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Winnner of 2007 Challenge of the Americas: Team Can/Am SSG Gloves

WELLINGTON, FL – March 11, 2007 – With a goose-bump raising six-horse musical freestyle that rocked the house with a soundtrack mixed from Jock Jam and the film “The Full Monty,” Team Can/Am SSG Gloves clinched the heavily weighted Quadrille phase and emerged the winner of the 2007 PhelpsSports.com Challenge of the Americas presented by Collecting Gaits Farm.

Team USA Purina Mills placed second. Team International Morgan Stanley earned third.

Showcasing show jumping and Grand Prix dressage under klieg lights on the massive stadium polo field at International Polo Club Palm Beach, the spectacular fundraiser for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation was held on Saturday night, March 10, 2007, in Wellington, Florida. More than 3,000 spectators enjoyed nearly three hours of world-class equestrian sport and entertainment. A gala dinner/dance after the competition for 685 patrons and sponsors capped the extravaganza.

Three teams vied in three rounds of competition, which included a high jump contest and two dressage musical freestyle formats – the two-horse Pas de Deux and the six-horse Quadrille. The high jump and Pas de Deux were each weighted 25% and the Quadrille counted for 50% of the overall score.

Team Can/Am SSG Gloves placed third in the high jump (55 points) for a score of 1; they earned second place in the Pas de Deux (92.54%) for a score of 2; and won the Quadrille (93.3%) for a score of 8, securing overall victory with a score of 11.

Going into the Quadrille phase, Team USA Purina Mills was in the lead, having won the first two phases. In the high jump, they were tied for first with Team International (60 points) but broke it with a tiebreaker double-clear round and won, earning a score of 4. They also won the Pas de Deux (93.76%) for another score of 4, but ended up third in the Quadrille (91.2%) for a score of 2, and finished in second place overall with a total score of 10.

Team International Morgan Stanley tied with Team USA in the high jump (60 points) but in the tiebreaker round had a rail down and ended up second for a score of 2. They placed third in the Pas de Deux (86.8%) for a score of 1, and second in the Quadrille (92.18%) for a score of 4, which placed them third overall with a score of 7.

The Gold Medal winning Team Can/Am SSG Gloves was comprised of show jumpers Eric Lamaze and Ainsley Vince, and dressage riders Shannon Dueck, Chris Von Martels, Denielle Gallagher, Tina Irwin, Jaimey Irwin, Daphne Haagmans, Lisette Milner and Suzanne Dansby Phelps.

The Silver Medal winning Team USA Purina Mills members were show jumpers Todd Minikus and Candice King, and dressage riders Betsy Steiner, George Williams, Lynda Alicki, Pamela Goodrich, Chris Hickey, Susan Jaccoma, and Tami Hoag.

The Bronze Medal winning Team International Morgan Stanley was composed of show jumpers Eric Flameng and Darragh Kerins, and dressage riders Marco Bernal, Patrick Burssens, Silke Rembacz, Karen Lipp, Kathy Priest, Todd Flettrich, and Kelley Corrigan.

Team USA Wins High Jump

The event kicked off with the high jump phase. The high jump designed by Steve Stephens started at 5’, was then raised to 5’6”, and finally to 6’ as the two show jumpers on each team aimed to clear it. Each clear on a first attempt earned 10 points.

Both riders on all three teams cleared the fence at 5’ and 5’6”, but at 6’, the first rail fell for Team Can/Am when Eric Lamaze tumbled the top bar. Lamaze cleared it on the second attempt and earned 5 points.

After the 6’ round, there was a tie –Team USA and Team International had both earned 60 points, while Team Canada totaled 55 points. To break the tie and determine the winner of the phase, the bar was set at 6’6”, and all three teams jumped again.

Team USA’s Candice King and Todd Minikus both cleared the jump for 10 ‘bonus’ points each. Team International ran into some bad luck when the horse ridden by Darragh Kerins of Ireland refused the jump and crashed it, causing the rider to withdraw, but his partner Eric Flameng of Belgium cleared it for 10 bonus points. Team Canada finished the phase with Lamaze going clear, but Ainsley Vince had the top rail down, finishing the phase with 10 bonus points.

The double-clear from Team USA broke the tie with Team International (bonus points were not tallied in the final score) and gave them victory for the phase.

As winners of the high jump, Team USA was awarded 4 points. In second place, Team International was awarded 2 points. Third placed Team Can/Am earned 1 point.

Since the packed tiers of vibrantly cheering fans obviously were thrilled with the high jump phase, an ‘individual’ jump-off was staged. Team USA’s King aboard Coco Cabana faced off against Team Can/Am’s Lamaze riding Sun at a breathtaking 6’ 9”. King cleared the jump, while Lamaze had it down, giving Team USA the ‘individual’ win. No points were awarded, but the crowd screamingly loved it!

While the jump was dismantled and the field was readied for dressage, Katherine Bateson-Chandler rode Jane Forbes Clark’s gray gelding Ranier, a Team Bronze veteran with Robert Dover at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, in a lovely demonstration freestyle while announcer Brian O’Connor described the Grand Prix movements.

Team USA Wins Pas de Deux

Officiating at C for the dressage phases were USA judges: Linda Zang (O), Carol Lavell (R) and Anne Gribbons (O), who scored the technical and artistic elements of each musical ride. Their assessments counted for 60% of the score. A panel of celebrity judges were seated at B and provided scoring that counted for 40% of the score. The celebrity judges were: Steffen Peters, Edward Gal, Volker Brommann, Karin Reid Offield, Jennifer Ross WRMF radio personality, and Laura Lassman, President of Play for P.I.N.K.

Team International Morgan Stanley was first to go in the Pas de Deux, with Marco Bernal aboard Diamore, an 11-year-old Danish Warmblood mare owned by Richard and Meryl Cannon, and Kelley Corrigan riding her own Wensel Lad, a 12-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding. The pair danced to Latin themed music including Gloria Estefan’s “Do the Conga” for the piaffe/passage tour at the beginning and end, “La Bamba” for the trot work, and classic Santana for the walk. Terry Gallo of Klassic Kur created the spicy soundtrack. The judges awarded Team International 86.80% for their Pas de Deux.

Next on the field, Team Purina Mills USA featured Betsy Steiner riding Feliki, a 20-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare and Tami Hoag aboard Coco Chanel, a 12-year-old Rhinelander mare. Hoag owns both mounts. Steiner and Hoag reprised their fabulous freestyle to a medley of tunes from the film “Chicago” – the same kur that they won the Pas de Deux with at the 2006 PhelpsSports Challenge. Terry Gallo of Klassic Kur created the soundtrack and the riders developed their own choreography. Once again, the dynamic ladies on these marvelous mares wowed the crowd with this rousing music and choreography, and they received applause several times during the performance. Adding more sparkle, the horses wore glittering leg wraps, glitter-trimmed saddle pads, and the riders wore glittering hat bands. The in-sync one tempis down centerline was super cute and the finale to the tune “All That Jazz” with the horses in piaffe pirouette was a show stopper! Judges scored Team USA at 93.76 %.

Wrapping up the Pas de Deux phase was Team SSG Gloves Can/Am with Lisette Milner riding Eminence, a 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood stallion owned by Diana Rose, and Suzanne Dansby Phelps aboard her Goubergh’s Kasper, a 15-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding. These two went all out in a Michael Jackson theme, from jackets with epaulets and braids to a black wig on blonde Lisette! The horses were decked out as well with feathery-fuzzy black sparkly leg wraps and stars stenciled on their rumps. The crowd loved the well-known Jackson hits – “Beat It,” “Can You Feel It,” and “ABC.” Showmanship counted and the ladies finished with piaffe pirouettes and then one-handed passage down the centerline to halt. They even threw in a little ‘moonwalk’ for their finale exit. The judges awarded Team Can/Am 92.54%.

Results of the Pas de Deux – Team USA placed first (93.76%) for a score of 4; Team Can/Am placed second (92.54%) for a score of 2; and Team International placed third (86.80%) for a score of 1.

Team Can/Am SSG Gloves Wins Quadrille

After two rounds – high jump and Pas de Deux – Team USA stood in the lead with a score of 8. Team International and Team Can/Am were tied at 3 each. But the Quadrille phase was worth double (50% of the total) and it was still anybody’s game!

Launching into the third and final phase, Team Can/Am SSG Gloves led off the Quadrille. The six riders and their mounts were: Shannon Dueck riding Otharr, an 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood owned by Jean Klaucke; Jaimey Irwin riding Taenzerin, a 13-year-old Trakehener owned by Chris Von Gartzen; Tina Irwin riding Amicelli, an 11-year-old Holsteiner owned by Ute Busse and Wendy Beresford; Daphne Haagmans riding Karaat, a 15-year-old Dutch gelding owned by Sheila Davies; Chris Von Martel riding Galaxy; and Denielle Gallagher riding Gallaway’s Abrikos, her own 16-year-old Russian Stallion.

Eva Marie Pracht was the team’s Quadrille Coach and Karen Robinson of Applause Dressage created the soundtrack. The horses were adorned with red leg wraps and long flowing pink ribbons in their tails. The men on the team tipped their hats to reveal pink dyed hair! This performance was truly outstanding for its creativity in music mix, technical difficulty in choreography, and precision of the performance. The group used tracks from the Jock Jam series for the trot, including “Ya’ll Ready for This” and a medley of tunes from the movie “The Full Monty” including “I Believe inn Miracles,” “You Can Leave Your Hat On,” and a final passage six-abreast down centerline to “Hot Stuff” by Donna Summer. The crowd broke into applause on several occasions, including the movement when the riders cantering in a circle all did a pirouette in sync. The visual impact was very strong when the group would divide into sets of twos or threes and perform mirror movements. The judges awarded Team Can/Am 93.3% for their quadrille.

Team USA Purina Mills took over the arena for their Quadrille next with Betsy Steiner riding Heraut, an 18-year-old Dutch Warmblood owned by Jane Rainis; George Williams riding Frodo, a 20-year-old Dutch Warmblood owned by Joann Smith; Lynda Alicki aboard Alten Gold owned by Tacie Saltonstall; Chris Hickey on Levin owned by Cecilia Sutton; Susan Jaccoma riding Jellowa, her 16-year-old Dutch Warmblood, and Pamela Goodrich riding Melville, her 17-year old Danish Warmblood.

The Americans chose a surfer/beach music theme for their ride and included classics such as “California Girls” for passage/piaffe, and “Limbo Rock” for the canter. Terry Gallo of Klassic Kur created the soundtrack and Beth Zimski choreographed the freestyle. The riders added their touch of cool with mirrored sunglasses! The judges scored Team USA’s ride at 91.20%.

Team International Morgan Stanley wrapped up the night’s competition. Quadrille participants were Patrick Burssens riding Limonit, an 11-year-old Oldenburg owned by Isabel Valencia; Marco Bernal riding Scorpio; Todd Flettrich riding Oscar, an 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood owned by Kathy Rosenbloom; Silke Rembacz riding Lupin, a 13-year-old Danish Warmblood owned by Sheila Buchbinder; Karen Lipp riding Lipton V, an 11-year-old Danish Warmblood owned by Kayce Redmond; and Kathy Priest riding Shostakovitch, her 11-year-old Belgian Warmblood.

The international riders chose to rock with music from Queen and included a medley of “Under Pressure,” “Crazy Little Thing Called Love,” and “Another One Bites the Dust.” This team exhibited some intricate and technically difficult movements including a pinwheel in trot that brought applause. They used half passes in canter in groups of threes several times to sweep across the arena. The team achieved a dramatic ending when the passage six-abreast down the field to halt in a line. Beth Zimski developed the choreography and Terry Gallo of Klassic Kur created the soundtrack. The judges scored Team International at 92.18%.

Results of the Quadrille - Team Can/Am won the phase (93.3%), receiving a score of 8. Team International placed second (92.18%) for a score of 4. Team USA placed third (91.20%) for a score of 2.

Overall Results, Awards Ceremonies, and Acknowledgment of Sponsors

Team Can/Am SSG Gloves finished with an overall score of 11 and won the title of “2007 PhelpsSports Challenge Team of the Americas.” Team USA Purina Mills with a score of 10 overall was second. Team International Morgan Stanley was third with a score of 7 overall.

An awards ceremony with almost all of the 30 horses and 30 riders present was held on the polo field. Representatives from companies that sponsored the Challenge teams posed for photos with their teams and Mary Ross, event founder and co-chair.

“I want to thank all of the sponsors for all of their generosity in contributing to the success of this event,” Ross said. “Our title sponsor, PhelpsSports.com along with Phelps Media Group Inc. International provided such wonderful exposure for this event and the cause. Mason Phelps was truly hands-on in helping with the event tonight, and I appreciated his efforts that helped benefit the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.”

Ross was equally enthusiastic about the presenting sponsor, Jeff and Shereen Fuqua of Collecting Gaits Farm, who were also present to participate in the awards ceremonies. Cunningham & Cunningham Livestock Insurance insured the event for the third consecutive year, Ross noted, and she was honored to have Tom Cunningham and his daughter Sara Cunningham present at the awards ceremony.

Ross noted her appreciation of all the team sponsors – Purina Mills and Morgan Stanley for returning for a second year, and new sponsor SSG Gloves for their first-time sponsorship. “I also appreciate the beautiful coolers that Ecogold supplied for the second consecutive year,” Ross enthused. “SSG Gloves and Ecogold are both Canada-based, so it was great to have Canada be the winning team!”

Prior to the competition, sponsors and patrons were treated to a Cocktail Reception and Ross noted, “Fidelity Federal Bank & Trust sponsored our reception and it went fantastically well – everyone enjoyed the opportunity to mingle and the hors d’oeuvres were fabulous.”

Ross made special note of the success of the new format that included jumping this year for the first time. “The jumpers went longer than we planned but the crowd just loved it and it went extremely well,” said Ross. “Next year I hope to make the jumping segment even bigger and draw even more spectators from the show jumping community.”

Ross concluded her appreciative remarks but noting the outstanding volunteers. “The volunteers were great at the gates, taking care of everyone, and moving things along smoothly,” Ross said. “This is the biggest crowd we’ve ever had and the volunteers were essential to the success of the evening – I can’t thank them enough!”

PhelpsSports Challenge Gala

For 685 patrons and sponsors, a gala dinner/dance with silent auction followed the awards presentations. Guests enjoyed a beautifully lit pavilion showcasing a sea of pink roses on all the tables. Disc Jockey Jody McDonald handled the music beautifully from classy swing tunes for dinner to full-on disco for the packed dance floor that stayed in action until midnight. The silent auction was also a rousing success – the highest item was a training opportunity with U.S. Dressage Coach Klaus Balkenhol, which two bidders tied at $5,000 each!

“I had a great time,” enthused Ross. “I am so pleased that so many people participated to help in this fight against breast cancer. Next year, we’ll be back – even bigger and better!”

PHOTO CAPTION: Team Can/Am SSG Gloves won the 2007 PhelpsSports.com Challenge. (l-r) Quadrille Riders - Denielle Gallagher, Daphne Haagmans, Chris Von Martels, PhelpsSports Challenge founder Mary Ross, Quadrille Coach Eva Pracht, Tina Irwin, Jaimey Irwin, and Shannon Dueck. Pas de Deux riders (not pictured) Lisette Milner and Suzanne Dansby Phelps. PHOTO CREDIT: SusanJStickle.com.


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