Ryan and No Worries, owned by Barbara Rowland, finished fourth with a first round time of 87.538 seconds and four faults.  Holly Shepherd of Grand Bay, Alabama rode Triompf, owned by Loretta Patterson, to a fifth place finish with a first round time of 101.988 seconds and four jump faults.  Sixth place was Paradox, owned by Thomas Bruinsma and ridden by Theo Genn, in a first round time of 103.734 seconds with four jump faults and two time faults.  Devin Ryan returned in seventh place with Calissandro, owned by Barbara Drake and Ryan.  The pair turned in a first round effort with eight jump faults in a time of 90.018 seconds.  Eighth was H.J. El Magnifico, owned and ridden by Eduardo Braun of Bend, Oregon.  The pair turned in a first round time of 90.629 seconds with eight jump faults.  Ninth place went to Wilhelm Genn of Lebanon, Ohio in the irons of Nancy Gooding’s Palim Palim with eight jump faults in a time of 94.860 seconds. Tenth place was awarded to Vasco, owned and ridden by Jordan Siegel of Flower Mound, Texas, who turned in a first round effort in 95.001 seconds with eight jump faults.  Eleventh place went to Ryan Genn of Lebanon, Ohio, riding Wilhelm Genn’s Cookie Monster.  The pair turned in a first round time of 97.562 seconds and eight jump faults.  Jay Land wrapped up the class in twelfth aboard his and Kim Land’s Nepal with a time of 104.921 seconds, eight jump faults and three time faults.

“All of the horses jumped fantastic and the field held up magnificently well,” said Rheinheimer.  “This was such a perfect ending to a perfect circuit.  We had the biggest crowd we have ever had. There must have been 3,500 people at the show.  The parking lots were full, they were parked on the road, the stands were full and there was standing room only.”

Genn added, “The whole circuit was fantastic. The competition, the course designers, the jumps, the footing and the people, they are just amazing.  The exhibitors are a really great group of people and our horses did really well.  We had a great time and we’ll definitely be back next year!” he added.

The Gulf Coast Winter Classic in Gulfport is where the fun was all winter and hopefully you didn’t miss it! Mardi Gras’ festive atmosphere in neighboring New Orleans spills onto the show grounds, making this winter circuit the most fun in country. With its close proximity to the Gulf Coast beaches, class offerings, prize money, and social scene, the Gulf Coast Classic Company’s Gulfport shows are a must on everyone’s show list.  The show featured weekly $2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derbies, the $10,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby, weekly grand prix schedule and generous Open Welcome Jumper classes.

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

Rose Hill Stays Strong Taking Performance 3’6″ Hunter Reserve Championship during HITS Ocala VIII Winter Finals

Jennifer Alfano and Rose Hill secured the Performance 3’6″ Hunters Reserve Championship during HITS VIII Ocala Winter Finals. Photo By: ESI Photography.

Ocala, FL – March 11, 2013 – Jennifer Alfano stole the limelight during Ocala HITS VIII Winter Finals this past week, earning numerous awards in the hunter rings with tricolor ribbons in every division. SBS Farms, Inc. has seen nothing short of success throughout the Ocala HITS circuit, with trainer Susie Schoellkopf and Alfano working side-by-side to ensure victories across the board. It was Rose Hill who snatched the Performance 3’6″ Hunter Reserve Championship, rising to the top of the leader board with ease.

The rose grey Dutch/Warmblood Thoroughbred is racking up the points in Ocala, and has been consistent throughout their stay. The mare already captured the $10,000 Devuocoux Hunter Prix with an impressive score of 89 during HITS V Ocala Winter Festival, and has only continued to excel. Her win earlier in the season solidified her return to the show ring after undergoing colic surgery in May 2012.

Affectionately known as Rosie, the 8-year-old mare took the first place finish in the Performance 3’6″ Working Handy Hunter, also snatching the second and fourth place ribbon over fences. Alfano and Rosie were awarded with the reserve championship, and Alfano admitted her excitement towards having one of her top mounts back in the ring and doing so well.

Shane George’s Timber Ridge secured the Conformation Hunter Championship with a slew of blue ribbons. Alfano piloted the bay gelding over the handy course to take the first place prize, as well as earning three more blue ribbons over fences and the first place in the under saddle.

Maggie May, owned by Billie Steffee, has continued to steal the show with each passing week. Last week she nabbed the First Year Green Working Hunter Reserve Championship with two thirds and the first place ribbon over fences, as well as the first place in the under saddle.

Based out of Buffalo, NY, SBS Farms’ Susie Schoellkopf and Jennifer Alfano run one of the foremost show hunter training operations in the country, and travel nationwide to compete in the nation’s most prestigious horse shows. SBS Farms, Inc. continues the proud tradition of the Saddle and Bridle Club as one of the top show stables in the northeast. Schoellkopf is also the Executive Director of the Buffalo Therapeutic Riding Center, which houses both The Buffalo Equestrian Center as well as SBS Farms. Built in 1922, the 160-stall facility is a historical landmark, with its unique English Tudor and gothic style architecture. For more information on SBS Farms and the Buffalo Therapeutic Riding Center, please visit www.thebtrc.org.

Media Contact: Kendall Bierer
Phelps Media Group, Inc. International
phone 561.753.3389  fax 561.753.3386
pmginfo@phelpsmediagroup.com
PhelpsMediaGroup.com

Phillip Dutton Defends His Title in Adequan USEA Gold Cup & PRO Tour CIC3* at Red Hills

Phillip Dutton and Mighty Nice jump to victory in the Adequan USEA Gold Cup & PRO Tour CIC3* at Red Hills.

Phillip Dutton kept his crown as the king of Red Hills with another win in the Adequan USEA Gold Cup & PRO Tour Series CIC3* after an exciting cross-country finish. Last year Phillip drove home from Red Hills in a brand new Mercedes thanks to his win aboard Jim and Arden Wildasin’s Mystery Whisper. This year he gets to trade the car in for another new one after winning today’s competition with Bruce Duchossois’ Mighty Nice, a 9-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (ARD Ohio x Sarazen). Phillip and ‘Happy’ are no strangers to the Tallahassee, Florida event having won the CIC2* in 2011 as well.

“I know Mighty Nice very well, but to tell you the truth a horse like Mystery Whisper is much more suited to a course like this then Mighty Nice,” said Phillip. “I didn’t actually set out thinking I was going to win although I did have it in the back of my mind when Marilyn had some time on [RF Smoke on the Water] I knew that I could win.”

Phillip finished the Hugh Lochore-designed course in six minutes and 34 seconds, eight seconds over the time allowed. Luckily the 3.2 penalties added to his dressage mark of 43 weren’t too many to grab the top spot as overnight leader, Marilyn Little garnered six penalties with RF Smoke on the Water to drop down to a score of 50.7.

“He can get pretty strong,” said Phillip, “so I thought I would set out quick-ish and then if everything was going all right I would keep going like that. It wasn’t a perfect round, but I don’t think it was a crazy round for him either.”

“He is a pretty cool horse. He is so confident in himself, bordering on being arrogant on the cross-country.  He has a great sense of what he can do, and he is a huge horse, but very, very clever. He can pat the ground very easily and sort of grows an extra leg if I misjudge things a bit.”

Mighty Nice heads to The Fork H.T. in North Carolina next, and Phillip assures that he will have a nice quiet round there before heading to Kentucky. For his win in the Adequan USEA Gold Cup Division, Phillip takes home $500 in prize money, a 7-dose Adequan Gift Certificate, $350 in Nunn Finer Products, a $200 Point Two Certificate, a SmartPak Wellfleet Bridle, and a pair of FITS Breeches.

Marilyn Little headed into today’s finale of cross-country sitting in the top two spots, but time proved tough to make and cost her the win with Phoebe and Ray Manders’ RF Smoke on the Water, while a run-in with a tree aboard RF Demeter dropped them out of contention.

“Red Hills is notoriously hard to make the time on,” said Marilyn. “And I was a little bit behind coming up to the first water. I went to make it up a bit on the backside and he didn’t feel quite like himself, so I gave him a pat and said take a minute on the way to the steeplechase, so I couldn’t take advantage of that.”

“I was really pleased with the way that he went; I wish the result had been better, but it is what it is and I am really pleased with the horse.”

According to Marilyn, RF Demeter felt great on the first part of the course, but landed from fence six and locked onto a tree in her path. Despite Marilyn’s best efforts Demeter was determined to head towards the tree, and she tripped over the landscaping and sent Marilyn flying into the tree. Luckily both walked away unharmed from their foray into “Tree-Day Eventing.”

Rounding out the top three was the final pair of the CIC3*, Buck Davidson with Carl and Cassandra Segal’s Ballynoe Castle RM. When they left the start box, Buck and ‘Reggie’ still had a chance to win the division if they went clear inside the time. It wasn’t meant to be though and the pair earned 4.8 time penalties to settle for the yellow ribbon.

“I made so many mistakes throughout this event this weekend, I can’t even believe it,” said Buck. “I was on the best horse, and I didn’t do what I was supposed to do.”

“I think it was an exciting day for the crowd, with Reggie having a chance to win and being the last horse to go. I know the Segals loved it. I tried, but he obviously isn’t a Thoroughbred horse and isn’t the fastest horse, but he is honest as they come. I always feel that he is the best horse every single weekend, so I always feel like I let him down, but I got beat by two really good riders and two really good horses and you can’t win them all. I am very proud of Reggie and the other two that I rode.”

The only rider to make it home inside the time on the CIC3* course was Canadian, Selena O’Hanlon, who did so on two of her three mounts, A First Romance and Foxwood High.

The 33 horses and riders who completed the CIC3* are now qualified for the Adequan USEA Gold Cup Final at the Nutrena USEA American Eventing Championships in Tyler, Texas.

The CIC2* also concluded today with the cross-country phase and time proved a bit easier to make as the top three pairs all crossed the finish line without any additional penalties. Jennie Brannigan, who also finished fourth in the CIC3*, rode Nina Gardner’s Indie to the win after overnight leader, Clayton Fredericks took a ducking in the Appalachia Water complex.

“I didn’t even look at my watch until I was crossing the finish line,” said Jennie. “And then I was like oh my god I made time at Red Hills. I had no idea.”

Jennie gave a lot of praise to her coach and boss Phillip Dutton and was thrilled with the successful finishes for both her horses and his. Both of the Gardners’ horses are aiming for spring three-days with Indie headed to Bromont CCI2* and Cambalda to the Rolex Kentucky CCI4*.

Marilyn continued her successful streak in the CIC2* by finishing second and third on Raylan Farms’ duo of 8-year-old mares, RF Azarah and RF Black Pearl. RF Azarah finished on her dressage score of 56.4 while RF Black Pearl added only a rail down yesterday – an impressive feat, considering Marilyn only rode the horse for the first time last week and had never jumped a cross-country fence with her before.

Julie Richards won the CIC* with Linda Crabtree’s Hanoverian stallion, San City, while Kyle Carter and Elizabeth New rounded out the top three with their mounts, FR’s Trust Fund and Uppercrust D.

The Advanced, Intermediate, and Preliminary divisions conclude with show jumping tomorrow to finish out another great year at Red Hills Horse Trials.

Authored By: Leslie Mintz

© 2012-2013 United States Eventing Association, Inc.

Audi Remains Undefeated, Knocks Off Alegria In USPA Piaget Gold Cup

Gonzalito Pieres in perfect form hitting the ball downfield to teammate and younger brother Nico Pieres. Photos – Alex Pacheco.

WELLINGTON, FL – March 11, 2013 — Audi, finding its championship form, put on a winning display of polo Sunday with a 13-7 victory over Alegria in the USPA Piaget Gold Cup at International Polo Club Palm Beach.

The victory over the recently-crowned C. V. Whitney Cup champion was one of the most impressive of the 26-goal season for Audi and put them in contention to win the second jewel of U.S. polo’s Triple Crown.

For the second consecutive game, Audi team captain Marc Ganzi watched the game from the players’ tent. Ganzi, nursing a broken thumb and expected to return in two weeks, watched 16-year-old Juancito Bollini play well in his absence.

But it was 10-goaler Gonzalito Pieres who showed his red-hot form with breakaway goals, Jeff Hall’s ball-hawking defense, Nico Pieres passing and steals and team’s lightning-quick ponies that enabled Audi to control the game.

“The team played great; everyone lined up well,” Ganzi said. “It was a great, great team effort today. You see Jeff Hall doing all the little details, taking the man, hitting the back-handers. He was my MVP today by far. The toughness he brought to the field today is the mentality we need going forward.

Audi's Gonzalito Pieres leaning out of the saddle and reaching back to keep possession of the ball with Alegria's Mariano Aguerre trying to defend his brother-in-law
Audi’s Gonzalito Pieres leaning out of the saddle and reaching back to keep possession of the ball with Alegria’s Mariano Aguerre trying to defend his brother-in-law

“We always keep talking about this but it’s the little details that change the game and Jeff took care of all the details today. We have six weeks left in the season and we would love to win this tournament; it would be great for us.”

“We have a good team,” Gonzalito Pieres said, “but we have two of the tougher teams (Zacara and Valiente) coming up.”

Audi dominated the game from wire-to-wire, outscoring Alegria, 4-1, in the opening chukker, 4-2 in the third chukker, and holding them scoreless in the final two chukkers.

“They are a really good team, obviously; they won the first tournament,” said Hall, one of the highest ranked American players. “We came up with a good game plan. With our positions changing, our playing is getting better.

“All the teams are good; we just have to play hard and stay focused,” Hall said. “They are the same horses; maybe they are getting better. This was a really good win; it’s great for us and the confidence of the team.”

Gonzalito Pieres scored eight goals including five penalty shots. Hall and Bollini had two goals and Nico Pieres had one. Julian Mannix, Facundo Obregon and Aguerre each scored two goals and Hillario Ulloa, who was hit in the face with a mallet during the game, added one goal.

“We played and beat a really good team today,” said Gonzalito Pieres, who played against his brother-in-law and 9-goaler Mariano Aguerre.

“Today was quite different; it’s always good to play a team that just came from winning and had a week off,” Pieres said. “We all played really consistent. Jeff was really strong in the back, Nico forward and Juancito did a really good job.

Audi's Jeff Hall, one of America's top-ranked players, turned in his best game of the 26-goal season with ball-hawking plays like this
Audi’s Jeff Hall, one of America’s top-ranked players, turned in his best game of the 26-goal season with ball-hawking plays like this

“Today was really good. Every time that we hit a back shot we turned it into an attack and an offensive play. I was quite happy with that. Our horses were very good; hopefully they are hitting their peak. I still have a few I am saving that are on their way up.”

Audi was coming off an exciting 8-7 victory over Zorzal in sudden death. Alegria was coming off a week’s rest.

“This was a very important game today because now we just have to win one of our next two games and we are in,” said Nico Pieres. “The horses were really good and we were a four-man team. Hopefully, the team is coming together at the right time. We have two more games to see.”

Bollini, a Wellington High School senior playing only his second 26-goal game after playing 12-goal tournaments, looked more composed and poised against Alegria. He also scored his first goals of his 26-goal tournament debut.

“The horses are amazing; it just makes everything easier,” Bollini said. “It was a lot of fun today; I was less nervous than the first game. I felt more comfortable. I came in with a bit more confidence. This is exciting. I have never played this. I like the speed that they go. Thanks to Marc letting me play; I had a lot of fun.”

Said Gonzalito Pieres who instructed Bollini on the field: “I am really happy for Juancito. For his age, he is really clever. He understands the game very well.”

Gonzalito Pieres keeps possession of the ball on a breakaway run downfield
Gonzalito Pieres keeps possession of the ball on a breakaway run downfield

In other Sunday games, Zacara, led by Facundo Pieres’ seven goals, defeated Mt. Brilliant, 10-6, and Valiente knocked off Coca-Cola, 13-8. Valiente’s Adolfo Cambiaso was named the Most Valuable Player after scoring seven goals including three on penalty shots.

USPA Piaget Gold Cup action resumes Thursday with five games scheduled. Grand Champions Polo Club-based Audi and Piaget are scheduled to play. Piaget will play Orchard Hill at 10 a.m. and Audi plays Zacara in a battle of the unbeatens at 4 p.m.

First played in 1974, the 26-goal USPA Gold Cup has been played at various polo clubs but found a home at IPC in 2007.

When the USPA awarded IPC the Gold Cup in 2007, the International Polo Club Palm Beach, home of the 26-goal C.V. Whitney Cup Tournament and U.S. Open Championship, sealed its place in history as host of all three legs of the Triple Crown.

Piaget is saluting IPC’s tenth anniversary with the launch of its new luxury Polo FortyFive Black watch which will join their successful collection of polo watches first introduced in the late 1970s.

USPA PIAGET GOLD CUP AUDI/PIAGET SCHEDULE

Thursday, March 14: Piaget vs. Orchard Hill, 10 a.m.; Zacara vs. Audi, 4 p.m.

Sunday, March 17: Valiente vs. Audi, 10 a.m.; Piaget vs. ERG, 3 p.m.

Wednesday, March 20: Piaget Gold Cup Semifinals, 2, 4 p.m.

Thursday, March 21: Butler Handicap Semifinals, Gold Cup subsidiary, 10 a.m., noon

Sunday, March 24: Butler Handicap Final, noon; USPA Piaget Gold Cup Final, 3 p.m.

Tuesday, March 26: U.S. Open begins, schedule, pairings to be announced.

AUDI/PIAGET TOURNAMENT LINEUP

March 7 – 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

Suzy Stafford Dominates Two Divisions at Little Everglades International Combined Driving Event

Suzy Stafford securing the Intermediate Championship with PVF Peace Of Mind, and Preliminary Championship with J.P., owned by Diane Ameter. Photos: Pics Of You.

Dade City, FL – Gold medalist Suzy Stafford comes home with the tri-colored ribbon in the Intermediate division with her own Morgan mare PVF Peace Of Mind and was crowned the Champion in the Preliminary division with J.P., a Hanoverian gelding owned by Diane Ameter.

This is the first time Stafford and Peace Of Mind competed at the Intermediate level winning the dressage with a stellar score of 39. “This mare has 3 wonderful gaits and a super work ethic. Dressage has always been one of her strong phases and she only seems to get better with age and strength,” Stafford says.

J.P. made his mark in the dressage arena as well winning his dressage phase with a consistent relaxed test. “Having J.P. relaxed and happy in his work at a show has been my main goal in his training. The goal is to have him solid enough in his basics for his owner Diane to take the reins next month and put in the same relaxed drive. I feel that I have accomplished that here in the ring,” Stafford said.

Marathon day for both horses was a challenge as the heat brought on a shortened course by the officials. Peace Of Mind was all business as she tackled the obstacles with strength and agility. “I am delighted how game this horse is becoming in the obstacles, she is getting more power as she develops and it is a great feeling to have that strength when I asked her for it,” Stafford says, smiling.

J.P. took all his new experiences in stride including the water complex. He stayed forward and consistent throughout the course. “I am happy with his gung-ho attitude through the obstacles as he can be tentative at times. I am looking forward to Diane taking the reins at the next CDE at this level so she can enjoy her horse as much as I have,” says Stafford.

Staffordblueribboncloseup“It takes a lot of work and organization to drive two different turn-outs in two different divisions. I would not have been able to do it and be successful without the help of J.P.’s owner Diane Ameter and my working student Stacey Hoff. They kept me on schedule and made sure everything that the horses and equipment needed was taken care of so I could focus on driving and learning the courses. I am truly grateful for them,” Stafford said.

Two double clear cones rounds secured their places at the top of the leader board. “What a show – horses were great, venue was stellar and the show was well run, damn near perfect!” Stafford says with a grin.

Suzy is known around the globe for her talent for developing equines for the International stage. In her relatively short driving career Stafford has been long listed with the United States Equestrian Federation with nine different equines. “Striving for success is simple when my owners and sponsors believe wholeheartedly in my judgment, skill and training program,” Stafford says.  Stafford operates her Stafford Carriage Driving facility out of Chester County in Pennsylvania from April to December and is stationed in Aiken, South Carolina from January through.

Stafford is a highly sought after clinician and also trains horses and teaches students out of her Stafford Carriage Driving facility. To learn more about Stafford, visit her website at www.staffordcarriagedriving.com.

For more information contact:
Suzy Stafford
Stafford Carriage Driving
www.staffordcarriagedriving.com
ponydriverss@aol.com
1-302-540-5162

Jessica Springsteen and Vindicat W Shine in $82,000 Suncast 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic

Jessica Springsteen and Vindicat W. Photo © Sportfot.

Without Question and Madison Arani Leave No Doubt in Pine Hollow Low Children’s Hunter 2’6″ Division

Wellington, FL, March 10, 2013 – Twenty-one-year-old Jessica Springsteen of Colts Neck, NJ, guided Stone Hill Farm’s Vindicat W to the winning round in Sunday’s $82,000 Suncast 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic to conclude week nine of the 2013 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival (FTI WEF), sponsored by The Bainbridge Companies. Showing on a beautiful afternoon at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center in Wellington, FL, Springsteen topped a field of great riders, including her trainer, U.S. Olympic Gold Medalist Laura Kraut.

Fifty-two entries jumped Sunday’s 1.50m course set by Steve Stephens of Palmetto, FL, with ten advancing to the jump-off. First to go in the second round, Jessica Springsteen and Vindicat W were unbeatable. They cleared the course in 41.36 seconds. Two entries were faster but had rails down. Only two others were clear over the short course.

Kent Farrington (USA) and Haity McNerney’s Zafira cleared the course in 41.53 seconds to finish in second. Third place went to Darragh Kerins (IRL) and E-Muze Yek, owned by Kerins and Maarten Huygens, with a time of 44.80 seconds. The fastest four-fault round belonged to Japan’s Eiken Sato aboard Stephex Stables’ Norlam des Estisses in 41.04 seconds.

Springsteen purchased Vindicat W, an eleven-year-old KWPN gelding by Guidam x Libero H, just after this summer’s Olympic Games in London where he was the mount for Peter Charles in the British team’s gold medal win. Springsteen tried Vindicat in August and the pair immediately clicked and showed for the first time together at the Washington International Horse Show in October.

“He has been amazing,” Springsteen smiled. “He is the only horse that I have ever gotten and clicked with right away. He is strong; he has a lot of blood and a lot of energy, so I thought we might have a little trouble in the ring keeping under control, but he is so nice to ride and he listens so well. He is so easy to jump a clear round on. You just have to get him to the fence and let him do his thing. He has been unbelievable and I am so happy.”

The pair got their first win together in the $15,000 RCG Farm SJHOF High Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic during week six in Wellington and Sunday’s class, a Longines FEI world ranking event with an $82,000 purse, was their best performance to date.

“It is definitely one of the biggest wins for me,” Springsteen stated. “It is hard because there are always so many people in the class and so many amazing riders that are so fast. Even after I went today I was like, ‘Okay, I was fast, but there is still McLain and Lauren (Hough) and Kent who are like lightning,’ so I thought I definitely would get beaten, but he was amazing and I was lucky today.”

Currently in her junior year at Duke University in North Carolina, Springsteen is juggling school with riding and has not been able to show quite as much, but feels that she is balancing things well.

“I really wanted to go to college and get that experience, so I am happy,” she acknowledged. “I am lucky that I have horses that I can really trust and that are so amazing and so brave, so it’s not really too difficult. I’ll get frustrated with myself if I make a mistake or don’t go clear, but then I have to remember that everyone else is here riding every day and I’m not. I love school, so I wouldn’t have done it any other way.”

Without Question and Madison Arani Leave No Doubt in Pine Hollow Low Children’s Hunter 2’6″ Division

Madison Arani, of Dover, MA, piloted Without Question to tricolor honors during the final day of competition for week nine of the FTI WEF. The pair was champion of the Pine Hollow Low Children’s Hunter 2’6″ Division after placing first over fences on day one followed by second place finishes under saddle and over fences day two. Reserve honors went to Sweet Addiction, owned by Sarah Sturges and ridden by Haylee Jerkins. Jerkins and Sweet Addiction were sixth over fences on day one followed by a third place finish under saddle and a blue ribbon over fences on day two.

Without Question and Madison Arani. Photo © Anne Gittins Photography
Without Question and Madison Arani. Photo © Anne Gittins Photography

Without Question, a 17-year-old Bayerisches mare owned by Ponies & Palms Show Stables, LLC, has been Arani’s beloved partner for the last three years. “She was a big time show horse [before I leased her] but then she was hurt. We decided it would be worth a shot to try her [for less demanding divisions] and it worked out! It’s our third year leasing her and she’s just the best,” Arani explained.

Without Question happily settled in to her new career path with Arani, who has competed her in 3′ divisions until recently. “As she’s gotten older, it got to be a little too much for her so we stick to the 2’6″ divisions. But she’s always happy to go in the ring,” Arani commented.

Arani appreciates Without Question’s forgiving and constantly happy nature, which is one of many attributes to which she credits their show ring success. “You can go around and chip every jump and she’ll still go around ears forward and happy. She’s so easy to find the jumps on and she always jumps each jump the same,” Arani described.

At age 12, Arani successfully juggles a full schedule of showing at FTI WEF and going to school. “It’s definitely hard. We come down here on the weekends and sometimes do homework while we show. Then we leave Sunday night to go back to school, so it can be very hard getting up on Monday!” Arani smiled.

Arani’s commute from New England to Wellington doesn’t leave her with much prep time before she heads in the ring. “Since we’re only down here for the weekends, I’m lucky to have such a great horse that I can just get on and she’s perfect,” Arani stated.

Without Question stays in Wellington year-round with Arani’s other horses and her trainer, Leslie Emerson. Arani eagerly awaits the FTI WEF each year to reunite with her horses and fellow competitors. “I love coming to Florida to see my horses and enjoy the weather,” Arani continued. “It’s so nice to be here and exciting to down and see my friends I horse show with and to see my horses. It makes it even more fun!”

Arani’s victory aboard Without Question marked the end of hunter competition for week nine of the FTI WEF, sponsored by The Bainbridge Companies. Week ten, sponsored by Horseware Ireland, runs March 13-17, 2013 at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. 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

Merrill Lynch Team International Takes Home Quadrille Title at 2013 Challenge of the Americas

Debbie McDonald and Mason Phelps show off their disco moves during their Pas de Deux. (Photos by Susan J. Stickle)

Wellington, FL – March 10, 2013 – Merrill Lynch Team International bested Purina Team USA in a thrilling battle for the title of quadrille champions at the 11th Challenge of the Americas Presented by SSG Gloves, held on Saturday evening at the Jim Brandon Equestrian Center.

Spectators gathered to enjoy equestrian entertainment and support the important work of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF) through Play for P.I.N.K. The funds raised by the Challenge go directly to benefit critical research projects at BCRF.

Pas de Deux and reining performances opened the evening and set the stage for the quadrille showdown. Top riders from multiple disciplines joined Challenge founder and organizer Mary Ross to support the cause by putting on a show for the eager crowd. The Challenge Gala, an elegant event with dinner and dancing, capped the evening of equestrian entertainment.

“It was an outstanding evening,” Ross said. “The riders were absolutely super. All of them worked so hard to put together their performances and raise money for breast cancer research.”

After guests enjoyed cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, the event got underway with a reining demonstration by brothers Rick and Trevor Steed. Rick Steed began by donning a wig and bright pink t-shirt to energize the crowd, racing around the ring and guiding his horse without a bridle. His brother then joined him for a freestyle exhibition, and the two were perfectly in sync as they showed off their thrilling sliding stops and spins.

Mason Phelps and Debbie McDonald’s Pas de Deux was a true crowd-pleaser. The two former Olympic-level competitors in the disciplines of eventing and dressage came out of retirement to support the Challenge, riding an upbeat test that included disco moves to “Stayin’ Alive.” Phelps and McDonald were supported by the best in the business: Carl Hester helped choreograph the test, while Terry Ciotti Gallo compiled music for the pair. Phelps rode Oliver Twist, owned by Jennifer Benoit’s Seahorse Stables, while McDonald rode Suzanne E. Mott Dansby’s Perfect Step.

“Debbie and I are thrilled to have helped the cause,” said Phelps. “Mary is a dear friend and this event has been one of the highlights of the season. We’re glad it’s back.”

Evi Strasser and Tanya Strasser-Shostak
Evi Strasser and Tanya Strasser-Shostak

The mother-daughter team of Evi Strasser and Tanya Strasser-Shostak matched each other stride for stride throughout their fluid Pas de Deux aboard their horses, the appropriately named Action Tyme and Dancing Tyme. Strasser-Shostak arranged the music, while Strasser choreographed their routine. Strasser is a seasoned international dressage competitor for Canada whose career has included appearances at the Olympics, World Equestrian Games and World Cup Finals, while Strasser-Shostak has been racking up the ribbons on the North American Junior and Young Rider circuits.

Team International, sponsored by The Seley Parker Group of Merrill Lynch, led off the quadrille competition, and their performance won the approval of the judges and the hearts of the crowd. Team coaches and choreographers Ruth Hogan-Poulsen and Erin Swaney put together an intricate quadrille pattern and worked with the team to prepare the exhibition. Hogan-Poulsen arranged the music, a mash-up of recent pop hits that included chart toppers by P!nk, David Guetta, Adele, and Bruno Mars.

Team International riders Todd Flettrich, Devon Kane, Susanne Hamilton, Nancy Later, Sharon McCusker and Cherri Reiber faced the dual challenge of mastering a complicated quadrille and adapting to the unique format of the Challenge. Many of the riders were making their Challenge debut, but their talent and hard work resulted in a spectacular performance.

“This was my first year riding in the Challenge, but it won’t be my last,” Hamilton said. “It was a blast, just so much fun. I had great team members, fabulous choreographers in Ruth and Erin, and a fantastic organizer, Mary Ross.”

“It’s definitely a commitment, but it was worth every bit of it last night,” she added. “It’s for a great cause that is very dear to me. I’ve lost a very close friend to cancer, so when I took those long drives to practice in the evenings, that’s who I thought about. And it was worth every second of driving. It’s such an important cause and I’m very proud to have been a part of it.”

Merrill Lynch Team International
Merrill Lynch Team International

Merrill Lynch Team International’s effort earned them a score of 94 out of a possible 100 points from the Quadrille Judges Panel, which included Lois Yuken, Karin Kruger, Lorraine MacDonald and celebrity judge Robert Dover. The judges assessed the two teams on criteria such as choreography, musical interpretation and harmony of horses and riders. The international team received particularly high marks in the musical category, while the U.S. team earned strong scores for choreography and horse/rider harmony en route to a total of 86 points.

Purina Team USA’s star cast of riders relied on their extensive experience with the format of the Challenge to put together a precise performance. Dressed in leather jackets and poodle skirts, Pam Goodrich, Chris Hickey, Betsy Steiner, Bill Warren, George Williams and John Zopatti rode to a selection of rock-and-roll music that included the classics “Old Time Rock and Roll,” “Shout,” “Rock Around the Clock” and “Duke of Earl.” Longtime Challenge choreographer Terry Ciotti Gallo created the pattern and musical accompaniment for the U.S. team.

“I’m crazy about the way Terry Gallo does her music – she does such a great job, and we really enjoy riding to it,” Steiner, who has ridden in the Challenge every year since its inception in 2002, commented. “I think the standard is raised every year. It keeps developing, and the teams get better and better.”

Purina Team USA
Purina Team USA

“It’s just such a fun event, and it’s one of the nicest things of the season to spend time with other professionals,” she added. “We are all quite busy, and we all find the time. I think that has a lot to do with Mary Ross and with the cause. It means a great deal to me personally – we have some very dear friends who are breast cancer survivors. If you know that you’re just a little part of doing something that might help someone, it makes you feel much better. You think, ‘My goodness, I’m doing something I love and it could help somebody.’ It doubles the effect.”

Matt Ketcham, a representative of Team USA sponsor Purina, noted that the spectators enjoyed the show. “The Wellington crowd is always welcoming,” Ketcham said. “Purina is always interested in supporting programs like the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. It is always good to mix good people and animals because animals make people better.”

“Everyone had a good time,” Ross remarked. “The Breast Cancer Research Foundation was able to attend, and they enjoyed the whole evening.”

“Jim Brandon Equestrian Center was a perfect venue for the event,” she continued. “It was exciting for both the riders and the spectators to have an intimate setting that lets the audience see everything up close.”

Trevor and Rick Steed execute a sliding stop
Trevor and Rick Steed execute a sliding stop

The Challenge of the Americas has grown over the years from a small luncheon dressage exhibition at the Palm Beach Dressage Derby to its current status as a one-of-a-kind exhibition and gala. Ross created it in honor of her mother, Jean Cruse, who died of breast cancer. Each year’s event features dressage alongside another equestrian sport, such as polo or show jumping. In its first 10 years, the Challenge raised over $8 million for breast cancer research.

“Not only do I congratulate all of the riders and coaches, especially the winning international team and coaches Erin Swaney and Ruth Hogan-Poulsen, I also thank them from the bottom of my heart,” said Ross. “They commit a great deal of time to preparations for the Challenge, and we would not be able to do it without them. Every single one of them is devoted to the cause. They do a fantastic job and allow us to make a real difference.”

Along with SSG Gloves, the presenting sponsor, the Challenge received support from a number of generous patrons. Sponsors included Purina, Merrill Lynch, Back on Track, Palm Beach Equine, Cunningham & Cunningham, the United States Dressage Federation, International Polo Club Palm Beach, MatchnRide.com, Red Barn Feed & Supply, Samshield, Steed Training, Tackeria, Wellington Classic Dressage, Dover, Bushel Stop, 360 Landscape & Design, and Mulvehill Nursery, Inc.

For more information about the Challenge, visit their website at www.challengeoftheamericas.com and follow their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ChallengeOfTheAmericas.

The Challenge of the Americas Beneficiaries

Play for P.I.N.K.

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

Belarusians Dominate Central European League Qualifiers, Ryan Wins Pacific League Final

Australia’s Lyndal Oatley will represent the Pacific League at the forthcoming Reem Acra FEi World Cup Dressage Final 2012/2013. FEI/©Jon Stroud Media.

Lausanne (SUI), 11 March 2013 – Sviatlana Loika and Katsiaryna Varchenia from Belarus are joint-leaders of the FEI Central European World Cup Dressage 2012/2013 League while Australia’s Rozzie Ryan won the Pacific League Final in recent months.  The Central European qualifying spot for the Reem Acra FEI World Cup Dressage Final 2012/2013 in Gothenburg, Sweden next month has yet to be decided by results from the regional Final which will take place at Zhashkiv, Ukraine from 29 to 31 March.

Meanwhile, Ryan has opted not to travel to Europe, so the Pacific League qualifying spot will be taken up by European-based Lyndal Oatley.

Central Europe

A total of eight qualifying legs took place in the Central European region, with riders also permitted to take points from the Western European legs at Stuttgart, Germany and Stockholm, Sweden last November.  The series began in Zhashkiv last May, where Austria’s Stefan Peter won through with Don Walesko ahead of the Ukraine’s Inna Logutenkova who filled both second and third places partnering Vian Stallone and Don Gregorius respectively.  Loika and her top ride, Gulbis, only managed a fifth-place finish this time out to slot in behind Yassine Rahmouni (Floresco NRW) from Morocco.

However Loika moved up to third place at the following event in Nizhniy Novgorod, Russia last June where the host country’s Alexandra Korelova and Baikal stood top of the podium with Katsiaryna Varchenis and Redford 2 in runner-up spot.  The big guns came out for the third leg at Lipica, Slovenia where Switzerland’s Marcela Krinke Susmelj and Smeyers Molberg held sway over Italy’s Valentina Truppa who would go on to make a big impact later in the year in the Reem Acra FEI World Cup Dressage Western European League series.  Frenchman Arnaud Serre and Helio took third at Lipica ahead of Germany’s Matthias Kempkes and Corado, but at Bmo-Panska Licha in the Czech Republic a few weeks later, Poland’s Katarzyna Milczarek and Ekwador headed Sebastien Duperdu from France with Passe Partout.  Austria’s Karis Kosak (Lucy’s Day) finished third here while Germany’s Martina Hannover-Sternberg (Ratino H) filled fourth spot.

Russian riders reigned supreme in Moscow in early September where Tatiana Dorofeeva (Khorovod) pipped fellow-countrywoman Alexandra Korelova (Baikal), but Loika’s points accumulation was steadily building with third spot here ahead of Russia’s Ksenia Morozkina (Absolutely Fabulous) while Loika’s Balarusian counterpart, Varchenia, finished fifth.

Pole Position

At Wroclaw, Poland later that month a number of the Western European League contenders lined out once again, and it was Krinke Susmelj who took pole position ahead of Canada’s Pia Fortmuller (Orion) while Milczarek had to settle for third with Florencia B.  The Netherlands’ Marlies van Baalen and BMC Miciano slotted into fourth with Sweden’s Roe Mathisen (Bocelli) in fifth while the well-travelled Polish partnership of Michel Rapcewizz and Randon took sixth spot.

Just three lined out at Minsk in Belarus in late September where Varchenia improved her position with victory riding Redford ahead of Loika and Gulbis while Russia’s Morozkina and Absolutely Fabulous took third behind the Belarusian partnership who, by now, were already on level-pegging for top spot in the series.

Lyndal Oatley’s victory for Australia with Sandro Boy at Kaposvar in Hungary last October therefore caused them no concern.  Milczarek and Edwador lined up second here ahead of Fortmuller and Orion in third and Kosak and Lucy’s Lady in fourth.  However it was a huge day for Oatley who recorded her very first Grand Prix victory with a personal-best score of 76.525.

And the significance of Oatley’s performance was borne out when the 32-year-old German-based rider who hails from Sydney was offered a wild-card entry to the Reem Acra FEI World Cup Dressage Final 2012/2013 in Gothenburg, Sweden next month.  Her name was put forward by Equestrian Australia when both winner, Rozzie Ryan, and runner-up Maree Tomkinson declined the opportunity to avail of the invitations available to them following their successful runs in the Pacific series.

Pacific League

All of the Pacific League events took place in Australia, and at the opener in Werribee, Victoria last March, Tomkinson and Diamantina pipped Heath Ryan and Regardez Moi for top spot with Tor van den Berge (Fishermans Friend) slotting into third ahead of Fiona McNaught (Ostra) in fourth.

It was Heath Ryan’s turn to head the line-up in Melbourne in June where Caroline Wagner and Tango V took second ahead of Jeremy Janjic (Django of Cacherel) in third and Kerry Mack (Mayfield Pzazz) in fourth – Tomkinson and Diamantina having to settle for fifth this time out.

At Brisbane in July, David Shoobridge and OO-Seven pleased the Ground Jury best, but the ever-consistent Heath Ryan finished second while van de Berge was third and Caroline Wagner was next in line. However Tomkinson bounced back with another win at Sydney in October, demoting Shoobridge to runner-up spot here while Sheridyn Ashwood (Prestige VDL) finished third ahead of Heath Ryan and Regardez Moi in fourth.  Ryan then recorded a double of his own when reigning supreme in Melbourne in November where Mary Hanna and Sancette lined up second ahead of Tomkinson in third and Shoobridge in fourth.

However it was another Ryan who stole the show when the series returned to Werribee again for the last qualifying leg in December.  Heath’s wife, Rozzie Ryan, scored 70.275 with the 16 year old GV Bullwinkle to leave Tomkinson and Diamantina in second ahead of Shoobridge and OO-Seven in third.  Both Heath and Rozzie have represented Australia at Olympic Games, FEI World Equestrian Games and FEI World Cup level, and when Rozzie also won the series final at Melbourne later that month she was offered the qualifying spot available at the forthcoming Reem Acra FEI World Cup Dressage Final. She decided not to travel however, and when Maree Tomkinson did likewise, the opportunity arose for Oatley who will now fly the flag for the Pacific League.

Results:

FEI Pacific League World Cup Dressage Final 2012/2013 – 1, GB Bullwinkle (Rozzie Ryan) AUS 67.106; 2, Diamantina 4 (Maree Tomkinson) AUS 66.936; 3, OO Seven (David Shoobridge) AUS 66.83; 4, Tango V (Caroline Wagner) AUS 65.234; 5, Mayfield Pzazz (Kerry Mack) AUS 64.319; 6, Sheer Etiquette (Susan Paix) AUS 64.000; 7, Roxbury Armistice (Meaghan Willis) AUS 60.596; 8, Ostra (Fiona McNaught) AUS 60.000.

FEI Central European World Cup Dressage League 2012/2013:

1. Katsiaryna Varchenia BLR – 60
1. Sviatlana Loika BLR – 60
3. Katarzyn Milczarek POL – 57
4. Tatiana Dorofeeva RUS – 43
5. Ksenia Morozkina RUS – 40
6. Alexandra Korelova RUS – 37
7. Inna Logutenkova UKR – 28
8. Yulia Vinnitskaja RUS – 23
9. Halina Zotava BUL – 19
9. Grete Barake EST – 19

FEI World Cup Dressage, the only worldwide series in this discipline, has entered its 28th season. The series, created in 1985, comprises four leagues: Western European, Central European, North American (including Canada) and Pacific (Australia, New Zealand, Asia). Each FEI World Cup Dressage qualifier consists of a Grand Prix test, which in turn is a qualification for the Freestyle to music competition, where league points are accumulated towards places in the Final. Judged on both technical and artistic merit, the FEI World Cup Dressage combines art, sport and partnership between horse and rider at the highest level and consistently proves a winning formula with audiences all over the world.

The complete rules, calendar, updated ranking and results are available here.

The Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI), founded in 1921, is the international body governing equestrian sport recognised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and includes 133 National Federations. Equestrian sport has been on the Olympic programme since 1912 with three disciplines – Jumping, Dressage and Eventing. In 2012 equestrian sport will celebrate its centenary as an Olympic sport. It is one of the very few sports in which men and women compete on equal terms. It is also the only sport which involves two athletes – horse and rider. The FEI has relentlessly concerned itself with the welfare of the horse, which is paramount and must never be subordinated to competitive or commercial influences.

By Louise Parkes

Katie Cooper Snatches Gulf Coast Winter Series Circuit Championship with Sandlot

Katie Cooper and Sandlot took home the Open Hunter Classic winning title, as well as securing the Gulf Coast Winter Series Circuit Championship. Flashpoint Photography.

Gulfport, MS – March 10, 2013 – It was an exceptional four weeks of showing for Katie Cooper and Cherry Knoll Farm’s Sandlot during the Gulf Coast Winter Series in Gulfport, Mississippi. After securing the Pre-Green 3’3″ Hunter Championship three weeks straight, Cooper guided Sandlot to the first place finish in the Open Hunter Classic during the Gulf Coast Mid Winter IV, and was named the Gulf Coast Winter Series Circuit Champion.

It was a battle of the best during the fifth week of the series, and the admirable chestnut gelding rode to the top of the leader board for a phenomenal conclusion to their winter circuit. Cooper and Sandlot dominated the Pre-Green 3’3″ Hunter division from beginning to end, a feat for the pair as they demonstrated talent week after week in front of over 12,000 spectators at the largest hunter/jumper show on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

The two-round Open Hunter Classic welcomed over 15 entrants to the prestigious class. It became a heated competition between Cooper and Holly Shepherd. They rode with good-hearted rivalry as Sandlot went head to head for the championship against Shepherd’s LPF Woodford. Only a few points separated the victor, but it was Sandlot who stepped forward for the tricolor with his scores of 87 and 85.

“He jumped the courses great, and has become super consistent. He is very classic in his style. When we are together, we are hard to beat,” Cooper explained. “We took a group of young horses to Gulfport this year to allow us to give them the individualized attention that we value.  It is a circuit where there is opportunity to expose the horses and riders to good competition in a positive, relaxed environment.  With Sandlot we were pushing to the next phase of his education and wanted to be in Gulfport to explore this training.  He far exceeded our expectations!”

Sandlot and Cooper completed their time at the 15th Annual Gulf Coast Winter Classics Horse Show this past week. They will head back to Caves Farm in Owings Mills, MD, and will return to the show ring in the spring for the Pre-Green Initiative.

If their record continues to stay as consistent and strong as this past week, there is no doubt that they will prove themselves unstoppable.

Cooper concluded, “I am excited to have quality horses like Sandlot and the opportunity to make them shine with our team and am eager to expand our reach as we continue to develop the horses and ourselves. I am very lucky to have a very strong team at Caves Farm – Sissy Wickes introduced us to Sandlot, and she has been hugely influential in our program, helping us to strive to be better in every aspect of the program from our riders’ education to our training to our horse management.”

For more information on Cherry Knoll Farm, Inc., please visit http://www.cherryknollfarminc.com/.

Kendall Bierer for Phelps Media Group, Inc. International

Media Contact: Mason Phelps
Phelps Media Group, Inc. International
phone 561.753.3389  fax 561.753.3386
pmginfo@phelpsmediagroup.com
PhelpsMediaGroup.com

Piaget Comeback Falls Short, Loses USPA Piaget Gold Cup Opener to Lechuza Caracas

With Piaget teammate Sapo Caset looking on, 10-goaler Miguel Astrada retrieves the ball out of the air with his mallet. Photos – Alex Pacheco.

WELLINGTON, FL – March 9, 2013 — Behind 10-goalers Sapo Caset and Miguel Astrada, Piaget staged a furious comeback against Lechuza Caracas in the sixth chukker but fell short in its USPA Piaget Gold Cup opener.

Lechuza Caracas, which led for most of the game, held on for a 12-10 victory Saturday at Isla Carroll West.

With Piaget trailing by only one goal in the sixth chukker, 11-10, Caset had a chance to tie the game with 1:43 left in regulation.

Caset took a pass from Astrada and made a hard-charging run full force toward goal only to lose control of the ball in a crowd near the goal mouth.

After the game in the players’ tent, Caset made it a point to apologize to his teammates for missing the goal.

“I can’t believe I missed the goal to tie the game; I am sorry,” Caset said. “We had the momentum in the sixth chukker. I won’t be able to sleep tonight. If I had scored that goal maybe we are talking a different result, but this is polo.

“I think it’s just bad luck,” Caset said. “I think we are going up. The horses are doing better but not 100 percent yet and the team is not 100 percent yet. For the next game we will do better.”

In the final minute, Lechuza Caracas’ Polito Pieres, dribbling the ball from both sides of his pony, scored an insurance goal with 1:10 left in the game.

Piaget's Sapo Caset leans out of the saddle to keep possession of the ball on a run downfield, with Polito Pieres of Lechuza Caracas closely defending
Piaget’s Sapo Caset leans out of the saddle to keep possession of the ball on a run downfield, with Polito Pieres of Lechuza Caracas closely defending

Caset led Piaget’s scoring with five goals, three on penalty shots.

Astrada, who showed no ill effects from a strained groin muscle that forced him out of the sixth chukker of the March 1 Les Armour Cup semifinals, added three goals and 23-year-old Nacho Badiola had two goals and played well defensively including stopping a potential Pieres goal.

Piaget team captain Melissa Ganzi also defended well against Pieres bumping him out of a play on his way to goal in the fourth chukker and took Lechuza Caracas player-padrone Victor Vargas out of several plays.

Pieres finished with seven goals, two on penalty shots. Seven-goaler Francisco Elizalde had three goals and Vargas added two goals. Ten-goaler Juan Martin Nero was scoreless.

“We had a great last chukker,” Piaget coach Joey Casey said. “We had a chance to tie it and we just had some bad luck. We were right there and that’s the good thing.

“The thing is we can play a lot better,” Casey said. “Lechuza played really well today. I think we’re going to be fine. We can improve; that’s the best thing about it. We’ll get better.”

Piaget scored the opening goal of the game when Badiola scored in a crowd at the 5:43 mark after Astrada came up with a big hit to get the ball downfield to Badiola.

The game was close after that with Lechuza Caracas taking a 3-2 lead at the end of the first chukker. Piaget tied the game at 4-4 on Caset’s penalty shot and Vargas came right back with a goal for a 5-4 lead at the end of the second chukker.

The teams kept it close in the third chukker with Piaget missing three scoring opportunities and Lechuza Caracas taking a 7-5 lead at the half.

“We changed some things at halftime and tried to hit the ball a little more,” Casey said. “That seemed to work. We did much better with our throw-ins in the second half and our set plays went better.”

Lechuza Caracas had a three-goal advantage in the fourth and fifth chukkers but Piaget battled back with some heart-stopping heroics in the final chukker.

Sapo Caset outraces Lechuza Caracas players Polito Pieres and Francisco Elizalde to keep possession of the ball
Sapo Caset outraces Lechuza Caracas players Polito Pieres and Francisco Elizalde to keep possession of the ball

With Astrada and Caset taking turns creating plays, Caset scored on a 30-yard penalty shot with 4:41 to trail by only two goals. Forty seconds later Caset unleashed a 120-yard shot to goal with 3:40 left closing the gap to one goal.

“We thought in the last chukker if we scored one more goal things were going to change,” Astrada said. “For being our first game with Nacho we played good. We have to adjust a couple things and we can do a little better.

“They played very well; they were well-organized,” Astrada said. “I think they are one of the favorites. To do well against them is good for us. We are not out of it; we can still do well. We haven’t played too much together so the more we work the better we will get.”

Badiola, 23, the son of former 9-goaler Juan Badiola, is making his IPC 26-goal debut this season.

“I didn’t play well,” Badiola said. “I need to make some adjustments and play better. I have to go back a bit more and try to get a little more rhythm. The team played good but I can do better for sure. Lechuza is always a tough team.”

Vargas was pleased with the win but said his team also can play better. He was also impressed with Grand Champions Polo Club-based Piaget.

“Sapo is a good player; he had that very nice goal in the last chukker and Melissa was playing well,” Vargas said. “We need to play better. For now it’s okay. It is a tough tournament; all these teams are nice and players are good.”

In the other Saturday game, ERG defeated Orchard Hill, 16-11. Nine-goaler Tincho Merlos had a game-high seven goals and Paco de Narvaez added six goals.

Grand Champions Polo Club-based Audi plays C. V. Whitney Cup champion Alegria Sunday at noon on Field 2. The game will pit brothers Gonzalito and Nico Pieres of Audi against brother-in-law Mariano Aguerre of Alegria.

Piaget next plays Orchard Hill on Thursday at 10 a.m. Both teams are 0-1.

First played in 1974, the 26-goal USPA Gold Cup has been played at various polo clubs until it found a home at IPC in 2007.

When the USPA awarded IPC the Gold Cup in 2007, the International Polo Club Palm Beach, home of the 26-goal C. V. Whitney Cup Tournament and U.S. Open Championship, sealed its place in history as host of all three legs of the Triple Crown.

Piaget is saluting IPC’s tenth anniversary with the launch of its new luxury Polo FortyFive Black watch which will join their successful collection of polo watches first introduced in the late 1970s.

USPA PIAGET GOLD CUP AUDI/PIAGET SCHEDULE

Sunday, March 10: Alegria vs. Audi, noon

Thursday, March 14: Piaget vs. Orchard Hill, 10 a.m.; Zacara vs. Audi, 4 p.m.

Sunday, March 17: Valiente vs. Audi, 10 a.m.; Piaget vs. ERG, 3 p.m.

Wednesday, March 20: Piaget Gold Cup Semifinals, 2, 4 p.m.

Thursday, March 21: Butler Handicap Semifinals, Gold Cup subsidiary, 10 a.m., noon

Sunday, March 24: Butler Handicap Final, noon; USPA Piaget Gold Cup Final, 3 p.m.

Tuesday, March 26: U.S. Open begins, schedule, pairings to be announced.

AUDI/PIAGET TOURNAMENT LINEUP

March 7 – 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