Wellington, FL - March 24, 2011 - The final round of the $31,000 WEF Challenge Cup Series was held on Thursday afternoon with a victory for Beezie Madden (USA) and Abigail Wexner's Danny Boy at the 2011 FTI Winter Equestrian Festival.
Week 11 of the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival is sponsored by FTI Consulting Inc. The week's feature events will include the final Suncast 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic on Sunday at 2:30 p.m., and the feature event of the circuit, the $500,000 FTI Consulting Finale Grand Prix on Saturday. Gates open at 6 p.m. The event will also be webcast live on the USEF Network, seen here: http://www.usefnetwork.com/FTIGrandPrix2011/.
Guilherme Jorge of Brazil is the course designer in the International Arena this week. A total of 41 competitors showed over the first round course and 11 qualified for the jump-off. With one competitor choosing not to return, ten jumped off against the clock.
Great Britain's Nick Skelton and Big Star, owned by Beverly and Gary Widdowson, were first to attempt the short course and jumped clear in 40.48 seconds to blaze the leading time. Eight rounds followed but no one was able to jump without fault until the final competitors entered the ring.
Madden and Danny Boy covered the course with a ground eating stride and cleared the fences easily as they jumped to a winning time of 39.41 seconds.
Coming in third place, McLain Ward (USA) had the time well in hand with Louisburg Farm's Vocas, but had a rail at the second to last jump on course to finish with four faults in 37.50 seconds. Andre Thieme (GER) and Coco 135, owned by Seth Vallhonrat, had four faults in 39.21 seconds to place fourth.
Ashlee Bond (USA) qualified two mounts for the jump-off but had a rail down with both of her horses, Cadett 7 and Apache, owned by Little Valley Farm. Apache's time of 41.26 seconds finished fifth, while Cadett 7's time of 41.78 seconds received sixth place honors.
An eleven-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding by Clinton x Alexis Z, Danny Boy is making a comeback this year after an auto-immune problem took the horse out of competition in 2010. Following her victory today, Madden spoke about Danny Boy's illness and how he has gotten back into shape this year. She stated, "Danny Boy had a lot of time off last summer and he is just now getting back in the groove. It is great to have him back."
Speaking about her rounds, Madden stated, "I was lucky I went last in the jump-off. I could have had the strategy where I just settled for second, but I did watch Nick go and I thought I could be faster."
"Honestly, I really just wanted to practice in the jump-off," Madden explained. "I have had so few times going against the clock with him. Even last year, I had the World Equestrian Games Selection Trials, but he had so much time off and I felt a little rusty with him the night of the World Cup class. I thought I would practice a little and try to win. It was a jump-off where I could do that with him and not make him crazy too. I just let him work on an open stride and it worked out well."
Madden plans to show Danny Boy in Saturday night's $500,000 FTI Consulting Finale Grand Prix and he will then travel to Paris the following week.
Week eleven competition will continue tomorrow with the $31,000 G&C Farm 1.45m Classic in the International Arena.
Final Results: $31,000 WEF Challenge Cup Round 11
1 DANNY BOY: 2000 Belgian Warmblood gelding by Clinton x Alexis Z BEEZIE MADDEN (USA), Abigail Wexner: 0/0/39.41
2 BIG STAR: 2003 KWPN stallion by Quick Star x Nimmerdor NICK SKELTON (GBR), Beverly and Gary Widdowson: 0/0/40.48
3 VOCAS: 2002 KWPN gelding by Hors La Loi II x Voltaire MCLAIN WARD (USA), Louisburg Farm: 0/4/37.50
4 COCO 135: 2001 Mecklenberg gelding by Elite P.B. Cellestial x Monsum ANDRE THIEME (GER), Seth Vallhonrat: 0/4/39.21
5 APACHE: 1999 Selle Francais/Thoroughbred gelding by Mescalaro x Unknown ASHLEE BOND (USA) Little Valley Farm: 0/4/41.26
6 CADETT 7: 1997 Holsteiner gelding by Cor de la Bryere x Capitol I ASHLEE BOND (USA), Little Valley Farm: 0/4/41.78
7 AVENIR: 2000 BWP gelding by Phin Phin x Flamingo CHRISTINE MCCREA (USA), Candy Tribble: 0/4/43.66
8 CABALLERO 80: 2001 Westphalian stallion by Champion Du Lys x Acord II EMILIE MARTINSEN (DEN), Emilie Martinsen: 0/4/46.18
9 SIDOLINE VAN DE CENTAUR: 2002 SBS mare by Heartbreaker x Vondel Van Het Hendrixhof ERIC LAMAZE (CAN), Artisan Farms LLC: 0/4/46.59
10 URAYA: 2001 KWPN mare by Farmer x Zeno CHARLIE JAYNE (USA), Pony Lane Farm: 0/EL.
11 QUICK STUDY: 1999 SFA gelding by Quick Star x What a Joy LAUREN HOUGH (USA), Laura Mateo: 0/WD.
12 TORONTO: 2000 KWPN gelding by Furore x Indorado CANDICE KING (USA), AAA Equestrian LLC: 1/80.16
Photo Credit: Beezie Madden and Danny Boy won the final $31,000 WEF Challenge Cup during week eleven at the 2011 FTI Winter Equestrian Festival. Photo © Sportfot, Official Sport Photographer of the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival, www.sportfot.com.