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2007 Winter Equestrian Festival Week One Wrap-Up

2007 Winter Equestrian Festival Week One Wrap-Up, January 24-January 28, 2007

Wellington, FL – January 29, 2007 – The first week of the 2007 Winter Equestrian Festival concluded yesterday at the Palm Beach Polo Equestrian Club in Wellington, FL.

Hot off their win in Thursday's $25,000 WEF Challenge Cup I, Canada's Ian Millar and Redefin returned to the winner's circle on Sunday, January 28, after taking victory in the $35,000 WEF/PBIEC Cup.

A total of 53 riders lined up to attempt the track set by Luc Musette of Belgium. While the course designer was limited to building fences set at a maximum height of 1.45m, he challenged the horses and riders in two combinations, fence five which featured a triple combination of oxer-vertical-oxer, and the final obstacle at fence 13, which was a double. While many riders faulted in these two combinations, fences fell throughout the course. Even still, 19 riders were able to post a clear round and book their ticket to the jump-off.

In the jump-off, Young Puerto Rican rider Francis Tresroig, who trains in the U.S. with Norman Dello Joio, was the pathfinder. Despite the pressure of being the first to go, Tresroig posted another clear round riding Ascertijo in a time of 47.055 seconds to move into the early lead.

A few horses later, Tresroig watched his hopes for his first grand prix win slip away as Olympic Champion Rodrigo Pessoa made easy work of the course, despite having Oasis lose a shoe in the middle of the double combination with two fences left to go. The Brazilian stopped the clock in 44.24 seconds with the horse he began riding last May for owner Double H Farm of Illinois.

The lead immediately changed hands as eight-time Canadian Olympian Ian Millar, who celebrated his 60th birthday earlier in the month, proved that he is only getting better with age. Although he had barely made the time allowed in the first round to advance to the jump-off, time was not an issue for Millar the second time around. Riding Redefin, Millar was masterful in steering the nine-year-old grey Dutch Warmblood gelding home in a time of 44.214 seconds to narrowly edge Pessoa out of the top spot.

Millar had to play the waiting game as there were still 12 horses to go. The only serious challenge came from the final rider, Argentina's Pato Muente, who went for broke with As Di Villazana. With the crowd cheering him on, Muente cleared the final obstacle, but the clock told the final tale, stopping at 44.603 seconds and assuring Millar of his second victory of the week.

With the fastest four fault round in the jump-off, Canadian Eric Lamaze took fifth place with Why Not for owner Eddie Creed while Ireland's Darragh Kerins brought another ribbon back to Double H Farm by finishing sixth with the handsome Belgian-bred stallion, Orlando.

Jumper Results- Wednesday through Sunday

With the hype already building to the Nations’ Cup here at Palm Beach Polo Equestrian Club, the Winter Equestrian Festival opened with a U.S. vs. Canada tussle between two of show jumping’s best known stars, McLain Ward and ‘Captain Canada’ Ian Millar.

Celebrating his 60th birthday just two weeks ago, the seemingly evergreen Millar, a nine-time Olympian, on this occasion bowed to Ward’s supremacy, but delightedly claimed second and third place riding his top ranked horses, In Style and Redefin, respectively.

Fifth-placed Laura Kraut and Cedric are a partnership to watch during this WEF season, given the scope and class of this nine-year-old gray gelding who balloons over every fence in the same manner as Calvaro V – the famous gray of Swiss international Willi Melliger, who achieved European and World fame during the 90s.

With a small group of foreign riders getting a feel for the Palm Beach turf in the second class, a 1m40Section A, the Internationale Arena welcomed Britain’s Louise Whitaker alongside Cian O’Connor and Darragh Kerins from Ireland – opening their accounts with 9th and 10th place respectively, riding Complete and Perquin – as well as Brazil’s Rodrigo Pessoa.

The 56-horse line-up several old guard favorites, including Glasgow, who finished in the ribbons, fourth under the saddle of local resident, Norman Dello Joio. Victory, however, went to Beezie Madden who leapt into the lead at the mid-way point riding Kathlene Patton’s Conquest II: a tough horse to beat any day of the week when he’s on form. The pair finished with a seven-second advantage ahead of U.S. World Cup and Olympic veteran with For The Moment, Lisa Jacquin riding Obourg for Flintwoode Farms. In third place, Louisana, ridden by 18-year-old Sloane Coles – a talented youngster who had the honor of being selected to participate in last week’s George Morris Horsemanship Clinic here at the Palm Beach Polo and Equestrian Club. Given the quality of this field, finishing in the ribbons in her first outing in the Internationale Arena at this year’s WEF was no mean feat.

For the second 1m40 class of the day, the line-up included new mom Danielle Torano, who has only been back in the saddle for three weeks. She claimed an early lead, with just one time fault, riding the nine-year-old, approved Belgian Warmblood stallion Vancouver d’Auvrey (by Heartbreaker). Her lead, however, was short lived, overtaken a few riders later by Keri Potter, riding Rockford, also with one time fault, although they were eventually relegated to 11th and 12th place, respectively.

Laura Chapot clocked the first clear round riding the appropriately named Sprite, who bounced her way around the course with pony-like exuberance in 66.14 seconds. It was a “win-from-the-front” performance with some 40 riders to go, none of whom were able to eclipse the little mare’s hot speed. It was hardly surprising, considering this combination has been circuit champions in the 1m40 division for the past three years.

With a starting line-up of 50 riders, Round 1 of the $25,000 WEF Challenge Cup provided a tough challenge on day two of the Winter Equestrian Festival. In fact, “winter” was the appropriate word as a dramatic dip in temperature produced extremely chilly conditions and heavy gray skies. Ian Millar and In Style bested Beezie Madden and Integrity for the win.

There was no doubt that a battle of the giants was about to unfold with Madden and Millar going head to head. Certainly, when Madden and Integrity crossed the start line, it was by no means a hell-for-leather pace, but the gelding has a deceptive turn of speed, very efficient over the fences, although they were a little cautious in their choice of track. Remarkably, as they cleared the last and chased for the finish, they stopped the clock just 3/100ths of a second ahead of Deslauriers to claim the lead.

Divided into two sections, the Acorn Hill Farm Challenge turned Friday at the WEF/PBIEC Inaugural into Ladies’ Day, with victories going to 18-year-old Brianne Goutal, a rookie in her first senior Grand Prix season, and seasoned campaigner, Beezie Madden.

The 1.40m Acorn Hill Farm Challenge counts towards the NAL Open Speed Series, awarded to the horse who has earned the most prize money in this class during the Winter Equestrian Festival, with the award being presented during the Budweiser American Invitational on Saturday, April 7, in Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium.

In Section A, there was no doubting Beezie Madden’s intentions with the very experienced Conquest II, who despite being sidelined for the whole year in 2005, returned to competition last summer, and now appears to be fresher than ever for his 16 years. In Section B, it was newcomer to the major circuit Brianne Goutal and Mon Gamin who pulled out all the stops and produced an invincible performance.

Earlier, in the junior jumper section for riders who have not yet reached their 18th birthday, Ali Wolff jumped to victory riding Hertel Landman owned by Blacklick Bend Farm. Wolff was, in fact, the only rider to maintain a clean slate over the two rounds, of this power and speed class that saw only four riders progress to the second phase.

The first Saturday afternoon of the 2007 Winter Equestrian Festival at the Palm Beach Polo and Equestrian Club saw a remarkably small field of just 15 riders, albeit a stellar line-up, contest the $20,000 1.50m Classic – and only four combinations were able to answer the first-round questions posed by Luc Musette’s tricky 13-fence course.

The generous time allowed didn’t factor into the first-round scores, and McLain Ward and Larioso were the first to keep themselves out of trouble to qualify for the jump-off. Jose Rega, likewise, gave Cinoa a textbook round, followed immediately by Shane Sweetnam and Quidam Junior. Rega rode a cautious jump-off with the 17-year-old Cinoa, and their perfectly timed clear round gave them the lead and the win with 42.911 seconds.

Earlier, the $10,000 High Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic sponsored by Prestige Saddlery was decisively won by Katherine Miracle riding Madonna.

A member event of the Show Jumping Hall of Fame Junior/Amateur Owner Series, open to all amateur-owned horses who have not competed in any jumper class over USEF Level 8, this first leg saw a line-up of 34 riders over the one-round, one jump-off class.

Hunter Results- Thursday through Sunday

In the Regular Conformation Hunter division, Tommy Serio of Keswick, VA, piloted the 10-year-old bay stallion Popeye K to the tricolor spot with two wins over fences and a second in the model on Wednesday, and a second and third over fences and a third under saddle today.

The Second Year Green Hunters drew 29 entries, and Tim Goguen and Boulevard Deir came away with the championship. The pair were 2006 Conformation Hunter Champions at Horse Shows by the Bay in Traverse City, MI. On Wednesday, they collected a second place under saddle, and a first and a third over fences. Thursday, however, did not bring the same results, with Boulevard Deir earning an eighth place finish and a score of 40.

In the Regular Working Hunter divisions, it was Scott Stewart of Flemington, NJ, who took home the most points and the championship on Beyond. The pair is off to a good start and could have a repeat performance of 2006, where they were the Regular Working WEF circuit champions. On Wednesday, Beyond earned first and fourth places over fences, and first and second over fences and third under saddle on Thursday.

The First Year Green Hunters, were split into two groups. In section “A,” Patricia Griffith and Positano brought home the championship after winning all four over fences classes and placing fourth in the hack. Griffith, who is a trainer for Heritage Farm, was thrilled with her victory on the newly acquired Positano, whom she imported from Europe in late November.

In section “B” of the First Year Greens, Scott Stewart and Winter Place took the tricolor with first places over fences and in the hack on Thursday and a second place over fences today. Winter Place is also a new partnership for Stewart, who purchased the 6-year-old Holsteiner from Cayce Harrison after the National Horse Show. Murray Kessler and Tchaikovsky were reserve champion.

In the Rost Arena, the Adult Amateur Hunter 3’3” division wrapped up and pinned its champions, with Francis Briggs and Skyy earning the championship. The pair were first over fences and second under saddle on Thursday, and were first and sixth over fences today. Reserve champion was Jonathan Cohen riding Joyeaux.

The young hunter riders had their first day in the spotlight at the 2007 Winter Equestrian Festival, and Jessica Springsteen piloted her horse Sublime to the championship in the Small Junior Hunter 15 & Under division this morning.

In the Grand Hunter Ring, the Amateur-Owner Hunter 18 through 35 division wrapped up with Laura Sexton and Renaissance earning the championship spot. A native of Greenwich, CT, Sexton stays for the entire circuit and said she will look to compete Renaissance again next month.

On Friday, Kacey McCann of SBS Farm proved to be a multi-talented rider with Idol, winning the hunter phase and taking third in the jumper phase of the WIHS Equitation class to take the overall award. McCann rides with Susie Schoellkopf.

In the Large Pony Hunter division, Schaefer Raposa swept the field and took both tricolors on Vanity Fair as champion and Woodland’s Misty Rain as reserve. Vanity Fair, owned by Adrienne Sternlicht, earned first and second places over fences yesterday and third, first and sixth in the hack and the two over fences classes today, respectively. Woodland’s Misty Rain, owned by Madeline Turner, took the same placings over fences during the two-day period and was fourth on the flat. She also had similar success in the Medium Pony Hunters with Blu Venture Rainbeau, owned by Nellie Ann Foosaner, and Light Up the Year, owned by Katie Dinan, LLC, again winning the championship and the reserve.

At the Grand Hunter Field, it was a good ending to a weekend of showing for Deeridge Farm as Katie Jacobs Robinson and Blush took the championship with two first places over fences on Saturday, and a third in the hack and a fifth over fences on Sunday.

In the Small Junior Hunter 16-17 Year Division, it was Alexandra Stathis and her mount Davis Cup who were victorious. The pair earned two first places finishes over fences on Saturday and were first in the hack and first and second over fences on Sunday.

In the Large Junior Hunter 16-17 Year Division, Addison Phillips and Morocco came out on top, despite Phillips’ competition against herself and Mimosa. Phillips and Morocco were first in both over fences classes on Saturday, and she and Mimosa were fourth both times. On Sunday, Mimosa bested Morocco in one over fences class for the win, but Morocco shone through in the second round. Taking the reserve championship was Euri Uchiyama, who piloted Pharrell for the placing.


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