Wellington, FL - March 1, 2012 - Canada's Eric Lamaze and Coriana Van Klapscheut, owned by Artisan Farms LLC, emerged victorious in Thursday afternoon's $32,000 WEF Challenge Cup Round 8 at the FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF). With 82 starters and a ten horse jump-off, the pair beat out Nick Skelton (GBR) and Beverley Widdowson's Carlo 273, who finished second and David Will (GER) and Klaus Isaak's Colorit, who placed third.
Week eight of the FTI WEF, sponsored by G&C Farm, will feature CSIO competition through Sunday, March 4. The week will feature the $75,000 FEI Nations Cup CSIO 4* presented by G&C Farm on Friday, March 2, the $35,000 VitaFlex Match Races and $35,000 Hermès Puissance on Saturday, March 3, as well as the $150,000 Wellington Equestrian Realty CSIO 4* Grand Prix on Sunday, March 4. The 2012 FTI WEF has 12 weeks of competition that conclude on April 1, 2012, and will be awarding more than $6 million in prize money through the circuit.
Anthony D'Ambrosio, of Red Hook, NY, is the course designer in the International Arena this week. D'Ambrosio set a demanding track for the Challenge Cup starters, and just ten were able to conquer the course to advance to the jump-off. The short course, in a time allowed of 50 seconds, saw six clears.
First to go in the jump-off, Eric Lamaze set a super fast pace that would go unbeaten with Coriana Van Klapscheut, jumping clear in 37.04 seconds.
Ninth in the jump-off order, Nick Skelton and Carlo 273 were fast in 37.99 seconds to finish in second place. The final competitor on course was David Will, who went clear in 39.26 seconds with Colorit and placed third.
Also completing this afternoon's jump-off course without fault, Cara Raether (USA) and Trelawny Farm LLC's Saskia 269 cleared the course in 39.34 seconds to finish in fourth place. Luca Moneta of Italy jumped clear in 46.03 seconds with Mastroeni Nicoletta's Neptune Brecourt to finish in fifth, and Germany's Meredith-Michaels Beerbaum and EOS Sport's Bella Donna 66 stopped the clock in 46.46 seconds, which finished sixth.
Coriana Van Klapscheut is a ten-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare by Darco x Heartbreaker. After the tragic loss of his Olympic gold medalist mount Hickstead in November, Lamaze has shown Coriana in top classes throughout the world, and she has risen to the challenge. This was the mare's first big class this winter, and he described her path to success in a greatly progressing career.
"She's a horse that we used as a speed horse most of her career to be honest. Behind Hickstead, she was always the second horse," Lamaze stated. "She ended up doing a lot of 1.45m and 1.50m speed classes and she was a winner doing that. I always thought she was brave and could jump the big fences, but she was never asked the question too many times."
"When I had no choice at the end of the year, she surprised me. It was a pleasant surprise, not only that she did it, but that she did it easily," Lamaze recalled. "She was second in the Top 10 in Paris, and that's one of the most difficult classes in the world that I've been in. To be honest, a lot of people with horses don't know what they have until they ask them the real question."
"Towards the end of the year she became my main horse, my best horse, my most experienced horse," he continued. "She had to step up to the plate in the fall and she went in such great style that when I got home from Geneva, she had some time off. She did two 1.40m classes at the beginning of this circuit and this was her first big class of the year. I'm really happy. I don't know what is next for her, but I think she'll do Paris indoors; this is her preparation for that. Then she goes on to Qatar from there."
Commenting on the jump-off today, Lamaze said he knew he was fast, but he never counts out the other competitors. "She's very quick, but Nick is a very fast rider. On this circuit, I've seen jump-offs that I've watched with my own eyes and said, 'There's the winner,' and at the end they've ended up being fourth, so it's extremely competitive. I can't say I had it, but I know she's extremely fast. She spends no time in the air. I thought for sure I gave it a very good go, whatever the result. I don't think if I went again I could beat that time."
Prior to the Challenge Cup, the $8,000 Spy Coast Farm 1.45m was the first class held in the International Arena this morning with 38 entries. Six went clear to jump-off, and Ireland's Kevin Babington completed the two fastest rounds. Riding Udiana, owned by Chloe Wormser, Babington crossed the timers in 35.801 seconds to take the first place prize. Aboard Alexandra Bartlett's Ramina, he finished in 36.634 seconds to place second.
Great Britain's David McPherson and Silver Exchange II completed the short course in 38.358 seconds and finished third. The Irish also took fourth, fifth and sixth place honors. Darragh Kerins and E-Muse Yek, owned by Wembley Farms, Inc. jumped clear in 41.111 seconds to finish fourth. Shane Sweetnam and Siri, owned by Spy Coast Farm, had four faults in the jump-off to place fifth, and Jonathan McCrea and Colorado, owned by Julie Featherstone Kuti, had eight faults to place sixth.
Erynn Ballard and Timber Ridge Heat Up the Hunter Ring
In this week's Sanctuary Regular Conformation Hunter division, Erynn Ballard of Tottenham, Ontario, Canada earned the championship tricolor on her mount, Timber Ridge. The pair received one first and three second place ribbons over fences and finished second in the under saddle class to win the division with 34 points. The reserve tricolor went to Cynthia Williams of Somers, NY, who scored three fourths and a first over fences and topped the under saddle on her mount, Smoking Gun, an eight-year-old German Warmblood by In Extenso.
The division winner, Timber Ridge, is an eleven-year-old Holsteiner by Coriano. Affectionately known as Tony in the barn, the bay gelding was imported by Shane George of Magnolia, TX, and began his show jumping career as a First Year Green Hunter. Since then, Timber Ridge has found success at the USHJA International Hunter Derby Finals and the Alltech National Horse Show in Kentucky.
Following their win, Ballard discussed Tony's performance in the show ring. "I just thought that he was great," she explained. "He really hasn't shown since the National and they don't do a lot with him at home because I'm not there to ride him. He just knew today, he was on his game and wanted to come here and win."
"I've ridden him on an off for six years now," Ballard continued. "I've known him since he was a baby. He was actually a stallion when Shane first got him and he has some babies on the ground. I started riding him as a First Year horse and then he did the Jumpers before I started riding him again last year. This is our debut week at WEF."
Commenting on the today's high temperature, Ballard added, "You know, I actually don't mind this weather. I would much prefer it to be this hot than to be cold. I just don't like to ride in wind. I find that it's hardest to rate your speed in the wind."
For Timber Ridge, the coming weeks promise additional chances to achieve victory in the Sanctuary Regular Conformation Hunter division as well as the FarmVet Amateur-Owner 3'3" division with rider Wendy George. Ballard hopes to help qualify Timber Ridge for indoors this fall.
Week eight will continue tomorrow with an exciting day of international competition, including the $10,000 G&C Farm CSIO Speed Stake and $75,000 FEI Nation's Cup presented by G&C Farm in the International Arena. The Grand Hunter Ring will host the Camping World Adult Hunter 51 & Over Sec A.
Final Results: $32,000 WEF Challenge Cup Round 8
1. CORIANA VAN KLAPSCHEUT: 2002 BWP mare by Darco x Heartbreaker ERIC LAMAZE (CAN), Artisan Farms LLC: 0/0/37.04
2. CARLO 273: 2001 Holsteiner gelding by Contender x Cascavelle NICK SKELTON (GBR), Beverly Widdowson: 0/0/37.99
3. COLORIT: 2003 Württemberger stallion by Coriano x Capitol DAVID WILL (GER), Isaak Klaus: 0/0/39.26
4. SASKIA 269: 2002 Holsteiner mare by Quantum x Carthago CARA RAETHER (USA), Trelawny Farm LLC: 0/0/39.34
5. NEPTUNE BRECOURT: 2001 Selle Francais gelding by Cumano x Kayack LUCA MONETA (ITA), Mastroeni Nicoletta: 0/0/46.03
6. BELLA DONNA 66: 2003 Holsteiner mare by Baldini II x Calido I MEREDITH MICHAELS-BEERBAUM (GER), EOS Sport: 0/0/46.46
7. CEDRIC: 1998 Holsteiner gelding by Chambertin x Carolus Z LAURA KRAUT (USA), Cherry Knoll Farm, Inc: 0/4/39.08
8. LEVISTANO 2: 2002 Holsteiner stallion by Levisto x LordTODD MINIKUS (USA): Starwyn Ventures LLC: 0/4/40.78
9. BARONEZ: 2001 Warmblood mare by Heartbreaker x Unknown KIRSTEN COE (USA), Ilan Ferder & Kirsten Coe: 0/4/43.36
10. WANNAHAVE: 2003 KWPN gelding by Manhattan x G. Ramiro Z DARRAGH KENNY (IRL), The Wannahave Group: 0/8/39.15
11. HUNTER'S SCENDIX: 2003 Hanoverian stallion by Stakkato x Dinar ERIC LAMAZE (CAN), LVS Hunters/Torrey Pine Stables: 1/76.11
12. URAYA: 2001 KWPN mare by Farmer x Zeno CHARLIE JAYNE (USA), Pony Lane Farm: 4/68.68
Photo Credit: Eric Lamaze and Coriana Van Klapscheut won the $32,000 WEF Challenge Cup Round 8, Erynn Ballard and Timber Ridge won in the Sanctuary Regular Conformation Hunters at the 2012 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival; Shane George and Timber Ridge. Photos © Sportfot, Official Sport Photographer of the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival, www.us.sportfot.com.