Wellington, FL – February 15, 2017 – Brazil’s Luiz Francisco de Azevedo was the first winner of week six at the 2017 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF), competing aboard Collin in the $35,000 Douglas Elliman 1.45m speed class on Wednesday, February 15 at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in Wellington, FL.
Richard Jeffery (GBR) is the international course designer for week six jumper classes at Equestrian Village. Jeffery began with 39 entries in the 1.45m speed competition and had 12 clear rounds. De Azevedo and Collin, a ten-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Colandro x Amethist), clocked the winning time of 65.05 seconds.
Richie Moloney (IRL) and Equinimity LLC’s Alsvid finished second in 65.40 seconds. Peter Leone (USA) and Lionshare Farm’s Wayfarer placed third in 66.84 seconds. Margie Engle (USA) finished fourth in 67.82 seconds riding Elm Rock LLC’s Böckmanns Lazio.
“It was a really nice class today. I am really happy with my horse,” de Azevedo stated following his win. “I was 12th to go, and I knew that the course was good for me. My horse has a really big stride, and he is always going. Sometimes I lose a little bit of time in the turns, but then I can always do one less stride in the lines easily. I enjoy that quality that he has, and we had a good opportunity to win this class.”
Collin’s story did not begin like many horses competing at the international level. The horse was seven years old when de Azevedo found him and was on his way to being sold for slaughter. The horse’s trajectory quickly changed, however, with one life-changing phone call.
“Two and a half years ago nobody wanted this horse,” de Azevedo stated. “He was really wild and really difficult to ride. Then a friend of mine called me and said he found a horse that I might be able to jump. He was seven years old, but he had never done a show in his life. My friend told me the horse was a little bit different, but I said, ‘Okay, let’s see what he can do.'”
De Azevedo was given a half share of the horse, and he took Collin to the horse’s first competition two weeks later.
“He jumped the first day 1.30m clear, the second day 1.35m clear, and the third day 1.40m clear in the first show of his life!” de Azevedo recalled. “Now he is my second horse, and I am really lucky to have him. It is so unbelievable. We bought him for nothing. We tell that story, and people do not believe it.”
De Azevedo thanks his friend for seeing Collin and believing in him, but the rider mostly gives credit to the horse.
“It is him,” de Azevedo said of Collin. “I just gave him a chance to arrive. The quality is in the horse.”
Also competing in the Global Arena at Equestrian Village on Wednesday, the $6,000 Illustrated Properties 1.40m speed class was held, with a win for Peter Leone (USA) and Lionshare Farm’s Capito Z.
The 2017 WEF continues on Thursday with the $35,000 Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup Round 6 in the Global Arena at Equestrian Village. The professional hunter divisions will award the first championships of WCHR week in the International Arena at PBIEC. For full results, please visit www.PBIEC.com.
Wellington, FL (February 13, 2017) – Todd Minikus has once again topped the bill during week five of the 2017 Winter Equestrian Festival, claiming his fourth consecutive win of the week by placing first in the $86,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic. Minikus, aboard Wyndmont’s Zephyr, clocked in the final round at a swift 35.98 seconds.
Sunday’s win was just the cherry on top of a streak of victories for Minikus so far this season at the Wellington, Florida show series. The string of high-stakes wins that Minikus has already collected include three $35,000 classes, the $50,000 National Guard Grand Prix, and the FEI $216,000 Ariat® Grand Prix. Minikus and Zephyr also saw victory earlier this same week, having captured the first place title in the FEI 5* $35,000 1.45m class. As the blue ribbons continue to stack up for Minikus, the show jumping superstar is a top competitor to watch at this year’s Winter Equestrian Festival.
Many of Minikus’s exceptional results so far this season have been achieved aboard Zephyr, a 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Landor S x Calvados), who is a newer mount for Minikus. “I have ridden so many horses in my life that there is not much that I have not seen or felt at this point,” Minikus said. “It does not take long for me to adapt to different horses really. I like that challenge of getting on new horses. When you are as old as I am, you don’t need much practice,” he joked.
Minikus’s wife and supporter, Amanda Minikus, was thrilled with this week’s results with Zephyr. “Todd started riding Zephyr in November of this past year, and this time they just nailed it. They really make a fantastic combination – every time they go out so far, they’ve been unbeatable.”
Minikus plans to continue with his impressive track record throughout the upcoming weeks of competition at the Winter Equestrian Festival, which runs through April 2, 2017 at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. It is the world’s largest and longest-running hunter/jumper show circuit, attracting top horses and riders from all over the world to Wellington annually.
Todd Minikus is a U.S. Pan American Games Team Bronze Medalist and FEI Nations Cup veteran with well over 100 Grand Prix wins under his belt. In addition to competing nationally and internationally, Minikus also offers sales and training services. To learn more about Todd Minikus, visit www.ToddMinikusShowJumping.com and follow him on Facebook and Instagram @Todd_Minikus.
Minikus and Zephyr Are Unbeatable in Suncast® 1.50m; Jane Gaston and Because Top Hunt Ltd. Amateur-Owner Hunter Over 35
Wellington, FL – February 12, 2017 – Week five of the 2017 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) concluded on Sunday, February 12, in Wellington, FL, with a win for Emily Moffitt (GBR) and Poden Farms’ For Sale 6 in the $50,000 Equo Grand Prix CSI 2*. Todd Minikus (USA) and Wyndmont’s Zephyr also kept their winning streak alive with a victory in the $86,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic.
Week five course designer Robert Ellis (GBR) concluded Sunday’s competition with 45 entries in the $50,000 Equo Grand Prix CSI 2* and 12 faultless combinations to jump-off. Out of seven double clear rounds, Emily Moffitt and For Sale 6 clocked the fastest time of 37.03 seconds. Lucas Porter (USA) and Sleepy P Ranch LLC’s B Once Z finished second in 37.39 seconds. Andrew Welles (USA) and Peter Welles’ Boo van het Kastanjehof placed third in 38.14 seconds, and Mavis Spencer (USA) completed the fourth place time of 38.79 seconds riding Mike Collins’ Cornetiero.
Moffitt (18) switched from representing the U.S. to riding for Great Britain this year and stood for the playing of the British national anthem in her honor for the first time on Sunday. Moffitt has a farm in Wellington, but is based in England most of the year and began training with Olympic team gold medalist Ben Maher (GBR) at the end of last year’s WEF circuit.
For her win on Sunday, Moffitt was aboard For Sale 6, an 11-year-old Westphalian mare (For Pleasure x Cassini I) that was purchased from Germany’s Ludger Beerbaum.
“She is definitely not for sale. I’ll be keeping her for quite some time,” Moffitt made clear after her victory. “I have had Sale for about a year and a half. My previous trainer (Laura Kraut) rode her for the first few months that we had her, and then she actually got injured after the Junior Nations’ Cup here at WEF last year. This is her first big class back, so we are very excited with how she jumped. It took her a little bit to get back into things. We were a little worried, but I think it is safe to say she is back.”
Moffitt previously won her first CSI 2* grand prix in Knokke, Belgium and stepped up in the summer of 2016 to compete in some of the CSI 5* Global Champions League events. The rider decided to skip college and pursue her riding career full-time, but has remained an amateur as she transitions to the bigger classes. With the new addition of the CSI 2* events to complement the five-star competition at this year’s WEF, Moffitt had the perfect opportunity to jump some different horses and gain valuable experience.
“I have a few five-star horses right now, and I was a little frustrated that I could not jump those classes this week, but it was nice that I was able to use my 1.45-1.50m horses,” Moffitt noted. “I get excited to be able to use them and have a goal for them. I think that’s really nice to have the two-star going along with the five-star.”
Moffitt’s main goal for the circuit is to qualify for week 11’s $500,000 Rolex Grand Prix CSI 5*. She has also been selected as a member of the British team for week eight’s $150,000 FEI Nations’ Cup.
Another top young rider in the class on Sunday, Lucas Porter (19) splits his year between the U.S. and Holland, coached by reigning World Champion Jeroen Dubbeldam (NED). For his second place finish, Porter was aboard B Once Z, a 13-year-old Zangersheide mare (Baloubet du Rouet x Lavaletto) that he found from Katharina Offel (UKR) at the start of 2015.
“She is definitely the best horse that I have ever ridden,” Porter proclaimed. “She has such a big heart; she is so quick against the clock, and she is such a trier. I have never sat on a horse that has this much faith in herself. She is just the perfect horse for a young rider like me.”
In the jump-off, Porter explained that he lost his stirrup, which cost him the small fraction of time that divided first and second place. The rider was also happy to have the opportunity to jump in the 2* division, however, and was happy with his result.
“The two-star and five-star combination has worked out perfectly,” stated Porter. “It keeps the number of riders and horses in the classes exactly where they should be. It also creates more opportunity to make the two-star grand prix and the five-star grand prix each go at an exciting time where the majority of the show can come watch. Even though I’m not doing the biggest competition at the show, I still have a primetime showing. It makes it a pleasure for everyone involved.”
At 29 years old, third place finisher Andrew Welles felt like the senior to his counterparts in the top three on Sunday, but he was happy for the opportunity to use his veteran mount Boo van het Kastanjehof in the CSI 2* competition. Welles has ridden the 16-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare (Thunder van de Zuuthoeve x Pachat II) for the past seven years after purchasing her from his best friend, Hardin Towell.
“She is the most special horse I have ever had,” Welles stated. “She is owned by my father, who has been the biggest supporter of my career. At 16 years old, she feels like she did when she was nine. She is having an absolute ball. I’m really just enjoying each class with her right now. It has been a lot of fun to have her back going in the big ring this year. She has done three grand prix classes, and she has been double clear in all three, so we will take it.”
Adding his experience of the first concurrent two-star and five-star events at WEF, Welles added, “I think it is phenomenal. I give huge credit to the organizing committee for putting this on. I think it gave a great opportunity for younger riders and younger horses, or older horses like mine, to have a division that really suits them. It also gave a lot of the five-star riders the opportunity to take a little pressure off of their horses to not have to qualify out of 100 horses in the grand prix qualifier. Granted, the better riders always tend to rise to the top, but there is still something to be said for that.”
Minikus and Zephyr Are Unbeatable in Suncast® 1.50m
The USA’s Todd Minikus continued his winning streak aboard Wyndmont’s Zephyr at the 2017 WEF, securing the pair’s second win of week five, and their fourth consecutive win of the WEF circuit, in Sunday’s $86,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic.
Fifty-one entries contested the first round course set by Robert Ellis, with ten advancing to the jump-off and seven double clear rounds. Minikus and Zephyr smoothly navigated the short course in the winning time of 35.98 seconds. Conor Swail (IRL) and Finca Horses’ Flower finished second in 36.38 seconds. Tiffany Foster (CAN) and Artisan Farms’ Brighton placed third in 36.61 seconds, and Eric Lamaze (CAN) and the Chacco Kid Group’s Chacco Kid rounded out the top four in 37.06 seconds.
“It was kind of a fast rider ‘Who’s Who’ in the jump-off with riders like Kent, Conor, and Eric,” Minikus continued. “I thought it was going to be fast, and it ended being blistering, really. That was a very fast round. It seemed like everything came up nice for me, and I was able to just keep going and going, so I am pretty happy with it.”
With each win, Minikus is gaining confidence in Zephyr’s ability and getting to know the 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Landor S x Calvados) better. Owner Ronnie Beard purchased Zephyr from Great Britain’s Peter Charles five years ago after the gelding was named best seven-year-old in Spain that year and has also enjoyed watching the partnership excel. Dorman brought along the horse, but he had almost a year off.
“With that rest, he has just come back into his old self again,” Beard said.
Minikus also rides Wyndmont’s Valinski S. Beard compared, “They are both careful horses, and I think Todd challenges them enough with the pace. I think that after slowly bringing them along, they are ready for it, and I think Todd is the person to do it with them.”
As for Minikus, who only rides the Wyndmont horses at the show and leaves their training to Beard and Dorman at home, piloting different horses is nothing new.
“I have ridden so many horses in my life that there is not much that I have not seen or felt at this point,” said the veteran competitor. “It does not take long for me to adapt to different horses really. I like that challenge of getting on new horses. When you are as old as I am, you don’t need much practice!”
Also competing in the International Arena on Sunday, McKayla Langmeier and Jane Clark’s Whistler topped the $10,000 Hollow Creek Farm Medium Junior Jumper Classic.
Jane Gaston and Because Top Hunt Ltd. Amateur-Owner Hunter Over 35
Jane Gaston of The Plains, VA and her own Because continued their championship streak in the Hunt Ltd. Amateur-Owner Hunter Over 35 division during week five. The pair won all four over fences classes with scores of 88, 87, 88, and 88, and placed fifth in the under saddle class. Gaston and Because have been champions of the division for three weeks in a row, also winning the title during weeks three and four.
“He’s been fabulous every week,” Gaston explained. “He comes out and tries hard every day. We’ve had him a year now, and he just settled right in to being a hunter. He did the First Years last year and is an awesome horse.”
Because is a 2007 KWPN stallion by Verdi that Gaston purchased through Daniel Geitner. Both Gaston and trainer Kelley Farmer have had tremendous success on the horse since taking over the ride, earning many coveted tri-color ribbons during the 2016 fall indoor finals circuit.
“He’s just really great to be around,” Gaston continued. “He makes a solid effort no matter where you put him or how you’re getting there. I appreciate that in a horse.”
Becky Gochman of Palm Beach, FL and Catch Me, owned by Gochman Sport Horses LLC, captured the reserve title. The pair placed second and third over fences and second in the under saddle. Gochman has been a strong contender in the Hunt Ltd. Amateur-Owner Hunters Over 35 throughout WEF. She and Catch Me were named champions of the division during week two, and earned the reserve honors during weeks one and three.
Catch Me, a coming ten-year-old Holsteiner gelding by Casiro, is also highly decorated. The grey gelding with a striking jumping style was named 2016 USEF Horse of the Year Awards after an extremely successful year with Scott Stewart in the Second Year Green Working Hunters.
The 2017 Winter Equestrian Festival continues with its highly anticipated World Championship Hunter Rider week on February 15-19, 2017. For full results and more information, please visit www.PBIEC.com.
Lindsay Maxwell and Technicolor Crowned Champions of Lugano Diamonds Amateur-Owner Hunter 18-35
Wellington, FL – February 11, 2017 – U.S. Olympic team silver medalist Kent Farrington jumped to victory riding Gazelle in Saturday night’s $380,000 Fidelity Investments® Grand Prix CSI 5* at the 2017 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) in Wellington, FL. In an 11-horse jump-off, Brazil’s Luiz Francisco de Azevedo finished second riding Comic, and Catherine Tyree (USA) placed third aboard Bokai.
Course designer Robert Ellis (GBR) saw 40 competitors jump his first-round track for the five-star event under the lights. Eleven advanced to the jump-off, where three jumped double clear in the race against the clock. Farrington and Gazelle emerged victorious with a time of 44.48 seconds. De Azevedo finished second with Comic in 45.69 seconds, and Tyree guided Bokai through the timers in 48.29 seconds. Canada’s Eric Lamaze rode Artisan Farms and Torrey Pines Stable’s Fine Lady 5 to the fastest four-fault round in 45.65 seconds to place fourth.
Farrington, who is currently the number two-ranked rider in the world, put in a thrilling jump-off round with his own and Robin Parsky’s Gazelle to ensure victory. He jumped the 11-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare (Kashmir van Schuttershof x Indoctro) to a team bronze medal in the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto, among other top international finishes.
Speaking of his winning round, Farrington stated, “My plan in a jump-off is usually to play to the horse’s strengths unless there are only three in it, then maybe you have a different strategy. Coming after me are Fine Lady and Eric Lamaze, and they are an incredibly competitive combination. They are super fast against the clock, so my plan was to do what I thought the limit was for my horse and put the pressure on him to have to really chase me to win. I knew if we were both running, his horse is probably faster in this type of arena, so I tried to put the pressure on him and hope he would have one down. Luckily for me it worked out tonight.”
Commenting on the first round course, Farrington added, “After walking, I thought a lot was going to depend on the time-allowed. I thought maybe he wanted the time-allowed a touch shorter in an ideal world so that there were not quite so many clear, but the jump-off was still difficult enough, so you probably ended up with the same spot anyway.”
De Azevedo was aboard his ten-year-old Dutch Warmblood stallion Comic (Verdi x Heartbreaker) for Saturday’s top finish as he gears up for week eight’s CSIO Nations’ Cup competition.
“I am very happy because for me, it is like a win to be second behind Kent Farrington,” the rider stated. “For me, it is like a victory. I am really happy with my horse. We bought him when he was just a six-year-old, and we built him. My goal was to be here where we are now, so I have to just thank God for that.”
Tyree began the 2017 season with a third-place finish in week one’s $75,000 Rosenbaum Mollengarden PLLC Grand Prix aboard Mary & Joe Tyree’s Bokai, an 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood (Up To Date x Ferro) gelding that she began riding in July. On Saturday, Tyree earned her highest five-star finish and also received the award for Leading Lady Rider for the second time this winter, presented by Martha Jolicoeur of Douglas Elliman in memory of Dale Lawler.
“This was my first five-star with him,” Tyree stated. “It is a relatively new partnership, and I really just tried to go in and have a smooth jump-off. I’m a little bit new to going quick at this height. I knew I had Kent and Eric after me, and chances were they were going to be a little bit quicker, so I thought I would go for a smooth, clear round, and he jumped fantastic.
“To even be jumping these classes is absolutely amazing,” Tyree continued. “It has always been a dream of mine to jump Saturday nights, and to be sitting next to these two riders and this company is something I have really wanted and have worked toward. To finally accomplish that has been an absolutely amazing feat. It really takes an entire team. I have great people behind me. The past year has been a little rough, but it ended up being a fairy tale at the end. I could not be happier.”
Also competing in the International Arena on Saturday, Kelsey Thatcher and Pony Lane Farm’s Everything won the $15,000 SJHOF High Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic, presented by Engel & Völkers. Emma Heise and Old Willow Farms’ Broekie were the winners of the $10,000 SJHOF High Junior Jumper Classic, presented by Sleepy P Ranch. Jennifer Jones and Andrew Kocher’s Benedetto were also victorious in the Equiline Medium Amateur-Owner Jumper speed class.
Lindsay Maxwell and Technicolor Crowned Champions of Lugano Diamonds Amateur-Owner Hunter 18-35
Lindsay Maxwell of Beverly Hills, CA and Technicolor topped a competitive field of 17 riders in the Lugano Diamonds Amateur-Owner Hunter 18-35 division on Saturday morning. Maxwell piloted Technicolor to three first-place finishes, two over fences and one under saddle, to earn the championship. The pair was also named champion of the division during week one of the 2017 WEF.
“He’s an exceptionally talented horse,” Maxwell detailed. “I feel really lucky to ride him every time I go in the ring. At the barn, he’s constantly in your pockets and wanting to be all over you. He’s a very people-oriented horse, really sweet, and he always has his head out looking for attention.”
Technicolor is a coming seven-year-old Oldenburg gelding by Sandro Boy that Maxwell purchased about a year ago from Nick Haness in California. Last year, Haness successfully rode the gelding in the First Years while Maxwell showed him in the Amateur-Owners. Maxwell noted that the course was well suited to demonstrate Technicolor’s talents as the pair received a high score of 87 in one of the over fences classes.
“The course was set up really well for him,” Maxwell explained. “He loves a long run to an oxer; it really showcases his spectacular jump. His jump is unlike anything I’ve felt on any other horse, so it’s really fun when I have a nice, long run to an oxer like that. I can really let him shine. The rest was just smooth and nice.”
Callie Seaman of Greenwich, CT rode her own Skorekeeper to capture the reserve title. Seaman navigated the 2004 Warmblood gelding by Casall to first-place finishes in the stake class and handy class, and second and fifth place finishes over fences. The pair earned the championship ribbon of division during week three of WEF.
The fifth week of WEF concludes on Sunday with the $86,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic and $50,000 Equo Grand Prix CSI 2* in the International Arena. The Hunt Ltd. Amateur-Owner Hunter Over 35 division will award championship and reserve honors in the E. R. Mische Grand Hunter Arena. For full results, please visit www.PBIEC.com.
Wellington, FL – February 10, 2017 – Todd Minikus (USA) and Wyndmont’s Zephyr continued their winning form on Friday, February 10, at the 2017 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) in Wellington, FL, with a top finish in the $35,000 Illustrated Properties 1.45m speed class following back-to-back victories in week three.
2012 Olympic course designer Robert Ellis (GBR) set the track for 50 entries in Friday’s CSI 5* edition of the 1.45m competition, clocking 19 clear rounds. Minikus and Zephyr were the winners with their time of 57.52 seconds. Kristen Vanderveen (USA) and Bull Run’s Faustino de Tili finished second in 58.12 seconds, and Yuri Mansur (BRA) guided Louise Weber’s Cula Lou V to third place in 58.18 seconds.
Minikus and Zephyr, a 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Landor S x Calvados) won week three’s $35,000 Douglas Elliman 1.45m and $35,000 Illustrated Properties 1.45m speed classes just two days apart. Zephyr then had a week off and returned to the ring fresh and ready to go on Friday.
“He feels good. They did not jump him during the week,” said Minikus, who rides Zephyr at the ring and leaves the gelding’s training duties to the team at Wyndmont. “I gave him a little school yesterday in the FEI, and that was it.
“I didn’t get to watch many go today because I was doing the 1.35m and some other classes,” Minikus continued. “I think my turn to the skinny (jump) was probably what made my time. He actually slipped a little bit in the turn, but I think it shocked him into jumping the skinny clear, so it helped.”
Minikus and the team at Wyndmont, which includes trainers Ronnie Beard and Michael Dorman, also made the decision to change Zephyr’s bridle this week to help his turning ability.
“He was a little awkward turning to the left before, but we changed bridles, and now he seems good in both directions,” Minikus explained. “He feels equal on both sides, so we are getting some small things figured out, and he keeps getting better.”
Minikus and Zephyr will jump again in Sunday’s $86,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic. In addition to top prizes, Illustrated Properties presented special leading rider awards to Minikus as the highest-placed professional rider in the class, and Katie Dinan (USA) as the highest-placed non-professional rider.
Also competing in the International Arena on Friday, the $35,000 1.45m jump-off class was featured for the CSI 2* competitors with 56 entries, and 16 advancing to the jump-off. The win went to Ireland’s Darragh Kenny riding Kerry Anne LLC’s Bolero III, last to go over the short course in 36.38 seconds. Venezuela’s Luis Larrazabal finished second riding San Francisco Stables’ G&C Close Up through the timers in 37.16 seconds. Brett Burlington (USA) and Alden Burlington’s Bluf placed third in 38.28 seconds.
The $6,000 Illustrated Properties 1.40m Speed Challenge concluded the day with a win for Georgina Bloomberg (USA) and Gotham Enterprizes’ South Street. The morning’s $2,500 Engel & Völkers High Amateur-Owner Jumper Power and Speed saw victory for David Oberkircher and Southfields Farm LLC’s Castelino van de Helle.
Elissa Davis Wins Ariat National Adult Medal
Elissa Davis of Cincinnati, OH rode her own Eric to win the Ariat National Adult Medal on Friday morning in the E. R. Grand Mische Hunter Ring. The pair was sitting in third place before the test of the top four competitors where they moved up to take the win. Davis competes primarily in the Adult Equitation classes.
“My horse was a little bit spooky, but it ended up really nice,” said Davis. “My original course didn’t go exactly as planned, but it was really good for the most part. My test felt great though. I was really happy with that. I focused on what the other riders did and tried to do it better.”
Eric is a coming eight-year-old Hanoverian gelding by Avagon. Davis and the gelding have had several second and third place finishes in the Ariat National Adult Medal during the 2017 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF), but Friday marked their first win.
“He’s really sweet,” Davis detailed. “He just wants to be a lap dog. I haven’t had him very long, about eight months. I would love to go to Ariat [National Adult Medal] Finals, and I would also love to do the Palm Beach Medal finals here too.”
Gabi Morris of Bridgewater, NJ finished in second place aboard Hypnotic, and Kristina Lyons of Boston, MA rode Country Road to the third place ribbon.
The fifth week of WEF continues on Saturday with the $380,000 Fidelity Investments® Grand Prix CSI 5* featured in the International Arena at 7 p.m. The Lugano Diamonds Amateur-Owner Hunter 18-35 will award championship and reserve honors in the Rost Arena. For full results, please visit www.PBIEC.com.
Scott Stewart and Fun Prevail in Shapley’s Grooming Products High Performance Conformation Hunters
Wellington, FL – February 9, 2017 – Canadian Olympic Champion Eric Lamaze topped the $130,000 Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup Round 5 riding Fine Lady 5 on Thursday at the 2017 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) in Wellington, FL.
2012 London Olympic course designer Robert Ellis (GBR) built the track for 55 competitors in Thursday’s class. Fourteen horses advanced to the jump-off with Lamaze and Fine Lady 5, owned by Artisan Farms, LLC and Torrey Pines Stable, returning third to post a fault-free round in 41.23 seconds. His time could not be beat and gave Lamaze his second WEF Challenge Cup Series victory of the 2017 season after also winning round 3 with Houston.
Hardin Towell (USA) came the closest to bumping Lamaze from the top, but finished double clear in 43.72 seconds for second place riding Lucifer V, owned by Evergate Stables, LLC. From the lead-off position in the jump-off, Margie Engle (USA) settled for third with a double-clear effort in 45.27 seconds aboard Royce for owner Gladewinds Partners, LLC.
Mexico’s Alberto Michan stopped the clock clear in 45.69 seconds for fourth riding GC Chopin’s Bushi, owned by Iron Horse Farm, and Ben Maher (GBR) rounded out the top five with a double-clear finish in 45.80 seconds aboard Don Vito for Poden Farms.
“She is really an unbelievable horse,” said Lamaze of Fine Lady 5, the mount he piloted to an individual bronze medal at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. “I have said it before: no one wants to compare anyone to Hickstead, but she is getting there slowly. For me, it is going to be the second horse of a lifetime.”
Thursday’s victory marked Lamaze’s 25th WEF Challenge Cup win in his career, four of which were in the irons of Fine Lady 5, a 14-year-old Hanoverian mare (Forsyth FRH x Drosselklang II).
“I have been doing [the WEF Challenge Cup Series] for quite some time,” he said. “I think for [Fine Lady 5], she suits every sort of competition.”
Second place rider, Hardin Towell, was pleased with Lucifer V’s performance, saying, “We were riding for second today. I knew I wasn’t going to catch [Eric]. Fine Lady is fast, and they looked fast today. I set my plan and went as quickly as I felt I could to leave up the jumps.”
Also competing in the International Arena on Thursday, Luis Larrazabal (VEN) won the $8,000 Douglas Elliman 1.45m CSI 2* speed class riding Atlodetto FZ, owned by San Francisco Stables, LLC.
The $2,500 Engel & Völkers High Amateur-Owner Jumper speed class saw a win for Cristobal Collado (MEX) riding Creativo, owned by E2 Stables, while Emma Heise (USA) riding Broekie claimed the $1,500 Sleepy P Ranch High Junior Jumper speed class for Old Willow Farm.
Scott Stewart and Fun Named Champion Shapley’s Grooming Products High Performance Conformation Hunters
Scott Stewart of Wellington, FL rode Fun, owned by Gochman Sport Horses, LLC, to win the championship in the Shapley’s Grooming Products High Performance Conformation Hunters during WEF 5. The pair won the model, the stake, and an over fences class, earned second place in the handy, and third place under saddle for an impressive total of 35 points.
“He is really fun,” said Stewart. “He was a little tired yesterday because the weather was so hot. Yesterday wasn’t his best day, but today he was a little bit fresher and jumped better. He is a blast to ride and really sweet.”
Fun is a coming seven-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding by Chello III VDL. Stewart has campaigned the gelding since 2015 and the pair also claimed the championship in the High Performance Conformation Hunters during week one and week three of WEF.
“We did him in the Pre-Greens a couple years ago,” said Stewart. “Last year he did the Green Conformation Hunters and Becky [Gochman] also shows him in the 3’3″ Amateurs.”
Havens Schatt of Georgetown, KY and Custom Made settled for the reserve champion title with a total of 29 points. The pair won the handy and the under saddle, earned third place in the model and an over fences class, fourth place in the stake, and fifth place in another over fences class. Custom Made, owned by Shaw Johnson Price, is a 2005 Mecklenburg gelding by Chambertin that Price also shows in the Amateur-Owner division.
The fifth week of WEF continues on Friday featuring the $35,000 Illustrated Properties 1.45m CSI 5* and the $35,000 Douglas Elliman Real Estate 1.45m CSI 2* in the International Arena. Also on Friday, the Ariat National Adult Medal will decide a winner. For full results, please visit www.PBIEC.com.
Todd Minikus and Babalou 41 (Photo Credit: Ann Mari Daley)
Wellington, FL (February 8, 2017) — Sunday, February 5, 2017 proved an excellent day at the office for Todd Minikus and Babalou 41, who together won the FEI $216,000 Ariat CSI 4* Grand Prix to close out week four of the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) in Wellington, Florida. Held on the beautiful grass derby field at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center, the pair got down to business in their initial go, jumping a clear round amongst a field of 32 riders. In the final three-horse jump-off, they again made quick work of the competition by putting in another clear trip, securing the win.
“As riders we were lucky today; we had two nice Grand Prix classes that we could participate in,” Minikus said. Earlier that same afternoon, he jumped 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding Valinski S in the $160,000 Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Wellington CSI3*-W at the Palm Beach Masters at Deeridge Farms. After making a quick venue change, he produced stellar results at the FEI $216,000 Ariat CSI 4* Grand Prix. Spain’s Sergio Alvaraz-Moya claimed second place in the Ariat CSI 4* Grand Prix with G&C Unicstar D’Laumone, and U.S. young rider, 21-year-old Jennifer Gates, finished third with Pumped Up Kicks.
Minikus and Babalou 41, a 12-year-old Oldenburg mare (Balou du Rouet x Silvio I) owned by Two Swans Farm, demonstrated their combined world-class talent and experience in the Ariat CSI 4* Grand Prix, clocking the win at 38.79 seconds. For their victory, Minikus was awarded the Village of Wellington Cup and Babalou 41 was presented with the Champion Equine Insurance Jumper Style Award.
“We didn’t have a warm up class, so it was hard for a lot of the horses to come out and be right on their game,” Minikus said of the venue. “You needed a little bit of an experienced horse. The jumps were the size of a proper 4*, and maybe there wasn’t a lot of difficulty as far as riding questions, but they were proper dimensions and horses had to jump. It was difficult enough, and we had beautiful weather,” he continued. “That field is beautiful when you stand up there on the hill and look out. This was always the best polo field in maybe the world, and the footing still seems quite nice.”
The Winter Equestrian Festival, which runs through April 2, 2017 and is held at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center, is the largest and longest-running hunter/jumper show circuit in the world, with several million dollars in prize money at stake. As Minikus and his team of elite horses continue into the fifth week of competition of the season – holding numerous blue ribbons already – spectators and competitors alike will be on the lookout for what else Team Minikus has in store.
When not competing nationally and internationally, FEI Nations Cup veteran Todd Minikus offers sales and training services just minutes from the Winter Equestrian Festival show grounds. Minikus is a U.S. Pan American Games Team Bronze Medalist with well over 100 Grand Prix wins to his credit. Follow the excitement of Team Minikus on Facebook and Instagram @Todd_Minikus, or visit www.ToddMinikusShowJumping.com.
Wellington, FL – February 8, 2017 – USA’s Jessica Springsteen and Tiger Lily opened week five of the 2017 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) with victory in the $35,000 Douglas Elliman 1.45m speed class on Wednesday at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in Wellington, FL.
2012 Olympic course designer Robert Ellis (GBR) began the week with 76 entries in Wednesday’s 1.45m speed class, and had 25 clear rounds. Last to go, Springsteen guided Stone Hill Farm’s Tiger Lily to the win in 57.27 seconds. She bested the lead previously held by Leslie Howard (USA) riding Laure Sudreau’s Donna Speciale in 58.36 seconds. Brazil’s Luiz Francisco de Azevedo and Collin placed third in 59.42 seconds. Shane Sweetnam (IRL) and The Blue Buckle Group’s Cobolt finished fourth in 59.65 seconds.
“I saw a lot of rounds before I went today,” Springsteen said of her winning track. “I knew what I had to do, which is always a nice advantage of going last. I actually added strides in places where other people left out, but she is just so fast on her own. I don’t even have to kick; I just loosen the reins and she goes.”
Springsteen purchased Tiger Lily, a ten-year-old Oldenburg mare (Balou du Rouet x Domino), at the end of 2015. The pair showed in Wellington for the first time last winter and spent the 2016 season traveling around the world.
“She is very feisty,” Springsteen described. “She always wants to go, so I have to do my best to keep her stride short and together. She is jumping again tomorrow, so I was not sure if I should go forward today, but she has so much energy that it was a good course for her. She felt great.”
While previously training with Edwina Tops-Alexander and Jan Tops in Europe, Springsteen found Tiger Lily showing under Massimo Grossato of Italy.
“I actually was not even supposed to try her,” Springsteen detailed. “When Edwina and Jan were going to see her, I just decided last minute to go with them. I immediately loved her.”
Also competing in the International Arena on Wednesday, Amanda Derbyshire (GBR) and Gochman Sport Horses’ Sibell BH won the $8,000 Douglas Elliman CSI 2* 1.40m speed.
The $6,000 Illustrated Properties 1.40m speed concluded the day with a win for Ronan McGuigan (IRL) and Capall Zidane.
The 2017 Winter Equestrian Festival continues with its fifth week of competition on Thursday featuring the $130,000 Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup Round 5. For full results, please visit www.PBIEC.com.
Team Effort for Stellar and Emma Kurtz in Bruno DelGrange Large Junior Hunter 16-17 Division
Wellington, FL – February 5, 2017 – Todd Minikus (USA) and Babalou 41 concluded week four of the 2017 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) with a victory in Sunday’s $216,000 Ariat® Grand Prix CSI 4*, held on the beautiful grass derby field at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in Wellington, FL. Minikus topped a three-horse jump-off over Olympian Sergio Alvarez Moya (ESP) and G&C Unicstar de l’Aumone in second, and young rider Jennifer Gates (USA) riding Pumped Up Kicks for third.
Course designer Steve Stephens (USA) wrapped up his duties for week four with the highlight grand prix event at PBIEC’s Equestrian Village, also home to the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival. Thirty-two entries started over Stephens’ first round course, and three were able to advance to the jump-off.
First to jump clear in round one, and first to jump off, Jennifer Gates guided Evergate Stable’s Pumped Up Kicks through the short course in a steady time of 51.28 seconds, incurring two time faults to earn the third place prize.
Sergio Alvarez Moya was next to go with G&C Farm’s Unicstar de l’Aumone, clearing the jump-off track in 40.30 seconds. Last to go, Minikus and Two Swans Farm’s Babalou 41 took the win, racing through the timers in 38.79 seconds.
Minikus was awarded the Village of Wellington Cup, and Babalou 41 earned the Champion Equine Insurance Jumper Style Award, presented by Laura Fetterman. The 12-year-old Oldenburg mare (Balou du Rouet x Silvio I) showed her experience of competing around the world by heading onto the impressive field for the first time and putting in two faultless efforts.
“This was hard because they had to walk out here for the first time and be right on their game,” Minikus stated. “You needed a little bit of an experienced horse, so it worked out for us. This was a 4*, and I think it was built as a proper 4*. It was difficult enough, and we had beautiful weather. That field is beautiful when you stand up there on the hill and look out there. This was always the best polo field in maybe the world, and the footing still seems quite nice.”
G&C Unicstar de l’Aumone is just nine years old, but the Selle Francais mare (Ninio de Rox x Timorrak des Isles) has experience winning on the grass. She and Moya topped two Sparkassen Youngster Cup Qualifiers at CHIO Aachen in 2016.
“She jumps very good on grass or sand,” Moya noted. “I was in this grand prix seven or eight years ago, and I love the ring. I like the mare very much and I thought it was a really good place for her. She jumped amazing, and I am happy with her.”
Gates earned the Leading Lady Rider Award for week four, presented by Martha Jolicoeur of Douglas Elliman Real Estate, after Sunday’s top finish, and a sixth place in Thursday’s qualifier. She was thrilled with Pumped Up Kicks, her 14-year-old Brandenburg gelding (Levisto x San Juan).
“I am over the moon,” Gates smiled. “I did him in some Under 25 classes last year out on the grass field, and he was amazing. I am ecstatic with how he jumped today. It took an experienced horse for that course, which I definitely had.
“I knew these two were going to be faster than me, so my plan was to try and have a clear round and put the pressure on a tiny bit in case they had a rail, which of course they did not,” Gates continued. “This past Thursday I was sixth in the WEF Challenge Cup qualifier, and that was my biggest accomplishment with this horse so far, so to come out here and be third was a huge deal. I am thrilled to be third in great company.”
Competing on Sunday in the International Arena on the main show grounds at PBIEC, Luciana Gonzalez Guerra and Guadalupe Gonzalez’s Star Light won the $10,000 SJHOF High Junior Jumper Classic, presented by Sleepy P Ranch. Abbie Sweetnam and Chadburn Holdings’ Parco topped the $10,000 Hollow Creek Farm Medium Junior Jumper Classic, and Alexandra Markarian and Bandro were victorious in the $10,000 Equiline Medium Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic.
Team Effort for Stellar and Emma Kurtz in Bruno DelGrange Large Junior Hunter 16-17 Division
Emma Kurtz of Wellington, FL and Stellar won the championship in the Bruno DelGrange Large Junior Hunter 16-17 division on Sunday morning. The pair won the stake and the handy class, placed third and fourth over fences, and fourth under saddle. Week four was Kurtz’s second time showing Stellar.
Stellar, a coming seven-year-old Hanoverian mare by Quintender, is owned and trained by Holly Orlando. It was Orlando’s six-year-old daughter, Logan, who led the mare in for the presentation photo alongside Kurtz.
“She’s very sweet,” Orlando explained. “We enjoy having her in the barn and taking her to the ring. She’s a first year horse so I’ll show her some, and Emma will show her some. My sister, Heather Hays, also helps train her. It’s a team effort for Stellar.”
“She’s a First Year horse, so she’s a little green,” Kurtz added. “She’s just figuring it out. They said this was only her second time jumping 3’6″. She’s amazing; she’s so brave, has a great jump, and is really fun to ride.”
Raleigh Hiler of Sudbury, MA rode her own Chapman ET to reserve honors in the division. The pair earned first, second, fourth, and fifth place ribbons over fences, and a second place ribbon under saddle. Chapman ET is a nine-year-old warmblood gelding.
The 2017 Winter Equestrian Festival continues with its fifth week of competition, sponsored by Fidelity Investments®, on February 8-12, 2017. For full results and more information, please visit www.PBIEC.com.
Wellington, FL – February 4, 2017 – The team of riders Shane Sweetnam, Lindsey Tomeu, and Sedona Chamblee, team sponsors Spy Coast & Preston, and corporate sponsor Equine Tack & Nutritionals earned the top prize of $150,000 for their charity, Urban Youth Impact, on Saturday night in the 8th annual Great Charity Challenge, presented by Fidelity Investments®, at the 2017 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF).
Also competing at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in Wellington, FL on Saturday, Olympic silver medalist Kent Farrington won the $35,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic riding Sherkan d’Amaury.
The 2017 GCC donated a record $1.5 million to 35 local Palm Beach County charities, bringing the eight-year total up to $10.7 million distributed through the event to date. The winning charity received the top prize of $150,000, with a sliding scale for the balance of the proceeds down to 35th place, which wins $15,000.
The competition is held as a pro-am team relay with each team made up of junior and amateur riders competing side by side with top professionals. The event also featured a fun theme, as riders (and their horses) dressed up as characters from their favorite animated movies.
Representing Urban Youth Impact, Sweetnam, Tomeu, and Chamblee rode for team sponsor Spy Coast & Preston, and corporate sponsor Equine Tack and Nutritionals dressed as characters from The Flintstones. All three riders cleared the course without fault and clocked the fastest combined time of 85.27 seconds for the win. Sweetnam and Tomeu were also part of the winning team in 2016, while Chamblee was competing in the event for the first time.
“It is a fantastic cause, not just for our team, but for a lot of different foundations in the area,” said Sweetnam, who anchored the team as professional rider. “I do not know if there is anything else like it in the country or anywhere really. Every year we try to do our best for whatever cause we are given. Obviously the girls did a great job, and I just finished it off. They were really motoring, so it was great.”
Tomeu (23), who has been competing in the event for the past four years, stated, “Every year we really try hard to win. We put together a good team, and last year we had a great team. We really wanted to step it up and do it again, and we did, which is amazing. We were even faster this year than we were last year, which I did not think was possible. Sedona was fantastic with her switch-off. It was really amazing.”
Chamblee (15) added, “This was my first year doing the Great Charity Challenge, and it was really fun. It was a great experience, and you get to ride for an amazing charity, which is really cool. Like Lindsey said, it was just amazing.”
Representing team sponsor Spy Coast Farm, Lisa Lourie commented on her team’s win for the second year in a row.
“I think it is a great way to involve the community here with our sport, as well as for us to give back to the community,” Lourie stated. “It is a win-win for both the community and for us. When we get to be involved with either educational or urban youth organizations, we are especially happy. We are very happy to be involved with Urban Youth Impact.”
Team sponsor Monica Preston added, “I am so proud to be a part of this group, and it is really wonderful that a small charity can benefit so greatly. I am so proud of the riders, and thank you to Lisa for getting me involved in this event.”
Charity winner Urban Youth Impact’s mission is to love, equip, and empower inner-city youth and their parents to fulfill their God-given purpose. Representing the organization, volunteer Sarah Armada detailed, “It is an organization that provides a safe place for kids to go after school. They get reading support; they get the arts. There is African drumming and ballet. There are things that these children would not be otherwise exposed to. They do so much for the community, and I think this is a great way to get their name out there and just provide them with all of the resources that those kids so desperately need. This is going to make a huge difference.”
Armada continued, “It is all about building their capacity and letting the kids feel empowered and equipped so that they can go out and be successful in their community.”
Adopt a Family was the second wildcard draw of the night, and ended up in second place overall, with riders Sydney Shulman, Lilli Hymowitz, and Hannah Patten representing the charity. Team sponsor the Patten family and corporate sponsor H5 Stables supported the riders, dressed as characters from Lilo & Stitch, with a combined time of 94.02 seconds.
Representing the charity Hepzibah House, Canadian Olympian Tiffany Foster, and amateur riders Alexandra Crown and Alexandra Welles, placed third. Dressed as My Little Ponies and riding for team sponsor the Crown family and corporate sponsor Stone Hill Farm, all three ladies jumped their courses without fault and clocked a combined time of 97.47 seconds.
GCC co-founder Paige Bellissimo was thrilled with the success of the eighth annual event and praised everyone involved on a fantastic evening of sport and charitable giving.
“It is really special year after year to have so many great riders participating in the event,” Bellissimo stated. “It is amazing that people donate their time to give back. The executive directors of all of the charity organizations are the lifeblood of these communities, and it is just really amazing that we can all come together to support the community and see it grow. I want to thank the riders and the sponsors. Thank you Lisa and Monica for supporting year after year. It is so cool to see the charities and everyone’s unique way of helping. Urban Youth Impact is empowering our youth, and the youth are our future, so thanks go to them for everything they do.”
Farrington Tops Suncast® 1.50m
2016 U.S. Olympic team silver medalist Kent Farrington was the winner of week four’s $35,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic on Saturday at the Winter Equestrian Festival riding Sherkan d’Amaury. Jumping a track set by course designer Steve Stephens (USA), Farrington topped a class of 29 entries and an eight-horse jump-off.
Sherkan d’Amaury, an 11-year-old Selle Francais gelding (Kannan x Quick Star) owned by Farrington, Haity McNerney, and Daniel Crown, carried his rider to victory in a time of 39.54 seconds over the short course. Shane Sweetnam (IRL) took second and third place honors, riding the Blue Buckle Group’s Cobolt through the timers in 39.92 seconds, and stopping the clock in 40.56 seconds aboard Sweet Oak Farm and Seabrook LLC’s Main Road. Canada’s Beth Underhill finished fourth, riding Sandy Lupton’s Count Me In to a clear round over the jump-off track in 40.59 seconds.
Remarking on his winning round with Sherkan d’Amaury, Farrington stated, “For him, I just did what I thought his strengths were. I think what won the class today was the leave-out to the last fence. He has a very big stride and big scope, and he is so careful that he is actually better if I am catching every jump accelerating, or out of rhythm. I think that is where we got it today.
“I think a lot of this horse,” Farrington continued. “I had him last year, and then he had a terrible colic surgery, and he just started showing this winter two weeks ago. The first class in the week he was third, and then yesterday he was second, and today he won, so he is really on the mend and I’m happy to have him back.”
Sherkan d’Amaury has a fast pace and a unique way of going that suits Farrington’s strengths as a rider.
“He is my style. He is super careful, which I try to find in all of the horses I buy,” Farrington stated. “I try to get extreme quality, and sometimes that works against me, but in the end I think that is the way you get the best horses. They tend to be a little bit the weirdos. They are spooky and not always the easiest to ride, but that often goes hand-in-hand with an extreme horse that has that kind of blood and that kind of carefulness. It is a double-edged sword, but that is what I like to ride.”
Sherkan d’Amaury is just getting back in top form and Farrington will continue developing him throughout the winter circuit.
“I think he can jump anything,” the rider noted. “It is just a matter of building him the right way, and seeing where his confidence is, and what his body is ready for. He came off of a long gap there not doing anything all last year, so we’ll see where he goes. It is a long winter and we have lots of time to build him up, so I am looking forward to it.”
Also competing in the International Arena on Saturday, Sarah Bagworth and Goldfinder vd Hengstenpoel won the $15,000 SJHOF High Amateur-Owner Classic, presented by Engel & Völkers.
Staszak Captures Beval Palm Beach Adult Medal Victory
The Beval Palm Beach Adult Medal concluded Saturday morning with Catie Staszak of Boynton Beach, FL emerging as the winner. Staszak shows in the Adult Amateur Medals while also focusing on her career as a multimedia sports journalist. All 11 competitors participated in a jumping and a flat phase.
“Flatwork has typically been my weakness,” Staszak detailed. “The jumping phase felt phenomenal. Everything worked out well and was smooth, which is key. It wasn’t the most technical course, so it was really about position and keeping on a nice rhythm.”
Staszak was aboard Agnes Augusta, a 12-year-old Swedish Warmblood mare owned by East Wind Farm, LLC. The pair has been partnered together for about four years.
“We just click,” Staszak explained. “She’s really sensitive, and I’m a very soft rider so we get along well. She’s come so far, especially in the past year. I couldn’t be prouder of her. She’s really special, and I love her to death.”
Staszak rode in the equitation classes as a junior, but took a break from showing to get her degree in broadcast journalism at the University of Miami. She does grand prix commentary for live streaming events, which combines for a career of two of her passions – horses and journalism.
Rounding out the top three competitors were Sara Ballinger taking second place and Elissa Davis being awarded third place.
The fourth week of WEF concludes on Sunday with the $216,000 Ariat® Grand Prix CSI 4* on the grass derby field at Equestrian Village. The Bruno DelGrange Large Junior Hunter 16-17 division will award championship and reserve honors in the Rost Arena. For full results, please visit www.PBIEC.com.