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Todd Minikus Wins Taylor Harris $50,000 Open Jumper Welcome Speed at Alltech National Horse Show

Todd Minikus and Quality Girl. Photos By: Shawn McMillen.

Lexington, KY – October 30, 2013 – When $50,000 is up for grabs it brings out the best horses and riders in the world, putting their best foot forward. That is how the Open Jumper division at the 2013 Alltech National Horse Show kicked off today. Todd Minikus and Quality Girl left nothing to chance as they sped around Conrad Homfeld’s challenging track, besting the field by two seconds to win the Taylor Harris $50,000 Open Jumper Welcome Speed, presented by Sasco Creek. The second place award went to 17-year-old phenom Lillie Keenan, giving the professionals a run for their money.

Olympian McLain Ward set the target to beat as the third rider on course. He and Zander, owned by Ward and Grant Road Partners of Brewster, NY, zipped around the turns and left all the rails intact, posting a time of 60.23 seconds, which held up for fifth place.

Ireland’s Shane Sweetnam bested Ward’s time by 1/10th of a second six rounds later aboard Cyklon 1083, owned by Spy Coast Farm of East Setauket, NY. Leaving strides out and shaving off edges of the turn, it looked like it could be the winning round early in the class. Keenan attempted to beat it with her first mount Pumped Up Kicks, owned by Chansonette Farm of New York, NY, but fell just shy of the leaders with a time of 60.92 seconds, which eventually claimed sixth place.

When Todd Minikus entered the Alltech Arena with Chris Brems’ Quality Girl mid-way through the event, the whole class changed. He and the winning mare put on the gas and never held off, slicing fences and taking all the inside options, while utilizing her huge stride to quickly navigate the track. The duo blazed across the finish line in 57.70 seconds, leaving Sweetnam and Ward in the dust and claiming a commanding lead.

“You really just get her on the right gear and let her go,” explained Minikus. “She is a bit of a typical woman, I hate to sound chauvinistic but it’s true. She’s a little sensitive and doesn’t like you fussing with her too much. She is true to her name. She has a lot of quality, and you need to let her just use her quality and stay out of her way.”

Francois Mathy of Belgium made a solid effort with Team Harmony’s Plinska Des Isles, but it was not good enough. Although they never touched a fence, Mathy and Plinska Des Isles broke the beam at 59.96 seconds, which would only be good enough for third.

Mathy’s time was beat by a rider still making her way into the professional ranks. Lillie Keenan won the 2013 North American Junior and Young Rider Championships Individual and Team Show Jumping Gold Medal, as well as the USEF Junior Jumper Individual Championship with Londinium, and tonight she showed that they are more than ready for the Open Jumper divisions.

Lillie Keenan and Londinium
Lillie Keenan and Londinium

Despite a member of the jump crew standing in the way of one of the oxers as she galloped over the track, Keenan showcased skill and style far beyond her years, navigating the course in a speedy 59.44 second to capture the second place ribbon behind Minikus.

Keenan explained, “When I was going to the vertical people were screaming and I was like ‘Why are people screaming at me? Am I doing something wrong?’ There was a guy standing in the middle of the next oxer with a rake. I tried to yell heads up, but I had so much adrenaline going that I just started screaming, but it was effective because he moved.”

Minikus and Quality Girl placed second in the Pfizer Million Grand Prix at HITS-on-the-Hudson, and have been consistent throughout the summer, but the mare is still new to competing indoors.

“She has had a kind of rough start at the first couple of Indoors, Harrisburg and Washington. She is just green indoors,” stated Minikus. “Tonight she jumped like a veteran. I think we are back on track.”

Minikus added, “Quality Girl gave me the edge. The mare is a winner. Normally with as much money coming up in the rest of the week as far as tomorrow and Saturday night’s grand prix, you normally wouldn’t want to be on the gas pedal that far. It was $50,000 tonight though, and with the SSG riding glove bonus money involved, it was worth trying.”

The highly popular SSG Riding Gloves ‘Go Clean for the Green’ promotion kicked off this evening with a $3,000 bonus for Minikus, who was wearing the leading riding gloves during his winning round.

Keenan was equally thrilled with her performance, making the decision to compete in the Open Jumper divisions after winning the Junior Jumper events in 2011. “The first horse I rode was Pumped Up Kicks, and I got to watch a few go,” she commented. “I’ve done lots of speed classes, but I obviously have way less experience than the people in this, so I benefitted from watching them. The course wasn’t bigger than anything I’ve jumped, but as I am starting to do these open classes it’s more difficult. The courses are more technical, and it’s meant for a more advanced ride than the junior jumpers. I am trying to move up, and I think I have the perfect two horses to do that.”

“I was a little nervous,” admitted Keenan. “It’s the National Horse Show; there are a lot of people watching, and I didn’t want to make a fool of myself. It was hard, but it was a lot of fun. I am trying to learn, and I want to move up to the highest level of the sport. I learn so much by doing these classes, not just because they are harder, but also because I am watching the best riders in the world do the course. Then I am trying to imitate them. That’s how I am trying to move in the right direction.”

Keenan concluded, “The biggest thing for me today was to have the confidence to go in and do that. Now I have a lot more confidence going into some of the other shows knowing that I can be competitive and do the courses. I just have to remind myself that I can.”

The 2013 Alltech National Horse Show, 130th edition, will continue tomorrow with the Double H Farm $100,000 Open Jumper class in the evening. Earlier in the day, the junior and amateur riders will have the opportunity to showcase their skills during the Deeridge Farm $10,000 Junior Jumper class and the Chansonette Farm $10,000 Amateur-Owner Jumper class. The highlight event will be Saturday night’s Alltech $250,000 World Cup Qualifying Grand Prix presented by Lifeforce.

For more information or to view the competition live, please visit www.alltechnationalhorseshow.com. Coverage is provided by Shownet.biz, iHigh, HRTV, and USEF Network.

Rebecca Walton for Phelps Media Group, Inc. International

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Lillie Keenan Achieves Gold in the Randolph College/USEF National Junior Jumper Individual Championship

Randolph College/USEF National Junior Jumper Individual Championship (Al Cook Productions)

New Cumberland, Pa. – Following four rounds of jumping in the $7,500 Randolph College/USEF National Junior Jumper Individual Championship at the 68th Annual Pennsylvania National Horse Show, Lillie Keenan of New York, N.Y., again proved why she is considered one of the top up-and-coming talents in the sport of jumping. Riding her dual Gold medalist from the 2013 Adequan/FEI North American Junior & Young Rider Championships presented by Gotham North, Londinium, the 16-year-old finished on a score of 9.5 faults to add Individual gold to the Team Silver won on Friday night with her Zone 2 teammates.

Championship competition began on Thursday with Phase I: the speed leg. On Friday evening combinations returned to jump for team honors and further individual scores in Phase II, held in a two-round Nations Cup format. The Individual Championship came to a close on Saturday as the top of the field following Friday returned to jump in the final determining round in Phase III.

Keenan and Chasonette Farm LLC’s 11-year-old Oldenburg gelding entered Saturday’s competition in third place with just 5.5 faults, they rolled a single pole to add four faults to their championship score and secure the National Title.

Gabriele Mershad (New Albany, Ohio) and Michael Hughes (Allendale, N.J.) performed an exciting jump-off for the Silver medal. Mershad and Skara Glen’s Basel were tied with Hughes and Luxina at 13 faults following Saturday’s Phase III. Mershad and Mershad Stables, LLC’s 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding went first and jumped a clear round. Hughes and Christina Fried’s nine-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare had one rail to take the Bronze medal.

Mershad presented an exemplary ride Saturday with just four faults. With five faults in Phase I and four in Phase II, the pair finished with 13 faults for the weekend.

Hughes finished with one fault in Phase I, four faults in Phase II, eight in Phase III, and one rail in the jump-off for an overall total of 17.

Be sure to watch all the action from Pennsylvania National Horse Show at www.usefnetwork.com/featured/2013PennsylvaniaNationalHorseShow.

Keenan Leads the Field at 2013 Platinum Performance/USEF Talent Search Finals East Following Two Phases

Gladstone, N.J. – The 2013 Platinum Performance/USEF Talent Search Finals East officially got underway on Saturday at the U.S. Equestrian Team Foundation Headquarters with competitors completing the first two phases of competition. In the morning, judges Ronnie Beard and Anne Kursinski tested riders on the flat in the Dick and Jane Brown Arena and in the afternoon competitors returned to demonstrate their skill over a gymnastics course. At the end of the first day of competition, Lillie Keenan holds the lead following two phases of competition on a score of 231.25.

Beard and Kursinski were pleased with the entire field and believe the top of the leaderboard demonstrated vast potential for the future in both phases Saturday.

“Anne and I were both very happy with the test; there were no real disasters – some stops here and there but it was spread out. It wasn’t too brutal but it took subtlety,” said Beard. “I think the top group after the flat was just right and you saw that group again excel this afternoon.”

Phase I

Riding in the fourth group of the day, Lillie Keenan (New York, N.Y.) and Heritage Farm, Inc.’s Clearway earned the highest mark of the day in Phase I scoring 94. The dual Gold medalist from the 2013 Adequan/FEI North American Junior & Young Rider Championship presented by Gotham North showed proficiency on the flat. Keenan, who is trained by Andre Dignelli, excelled in the demanding test put forth by the judges which included lengthening stride in sitting trot, counter-canter on both leads, shoulder-in, turn on the forehand, and turn on the haunches.

Finishing just two points behind Keenan was Michael Hughes (Allendale, N.J.) and Drumnacross Farm LTD’s Zagreb. The 17-year-old, who is trained by John Brennan and Missy Clark, rode in the first group of the day to score 92 on the flat.

Rounding out the top four following the first phase were Mattias Tromp and Charlotte Jacobs respectively. Tromp (North Salem, N.Y.), who is also trained by Dignelli, and Chasonette Farm, LLC’s Zentina B scored a 90 riding in the second group of the morning. Last year’s Phase I winner, Jacobs (East Aurora, N.Y.) and North Star’s Stallone VDL slotted into fourth place on Saturday morning. The Brennan and Clark trainee scored 89 in Phase I.

Phase II

Riders returned to the Dick and Jane Brown Arena for a second time on Saturday to showcase their talent over a demanding Gymnastics track. Beard and Kursinski tested competitors’ technique and skill over an intricate course which included a variety of combinations, raised trot-poles and a series of three bounces.

As expected the Gymnastics phase produced a shuffle on the leaderboard, as scores were multiplied by 1.5, but Keenan, Jacobs, Tromp, and Hughes all maintained their positions at the head of the field.

Returning for a second time in the afternoon, Keenan demonstrated why she has claimed many of the most prestigious titles in the hunter, jumper, and equitation ranks with another polished performance. Despite Clearway rolling a pole jumping out of the two-stride by the in-gate, the pair was awarded a 137.25 for their second phase. They head into Phase III on Sunday with a total of 231.25.

Jacobs was awarded the second highest score of Phase II, a 138, for her polished effort. The Southern Methodist University freshman climbed into second place after two phases with an overall score of 227.

Tromp maintained his third place position after scoring 136.50 in Saturday’s second session and stands on a total of 226.50 overnight.

After two phases, Hughes stands fourth on a score of 224. He was awarded 132 for his Gymnastics phase.

Allison Toffolon (Bronxville, N.Y.) posted the highest score in Phase II, a 139.50, with her own Class Action, and heads into Sunday’s third phase in fifth place on an overall total of 223.50.

The 2013 Platinum Performance/USEF Talent Search Finals East champion will be crowned Sunday following Phases III and IV. In Phase III, all entries will show their ability over a jumper-styled course. Following the conclusion of Phase III, the top four competitors will be called back for a ride-off. Phase IV will showcase the same format used for the Show Jumping World Championships, with each rider completing a course on his/her own horse, as well as the three other riders’ horses. All four riders will start Phase IV with a clean slate on a score of zero.

By Helen Murray

The USEFNetwork.com presented by SmartPak will stream all four phases of the Platinum Performance USEF Show Jumping Talent Search Finals East. To watch, visit: http://www.usefnetwork.com/featured/2013USEFShowJumpingTalentSearchFinals/.

To learn more about the Platinum Performance USEF Show Jumping Talent Search Finals, visit: https://www.usef.org/_IFrames/breedsdisciplines/discipline/alljumping/sjTalentSearch.aspx.

Lillie Keenan Rides to Top of $5,000 Equitation Classic

Lillie Keenan and Clearway. Photos – © The Book LLC.

North Salem, NY – May 11, 2013 – Capturing her third major equitation win of the year, 15-year-old Lillie Keenan of New York, NY, and Heritage Farm’s Clearway stood in the winner’s circle for the $5,000 Equitation Classic presented by AIG/Kaplow Insurance Agency with Heritage Farm. The event was the highlight of the Saturday schedule during the first week of the Old Salem Farm Spring Horse Show. The first week of competition concludes tomorrow with the biggest event of the week, the $50,000 Old Salem Farm Grand Prix presented by Suncast, at 3 pm. The second week of the Spring Shows continues on May 14-19.

Keenan, who is no stranger to winning big equitation classes, moved up in the second round of competition for victory. She and Clearway, an eight-year-old Warmblood gelding by Cheenook, had a first round score of 92, and with a forward and precise ride in the second round, the judges awarded them with a score of 96. Her total of 188 was more than enough for first place.

The top 12 from the first round were asked back for a second round of competition over a course designed by Guilherme Jorge. A tight time allowed asked more from competitors, as did the higher than usual equitation jumps. Michael Hughes and Zagreb set the winning score in the first round of 94, and their score of 90 in the second round gave them a total of 184 for second place.

Mattias Tromp and Vosquinus had an 83 in the first round and improved to an 86 in the second for a third place total of 169. Allison Toffolon rode Class Action to scores of 86 and 82 for a total of 168 and fourth place. The top four riders in the class were awarded jackets from Beval Ltd.

After winning two big equitation classes during the winter, Keenan has added yet another accomplishment to her impressive career. This is the second year in a row that Keenan has won this class. However, this year she had to make an adjustment when the class was moved to the sand Annex Ring due to inclement weather.

She explained, “I changed horses. I was going to ride Levistano, but I used Clearway instead. I rode him in the Medal and Maclay today in the other ring and he won both of those, so he was ready. He probably would have been fine out on the grass, but I’m used to riding him in a sand ring. There wasn’t an open water and it was similar to a Washington jumper phase, so he is the type of horse I would choose for these types of classes. I felt very comfortable. I love being out on the field and unfortunately it was raining, but they still made it a great class and I had a lot of fun.”

Keenan was one of few who were able to make it under the time allowed for the class, and it was something that gave her pause when studying the course. “The time was very tight,” she conceded. “I don’t ride Clearway in many timed events. I wasn’t totally sure if I was going to be able to easily make it under. I knew I was going to have to work for it. His stride is gimongous – it needs its own word! He can really hit a gallop and go. There’s nothing to worry about with him. I knew I could trust him and ask him to extend, even in the turns, because he’s so well trained. With the time, I thought just hit a gallop and keep it.”

Clearway showed beautiful form and soared over the higher than usual equitation jumps. Keenan said that he was impressed by the jumps, but his scope and ability made it easy for him. “The first few big oxers in the schooling area I had to readjust because I wasn’t used to being pitched that much,” she smiled. “They built this course bigger than most of the courses I do on him. It doesn’t matter for him, but it does wake him up a little bit. It’s not in a bad way; he just really uses himself.”

After another win, Keenan said it gives her “a lot of confidence” going into the prestigious Devon Horse Show. “Last year I won this class (and) I had a great Devon in the equitation. Luckily I’ll be able to continue to use Clearway. I know him very well now. Hopefully we continue on this streak,” she said.

Jumper Classics Award Winners

Jennifer Rowland of Hoboken, NJ, found the winning path in the $2,500 Marshall & Sterling Adult Jumper Classic sponsored by Douglas Elliman Real Estate with Lux Lovely. In their first Adult Jumper Classic together, the pair beat 36 other entries with a speedy time of 32.945 seconds for victory. Lexi Maounis and Whisper placed second in 33.145 seconds, while Laura Sexton and Jessy du Brea had a time of 33.676 seconds for third place.

Jennifer Rowland and Lux Lovely
Jennifer Rowland and Lux Lovely

Rowland, who works full-time in New York City, was able to take time off work yesterday to prepare for today’s classic. She has only ridden Lux Lovely for a month and this was their second show together. “I ride with Chris Kappler and he finds the best horses and has a really great training program. It just all comes together. She’s super honest and she’s a game horse. She is forgiving, which is good for an amateur horse, but at the same time she makes me ride her and doesn’t let me get away with everything,” she described.

She said of her round, “This is the biggest we’ve jumped together. We had our game plan and went in and executed it well. It’s my first adult classic to win, so it’s just gratifying. I took my first vacation day off work this year yesterday to be here, so it was great to have that pay off.”

The $5,000 Low Junior Jumper Classic was an exciting class. Out of 37 entries, it was 14-year-old Brianne Link of East Islip, NY, on Zycarla Z who galloped to victory. They won with a clear round in 37.683 seconds. Kira Kerkorian rode Rashmo Z to second place, double clear in 39.090 seconds. With a time of 40.710 seconds, Lilly Ulrich and Up Stream placed third.

With just a short amount of time under their belt, Link and her 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare by Zandor Z made the best of it with their first classic victory together. Link trains with Jeffrey Welles and noted, “I’ve been riding Zycarla for a month. Jeffrey gives me the best lessons. Everything that you would use in the ring, we practice at home. It all worked out perfectly here in the ring today. The first round, she was amazing. She jumped so high that I got loose over a few jumps. In the jump-off, we just really ate them up. We made some great turns back and she got down the lines perfectly.”

Of her victory, she said, “It means the world. I was in the Children’s Jumpers for three years and I was so scared to move up. She helps me with my confidence a lot. She has done the grand prix with Jeffrey and knowing that she’s capable of doing it and taking care of me makes me feel better. She is like a mommy; she takes care of me!”

The $5,000 Low Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic had 31 entries. Catherine Tyree of Chicago, IL, rode Wetter to the win in a time of 38.79 seconds. Kenzie Snyder and Arturo held the early lead in the class and finished second in 39.13 seconds. For Beauty, ridden by Hayley Carlson, was third in 40.11 seconds.

Tyree started riding Wetter, a 10-year-old KWPN gelding by Stetter, just over a year ago. They normally show in the High Amateur-Owner Jumpers, but after a break following the winter circuit, she wanted to get Wetter show-ready again. “He felt amazing. He’s ready; he could have jumped the Highs this week,” Tyree said.

She said of Wetter and their jump-off round, “He’s a pretty versatile horse; I can do a lot of different courses on him. He’s very rangy. I can leave out, I can add, he’s scopey, he’s careful. I felt very comfortable going into the ring with him today. He’s quick across the ground naturally, but doing the inside turn from the first to second jump and then back to the third, I think I caught a little time off and let him go. I did four down the last line, which some people were doing. I trusted him there and he was great.”

In the $2,500 Marshall & Sterling Children’s Jumper Classic, Daisy Farish and Ornella R raced through the jump-off with no faults to win the class out of 30 entries with a time of 33.510 seconds. Second place went to Tye Donaldson on Dunja in 34.700 seconds. Alexandra Murphy and Sante were third in 34.809 seconds.

Twelve-year-old Daisy Farish, of Versailles, KY, is known as a top pony rider. She started riding in the Low Children’s Jumpers at the beginning of the year and moved up to the Children’s Jumpers with Ornella R, a 14-year-old Holsteiner mare by Lorentin I. This is their first big classic win together.

“I like doing the jumpers. She is really nice to have in the barn and is actually really friendly. (In the ring), she’s really fast, but she comes back to you. She’s really fun,” Farish said. “She did the Low Amateurs for a while before I got her. It feels good to win. I think I’ll do the Children’s for a while and keep learning. I do a lot of ponies, so it’s a lot different and really exciting. The jumpers are always different.”

Grand Amateur-Owner Hunter Is Crowned

Lauren Cechini and Graffiti
Lauren Cechini and Graffiti

Lauren Cechini of Flemington, NJ, and her horse Graffiti, a nine-year-old Westphalian gelding, swept awards in the Amateur-Owner Hunters. Their championship in the Amateur-Owner 18-35 3’3” Hunters led to the Grand Amateur-Owner Hunter Championship. In their division, they won a class and received three second places over fences, and they were fourth under saddle. The reserve champion was Bozeman, ridden by Kathleen Oberkircher, who placed first, third, and fourth over fences and second under saddle.

Cechini described Graffiti as “kind of like a little scooter.” She continued, “You can maneuver and put him wherever you want him. His jump is incredible. He really cracks his back over the jumps and he gives it his all every single time he goes in the show ring.”

She added with a laugh, “He kind of has a funny personality. He likes to rest his head on my shoulder when we wait for the jog. He gets anxious for treats after he works. He will eat anything; he tries to grab all the bushes at the horse show!”

Cechini and Graffiti paired together in September where they won in their first time out at the Maryland Horse and Pony Show. They continued through December, but a slight injury and recovery time for Graffiti set them back this winter. This week was their first time back in the show ring this year.

“He’s been great at home,” Cechini said. “I set goals for myself and try to hit those goals, like keeping my eyes up and my hands in front of me, and to be consistent. We did that and I was very pleased with that. I didn’t go in expecting (a Grand Championship) to happen, but it was a great thing to happen. I was very happy. Graffiti got an extra carrot, so he liked that!”

She added, “It was really exciting to win here. He’s such an amazing horse, and (my trainers) Jen and Rolf (Bauersachs) are wonderful. I’ve been with them for seven years. I just graduated college and Graffiti (below right) was my first horse since the juniors. I’ve never been grand champion before, so it was really special. I have to thank our vet Haynes Stevens and farrier Chuck Simons, and Jen and Rolf. That’s why we were able to be so good when we came back.”

In the Amateur-Owner 36 & Over 3’3” Hunter division, Sandra Epstein and Catamount finished as champions. They received three second places, a third, and a fourth. Bombay and Lyn Pedersen, who placed first, second, third, and fourth in the division, were reserve champions.

The Amateur-Owner 36 & Over 3’6” Hunter division saw Becky Gochman sweep the championship awards. She and Whatever finished as champions after they captured two firsts and two thirds. Gochman rode Empire to the reserve championship. They won two classes, got two fourths, and a sixth in the division. For her win this week, Gochman received a $500 gift certificate from Hunt Ltd.

Moshi continued his winning ways from earlier this week as he captured the Amateur-Owner 18-35 3’6” Hunter championship with owner/rider Stephanie Riggio. They placed first and picked up three second places in the division. Sienna and Lexi Maounis were reserve champions and placed first, first, third, and fifth.

The first week of the Old Salem Farm Spring Horse Show concludes tomorrow with many different awards for hunters and jumpers, including the Grand Pony, Grand Junior, and Grand Children’s Hunter Champion awards, the $7,500 Medium Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic (Annex Ring), $10,000 High Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic (Grand Prix Field), and the highlight event of the week, the $50,000 Old Salem Farm Grand Prix presented by Suncast at 3 pm in the Grand Prix Field. For more information, please visit www.oldsalemfarm.net/mayhome and for full results, please visit www.horseshowsonline.com.

The Old Salem Farm Spring Horse Shows celebrate its 31st year in 2013 and offer two weeks of exceptional equestrian sport on May 7-12 and May 14-19 at one of the nation’s premier and newly renovated equestrian facilities, Old Salem Farm, in North Salem, New York. Old Salem’s beautifully manicured grounds, list of elite horses and riders, and fantastic social gatherings draw spectators from Westchester County and beyond to watch horses and ponies of every size compete for almost $500,000 in prize money. The Old Salem Farm Spring Horse Shows feature over 130 hunter and jumper classes each week, bringing together top competitors, including Olympic show jumpers, from across the country. For more information, please visit www.oldsalemfarm.net/mayhome.

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

Daniel Deusser and Cornet d’Amour Capture $300,000 FEI World Cup Grand Prix CSI 5*

Daniel Deusser and Cornet d’Amour. Photo © Sportfot.

Lillie Keenan Tops Sam Edelman Equitation Championship Riding Levistano 2; Lauren Henry Triumphs in Equitation 15-17 Division aboard Esteban La Paz

Wellington, FL, March 9, 2013 – Saturday night’s $300,000 FEI World Cup Grand Prix CSI 5*, presented by The Bainbridge Companies, was an incredible display of world-class talent as Germany’s Daniel Deusser, Brazil’s Alvaro de Miranda, and Great Britain’s Ben Maher and Nick Skelton topped an all-star cast during the highlight event for week nine of the 2013 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival (FTI WEF).

Forty-five entries showed in the prestigious World Cup qualifier jumping a course set by Steve Stephens of Palmetto, FL. Representatives from 14 different countries competed, including an impressive 20 riders that have appeared in Olympic Games for their home nations. In a thrilling race against the clock, eight of the world’s best made it to the jump-off and four jumped double clear.

Ben Maher and Jane Clark’s Cella were the first pair to clear the jump-off course and set the leading time at a lightning fast 40.12 seconds. Nick Skelton was up next with his great mount Big Star, owned by Beverly Widdowson. They cleared the course in 41.01 seconds. Alvaro de Miranda and AD Rahmannshof’s Bogeno, owned by Miranda and Victory Equestrian BV, went next and stopped the clock in 40.46 seconds. Their round was followed by a stellar performance from Daniel Deusser and Cornet d’Amour, owned by Stephex Stables and Pedro Veniss. They flew through the course in 38.94 seconds to earn top prize. Maher and Cella finished second, de Miranda and AD Rahmannshof’s Bogeno were third, and Skelton and Big Star placed fourth.

Watch an interview with winning rider, Daniel Deusser
Watch an interview with winning rider, Daniel Deusser

Daniel Deusser has ridden Cornet d’Amour, a ten-year-old Westphalian gelding by Cornet Obolensky x Damiani, for ten months since he began riding for Stephex Stables in Belgium last May. After a couple of months off and a 1.40m class at a national show in Germany, the pair traveled to Wellington this winter and jumped right in with week eight’s Nations Cup.

“I was doubting that it was maybe a little too quick to start with the Nations Cup last week, but he came in that ring and he felt fantastic,” Deusser stated. “He jumped double clear in the Nations Cup and was third in the class Thursday and he wins now, so I think he did a really good job.”

Commenting on the class, Deusser noted, “The beginning of the class we didn’t have too many clear rounds, but at the end we had very good riders and very good horses. The quality of the horses and riders in the jump-off was really good and they started very fast. For me there was no choice; I had to try it and we were a little bit lucky and it worked out today.”

“I saw that the jump-off was really fast,” Deusser detailed. “I saw Nick just before I went in and he did eight strides to the last fence. I thought that it was really long, but at the beginning I already had a really good turn from one to two and really kept the triple bar on the inside. Then also to the double vertical I had a really good turn. I had already a really long distance to the second to last fence and I thought ‘Okay, I’m going to do the eight.’ It was risky and my horse helped me a lot; I think that was the reason I was actually faster.”

The packed house of over 6,000 spectators at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) went wild when Deusser galloped through the timers, but he was very focused.

“When I went to the last fence I was actually a little bit scared that I couldn’t make it, so I didn’t actually listen to the crowd, but it was a nice feeling afterwards,” Deusser laughed. “It’s one of the best competitions I’ve won so far. It was very good money and in the moment; it is one of my best results.”

Along with prize money, Deusser was also awarded the Herman ‘Kappy’ Kaplan Perpetual Memorial Trophy, established for Kappy with fondness by the Farriers of the 1995 WEF.

Finishing second, Ben Maher did everything he could in his round and was pleased with the results. He spoke about the quality of the class and the excitement of the competition.

“Every week the jump-offs get faster and faster,” Maher noted. “It looked for a long time like there wouldn’t be many clear rounds tonight and then there were a lot at the end of the class. I think probably some of the fastest horses there are anywhere right now are all here in the same jump-off. For me, I was third in the jump-off, so I had to do everything possible to make the others chase us, which is what we did. We held on for as long as we could and in the end one managed to catch us. All the horses jumped great and it was an exciting round.”

“The jump-off was not too many options, again. It always tends to be a little like that in Florida,” Maher remarked. “There’s a lot of galloping. I don’t know where I could have gone any faster unless I left a jump out. Daniel was amazing. He was in a great position and he had nothing to lose. There were three or four of us all within the same second, so if he didn’t do what he did, he was only going to be fifth anyway. Congratulations to him; he pulled off an amazing jump-off tonight.”

Alvaro de Miranda had his best result of the circuit this evening and was happy with his horse as well.

“I was very happy to be in the jump-off,” he acknowledged. “We have been trying every week and I’ve had one down and down and down and finally today I was really happy because I think I had a good round and my horse was jumping super. We had the fastest horses in the jump-off and when I came out and I saw that I was quicker than Big Star but slower than Ben, I was happy.”

Lillie Keenan Tops Sam Edelman Equitation Championship Riding Levistano 2

Lillie Keenan and Levistano 2. Photo © Sportfot
Lillie Keenan and Levistano 2. Photo © Sportfot

The Sam Edelman Equitation Championship was held over two rounds on the grass derby field at The Stadium at PBIEC earlier on Saturday. Twenty-eight entries showed over the first round course set by Skip Bailey of Wellington, FL. The top 15 then returned for a second round. Performances were judged by Tucker Ericson and Ken Smith.

Top young rider Lillie Keenan of New York, NY, rode Heritage Farm Inc.’s Levistano 2, an eleven-year-old Holsteiner gelding by Levisto x Lord, to the Sam Edelman victory. The pair topped both rounds of competition with back to back scores of 89 for an unbeatable 178 point total.

Keenan has been showing ‘Levi’ since the beginning of the FTI WEF circuit and has had several wins with him in the Platinum Performance USEF Show Jumping Talent Search, ASPCA Maclay and Pessoa USEF Hunt Seat Medal classes. Keenan explained that they have meshed well from the beginning and that although she had never ridden him on the grass until Saturday’s class, she was never worried.

“He had been schooled on the grass before with one of the trainers at Heritage, so I knew that he had already done it,” Keenan noted. “He doesn’t care about natural obstacles and really is brave so that is very helpful going into that ring, knowing your horse wants to go around.”

“I really like those classes,” Keenan added. “I like the galloping and I think that is a really fun type of class for the equitation because it still is testing your ability with the adjustments and it is kind of a stepping stone towards the jumpers, but it is in a really big ring, galloping around a field.”

Keenan and Levi won well over second place finishers Allison Toffolon and Class Action’s total of 170 from an 84 in round one and an 86 in round two. Third place went to Sydney Shulman and Back Country Farm’s Eli, who scored 85 and 83 for a 168 point total. Anna Cardelfe and Ulrich, owned by Gray Horse Farm Hamptons LLC, finished fourth on 167.5 with scores of 83 and 84.5.

Heritage Farm’s head trainer Andre Dignelli coached the top two finishers, Keenan and Toffolon. For the win, he was presented with a special $10,000 Trainer’s Award. Keenan credited Dignelli and the rest of the team at Heritage for the parts they played in her victory.

“Andre rode my horse this morning, so he gets all the credit for the preparation,” she smiled. “I could not ask for a better team. There is Andre and it is also everyone else at Heritage. Without them I would not have won. Going in there and knowing that everything has been done to make sure that you have the opportunity to win and now it is just your job to pull it through, it puts on the pressure, but also it is a really good feeling. I give all the credit to Andre and everyone at Heritage – and the horse.”

Lauren Henry Triumphs in Equitation 15-17 Division aboard Esteban La Paz

Lauren Henry, of North Kingstown, RI, rode her own Esteban La Paz to championship honors in the Equitation 15-17 during week nine of the FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival (FTI WEF). Henry and Esteban La Paz, a fourteen-year-old Hanoverian gelding, were third under saddle and jumped to first and fourth place over fences. Reserve honors went to Maggie Savoie and her own Ksenyio. The pair won the under saddle class before placing third and seventh over fences.

Lauren Henry and Esteban La Paz. Photo © Anne Gittins Photography
Lauren Henry and Esteban La Paz. Photo © Anne Gittins Photography

Esteban La Paz stepped up to the plate for Henry last year when she was in search of a horse she could compete in 3’6″ equitation classes. The gelding was already Henry’s trusted mount for hunters and happily adjusted to the equitation ring.

“The first time we rode him, we just clicked,” Henry described. “Last year, I was doing hunters with him but when we changed him to equitation, he just loved it.”

“He can still do the hunters, too, but he’s too slow for the jumper ring,” Henry smiled. “He’s better at equitation because he likes to get in a frame more and he’s easier to ride that way as well.”

Henry credits her equitation success to Esteban La Paz’s striking markings and exceptional show ring attitude. “He’s got a big spot on his belly, which helps us stand out!” Henry smiled. “He jumps really well and when he’s on, he’s on! He and I just get along so well and he’s so much fun to ride.”

Henry was more than pleased with her gelding’s performance on Saturday and enjoyed the challenge of the courses laid out before her. “I thought both courses rode very well. Our first round went perfectly. The second round, he took a peek at the scoreboard which hurt our score, but he was still great. The bending line at the end of round two was a little challenging. We probably could have gotten five instead of six,” Henry commented.

2013 will mark Henry’s fifth year making the journey south for the FTI WEF, which she eagerly attends in search of high-caliber competition and, like many other competitors from the North, the Florida sunshine.

Hunter competition during week nine of the FTI WEF, sponsored by The Bainbridge Companies, will conclude Sunday with the Pine Hollow Low Children’s Hunter 2’6″ division hosted in Ring 8 of the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC). The $82,000 Suncast 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic will be featured in the International Arena. For full results, please visit www.showgroundslive.com.

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

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

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

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

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

Beezie Madden and Cortes ‘C’ Victorious in $125,000 FEI World Cup Qualifier Grand Prix

Parkland and Lillie Keenan Are an Unstoppable Force in Small Junior 16-17 Hunters

Wellington, FL – February 16, 2013 – Two-time U.S. Olympic gold medalist Beezie Madden and Abigail Wexner’s Cortes ‘C’ were victorious on Saturday night in the $125,000 FEI World Cup Qualifier Grand Prix, CSI 3*-W presented by Spy Coast Farm, during week six of the 2013 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival (FTI WEF) in Wellington, FL. Madden beat out an impressive roster of top riders and finished in first place over Katie Dinan (USA) and Nougat du Vallet and Shane Sweetnam (IRL) aboard Amaretto d’Arco, who finished second and third respectively.

Brazil’s Guilherme Jorge set the track for 46 entries in Saturday night’s grand prix with nine jumping clear to advance to the jump-off. Four were able to complete the short course without fault, with the fastest time of 41.50 seconds belonging to Beezie Madden and Cortes ‘C’ took top prize.

Watch an interview with Beezie Madden!

Margie Engle (USA) and Elm Rock, LLC’s Royce were first to clear the jump-off course in 45.69 seconds and eventually placed fourth. Shane Sweetnam and Spy Coast Farm, LLC’s Amaretto d’Arco cleared the jump-off track in 42.56 seconds to place third. Up next, Katie Dinan and Grant Road Partners, LLC’s Nougat du Vallet upped the ante with their time of 41.84 seconds to place second. They were immediately followed by an even faster clear round from Beezie Madden and Cortes ‘C’ in the winning 41.50 seconds. Week four grand prix winners Ben Maher and Jane Clark’s Cella had the fastest time of the night in 40.46 seconds, but had one rail down in the short course to place fifth.

Spy Coast Farm owners Robert and Lisa Lourie were thrilled with the success of the evening and the great class along with a third place finish for their horse and rider. Lisa Lourie commented, “I think it was an extremely exciting grand prix. It was very competitive and you could not have asked for a better lineup for the jump-off. It was a world-class event and we were happy to be a part of that jump-off. As they say, anytime you lose to Beezie when she is riding at her best, that is not a bad thing. We are very pleased with how it went and very happy to do it.”

Madden’s winning mount for the evening, Cortes ‘C’, is an eleven-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding by Randel Z x Darco that Madden has now had for three years. Madden describes Cortes as a horse with fantastic ability. “He can jump the moon,” Madden stated. “He’s a bit of an internal worrier and I think he is just starting to come into his own. If he can relax like he did tonight under the lights in a big atmosphere I think he’s going to be fantastic.”

This was the first big grand prix of the year for Cortes and Madden was happy with his performance. “He felt fantastic,” she smiled. “Last year he was a little inexperienced under the lights and he was very tense when he came up here each time. This time he started out very relaxed and he felt terrific.”

“He felt very relaxed in the first round; very rideable and jumping well,” Madden continued. “I saw Katie go right before me. I was lucky to go right behind her so I could see how fast she went, so the strategy became try to pull out all the shots you can and it worked.”

In addition to the grand prix win, Madden was named the Leading Lady Jumper Rider, an award presented by Martha Jolicoeur of Illustrated Properties in memory of Dale Lawler.

“I’d just like to thank Spy Coast and the Louries,” Madden said. “They are great enthusiasts of the sport and without people like them we wouldn’t be here.”

Second place finisher, nineteen-year-old Katie Dinan, has grown up with Beezie Madden as a riding idol and was excited to finish in the top of the class with her. Dinan’s horse, Nougat du Vallet, jumped two great rounds as well. “He felt great,” Dinan smiled. “He jumped so well in the first round and we had a good school before the jump-off. I knew he wasn’t going to try to touch any of the jumps. It was just up to me to go fast. He can do most things for me, but I have to tell him when we need to go fast. He felt really good.”

Shane Sweetnam was pleased to finish in the top three for Spy Coast Farm with their top stallion Amaretto d’Arco, and had a great night.

“I was very happy with my horse tonight,” Sweetnam stated. “Obviously, the Spy Coast Grand Prix, I would have liked to have won it, but I was very happy. It is his first grand prix of the year and I’m just happy to be here.”

“Guilherme did a good job with the course,” Sweetnam said. “I think nine is a good number for clear rounds. No one got hung up anywhere, so for the young riders it was good experience for them as well as a good class for the public.”

Also showing in the International Arena on Saturday, Jessica Springsteen and Stone Hill Farm’s Vindicat W won the $15,000 RCG Farm SJHOF High Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic. Lucas Porter and Mill’s Georgia, owned by John Roche, won in the Hollow Creek Farm Medium Junior Jumpers. Alvaro Tejada Arriola and Isabel Tejada’s Velinta Palo Blanco won in the Animo USA Medium Amateur-Owner Jumpers, and Diederique Van Der Knaap and G&C Con Air won in the Griffis Residential High Junior Jumpers.

Parkland and Lillie Keenan Are an Unstoppable Force in Small Junior 16-17 Hunters

Parkland and Lillie Keenan continued their domination of the Small Junior Hunter 16-17 division during week six of the FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival. The pair has taken home championship honors every week they have competed in the division, making this win their fourth tricolor victory.  Keenan and Parkland, an eight-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Jennifer Gates, were a force to be reckoned with throughout the two days of competition for the division. They placed third and first over fences on day one and won both over fences rounds day two before wrapping up the division with a fourth place on the flat.

Lillie Keenan and Parkland. Photo © Anne Gittins Photography
Lillie Keenan and Parkland. Photo © Anne Gittins Photography

Reserve champion was Romance, ridden and owned by Spencer Smith. Smith and Romance were sixth over fences on day one and placed second in both over fences rounds day two. The pair edged out Keenan and Parkland under saddle, placing third in the final class of the division.

Romance and Smith were also honored with the Owner/Rider championship title for the division. The award recognizes riders in junior divisions competing on their own horses and is tallied separately from overall division championship awards. Reserve Owner/Rider champions were MTM U Call It and Cloe Hymowitz.

Keenan, of New York City, and Parkland began their partnership during week one of the FTI WEF, when the pair first took home the tricolor prize.  Since then, the two have proven that it wasn’t just beginner’s luck that earned them top honors.

“He’s a really special horse. He’s really fancy and it’s nice to have [a horse] in the division that you can trust to do his part. He’s a great mover and his strongest quality is how beautiful he is across the ground. His owner, Jennifer Gates, is so nice and comes to see him all the time, so it’s nice to have a lot of support behind you with a horse as special as Parkland,” Keenan stated.

“We’ve gotten closer as circuit has gone on,” Keenan continued. “He’s really part of the [Heritage Farm] family. When he first came, I’d never ridden him before he got to Florida but we’ve gotten to know each other very well. We can rely on each other in the ring.”

Keenan attributes much of her success with Parkland to the gelding’s incredible natural talent, but the bond the two shares is an undeniable factor.  “I know what he likes and I know what to expect. He’s a very reliable horse. The style I ride is very similar to the way he wants to go. It’s a lot easier to match up with a horse that goes the way you like to ride. We naturally have a connection and we’ve worked on it a lot,” Keenan described.

“He’s dead brave and he moves and jumps well, which is a great foundation to work from. I just have to hold him together and keep him in a solid rhythm. It’s really just monitoring his pace and that’s all it takes,” Keenan continued.

Keenan and Parkland will aim to continue their winning streak over the remaining six weeks of the FTI WEF. Keenan is eager to return for week seven of the FTI WEF for the World Championship Hunter Rider Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular, hosted in the International Arena next week.

Week six of the FTI WEF concludes Sunday with the La Mundial Adult Amateur Hunter 18-35 Section B division, which will determine its champion in the E. R. Mische Grand Hunter Arena. The $33,000 Suncast 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic will conclude jumper competition in the International Arena. For full results, please visit www.showgroundslive.com.

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

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

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

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

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

Frances Land and Lillie Keenan Land SSG Riding Gloves Bonus Money

Frances Land is presented with a $2,000 bonus from Jennifer Ward representing SSG Riding Gloves and ring master Cliff Haines for wearing SSG ‘Digitals’ on her way to victory in the $15,000 High Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic at the 2013 WEF. Photos - Sportfot

January 20, 2013 – Wellington, Florida – With two horses in the jump-off, Lillie Keenan doubled her chances of taking home the $1,000 bonus offered by SSG Riding Gloves for winning the $10,000 Griffis Group High Junior Jumper Classic on Sunday, January 20, at 2013 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, FL.

Keenan, 16, of New York, NY, qualified both Londinium and Pumped Up Kicks for the five-horse jump-off.  It was her first ride, Londinium, that posted the winning time of 41.29 seconds to take the win as well as a $1,000 bonus for wearing SSG ‘Digital’ style gloves.

“I really love it!” smiled Keenan in reference to the SSG Riding Gloves ‘Go Clean for the Green’ promotion.  “I think it is extra special.  I wear the gloves in all of my classes, so to be paid to wear them is pretty nice.”

As to how she would spend her $1,000 bonus, Keenan said, “I have a feeling I will spend the money on my horses, getting them everything they need.  I love to pamper my horses.”

Continue reading Frances Land and Lillie Keenan Land SSG Riding Gloves Bonus Money

Lillie Keenan Rises to the Top of the Diamond Mills $500,000 Hunter Prix Final after Winning Today’s Second Round

©ESI Photography. Lillie Keenan and C Coast Z posted some impressive scores during the first two rounds of the Diamond Mills $500,000 Hunter Prix Final to sit in the first spot going into tomorrow’s final two rounds

SAUGERTIES, NY (September 8, 2012) – Today Lillie Keenan proved, as she often does, that age isn’t always indicative of skill or experience. The 15-year-old from New York, New York piloted Chansonette Farm, LLC’s C Coast Z to the top of an impressive group of 66 qualified riders in the Diamond Mills $500,000 Hunter Prix Final.

“This is my go-to horse and this course was really about knowing your horse,” said Keenan. “It’s great to have another final like this with so much support – it brings a lot of excitement to the ring.”

Keenan combined a first round score of 180 with a notable 186 in the second round to sit in first place with an overall score of 366. All bets are off tomorrow, however, as scores are wiped clean and competition moves from the Outside Course to the Strongid C 2X Grand Prix Stadium where the top 25 will compete in the third round before the top four scores move to the final round and the winner is crowned.

Continue reading Lillie Keenan Rises to the Top of the Diamond Mills $500,000 Hunter Prix Final after Winning Today’s Second Round

Egypt’s Nayel Nassar and Lordan Win $15,000 Artisan Farms Young Rider Grand Prix

Rodrigo Pessoa and HH Palouchin Win Wire to Wire in $32,000 G&C Farm 1.45m Classic; Keenan and Jacobs Take USEF Show Jumping Talent Search Wins

Nayel Nassar and Lordan. Photos © Sportfot

Wellington, FL – February 24, 2012 – Egypt’s Nayel Nassar proved to be the best in Friday night’s $15,000 Artisan Farms Young Rider Grand Prix, presented by Dutta Corporation in association with Guido Klatte. Nassar and Lordan, owned by Nayel and Sharaff Nassar, won in a jump-off of three over a challenging course for victory. Katie Dinan (USA) and Grant Road Partners’ Sandro were second, while Caitlin Ziegler (USA) and Dollar Van’t Eigenlo CH, owned by Artisan Farms LLC, finished third.

The 2012 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival has 12 weeks of competition that conclude on April 1, 2012, and will be awarding more than $6 million in prize money through the circuit.

Continue reading Egypt’s Nayel Nassar and Lordan Win $15,000 Artisan Farms Young Rider Grand Prix

Lillie Keenan Triumphs in USEF/Platinum Performance Show Jumping Talent Search

Laura Chapot and Valentia Take Top Prize in World Development Group 1.35m Jumpers

Lillie Keenan and Monterrey. Photos © Sportfot

Wellington, FL – January 20, 2012 – Forty-one of the nation’s top young riders showed in the USEF/Platinum Performance Show Jumping Talent Search in Wellington this morning with a win for Lillie Keenan aboard Chansonette Farm LLC’s Monterrey. Riders showed over a course set by Danny Moore, of Spring Hill, FL, and the top twelve were invited to return under saddle.

The second week of the FTI WEF runs through Sunday, January 22, and is sponsored by Wellington Equestrian Realty. The 2012 FTI Winter Equestrian Festival has 12 weeks of competition that conclude on April 1, 2012, and they will be awarding more than $6 million in prize money through the circuit. The highlight jumper class in week two is the $50,000 Wellington Equestrian Realty Grand Prix, CSI 2* on Saturday, January 21, at 7 p.m.

Continue reading Lillie Keenan Triumphs in USEF/Platinum Performance Show Jumping Talent Search