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124th National Horse Show and Family Festival Wrap-Up Release, December 5-9, 2007

Wellington, FL - December 10, 2007- The 124th National Horse Show and Family Festival held hunter, jumper, and dressage competition this year from December 5-9, 2007, at the Palm Beach Polo Equestrian Center in Wellington, FL.

Eleven years ago this month in Wellington, McLain Ward lost the AGA Championships when he had one time fault and Margie Engle was the only clear round in the class. In this year's $100,000 National Horse Show Grand Prix FEI World Cup(TM) Qualifier, that situation was exactly reversed. On his new phenom Phillipa, Ward was the only clear round to win the class. Engle and Hidden Creek's Quervo Gold finished second with one time fault, while Keean White (CAN) and Vienna Rouge were third with two time faults.

The fastest four-faulter was Kent Farrington on Up Chiqui. His finish on Sunday was added to his second place finish in Friday night's grand prix to give him victory in the Rolex/USEF National Show Jumping Championship, presented by Equine Motorcoach.

Ward rode out of the eighth spot in the order. He and Phillipa made the course look easier, and Ward had to wait and see if anyone could duplicate his performance.

"She's not very experienced, but she really is a phenomenal talent," Ward said of his mount. "It's kind of exciting because obviously Sapphire is still ready for the Olympics this year and to have this horse coming along really gives me a great one-two punch."

Six horses later, Engle was so close to making a jump-off happen. She and Hidden Creek's Quervo Gold were feet above every jump, and as she rounded the turn to the last two jumps, Engle knew it would be close. She just missed a clear round by one-tenth of a second, finishing in 88.11 seconds for one time fault.

"I knew I was close," Engle admitted. "I always have to watch the time with that horse; he's a little bit of a hard horse to be quick with. Most of the long gallops were to careful verticals and with him I have to slow up a bit to verticals. After the triple, I tried to gallop up as much as I could to the oxer, and to the last plank, I had to balance up there. I tried to hug the turns as much as I could on the ends. Even when I started it, I knew it was going to be close. Even naturally faster horses were close to the time and after watching them, I knew I was going to be close."

Farrington and Up Chiqui were another pair that could threaten Ward, but it was not to be when Farrington had a rail at jump 13. His time of 84.27 seconds, however, was fast enough to put him into fourth place and secure his title of national champion.

"I felt bad because my horse really jumped his heart out today. I made a mistake at the end. He was jumping incredible and felt like he was going to win, so I felt like I let him down," Farrington commented. "Coming around the corner after the in and out, I was thinking a little about the time instead of just riding my round. I got a little bit anxious at the oxer. When I went to move up, he was split second behind my leg, and it just got too far away. I was disappointed in myself, more than anything. I'm thrilled that I won (the national championship). It's great for us to have a national championship and it's an honor to win. It doesn't really make up for that mistake (though)."

Ward has won grand prix events before without a jump-off, and was certainly not disappointed that there was no second round. "There were a few at the end that I was nervous about. I was at the gate when Kent was turning the corner here, and my heart was beating hard because he was more than likely going to have a clear round. He's a real pain in the neck in a jump-off," he joked. "It's certainly nice when the day's work can be a little shorter. Winning is winning, whether with or without a jump-off."

Winning the grand prix today and not winning the national championship was a bit of a disappointment however. "I'm thrilled that Kent won the national championship. It's a very prestigious award, and he deserves it as much as anybody. I certainly was trying to win that and it was a little disappointing not to have done that. As I always say, consistency is the most important thing and he proved that," Ward said.

Jumper Highlights: Wednesday through Saturday

In their first competition together, Lutopia and Nicole Simpson won the $5,000 Palm Beach Post National Horse Show Welcome Stake, CSI, on Wednesday. Lutopia is owned by Jane Forbes Clark of New York City.

The first in the ring and the pacesetter for the majority of the class was Eduardo Salas Herrera (MEX) on RMW New Day. They had a clear round in a time of 69.54 seconds. Their time held up through another 25 rounds until Simpson and Lutopia took away the lead. Simpson kept a fast, steady pace and made good inside turns throughout the course. Lutopia's inherent speed led them to the win.

Riding out of the 13th spot in the order, Casey Hodges of Aiken, SC, and Audio K made a good bid for victory, but fell just short with a clear round in 69.71 seconds. They ended up in fourth place.

A late challenge in the class came from Wellington resident Margie Engle on Hidden Creek's Wapino. Engle just missed Simpson's winning time and finished in 65.51 seconds.

It was a great victory for Simpson, who was all smiles after the class. This was her first competition on Lutopia, although the 14-year-old mare is a seasoned and successful competitor. Simpson admitted she was a bit intimidated to ride such a winning horse, but that she's "really, really fun" and similar to a horse she used to ride.

In her first year of seriously showing in the grand prix ranks, 19-year-old Hillary Dobbs of Sussex, NJ, is making a name for herself. The Harvard University sophomore is giving the seasoned professionals a run for their money this year, and she showed why on Thursday. She and Marengo, a 9-year-old Holsteiner gelding, caught the win by over three seconds to take the top place in the $15,000 NHS Speed Classic, CSI. Margie Engle and Hidden Creek's Calippo 12 were second, while Mario Deslauriers (CAN) on Levantos was third.

Hillary Dobbs and Marengo have made speed their forte this year, and they demonstrated their ability. Keeping a consistent, quick pace, Dobbs made short work of the course. She clipped an amazing three and a half seconds from Engle's time and finished in 67.46 seconds. She only had to wait for two more trips to see if she would lead the victory gallop. When those two had faults, Dobbs entered the ring for the awards presentation.

It was an exciting night of show jumping under the lights on Friday night. Eric Lamaze of Schomberg, Ontario, notched another great win on American turf this year. He rode Narcotique de Muze II, a 10-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare owned by Ashland Stables, to victory tonight. Lamaze finished just ahead of American sensation Kent Farrington and Up Chiqui, while Jimmy Torano of Ft. Lauderdale, FL, was third on Ormsby Hill. The class was phase one of the Rolex/USEF National Show Jumping Championship, presented by Equine Motorcoach.

The jump-off was made especially interesting by the fact that there were 15 riders competing over the shortened course. Both rounds were designed by Pierre Jolicouer of Wellington. In the first round, there were 13 numbered obstacles. There were nine four-faulters, one elimination, and two retirements. Many made it around the course without error, which set up the jump-off for some fast times.

Lamaze was very pleased with his mare, who has been a consistent winner this year at the Winter Equestrian Festival and at Spruce Meadows in Calgary, Alberta. "She competes and jumps really well on grass. Calgary has been a place she's been exposed to a lot in her career, mostly as a second horse. She really learned a lot there, and she really likes the grass and the firm footing. I'd say she's really experienced by now," he explained.

Although bringing Narcotique to the National Horse Show was not his original plan, Lamaze decided to compete in Florida when plans to return to Europe for the indoor circuit did not materialize. "I decided that was maybe telling me something, and it was time to stay home. She was fit, ready to go, and she's always jumped well here so I decided to enter," he said.

McLain Ward and the 12-year-old Selle Francais gelding Larioso, who is owned by Blue Chip Bloodstock, raced to the win on Saturday over 18 other competitors to win their first class of the week at the 124th National Horse Show and Family Festival.

Ward was able to bring home Larioso just ahead of Kent Farrington on Nerina, who finished third, and hold onto his lead despite a late, very quick challenge from Hillary Dobbs with Marengo. There were 10 clear rounds. Ward described, "In comparison, last night was quite soft, and today's speed class was a very solid track for this division. I don't think it was unfair, but it certainly was challenging."

"I'm glad Hillary took a pull because otherwise she would have won," Ward joked. "Hillary on that horse has had a wonderful season and lately has been a really strong competitor and someone you worry about coming after you in a jump-off or a speed class."

Hunter Highlights: Thursday through Sunday

The William Barlow Redfern Regular Working Hunters finished Thursday morning on the grass field, and Scott Stewart led the way to the championship with Beyond. Stewart, who owns the Hanoverian gelding, resides in Flemington, NJ, and winters in Wellington, FL. The reserve tricolor in the Regular Working Hunters was awarded to Late Entry and Hugh "Bert" Mutch. Late Entry is owned by Paradysz Farms in Mill Neck, NY.

In the Moxie Equestrian Inc. Regular Conformation Hunters, Stewart took the top tricolor once again, this time aboard Highland Park. Highland Park is owned by Fashion Farm in Philadelphia, PA. Tim Goguen piloted Angelo, owned by Katie Dinan, to the reserve championship.

The "All The Gold" Second Year Green Working Hunters were scheduled next, and Goguen took home the championship with Boulevard Deir, owned by Janet Read of Wellington, FL. Highland Park and Stewart showed in this division as well, and they came away with the reserve championship. The "All The Gold" Second Year Green Working Hunters was sponsored by Billie Steffee, owner of Craighead Farm and the esteemed stallion All The Gold.

Steffee commented, "I decided to sponsor the hunters because my major involvement in the horse show world has been in the hunter division. All The Gold was a performance horse until 1993, and he is completing his 22 years of breeding in this country at the end of 2007. I thought this would be a nice time to honor him for what he has done in the hunter world for all these years and also to say thank you to my breeding customers."

Stewart was also victorious in the Reflection Farms Green Conformation Hunters, taking home the championship with West Point. West Point is owned by Alexa Weisman of Sherborn, MA. Sandy Ferrell earned the reserve championship on Kost To Coast, owned by Ernest and Betty Oare.

The First Year Green Working Hunter division was the last hunter division to show on the grass field today, and Goguen captured another tricolor on Africa. Africa, also owned by Read, received top honors, and Stewart accrued another reserve tricolor with his grey gelding Lazy Sunday, owned by Keli Colby of Washington, DC.

The Large Junior 15 and Under Hunter division was the first to wrap up on Friday, and Jennifer Waxman of Chagrin Falls, Ohio, came away with the top tricolor aboard Saloon. Waxman, who pilots the horse for Whitney Roper, was champion with Saloon at the National Horse Show last year as well. The reserve championship was presented to Say The Word and Nicole Bellissimo of Wellington, FL. Say The Word is owned by Far Niente Equine.

In the Large Junior 16-17 Hunters, Cortright Wetherill rode to the top with Take Away. Wetherill, who is a freshman at Rollins College, hails from Wellington, FL. "My horse was awesome this weekend," stated Wetherill after the presentation. "I think I caught the flu or something at school, so I'm not feeling too well. But all fall the horse was really good, and he felt great here. He loves the field and always goes so well out there." The reserve championship in the Large Junior 16-17 Hunters went to Zenith and Katherine Newman. Newman showed the horse for owner Dee Thomas of Wellington, FL.

The Small Junior 15 and Under Hunters were next in the order and Katie Dinan of New York, NY, guided her mount Angelo to championship honors. Waxman added another tricolor to her collection and captured the reserve championship on Lights Out, owned by Nellie Ann Foosaner of Middleburg, VA.

Barri Platt took home the championship in the Small Junior 16-17 Hunters with her horse Manolo. Platt resides in Overland Park, KS. Platt also received the Grand Junior Hunter Championship for her rides aboard Manolo, and she was later presented the overall Leading Junior and Amateur-Owner Hunter Rider award, the "Ruxton and Scot To Do" Challenge Trophy, for earning the most points out of all the hunters in the junior and amateur-owner divisions.

The reserve championship in the Small Junior 16-17 Hunters went to Babett and Sara Bryan of Statesboro, GA.

The Tara Management Amateur-Owner 18-35 Hunters showcased on the Internationale Arena field next, and Stephanie Riggio was all smiles after she earned the championship aboard Indian Summer. "I had a great day today. I recovered from a little bit of an 'iffy' day yesterday," Riggio laughed. "I was a little rusty from being indoors and them coming out here; it's kind of a different mentality."

"He was absolutely amazing today. He got a 92," she grinned. "I've never gotten a 92 in my life! It was very cool. He loves to show on the field. He's on when he's out there. He just knows it's important and that people are watching, and he's such a performer. He did everything I asked for and them some. He was perfect."

Roundabout and Morgan Trexler of Reading, PA, took home the reserve tricolor in the younger Amateur-Owner Hunters. Roundabout is owned by Windswept, Inc.

Ellen Toon triumphed for both championship and reserve championship ribbons today in the Kilkenny Amateur-Owner 35 and Over Hunters. Toon, of South Salem, NY, earned top honors with her two mounts, Attache and Invincible. She was also the recipient of the Grand Amateur-Owner Hunter Championship.

Cortright Wetherill triumphed for first place honors in the $25,000 National Horse Show Hunter Championship on Saturday Eighteen-year-old Wetherill, who has been on a winning streak this year, surpassed junior, amateur-owner, and professional competitors for the championship's blue ribbon win. Held in the Internationale Arena, 37 entries participated in the first round of the National Horse Show Hunter Championship. The top 12 horse and rider combinations then returned for the second round of competition.

Wetherill, who scored an 89 in the first round, executed a beautiful ride aboard his horse Take Away. The pair revisited the arena ninth in the order for the second round, and Take Away succeeded for another stunning performance. As the duo trotted out of the arena, a score of 90 flashed on the scoreboard. Their total of 179 ranked them at the top of the leader board and held up for the overall win. Wetherill and Take Away took home the top award and $7,500 in prize money.

"I feel great!" smiled Wetherill after his victory gallop. "This was my last official class with him, so it was pretty awesome to win. Everybody rode so well, so it was pretty exciting to come out on top. This is my last show as a junior and my last junior class, so this was a great way to finish the year."

The Bainbridge Farm Adult Hunters concluded for championship honors in the Rost Arena. In the Bainbridge Farm 18-35 Adult Hunters, Stella Blue and Sloan Brown of Katonah, NY, came away with the tricolor. The reserve championship was presented to Sea Walker and Nicole Oliynyk of Franklin, MA.

In section A of the Bainbridge Farm Over 35 Adult Hunters, Norlando and Marsia Holzer of New York, NY, were awarded the championship. Regall and Bruce Duchossois of Aiken, SC, took home the reserve tricolor. In section B of the Older Adult Hunters, Special K and Lora Schultz were awarded the championship. Schultz resides in Wellington. FL. The reserve championship went to Orka and Laurie Stevens of Boca Raton, FL.

Large Ponies, sponsored by William A. Marquard, competed at 8:00 a.m. on Sunday morning and Maggie Gampfer guided Andaba to championship honors. After a successful weekend, the pair received the top tricolor. Fifteen-year-old Gampfer resides in Wellington, FL, and attends Palm Beach Central High School. The reserve championship in the Large Pony Hunters went to Follow The Laughter and Victoria Colvin of Loxahatchee, FL. Colvin piloted Follow The Laughter for owner Scott Stewart of Flemington, NJ.

Medium Pony Hunters were next in the order of go, and Colvin added to her ribbon collection with two more tricolors. The 10 year old rode Cortina to the championship, and her second mount, Allure, won the reserve. Allure is owned by Richard Prant of Flemington, NJ.

Colvin and her mount Ballou were champions in the Small Pony Hunters and were awarded the Grand Pony Hunter Championship. The reserve championship for the Small Pony Hunters was presented to Hi Lite and Lucille Oken of Charlotte, NC.

The 124th National Horse Show and Family Festival concluded on Sunday at the Palm Beach Polo Equestrian Club in Wellington, FL. The show has been an annual tradition since 1883, and participants at the National Horse Show look forward to future competitions in the years to come.


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