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2007 Winter Equestrian Festival Week 3 Wrap-up

Winter Equestrian Festival Week 3 Wrap-up, February 7-11, 2007, Palm Beach Equine Clinic/Adequan Gold Coast Classic, presented by bluhammock music, CSI-3*

Wellington, FL – February 11, 2007 – As the crowd screamed, “Go Margie!” and whistled, hometown favorite Margie Engle and Hidden Creek’s Wapino galloped flat out to the final oxer in the jump-off. When all was said and done, the pair had run to the leading time for the win in the $60,000 Palm Beach Equine Clinic/Adequan Wellington Cup, CSI 3* presented by bluhammock music at the Winter Equestrian Festival.

Sunday’s grand prix had a starting field of 38 riders, and after tough tests throughout the week from course designer Aki Ylaenne (FIN), today’s track saw 15 clear rounds advance to the jump-off. Footing was also a question, but horse show management helped by spreading sand on the grass field. The course had 13 numbered obstacles and 16 jumping efforts, and it was set at 1.60m.

The first clear round and first to return in the jump-off was Beezie Madden on Abigail Wexner’s Integrity. The pair set the pace to beat with a fast, accurate round that stopped the timers at 45.04 seconds. With the large field behind her, Madden knew she not only had to be fast, but clean as well. With that accomplished, she watched and waited for the remaining competitors. She remarked, “I thought for sure it would get beat on time, but they still had to leave all of the jumps up. I was happy with the pace that I set. They had to run a bit to catch me. Going first out of fifteen, I thought it worked the way I wanted it to.”

However, it was Margie Engle and Hidden Creek’s Wapino that would light the crowd up and bring home the winning time.

Engle left nothing to chance when she made fantastic turns to the first three jumps. Wapino tried his heart out to the vertical in the final rollback, and Engle flapped her elbows down to the last oxer as the crowd screamed, whistled and clapped. The scoreboard flashed the winning time, 43.59 seconds.

When asked why Wapino seemed to stutter-step slightly to the last jump, Engle said with a smile, “I saw it way back, and I think he was questioning what the heck I was asking him to do. He just kept jamming his toes, and it kept getting farther and farther away. I just had to really commit myself. I was either going to crash through it, or he was going to leave the ground. It was kind of like steeplechasing down to it. When I made the turn, I kind of met [the vertical] really, really deep. I thought I’d make up a little bit of time to the last one, and it was all or nothing.”

The next big challenger was Laura Chapot on Little Big Man, last week’s Sunday grand prix winner. Chapot was quick and long to the jumps in her trademark style, but it was not quite enough to take over the lead. They finished in 44.35 seconds for second place.

Chapot explained about her strategy, “With that many in the jump-off, and with so many fast horses and riders, you just really have to go all out, go as fast as you can go and take some risks. I think I added one more to the last jump.” Engle added with a laugh, “She probably rode smarter to it than I did!”

Engle thought there were parts on the course where Wapino made up time on the other horses. “He was very, very quick one to two to three,” she mentioned. Engle said the only rider she saw in the jump-off was Madden. “I knew she was fast. I thought I had to do something fast with Laura behind me and some of the other ones that were behind me. I just kind of took a shot, and either they stayed up or they didn’t,” she added.

Jumper Highlights: Wednesday through Saturday

In Wednesday’s feature class, the $8,000 1.45m Jumper class, Markus Beerbaum (GER) and Constantin 24 beat a field of 21 competitors for the win. Beerbaum stepped on the gas early when he moved up to the second jump and left a stride out of the first line. “I didn’t actually plan that, but I went in, and he was quite strong,” Beerbaum admitted. “Then I saw the leave out so I just took it.” He carried the pace through the rest of the course and finished in a winning time of 69.592 seconds.

In Thursday’s $25,000 WEF Challenge Cup Round III, a third Canadian rider took home the blue ribbon and top prize money of $7,500. Mario Deslauriers and Naomi set a blistering pace early in the class for the win, joining Ian Millar and Eric Lamaze on the list of Canadian grand prix winners on this year’s circuit.

The first of only three clear rounds was the second horse in the ring, Hidden Creek’s Wapino with Margie Engle. They stopped the timers at 84.76 seconds, which would hold on throughout 45 more trips for second place.

Deslauriers and Naomi were the sixth pair to tackle the course, and the tall rider and game 12 year old Belgian mare made every inside turn possible on a fast pace. They came home in an incredibly fast time of 76.28 seconds, a time that could not be matched, with or without faults.

“You never know. I went early, and it turns out I didn’t need to go that fast. There were so many fast horses and fast riders after me,” Deslauriers noted. “Naomi was great today. Actually, I didn’t know today was a time first round. I had her entered, and I was planning to enter her the week of the 22nd, where there is another time first round, to use her again. She’s excellent at these.”

In the Internationale Arena, the main events on Friday morning were the High Junior and Amateur-Owner Jumper classes. Gabby Slome and Salsa raced to the win in the amateurs, while Addison Phillips and Wokina had their first double clear round together to win the junior class.

In the High Junior Jumper class that went first in the morning, 10 out of the 20 entries were clear in the power phase to continue the course. The early lead was set by Saphira and Alexandra Arute, who posted a time of 42.439 seconds.

That lead would be demolished by 16 year old Addison Phillips of New York City on her horse Wokina. The huge eight year old Warmblood mare opened up her stride and ate up the lines on her way to setting the time to beat at 36.525 seconds. It would be the first time that Phillips and Wokina, who have been partnered together since July of 2006, had a double clear round.

In the High Amateur-Owner class, the course offered interesting challenges for riders, such as a one stride set as a triple bar to a vertical. Of the 39 entries in the class, only 12 made it to the speed portion of the course. Going to the top of the list in the class was Salsa, ridden by Gabby Slome. Slome stopped the timers just seven-tenths of a second faster than the second place finishers, Edasa’s Lydille and Sean Crooks. Slome’s time was 41.193 seconds.

Unlike Phillips and Wokina, Slome and Salsa, a 14 year old Belgian Warmblood gelding, have been partnered together for a long time. Slome has gotten to know Salsa’s little quirks over the past four years. “I got him when I was a junior, so I’ve gone a long way with him. He’s usually not a big fan of the grand prix ring, so he’s grown up a lot,” she explained. “When he’s on, he’s amazing.”

In Saturday’s jump-off for the $20,000 1.50m Jumper Classic, 16 year old Addison Phillips of New York City was the lone non-professional vying for the win. She and Regina, a nine year old Warmblood mare, scored their first major win together.

As Phillips ran to the Littlewood show grounds to ride another horse, her trainer Andre Dignelli of Heritage Farm explained more about Phillips, Regina and their plan.

Of Regina he said, “She’s really come along. We always knew she was really scopey and brave. It just was a little green and took a little time for us to get going. She definitely was in the shadow of Addy’s other chestnut mare, Trezebees. She’s just really coming into her own.”

About his gifted student, Dignelli said, “Addison never wants to be second. What makes her so great is that she reacts. She has split second timing, which is why she’s able to do what she does.”

In Saturday morning’s Show Jumping Hall of Fame Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic, Lara Gay piloted three horses in a twelve horse jump-off. On Campezino, she picked up the blue ribbon, and she finished fifth on Cannonboy and eighth on Countdown. After the class she remarked with a laugh, “I’m tired. I’m really tired, but really happy.”

The Winter Equestrian Festival continues with its fourth week of competition, the Kilkenny Internationale, CSI 3*, on February 14-18, 2007, at the Palm Beach Polo Equestrian Club.


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