WELLINGTON, Fla., Jan. 13--Perfect sunny South Florida weather and spectacular competition kicked off the 2009 FTI Winter Equestrian Festival at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center.
Margie Engle and Hidden Creek's Tosca won the top prize of $9,000 in the opener to the $30,000 Braman Motor Cars WEF Challenge Cup in Round 1 on Thursday, Jan. 8. Only 0.109 secs separated Engle's win from Georgina Bloomberg and her ride on Curius, placing second to win $6,600.
The $30,000 Braman Motor Cars WEF Challenge Cup Round 2 out of a total of 11 will be this Thursday, Jan. 15 at 1PM.
McLain Ward jumped Rothchild to the first $25,000 Fidelity Investments 1.50-meter Classic on Saturday to win $7,5000. Ward is looking to do well again this Saturday, Jan. 17 as the 10-week 1.50-meter Fidelity Investments Classic continues.
Sunday's twin bill of the $25,000 Gold Coast Feed Speed Derby and the $25,000 Gold Coast Feed Six-Bar competition gave both Canada's Mario DesLauriers and Jimmy Torano top prizes of $7,500.
The long Derby course of 21 jumps designed by Steve Stephens proved to be a challenge to the field of 20 riders and exciting for the crowd that came out in the perfect South Florida weather. DesLauriers' ride on the quick mare Lutopia gave him a 2.088 secs lead over second place winner Leslie Howard on Lennox Lewis 2.
Torano and his mount Heechhiem's Tampa showed off for the crowd by clearing the colossal 6ft. 3 ins. vertical for the win in the six-bar competition.
Week two will see the first grand prix of FTI WEF, with the $50,000 Equisport Agency Grand Prix on Sunday, Jan. 18 at 1:00 PM. First Place will receive $15,000.
Riders and spectators gave rave reviews to the $10 million makeover of the PBIC seen throughout the show grounds with rave reviews. Top international riders, excellent horses, and world-class facilities are what are expected at the world's largest and longest running horse show and this year is not disappointing. This is the 30th anniversary of WEF and is offering a record of more than $5.5 million in prize money.
PBIEC INFORMATION & TICKETS: http://equestriansport.com
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THE FACILITY: The Palm Beach International Equestrian Center is home to the Winter Equestrian Festival and the site of the first outdoor Nations Cup held in the United States. The competition areas include the 360' x 280' all-weather International Arena, the Bertalan DeNemethy Arena, Mogavero Ring and Grand Hunter Field in addition to several other competition rings. The competition and warm up rings have all-weather footing. Amenities include the International Club, refreshment and shopping areas.
DIRECTIONS: From the Florida Turnpike south, take Exit #93, Lake Worth Blvd., and travel west, crossing over US 441. Travel five miles to South Shore Blvd., turn right on South Shore and proceed one mile to Pierson Road, then turn left at the light. Spectator Entrance is first left, Equestrian Club Road.
From Interstate I-95, take Exit #49. Travel west on Forest Hills Blvd. 11 miles to South Shore Blvd. Turn left on South Shore and follow to Pierson Road. Turn right at the light on Pierson. Spectator Entrance is first left, Equestrian Club Road.
FOOD: A diverse menu of food and beverages is available at the vendor courtyard and at vendor areas around the International Arena, and are open during show hours.
SHOPPING: The vendor courtyard and individual booths around the International Arena offer equestrian equipment, apparel, jewelry, home furnishings and more.
CAR RENTAL: Enterprise Rent-a-Car for your car rental needs. Call 1-800-593-0505 or go online to enterprise.com and use the WEF reference number 41W0087 and the PIN; win for a discount.
HOTELS: Hampton Inn and Suites Wellington
2155 Wellington Green Drive, Wellington, FL 561-472-9696
(Closest hotel, just two miles from show grounds)
Hampton Inn Lake Worth Road
8205 Lake Worth Road, Lake Worth, FL 561-472-5980
(New location just five miles from Wellington)
Hampton Inn West Palm Beach
Okeechobee Blvd. at Jog Rd.
2025 Vista Parkway, West Palm Beach, FL 561-682-9990
(Just 12 miles away at Emerald Dunes)
RV: For recreational vehicle rentals and full hook ups at on the PBIEC show grounds weekly, monthly and seasonal call Gigi at RV sales +1 954 583-3382 or go to: http://www.rvsalesofbroward.com
GOLF CARS: Dever, Inc., the Official & Exclusive Supplier of Golf Cars. Orders and information at http://www.deverinc.com
or telephone Dever Inc.'s PBIEC office at 859-509-7265 or the home office at 800-714-2201.
HORSE TRANSPORTATION: BROOK LEDGE, INC. WEF Official Horse Transportation. Daily service to Ocala, vans based in Wellington, one horse or van load, all trips expedited, Florida serviced year round, dozens of trips weekly. Quotes, questions, call: Andrea 800-523-8143 or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo: Canada's Mario Deslauriers aboard Lutopia won the $25,000 Gold Coast Feed Speed Derby at the first headline event of the 2009 FTI Winter Equestrian Festival Sunday. © 2008 Roxane Theidel-ESP
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<a href="http://www.equestrianmag.com/article/fti-winter-equestrian-festival-01-09.html">FTI Winter Equestrian Festival Opening Week Successful</a> ~ EquestrianMag.com