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Top Show Jumpers Vie for $600,000 at FTI Winter Equestrian Festival FTI Finale Grand Prix CSI5*

WELLINGTON, Fla., Mar. 19--Forty of the world's top riders, including 17 Olympians, will jump for $600,000 at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center on Saturday night, Mar. 21.

FTI Consulting is sponsoring the $400,000 Finale Grand Prix CSI 5* at the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival which is also the final event of the $200,000 FTI Rider Challenge.

The Grand Prix is the richest ever held in Wellington and, combined with the Rider Challenge, will make it the richest pay day in USA jumping. Guillherme Jorge of Brazil, the course designer for the 2005 and 2007 FEI World Cup Finals in Las Vagas, has designed the Finale course.

There will be a Salute to 2008 Olympians, a parade of convertible autos to carry around the International Arena three riders from the USA's gold medal team, Beezie Madden, McLain Ward and Laura Kraut, three from the Canadian silver medal team, Eric Lamaze, Ian Millar and Mac Cone, two from Great Britain, Nick Skelton and Ben Maher, plus individual riders Ljubov Kochetova of Russia and Pablo Barrios of Venezuela.

A family festival with face painters, bounce house, street performers and a pipe and drum band will begin an hour before the first horse is scheduled to enter the ring at 7:30 p.m.

The event is a highlight of 12 weeks of WEF that ends on Sunday, March 29.

Riders from 11 nations have earned points at each week's grand prix events to qualify to be one of the 40 starting combinations.

The winner will earn $120,000, $88,000 for second, $52,000 for third with payment down to 12th place of $8,000.

Those same grand prix plus 11 weeks of the WEF Challenge Cup have been used to earn points for the FTI Rider Challenge in which $100,000 is awarded to the winner, $50,000 for second place, $30,000 for third place and $20,000 for fourth.

Sydney 2000 Olympian Lauren Hough of Wellington finished at the top of the qualifying list and is also at the top of the latest FTI Rider Challenge standings with two competitions to go. In second place in both standings is Rodrigo Pessoa of Brazil, the 2004 individual Olympic gold medalist, while 2004 and 2008 Olympic team gold medal winner Beezie Madden of Cazenovia, N.Y. is in third place in the rider challenge. She won the title in 2008.

The Finale Grand Prix will be broadcast live on the Internet at http://www.equestriansport.com for $19.95.

It will also be televised on Sunday on WHDT Channel 44 throughout the counties of Palm Beach, Broward and Dade and also available on DirecTV Channel 44 and Comcast Cable Channel 438 in Palm Beach and ATT Channel 1044 in Dade, and WHDN Channel 26 and ATT Channel 26 in the Boston area.

For more information and VIP seating reservations telephone 561.793.5867 or go to http://www.equestriansport.com.


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