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AHJF Dinner Party Delights 400 Sponsors at AHJF Hunter Classic Spectacular

WELLINGTON, FL – February 28, 2007 – The American Hunter-Jumper Foundation (AHJF) dinner party in Wellington, Florida, on Saturday, February 24, provided an impressive setting and haute cuisine for 400 guests as they watched the AHJF Hunter Classic Spectacular of Palm Beach. The dinner was held in the Jockey Club overlooking the Internationale Arena at the Palm Beach Polo Equestrian Club. “The atmosphere when you walked in the Jockey Club was spectacular,” enthused trainer Emily Smith of Ashland Farms. “It was a beautiful sea of white orchids and candles.”

Elegance permeated the party, from the artwork on the invitation by Jan Lukens, which featured an oil painting of 2006 AHJF Hunter Spectacular Champion Sandy Ferrell on Late Entry, to the stunning Jockey Club décor decked out in trendy chocolate brown tablecloths with Wedgwood blue napkins and fantastic centerpieces of three-foot tall white orchids in brown leather baskets accented with chartreuse moss and surrounded by twinkling votive candles. Kim Tudor of Stadium Jumping, Inc. coordinated the party.

Mr. and Mrs. S. Craig Lindner and Mr. and Mrs. Jeremy Jacobs were Honorary Chairpersons of the event, which provided an evening of equestrian excellence in support of the American Hunter-Jumper Foundation, Inc. The dinner party is one of the AHJF’s major fundraisers, and the pavilion was filled with generous sponsors who purchased tables in support of the Foundation.

In addition to the 400 guests at the AHJF dinner party, more than 900 guests were in attendance at numerous chalet parties around the Internationale Arena. Chalet hosts included Tavern on the Green, Zada Enterprises LLC, International Polo Club Palm Beach, and Palm Beach Polo. Additionally, over 200 box seat holders enjoyed the sensational view from their premier seats and more than 500 spectators thrilled to the action from the grassy berms. All told, an audience of more than 2,000 gathered for this highly charged night of hunter competition. “There was an amazing number of people for a hunter event,” noted Ms. Tudor.

While competitors walked the course, guests in the Jockey Club enjoyed their arrival with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres served butler style. Delicacies included Sui Mai, Thai Spring Roll, Beef Franks in Puff Pastry, and Phyllo Shells with warm Brie, guava and macadamia nuts. Spencer Woods’s lovely piano and guitar music complemented the sophisticated aura as guests, excited about the upcoming competition, mingled in the chandelier-lit glow.

As the rider parade and awards presentations launched the action in the Internationale Arena, guests dined on a fabulous buffet menu created by Ken-Rose Catering, which featured a colorful salad station artistically displayed, carving stations for the Chili Rubbed Rib Eye with Chimmichuri sauce and Chicken Puttanesca, and Thai vegetables with rice. A selection of three heavenly desserts capped the delicious fare – chocolate ganache cheesecake, old-fashioned apple tart, and truffle mousse.

“It’s the highlight of our season,” said Kevin Kenny of Ken-Rose Catering. “We just love coming here. I bring the old world charm from Ireland to add to this beautiful night. Tonight was terrific. Absolutely flawless.”

Many guests coveted the orchid centerpieces supplied by Wellington Orchids. Samantha Wellington, president of the company, hand-selected approximately 80 Phalaenopis orchids grown in northern Florida for the event, all of them in bloom and over three feet tall with the spike. “Orchids bring class and stature, elegance and a touch of glamour,” Wellington said. She credited Kim Tudor with establishing the orchid tradition for the AHJF dinner, and noted, “Orchids are the signature flower of this event.”

The elegance of the dinner was punctuated with the cheers, screams, and applause from the appreciative hunter aficionados as they watched an engaging fast-paced program that commenced with the singing of the National Anthem by Brian Lookabill and the ringmaster’s call by horn blower Kent Moeller, and featured spectacular hunter competition, the Strapless Retirement Ceremony, the final round of eight horses, and the awards presentations.

Katie Robinson, an amateur rider for Deeridge Farms, owned by Honorary Chairpersons Mr. and Mrs. Jeremy Jacobs, commented on the competition, saying, “I just love the fact that everybody gets to compete on the same level playing field. My daughter, 10, thinks ponies should be in! I certainly wish I could have qualified to compete tonight. What a great event the AHJF puts on!”

Between rounds, one of the highlights of the evening was the splendid retirement ceremony for Strapless, the talented mare trained by Tom Wright that won the AHJF Hunter Classic Spectacular in 2001, 2002, and 2003 ridden by Emily Williams for owner Clara Lindner, and claimed victory again in 2004 with owner/rider Clara Lindner.

Wright explained that he and the Lindner family had been talking about retiring Strapless at this event for a long time and he was pleased that they were able to have the ceremony on this fabulous evening. “This venue is so special to us. It’s the greatest venue. We’re thrilled to do it here,” Wright said. “Strapless is in great form. She’s on vacation before breeding.” Wright noted that Wellington Florist took four days to create the amazing blanket of roses for Strapless – they used 96 dozen roses, with each rose individually wired to the blanket. “It’s never been done before,” shared Wright. “A scrim covered in roses – no horse ever had a blanket like this. She deserved this.”

Frances Lindner, Honorary Chair of the event, was also thrilled with the presentation. Her horse had won the competition four times, and the last time was with her daughter, she noted. “It is probably in the whole U.S. the event that showcases hunters. It is the premiere marquee event. Fabulous!” enthused Mrs. Lindner. “It’s a real honor and only fitting to retire Strapless here.”

Highlighting the action in the ring, this year’s winner of the AHJF Hunter Classic Spectacular of Palm Beach proved to be Tim Goguen riding Safari owned by Janet Read. They were the last duo of the final eight to jump the course and they wowed the crowd and the judges.

Oliver Kennedy, who was announcing the competition this year, was thrilled with the exciting conclusion. “The last horse goes and wins – what a finish,” Kennedy enthused. “They came right at us at the last jump. It was great. From the tower, we could see the tiers of people watching hunters. It’s the biggest crowd I’ve ever seen watching hunters.”

In the awards ceremonies for Tim Goguen and Safari, Cynthia Hadfield of CM Hadfield’s Saddlery, presented Goguen with a custom saddle. Hadfield also supplied the wine glasses on all the dining tables for the AHJF dinner – the beautiful glasses were etched with the CM Hadfield’s Saddlery logo. Ms. Hadfield commented on the dinner party, saying, “It was lovely. The food was exceptional. It was a sold-out evening and it was great. It was very well attended and everyone was so appreciative.”

Stadium Jumping, Inc. President Gene Mische also participated in the awards ceremonies. The AHJF donated the winner’s Let’s Dance Trophy in his honor. Mische was pleased with the overall event. “It was a very nice night,” Mische said. “It was good to see horses open up and run and jump. The horse that won did a wonderful job – he showed how it’s done. So did all the others. They showed what their skill is – to run and jump, not step over the fence. I love to do this event for hunters – showcase them like this.”

AHJF Executive Director Michele Perla summed up the successful night, saying, “It was a great evening. The Jockey Club was packed, outside was packed – I saw people here at 4:30 in the afternoon staking out their territory with coolers! It’s become an annual event people look forward to. Our format change this year kept the pace moving. We have a great partnership between the AHJF and Stadium Jumping. Everybody here tonight is on board to benefit the sport and to support the sport. The ring crew was amazing. The horses went well. The riders had to ride to the jumps. It was great!”

Guests at the American Hunter-Jumper Foundation dinner party included: Jane Forbes Clark, Kelly Klein, Mark Badgeley, James Mischka, Melissa Cohn, Jimmy and Danielle Torano, Alice Hooker, Jay Golding, Emily Smith, Gwen Martin, Fred and Wildy Peterson, Janet Read, Steve Williams, Steve Levine, Richard Schechter, Jennifer Reid, Clare Bronfman, Bruce Duchossois, Michael Taylor, Nancy Stewart, Tracy Topping, Joan Jacobs, Gary Duffy, Jeff Gogel, Scott Williamson, Marley Goodman, Matt Morrissey, Gene Mische, Tim Bolton, Beth Johnson, Janice Aron, Tim and Nancy Hooker, Caroline Moran, and Betty Moran.

PHOTO CAPTION: Mrs. S. Craig Lindner, Honorary Chairperson of the AHJF Hunter Classic Spectacular of Palm Beach, with Stephanie Ingram.

PHOTO CREDIT: Susan Egan Photography


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