Wellington, FL - Week twelve at the 2011 FTI Winter Equestrian Festival featured the $30,000 Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Zone Team Competition Final. The horses and riders were divided into sections of high, medium and low heights to jump, with each section awarding $10,000. In the highs, Charlie Jacobs, Gabrielle Bausano, Christina Kelly and Karen Polle jumped to victory. In the mediums, Katherine Steenberg, Madeline Cox, Cynthia McGrath, and Heather Irons earned top honors. The lows were the final level to compete, with a win for the team of Shannon Spencer, Erica Polle, Mahala Rummell, and Megan MacPherson.
Running through Sunday, April 3, this week’s remaining feature events include Round 2 of the $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby on Saturday at 7:30 p.m., and the Finals for the Adequan Young Jumpers on Sunday.
The $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby will be webcast live on USEF Network and can be seen here: http://www.usefnetwork.com/WEFDerby2011/.
Anthony D’Ambrosio of Red Hook, NY, set the course for tonight’s class. The high section showed first with two teams of four competing. Team 1, made up of Charlie Jacobs, Karen Polle, Christina Kelly, and Gabrielle Bausano, earned a total of just four faults through the two rounds to finish on top.
Amateur rider Charlie Jacobs led the team off with his horse Flaming Star, owned by CMJ Sporthorse, LLC. The pair had a rail in round one, but jumped clear in round two to help their team earn the victory.
Junior rider Christina Kelly and Diamond Edge Farm’s Camirage jumped double clear through both rounds, as did amateur rider Karen Polle and her horse With Wings. Junior rider Gabrielle Bausano and Ubico H were the team’s dropped score.
All four riders on the team were excited with their victory and happy with their horses’ performances. Kelly’s horse Camirage was the only one on the team that had shown under the lights in the International Arena before, and the others all had a great experience.
Camirage is a ten-year-old Westphalian mare that Kelly has had great success with throughout the WEF circuit. The rider praised her mare after the class, stating, “This was her second night class and I was very happy with her. She was a little spooky in the first round, but the second round she came back great and it was a lot of fun.”
Polle and her eight-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding With Wings jumped to two clear rounds for their team as well. Polle explained, “We were doing this class to get him some experience under the lights, so we were not sure how he was going to be, but he was amazing.”
All four riders enjoyed the course this evening and thought that it was great for a Nation’s Cup style class. Jacobs explained, “The course was nice and straightforward. It was honest and it asked the right questions. It was done politely, which is appropriate for having to jump twice. It was a really nice course and Anthony did a great job.”
The medium section went next with three teams of four competing. Team 1 came out on top again, made up of amateur riders Katherine Steenberg, Madeline Cox, Cynthia McGrath, and Heather Irons. Steenberg, McGrath and Irons were all part of the winning team in last year’s class riding the same horses. The three riders recruited Cox to their team for tonight’s class.
Steenberg showed her horse Tres Bien, McGrath rode Wynnwood Farm’s Rugby, and Irons rode her horse Taro. Cox was the only rider to jump clear through both rounds of competition with her horse Kix and was very excited to help her teammates to their second consecutive win in the class.
Cox smiled, “My horse was great. It was a pretty tough course, pretty demanding, but it was so much fun. I just kind of rode it like a speed round and he usually goes really well with that. We kept it together everywhere and this was his first time under the lights, so I am really pleased with him.”
McGrath commented on the camaraderie of the team, stating, “We all just sort of knew each other from showing before, but we did not know each other that well. Through this we have developed a friendship. Every time we see each other at different horse shows we have a bond now and it is fun. We all felt lucky that we could win it again this year.”
Concluding the evening’s events, the low jumper section was held with another three teams of four competing. Team 1 came out in first again with amateur rider Shannon Spencer, junior Erica Polle, amateur Mahala Rummell, and junior Megan MacPherson. Spencer rode Markos, Polle showed Uno, Rummell rode Celano, and MacPherson showed Kaitlyn Harrison’s Danny Cool.
Rummell and her horse Celano led the team with the best combined score of 12 faults. Celano is a 15-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding that Rummell has owned for six months.
“He is really experienced and he just has a heart of gold,” the rider smiled after her team’s win. “He will do anything for me and he has taught me so much. It has been so good to have the experience with him.”
The twelfth and final week of competition at the 2011 FTI Winter Equestrian Festival will continue tomorrow with Round 2 of the $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby, with the first horse at 7:30 p.m.