Cherri Reiber and Zerbino Interagro at the 2013 Challenge of the Americas. (Photo courtesy of JRPR)
Wellington, FL (March 14, 2013) – Nowhere was the beauty and power of dressage put to better use than on Saturday evening, March 9th during the 2013 Challenge of the Americas (COTA), where quadrille teams of Grand Prix horses danced elaborate routines to music to support breast cancer research and awareness. Zerbino Interagro, ridden by trainer Cherri Reiber, demonstrated the baroque elegance of Lusitano dressage horse as they rode for Team International and helped boost the team to the highest score and the win during the 11th Annual Challenge of the Americas at the Jim Brandon Equestrian Center in West Palm Beach, Florida.
“Lusitanos like Zerbino Interagro are a special treat. It is a beautiful breed to have participate in such an historically haute ecole performance. It really hearkens back to the origins of dressage and classical horsemanship,” said COTA organizer, Mary Ross.
The equestrian Who’s Who list of COTA riders and guests, many whose lives have been touched by cancer, created a memorable evening of horsemanship in support, through Play for P.I.N.K., of the important work of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF). The Challenge, which celebrated its 11th year, has raised upwards of $1.8 million in funds directly benefiting BCRF research.
“I just keep wanting to raise more,” said a deeply appreciative Ross, who started the event in memory of her late mother, Jean Cruse, and her battle against cancer. “I am so appreciative of the riders who come and perform. They do it simply because cancer in some way has touched their lives. They get nothing in return but dinner.”
The real winners, in addition to the beneficiaries, were the spectators, who were swept off their feet by the elegant equestrian synchronicity of the winning Team International sponsored by the Seley Parker Group of Merrill Lynch: Todd Flettrich, Devon Kane, Susanne Hamilton, Nancy Later, Sharon McCusker and Cherri Reiber made mastering the quadrille pattern created by coaches and choreographers Ruth Hogan-Poulsen and Erin Swaney look effortless. Hogan-Poulsen’s musical compilation included hits by recent Oscar-winner Adele, as well as P!nk, David Guetta, and Bruno Mars.
The Challenge of the Americas began in 2002 as a luncheon exhibition at the Palm Beach Dressage Derby to its position today as a ‘must’ on the Florida equestrian scene’s March calendar. Each year’s COTA features dressage alongside another equestrian sport, and this year’s spotlight was on bridleless reining performances with brothers Trevor and Rick Steed, and the special ‘return to the saddle’ by Mason Phelps, alternate for the 1968 US Olympic Three-Day Team, retired from the irons for 15 years. Phelps performed a disco Pas de Deux with US Olympic Bronze Medalist Debbie McDonald that drew cheers from appreciative fans.
Interagro Lusitanos, breeders of Zerbino Interagro were thrilled that one of their horses was on hand to contribute to the fund raising event. “We love to showcase these talented horses and it is even more exciting when it is for such a good cause,” said Cecilia Gonzaga, the Managing Director for Interagro Lusitanos in Itipira, Brazil.
About Interagro Lusitanos
Founded in 1975 by Dr. Paulo Gavião Gonzaga to preserve the Lusitano breed, Interagro Lusitanos is now recognized as the world’s largest breeder and exporter of Lusitano horses. Dr. Gonzaga started with a small band of four mares and one stallion imported to Brazil from the breed’s native Portugal; to date over 600 horses populate the 1200-acre ranch outside São Paulo. Today, Cecilia Gonzaga manages the farm and operations. Interagro Lusitanos are handled, prepared, and evaluated from birth, with a handful of the best stock presented at auction each year. Interagro hosts guest at the farm with their Destination Lusitano program. For more information on Destination Lusitano or to learn more about Interagro Lusitanos, visit their website at www.lusitano-interagro.com.
For more information contact:
Johnny Robb – JRPR, Inc.
Wellington, FL – February 18, 2013 – The international quadrille team sponsored by The Seley Parker Group of Merrill Lynch plans to give their competitors a run for their money at The Challenge of the Americas (COTA) presented by SSG Gloves on Saturday, March 9.
Team International The Seley Parker Group of Merrill Lynch has been practicing an intricate quadrille for The Challenge and its 11th anniversary return as a one-of-a-kind affair highlighting the equestrian sport of dressage. Competing riders include the “Who’s Who” of top equestrian competitors in the United States, Canada, Latin America and Europe riding in team quadrilles to Play for P.I.N.K. to help raise funds for breast cancer research.
Team International is comprised of dressage stars Todd Flettrich, Catherine Haddad-Staller, Susanne Hamilton, Nancy Later, Sharon McCusker and Cherri Reiber. The coaches for the team are Ruth Hogan-Poulsen and Erin Swaney.
Josh Parker, one of the principals of The Seley Parker Group, said it’s their seventh year to sponsor the event. “The Seley Parker Group of Merrill Lynch is extremely proud to once again support the International Team and The Challenge of the Americas,” he said. “Raising awareness and helping find a cure for such a terrible disease should be one of everyone’s top priorities.”
Susanne Hamilton, a United States Dressage Federation (USDF) Gold Medalist and one of the team riders, said she went to her first Challenge of the Americas six years ago with her friend, Ingrid Lind, who lost her fight with breast cancer three years later.
“This is close to my heart,” she said. “I’d like to dedicate my ride to someone this year who’s fighting hard. She’s in Britain and she’s a Grade II para-rider who is dying from this,” she continued with a hitch in her voice. “Her name is Gwenllian Hughes. I want to dedicate this to her.”
Quadrille rider Sharon McCusker, a USEF long listed FEI Grand Prix competitor and trainer, also believes in the cause. “I’m delighted to be involved with this benefit,” she said. “Almost all of us have lost somebody who has been affected by breast cancer.”
One of the Team International coaches, Ruth Hogan-Poulsen, who creates freestyles for every level of dressage rider, said she is happy and honored to be a part of The Challenge of the Americas. “It’s impressive and shows the importance of the cause when six professionals and two choreographers take time from their schedules at least once a week to show their dedication to COTA,” she said. “As a choreographer and music editor, it’s a fun challenge to create for both riders and spectators alike.”
The other coach and choreographer, Erin Swaney, an FEI rider and trainer, said she started helping with The Challenge in response to COTA organizer Mary Ross’ request.
“I always went to The Challenge and one year Mary needed somebody to coach one of the teams and she asked me to do it,” she said. “I had watched it for years and I always thought of things that would look different and amazing for the spectators.”
She said that since she has been one of the coaches for the quadrilles, she strives to make the choreography fresh and jots down ideas for the freestyle throughout the year, paying special attention to visual excitement from every angle for the audience.
“It’s funny because every year the riders think it’s crazy and they say they can’t do it but in the end, everyone is surprised,” she laughed. “Last year the team was so cute. I gave them the pattern and they gave me THAT look, but in the end it all came together. This year it’s a whole new team and they have a really great dynamic. When we walked the pattern the first time it was hilarious but it all seems to work out in the end. I like how the whole thing unfolds and how each person comes together for the team.”
Aside from the serious theme of fundraising for breast cancer research, fun is a central theme to all the riders on the team.
“I did it once before and it was a really fun experience,” Grand Prix dressage rider and trainer Todd Flettrich said. “Everybody gets together to ride and it’s for a good cause. I enjoy the sense of camaraderie when we are all for the same team. It’s great because it’s for the cause and not for yourself.”
Catherine Haddad-Staller, a two-time Grand Prix winner in the U.S. and a USDF Gold Medalist, agreed. “I think it’s a worthy cause and I am quite excited to be a part of the international team,” she said.
Cherri Reiber, an FEI trainer and competitor, added she is also involved with the quadrille to support the cause. “We’re having a ball,” she said. “It’s really been fun.”
This is Nancy Later’s first year to participate as a rider in the quadrille and she said she is helping support organizer Mary Ross in her effort to fund breast cancer research. Later is a USDF Bronze, Silver and Gold Medalist.
“I think Mary’s done a great job for years and we love going to watch and I always wanted to be part of a team so it’s very exciting,” she said. “We’re a newbie team. So far we are having a great time. We can be partners instead of competitors so it’s really fun. It’s important that we remember to thank our sponsor, Merrill Lynch, too.”
Parker from the Seley Parker Group of Merrill Lynch added, “This event, with all of its equestrian pageantry, is always a blast and raises considerable funds for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.”
The Challenge of The Americas (COTA) presented by SSG Gloves, known throughout the equestrian world for its spectacular performances on horseback, returns for its 11th anniversary to continue its fight against breast cancer. This annual fundraiser is a one-of-a-kind affair that highlights the equestrian sport of dressage. Competing riders include the “Who’s Who” of top equestrian competitors in the United States, Canada, Latin America and Europe.
There are few, if any, places throughout the world where an audience can delight in the performances of such a large and distinguished group of riders and their magnificent equine partners. The Challenge of The Americas’ teams of international riders compete in quadrilles to world-class music and choreography in an effort to raise money to help find a cure for breast cancer. Proceeds benefit the Breast Cancer Research Foundation through Play for P.I.N.K.
Saturday, March 9, 2013
5:30 p.m. Cocktails and hors d’Oeuvres
6:15 p.m. Opening Ceremonies
6:25 p.m. Reining Freestyles and Pas de Deux
6:45 p.m. Quadrille Team Challenge
7:30 p.m. Award Presentation
7:45 p.m. The Challenge Gala: Dinner and Dancing
Back on Track Products
Cunningham & Cunningham Livestock, Inc.
International Polo Club Palm Beach
Merrill Lynch, The Seley Parker Group
Red Barn Feed & Supply
United States Dressage Federation
Wellington Classic Dressage
8067 Montserrat Place
Wellington, FL 33414
(561) 251-7945 Anglot@aol.com
VIP Tables of 8:
Gold Patron $6,500 per table
Silver Patron $4,500 per table
Bronze Patron $2,000 per table
VIP Individual Seating:
Competition and Gala (includes dinner and dancing) $250 per person
Competition (includes hors d’oeuvres and cash bar) $100 per person
General Admission seating $20 per person at the gate
Children 12 and under admitted free (General Admission)
Play for P.I.N.K. (Prevention, Immediate diagnosis, New technology, Knowledge) is a grassroots organization dedicated to raising funds to fight breast cancer, by creating and promoting awareness of breast cancer through sporting and lifestyle events including men’s and women’s golf tournaments, tennis, swimming, card games, equestrian events, and shopping benefits. Our commitment is to contribute 100% of all funds raised to our beneficiary, The Breast Cancer Research Foundation. In 2012, PFP donated $4 million to BCRF for a cumulative total of $29.75 million. For more information about PFP, visit playforpink.org.
W. Springfield, MA (December 23, 2011) – Fans at the 2011 Massachusetts Equine Affaire were on their feet at the Pfizer Fantasia musical equine celebration thanks to a thrilling performance by two talented and stunning Interagro Lusitanos. International rider and trainer Cherri Reiber presented a tandem demonstration at the Equine Affaire that showcased the magnificent Lusitano breed and their talent for performing upper level dressage movements.
Interagro Lusitanos also had a booth at the premier equestrian gathering, and thanks to Reiber’s exciting demonstration the booth was the place to be as Equine Affaire attendees swarmed it to learn more about the Interagro Lusitano. “Cherri’s demonstration was a huge crowd pleaser and certainly generated a lot of excitement that spilled over to our booth,” said Cecilia Gonzaga, Manager of Interagro Lusitanos in Brazil.
Reiber is an FEI level dressage trainer and rider who trained both horses, Zerbino Interagro and Vistor Interagro, to do the tandem driving. Reiber, who is based out of Southwest Ranches, Florida, competes on the Wellington show circuit and in 1999 was named the State Line Tack/USET Grand Prix Champion with her horse G Tudor. Reiber and G Tudor also attended the 2000 World Cup Dressage Final in Hertogenbosch, Netherlands.