Wellington, FL - March 31, 2012 - Twenty-two-year-old Daniel Bluman, of Colombia, jumped to an exciting victory on Saturday night in the $500,000 FTI Consulting Finale Grand Prix, CSI 5* at the 2012 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival (FTI WEF). Over 7,000 fans filled the stands to see the best of the best from the winter circuit compete under the lights in the International Arena at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. Bluman and his mount Sancha LS earned the top prize in a three-horse jump-off over Canada's Ian Millar and Star Power and USA's Lauren Hough and Quick Study.
Alan Wade, of Ireland, designed the course for tonight's grand prix and set a challenging track for the 45 qualified entries. Only three were able to jump the first round course entirely without fault to advance to the jump-off, and all three had single rails through the short course, making time the deciding factor.
An impressive cheering section exploded with applause as Daniel Bluman and Sancha LS completed the first perfect trip through round one's course. The pair then returned first for the jump-off and had four faults, but when the following two riders also had rails, Bluman's time of 48.97 seconds made him the victor.
Ian Millar was the second rider to clear the first round course without fault aboard Team Works' Star Power. The duo returned for the jump-off and also had a rail on course, and their time of 49.30 seconds placed second.
Lauren Hough and Laura Mateo's Quick Study were the final pair to put their name on the jump-off list and immediately followed Millar's round over the short course. Hough took her time, attempting to have the only clear round, but met heartbreak as Quick Study dropped a rail at the last fence. Their slower time of 55.97 seconds finished in third.
Twenty-seven-year-old Lauren Tisbo (USA) and her mount King Kolibri, owned by Tequestrian Farms LLC, showed their cool under pressure in front of the huge crowd in round one. The duo completed the first clear round over the course, but incurred a single time fault for exceeding the time allowed.
Eighteen-year-old Katie Dinan (USA) also cleared the course, but finished with one time fault aboard Nougat Du Vallet, owned by Grant Road Partners LLC. Dinan was the faster of the two, completing the course in 88.56 seconds to earn the fourth place prize. Tisbo and King Kolibri's time of 91.91 seconds placed fifth.
Class winner Daniel Bluman is based in Wellington and has been training with Olympic gold medalist Eric Lamaze for the past year. Prior to training with Lamaze, Bluman began his show jumping career in the United States under the tutelage of American rider Todd Minikus, and then trained with Venezuela's Pablo Barrios. Bluman's mount Sancha LS is a nine-year-old La Silla bred mare by Chin Chin x Polydor, that the rider has owned since November of 2010.
After the class, Bluman reflected on this monumental moment in his career. He stated, "This win means everything to me. I'm surprised I did it, but I'm not surprised my mare did it. I know she's one of the best horses out there. It's great that she has a win like this on her record. I already felt great before the jump off; it was great what I had already accomplished. Eric Lamaze, who has been training me, told me to just go for it and see what happens, so that was my plan."
Bluman purchased Sancha LS at the end of her seven-year-old year in Monterrey, Mexico. He spoke about the mare's progress and rise to success, explaining, "She is a very careful horse. I think everyone was surprised that she could be a grand prix horse. She wasn't too scopey, but she tries super hard. It's a pleasure to have her in my barn. I was grateful to go back to the jump-off. To have Ian and Lauren coming after me was nerve wracking. They had some cheap rails at the end, so I guess it was meant to be for me tonight."
Second place finisher Ian Millar spoke on his result with Star Power tonight, stating, "I was extremely pleased with my horse, save for that one jump. It was a rare rail for him to have, but he jumped a great round. He's eleven and on track for the London Games. That's the goal, to have him at his absolute best for August. This whole tour down here is instrumental in allowing us to do that."
"Tonight was a fantastic, stand-alone occasion," Millar praised. "My congratulations to Daniel; it was well deserved."
Third place finisher Lauren Hough came very close tonight, but had an unfortunate rail at the last fence in the jump-off. Hough and Quick Study also finished second in this same class last year. On her finish tonight, Hough declared, "My word tonight is heartbreak. We just needed to jump a clear round. My horse jumped a great first round and I was really thrilled; he felt on tonight. As the jump-off progressed I started to protect and with only one fence left, I let go of the reins to clear it. I congratulate Daniel and Ian. I'm proud of my horse and grateful to my owners and the sponsors."
Dennis Shaughnessy, Chairman of the Board of FTI Consulting, Inc., was in the front row for tonight's festivities and was thrilled with the event. Shaughnessy commented, "It was very important for me to sponsor. We had 150 guests and 32 CEOs from around the world. Half of them had never been to a grand prix event and they were mesmerized by it. Most people were just saying how unbelievable this is."
"We appreciated the riders acknowledgment; it was definitely noticed," Shaughnessy said of the riders saluting the sponsor tent. "We clearly believe is the greatest horse event in the world."
Course designer Alan Wade also weighed in on the class tonight and was happy with the result. "There were a lot of little questions out there from the start to the finish," he noted. "It was a lot of jumps; maybe not as big as last week, but there were a lot of questions. It was very tense and exciting to watch. It was what show jumping is about - not the speed class, it was about jumping clear rounds first. It was a championship event, three clear rounds, a $500,000 class, so it shouldn't be a speed class. I congratulate the victors. I'm sure some out there were disappointed, but I thought from the public point of view, if you had that sort of a class, you would have a packed house that was there to watch it. We didn't know what was going to happen next."
From here, Bluman will return to Colombia for some vacation time with his family. He will then go to Europe with Lamaze and Artisan Farms to show in Antwerp, La Baule, and Madrid, amongst other shows to prepare for the Olympic Games this summer. The Colombian team has two spots open, and Bluman hopes to receive one of them. As he acknowledged, tonight's win should definitely help that selection process.
The $100,000 FTI Consulting Rider Challenge concluded tonight after twelve weeks of jumper competition at the 2012 FTI WEF. Laura Kraut led the standings and earned a $50,000 cut of the bonus money for her success during the circuit. Kent Farrington finished in second place ($25,000), Eric Lamaze third ($15,000), and Ben Maher fourth ($10,000).
"It was completely unexpected and it's completely appreciated," Kraut said. "I was just hoping to hang onto second, (and) miraculously I won. Unfortunately Nick (Skelton) didn't have a good night tonight. He did deserve to win the Leading Rider because he won more than anybody."
Eric Lamaze and Coriana Sprint to Finish
Today's $32,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Series Classic was the final of 12 weeks of competition at the FTI WEF. The popular series hosted 12 events, seven of which were FEI ROLEX world ranking points classes. The class had 40 entries, five of which were able to proceed to the jump-off after a clear round.
Eric Lamaze and Coriana Sprint to Finish
First to go in the opening round and the jump-off was series leader Nick Skelton (GBR) and Unique, owned by Beverley Widdowson. They put down a fast, clear round in 37.64 seconds to make the rest of the field chase them. Their round would hold up for second place. Catherine Pasmore and Pasmore Stables, LLC's My Boy were next in and while they had the winning time in hand (36.61 seconds), a rail relegated them to fourth place.
Lamaze and his first mount in the jump-off, Hunter's Scendix, were next in. After a miscommunication at the first jump, Lamaze jumped one more fence and then chose to retire in the jump-off, putting them in fifth place. Lamaze said afterward, "He jumped a beautiful first round. He left a stride too early at the first fence. I don't know what happened to be honest. I don't know if there was a shadow there. He's such a careful horse. I'm not sure if he turned the corner and didn't quite have his eye on the fence and then saw it and left. But it's a super star of a horse that is going to take time to know."
Tina Fletcher (GBR) was next in on Lady Harris' Hello Sailor. They went for the slow, easy clear round in 47.39 seconds to finish in fourth place. Knowing the time to beat after watching Skelton, Lamaze was ready to go with Coriana van Klapscheut, his mount owned by Artisan Farms, LLC. With ease and speed, the pair slipped over the jumps and through the timers in 35.930 seconds for the win.
"I watched Nick go and he was very quick. If he's clear, you know he's fast. He's one of the fastest riders in the world. With Coriana, I tried to follow his pattern," Lamaze explained of his jump-off. "My horse is very quick in the air and quick landing. I didn't really have to go faster. My horse I think just ended up being the quicker horse across the ground and in the air today. That was a good designed jump-off, not a lot of racing. It was mostly lines and turning, which my horse is very good with."
Lamaze mentioned that the change this year for some of the 1.50m classes to FEI is better for the riders and the competition. "These 1.50m (classes) as FEI, I'm a big fan of them," he acknowledged. "Before most of the 1.50m were national classes, and I thought it was always a shame. It's nice to have a class like that today (where) you get world ranking points. There was a 1.45m class week this point for ranking points. It's important. There are a lot of people that invest money in these horses and the prize money is great, but from a rider's point of view it's nice when you get the world ranking points. It makes better sport and a better class because the riders try harder. That's along with the bonus money. There is a lot of bonus money given away at the end of the circuit."
Speaking of his second horse, Lamaze believes that Hunter's Scendix is going to be a "superstar" horse, but one the he needs to adjust to in the upcoming months. "I really, really like the horse. I think we can tweak things a little bit better coming to Europe," he noted. "I just need to know him well. It's going to take a little time, but I really love the horse. He's that good of a horse, in my opinion, that it's not the horse you have to change, it's the rider that has to get used to him. I'm really excited about him."
With Coriana, Lamaze has taken it slow this winter and worked on preparing her for the summer circuit in Europe. They won the WEF Challenge Cup Round 8 and Lamaze believes she is just coming into her peak fitness. "She jumped a great round. I wanted to give her this class today because a, it's a ranking class, and b, her season is beginning now. It was to give her a little bit more fitness."
He described, "Any jump-off you're with her, she's so fast. You actually have to slow your mind down to not go so fast. She just opens the door to want to be so fast. I'm really happy with her. She's super competitive for me and can do any class, and does it with so much heart."
The $50,000 Suncast 1.50m Championship Jumper Series bonus awards were presented today, with Nick Skelton taking home the top prize of $25,000 for his consistent success in the division. Ben Maher won $15,000 for second place, while Cian O'Connor finished third and won $10,000.
Saturday Hunter Champs Finish Strong
Cathy Blundell of Montreal, Quebec, Canada, captured the championship tricolor in this week's FarmVet Amateur-Owner 3'3" 36 & Older division atop her mount, Troubadour. The pair scored two firsts and a fifth over fences and finished third in the under saddle, claiming victory with 25 points. Reserve honors went to World Time, an eleven-year-old Oldenburg ridden by Becky Gochman. Gochman and her mount collected a first and two thirds over fences, bringing home the reserve tricolor with 18 points.
Saturday Hunter Champs Finish Strong
The winning mount, Troubadour, is a nine-year-old Dutch Warmblood imported by Angela Covert-Lawrence and Jeff Rundle. Affectionately known as Walnut in the barn, the bay gelding has had a successful show jumping career to date, winning champion and reserve honors in the First Year Green and Amateur-Owner Hunter divisions. Following today's victory, Blundell commented on Walnut's performance this season. "I'm so pleased with this year," Blundell said. "We've showed five times and were reserve champion week eight and I couldn't be happier with him. He has such a fantastic attitude."
According to Blundell, Walnut came to her almost by accident. "I had just started riding again and I wasn't really sure what I wanted to do," Blundell explained. "But Angela found this really cool horse in Holland and asked if I was interested. It was love at first sight."
Shortly after arriving in the U.S., the young hunter picked up his barn name out of the blue as well. "When Angela sent me the video from Holland, I really liked him and I asked for his name," Blundell explained with a laugh. "Angela was like, 'Who cares what his name is? It starts with a 'W' and is really long and difficult to understand. You'll have to change it anyway!' So later, I was with my husband at home around Christmas time and we had a bowl of nuts on the coffee table and he took out a walnut and goes 'This starts with a 'W' too,' and I was like, yeah right, like that is even a horse name. Turns out, it stuck!"
Describing her introduction to horse back riding, Blundell said, "My parents took me for a 25-cent pony ride when I was little and I was immediately hooked. They often say it's the most expensive 25 cents they've ever spent! My whole family took lessons for a while out near our country house and I was the only one who stuck." She added with smile, "I did stop for about six years to have a 'real life,' which is completely overrated, and work on a career. But, it feels so natural to be back, and with Troubadour especially, it just feels right." Blundell feels grateful to be able to head back to Montreal on such a positive note. In the coming months, she plans to pursue a light show schedule with Walnut, and enjoy the summer.
Additional Hunter Champs this week include Lacey Gilberston and McKayla Langmeier. Gilbertson topped the Bainbridge Amateur-Owner Hunter 18-35 division with 30.5 points atop her ten-year-old Mecklenberg, Condanas. In the Marley Goodman Small Junior Hunter 15 & Under division, Langmeier captured the championship tricolor with 22 points atop her mount, Czar-Z, a nine-year-old Warmblood owned by Linda Langmeier.
The FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival will conclude on Sunday with the second round of the $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby and award top prizes on the grass field at The Stadium. The $10,000 Charles Owen Low Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic and $10,000 South Florida SportChassis Low Junior Jumper Classic will be featured in the International Arena, and the Beval Palm Beach Adult Medal Final will be held in the Rost Arena.
For full results, please visit www.showgroundslive.com.
Final Results: $500,000 FTI Consulting CSI 5* Finale Grand Prix
1. SANCHA LS: 2003 SLS mare by Chin Chin x Polydor DANIEL BLUMAN (COL), Daniel Bluman, LLC: 0/4/48.97
2. STAR POWER: 2001 Dutch Warmblood gelding by Quick Star IAN MILLAR (CAN), Team Works: 0/4/49.30
3. QUICK STUDY: 1999 SFA gelding by Quick Star x What a Joy LAUREN HOUGH (USA), Laura Mateo: 0/4/55.97
4. NOUGAT DU VALLET: 2001 Selle Francais gelding by Scherif D'elleKATHERINE DINAN (USA), Grant Road Partners: 1/88.56
5. KING KOLIBRI: 2002 Hanoverian stallion by Kolibri x Achill-Libero H LAUREN TISBO (USA), Tequestrian Farms LLC: 1/91.91
6. OCEANE DE NANTUEL: 2002 SFA mare by Diamant de Semilly x Quidam de Revel CONOR SWAIL (IRL), Ecurie Michel Hecart: 4/85.14
7. BLUE LOYD 12: 2000 Oldenburg gelding by Landor S x Hadj Ax CIAN O'CONNOR (IRL), Ashkirk Ltd. & Cian O'Connor: 4/85.49
8. TEIRRA: 2000 KWPN mare by Tolano Van Het Riethof x Aldatus LAURA KRAUT (USA), Stars & Stripes: 4/85.57
9. DERLY CHIN DE MUZE: 2003 BWP mare by For Pleasure x Nebab de Reve ERIC LAMAZE (CAN), Torrey Pines & Ashland Stables: 4/86.38
10. VANDAVID: 2002 KWPN stallion by Madison x Voltaire CATHERINE PASMORE (USA), Pasmore Stables: 4/87.85
11. LISONA: 2001 Irish Sporthorse mare OBOS Quality 004 x Porsch DARRAGH KERINS (IRL), Kevin Babington: 5/88.06
12. URBANUS: 1997 BWP gelding by Heartbreaker x Ramiro CHARLIE JAYNE (USA), Alex Jayne: 5/88.25
Final Results: $32,000 Suncast 1.50m Championship Jumper Series Final
1 CORIANA VAN KLAPSCHEUT: 2002 BWP mare by Darco x Heartbreaker ERIC LAMAZE (CAN), Artisan Farms LLC: 0/0/35.93
2 UNIQUE: 2001 KWPN gelding by Indoctro x Voltaire NICK SKELTON (GBR), Beverly Widdowson: 0/0/37.64
3 HELLO SAILOR: 1999 KWPN gelding by Kigali x Indoctro TINA FLETCHER (GBR), Lady P. Harris & Lady P. Kirkham: 0/0/47.39
4 MY BOY: 1996 Belgian Warmblood gelding by unknown CATHERINE PASMORE (USA), Pasmore Stables: 0/4/36.61
5 HUNTER'S SCENDIX: 2003 Hanoverian stallion by Stakkato x Dinar ERIC LAMAZE (CAN), LVS Hunters/ Torrey Pine Stables: 0/RT
6 KEC ALLIGATOR ALLEY: 2002 Irish Sport Horse gelding by Aldatus Z x Clover Hill CIAN O'CONNOR (IRL), Sinead & Oonagh Kennedy: 1/80.05
7 LORDAN: 2004 Hanoverian gelding by Lordanos x Landor NAYEL NASSAR (EGY), NAYEL & SHARAFF NASSAR: 1/81.57
8 TOSCANE: 2000 KWPN stallion by Lux x Joost HENRIK GUNDERSEN (DEN), Emilie Martinsen: 1/83.25
9 CLYDE: 2004 Holsteiner stallion by Clearway x Coronado DANIEL BLUMAN (COL), Daniel Bluman, LLC: 1/83.28
10 FLAMING STAR:1999 AES gelding by Fairman x Unknown CHARLIE JACOBS SR., CMJ Sporthorse LLC: 4/75.96
11 V: 2002 KWPN gelding by Landstreicher Lennard KATIE PRUDENT (USA), Michael Smith: 4/77.40
12 QUIET EASY 4: 2004 Oldenburg gelding by Quidams Rubin x Zapateado BEN MAHER (GBR), Mrs. Phillips: 4/78.04
Photo Credit: Daniel Bluman and Sancha LS; Ian Millar and Star Power; Lauren Hough and Quick Study; Eric Lamaze and Coriana van Klapscheut; Cathy Blundell and Troubadour. Photos © Sportfot, Official Sport Photographer of the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival, www.us.sportfot.com.