Wellington, FL - February 10, 2012 - The third annual was held on Friday evening in the International Arena at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC). Riders representing 16 National Collegiate Equestrian Association (NCEA) varsity teams from around the country gathered to compete in a bracket-style format. The championship trophy, presented by the South Florida Hunter Jumper Association, was awarded to University of South Carolina junior Kimberly McCormack.
Laura Chapot was the fastest to win the $6,000 Spy Coast Farm 1.40m Speed Challenge with Bradberry. In the Camping World Adult Amteur 51 & Over Hunters, R. Bruce Duchossois and Just Fred earned the championship ribbon.
Week five of the FTI WEF, sponsored by Spy Coast Farm, will run February 8-12. The highlight class of the week is Saturday night's $125,000 FEI World Cup Qualifier Grand Prix, presented by Spy Coast Farm. The 2012 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival has 12 weeks of competition that conclude on April 1, 2012, and they will be awarding more than $6 million in prize money through the circuit.
Invitations were extended to 16 student athletes who currently participate in collegiate equestrian programs. They rode over fences in courses set at 3'6" designed by Bobby Murphy of Lexington, KY. The judges were Leo Conroy and Christina Schlusemeyer. The 16 riders were narrowed down earlier in the day to eight who competed under the lights in the International Arena tonight. Horses and tack were generously provided by area professionals. The riders were given a four minute warm-up in which they were allowed four fences before completing the course.
Three rounds were held over fences this evening, and it came down to Kimberly McCormack from University of South Carolina and Lisa Goldman from Baylor University in the final bracket. Both riders completed the final course aboard Chalan, owned by Claire Beth Nogay, who was also given the Best Horse Award. In the first round tonight, McCormack rode Mador Du Chaufour, owned by Sarah Porter, to a score of 84. In the second round, she showed Diamond Creek, owned by Diamond Creek Stables LLC, to a score of 86.5. A final score of 87.5 aboard Chalan gave McCormick the win.
Lisa Goldman finished with scores of 86 aboard St. James, 80 aboard Diamond Creek, and 85 aboard Chalan. The other riders competing over fences tonight were Sarah Mershon of Kansas State University, Carly Anthony of University of Georgia, Haley Jacobi of Texas Christian University, Maggie Earle of Texas A&M University, Jennifer Waxman of Auburn University, and Hillary West of California State University, Fresno.
Carly Anthony was presented with an award for her high score of 90 aboard Balisto, owned by Alex Bozorgi/Believe It Farm, in the first round of competition.
A junior majoring in Geophysics, McCormack was supported tonight by USC head coach Boo Major and fellow teammates and family. McCormack, of Clermont, NJ, was proud to earn the victory for her school.
"It's great to win for USC. It is great for the school and it is really fun to come out here and represent more than just yourself," McCormack stated. "I think that is a definite change from when you are just competing for yourself as a junior rider; it puts more pressure on you. It's a different kind of pressure, but it is definitely more in some ways."
McCormack has shown in the big ring at PBIEC before, competing in the USHJA International Hunter Derby during last year's FTI WEF, but still felt the excitement of competing under the lights. "I was out here last year for the hunter derby and I had a really good time with it, so I was just kind of trying to get back into that mentality and just ride the horse I had under me. I just wanted to trust all of the horses and that they were good and they were going to do their jobs, and they all did, so it was great."
Commenting on her three mounts, McCormack stated, "My horses were great all the way through. They were all really quality horses, so I got lucky I think. They did a really good job with the class."
The rider thanked her family and trainers for their support. "I want to thank my sister Kristy; she is number one on the list," McCormack smiled. "She is a trainer and she has been helping me since I was little, and Missy (Clark) really helped me when I rode with her as a junior. My parents were as supportive as can be; they were awesome coming with me to all the shows and they have been great."
The collegiate competition also expanded this year to include equitation on the flat with four riders showing tonight. Taylor Brown from Baylor University won the flat championship with her overall score of 164, showing in the final round aboard Winnie, and was presented a trophy donated by Haylie Jayne Rolfe. Katherine Schmidt from the University of South Carolina competed in the final bracket against Brown and finished with a score of 143.
Also competing on the flat were Kimberly Hewson Budnik from Florida State University and Christina Lin from Auburn University. The judges of the flat competition were Melissa Bark and Dee Thomas.
Flat winner Taylor Brown is a junior at Baylor University, the 2010 Big 12 championship team. The rider, from Palmyra, VA, was undefeated this past semester in her third year on the team and was honorable All-American last year over fences. This was her first time competing at the Collegiate Equitation Challenge. "I love it; it was so much fun," Brown smiled after her win. "With everyone from the top coming together, they're bringing it all, no matter what. The flat was a great addition to it; it was a lot of fun."
"I had no idea what to expect horse-wise," Brown noted. "My final horse was a dressage horse, so I was like, 'This is awesome! This is so much fun!' It took me a little while to figure out the canter transition, but when I figured it out, it was so nice. She was awesome; her lengthening was amazing."
Brown has shown at the FTI WEF in previous years as a junior. Commenting on the atmosphere of the competition tonight, she stated, "It's a major adrenaline rush. You go in there and you're nervous, but you're so ready to do it. It's an amazing feeling to win. It is great representing my school and it is a good accomplishment for me as well. I'm proud of myself and proud of the horses. Everyone rode amazing. South Carolina gave me really tough competition. It was nerve-wracking, but fun at the same time."
Although they did not compete in the final rounds tonight, several other schools were represented in this year's competition as well. The other riders in this morning's rounds included Caroline Foltz of Delaware State University, Amy Lang of New Mexico State University, Samantha Elser of Oklahoma State University, Abbie Britton of Sacred Heart University, Santana Wright of South Dakota State University, Julianna Fischer of Southern Methodist University, Nellie Foosaner of University of Miami, and Caroline Cramer of University of Tennessee Martin.
Special thanks go to Jill Townsend, Marion Maybank, Bobby Murphy, Patrick Duncan, David Burton, Michael Stone, Martha Jolicoeur, South Florida Hunter Jumper Association and Katherine Bellissimo.
Jumper Competition in the International Arena
The $6,000 Spy Coast Farm 1.40m Speed Challenge continued through the rain showers this afternoon. The 34 entries competed over a course designed by Guilherme Jorge of Brazil. There were 13 clear rounds. The fastest of those was Bradberry, ridden and owned by Laura Chapot. They sped through the timers to register a winning time of 56.045 seconds. Finishing in 56.323 seconds for second place was Carolla Z, ridden by Yann Candele (CAN) for Liz Currie. Scott Smith (GBR) and the Studd Family's Vadeline were third in 56.594 seconds.
Jumper Competition in the International Arena
The rain wasn't an issue, Chapot mentioned. She continued, "The ring was amazing. It looked like it didn't even rain. Years ago, we all would have left and gone to the movies, but here we are and still having a lot of people go in the class. There was not one ounce of concern about the footing."
Chapot believes that Bradberry's innate footspeed is what helps him win classes. "Actually, I didn't go as fast as I could have gone because when I went in the class, (the winning time) wasn't super fast. It's always hard to know what comes after you. His canter is so much faster than everyone else's that I can often be faster than a lot of horses just going at his normal speed. I don't have to necessarily have to put my foot to the floor to have a good time."
Chapot has a long history with Bradberry, a 1998 Selle Francais gelding, whom she rode when he was imported to the U.S. By McLain Ward. After being sold, Bradberry returned to Chapot five years ago. They finished as the circuit champions last year in the 1.40m division.
"He and I are just a really good fit," Chapot said. "He's basically the perfect horse for me. I love him. He has a lot of energy, he's really careful, and he loves to go fast. He really enjoys his job. He's actually very calm and a real sweetheart in the barn. He just gets excited when he gets to the ring because he loves to go in there and win."
While Chapot is a regular winner at the FTI WEF, it's personal goals and consistency that means more to her and her clients. "I think it's great to show that you're competitive and it brings attention when you can win a lot of classes," she explained. "It's great when our clients, like Chelsea Turner today, who won the Medium Amateur-Owner Jumpers, do well too. Even though we do really well in ring, it's not all about winning here. We're really interested in doing the best thing for each horse and you do the best you can. If that means you win, that's great. I try and do my personal best and hopefully that's good enough. That way you're satisfied with yourself and your own goals aren't married to your placing in the class."
In the $6,000 Spy Coast Farm 1.40m jump-off class, Beezie Madden (USA) and Zhivago, owned by Abigail Wexner, won with a jump-off time of 38.150 seconds. Shane Sweetnam and Spy Coast Farm's Siri placed second in 39.285 seconds, while Laura Chapot and Mary Chapot's Umberto were third in 41.180 seconds.
In the High Amateur-Owner Jumper Power and Speed class, Alise Oken and Kaid Du Ry took the win with a time in the 32.187 seconds over Michelle Navarro-Grau and Tibetano, who finished in 33.515 seconds. Eirin Bruheim and Cicero 75 were third in 34.316 seconds.
The Griffis Group High Junior Jumper Power and Speed class was also held today in the International Arena, and Sydney Shulman on Little Lady D'Elle jumped to the top with a clear round in 31.568 seconds. Finishing in 32.708 seconds were second place finishers Kalvin Dobbs and Ultimate VDL. Third place went to Emanuel Andrade and Costa, who had a time of 33.411 seconds.
Bruce Duchossois and Just Fred Capture the Camping World Adult Amateur Hunter 51 & Over Championship
Bruce Duchossois of Aiken, South Carolina surpassed a field of 25 competitors to capture the championship tricolor in this week's Camping World Adult Amateur Hunter 51 & Over division. Duchossois and his mount, Just Fred, scored back-to-back blue ribbons in Thursday's competition followed by two third place ribbons to win the division with a total of 28 points. A close reserve championship went to Mary K. Shaughnessy and her mount, King Lear, who stayed consistently in the top three ribbons all week with two firsts, two thirds and one second for a total of 26 points.
Bruce Duchossois and Just Fred Capture the Camping World Adult Amateur Hunter 51 & Over Championship
Just Fred is a chestnut Selle Francais gelding who originally began his show career in the jumper ring. According to Duchossois, today marks Fred's third show as a hunter and his first time performing in an under saddle class. "I've had horses in the past come from the jumper ring," Duchossois explained. "It normally takes them a while to mellow out but not Fred, he loves it. Nothing at all seems to bother him, even the rain. He wasn't quite sure what he was doing standing in the middle of the ring after the hack class but he just enjoyed his job anyway."
Duchossois found Fred with the help of his trainer, Havens Schatt, who has been instrumental in helping the gelding make the transformation from the jumper to the hunter ring. "Havens found both of the horses I showed today," Duchossois commented. "I couldn't be more pleased. Before this, Andrea King represented Fred for Peter Lutz and we tried him a week before circuit started. You can tell he likes this. I think we are going to have a lot of fun together."
Following their win, Duchossois commented on Fred's performance in the ring. "He jumped great today," Duchossois said. "We just went in there after a great day yesterday and had a lot of fun. He's not much of a hacker, but he can leave the ground from any distance and goes around with his little ears pointed forward kind of like a pony - you just point and kick."
In the coming weeks, Duchossois plans to step up his game with Fred and begin showing in the 3'3" division while continuing to work toward their ultimate goal of competing at the 3'6" height. Duchossois also hopes to achieve further success in the hunter ring on his additional mount, Smiles.
The FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival will continue tomorrow with a full schedule of hunter and jumper competition. The highlight class of the week, the $125,000 FEI World Cup Qualifier Grand Prix presented by Spy Coast Farm, will run at 7 p.m. Tricolor ribbons will be handed out to the FarmVet Amateur-Owner 18-35 3'3" Hunters as well.
Final Results: $6,000 Spy Coast Farm 1.40m Speed Challenge
1 BRADBERRY LAURA CHAPOT LAURA CHAPOT: 0/56.045
2 CAROLLA Z YANN CANDELE LIZ CURRIE: 0/56.323
3 VADELINE SCOTT SMITH STUDD FAMILY: 0/56.594
4 O'SPLENDIDO SHANE SWEETNAM SPY COAST FARM: 0/56.690
5 JAGGER NICHOLAS DELLO JOIO NICHOLAS DELLO JOIO: 0/58.567
6 KEEP IT SIMPLE HANNAH ISOP TRACY FREELS: 0/60.914
7 DACHA DE TOULON FILIP DE WANDEL SOPHIE LAFORCE: 0/61.047
8 DANCER LAUREN CROOKS ADELINE NEGRE: 0/61.973
9 CLASSIC LADY TANI ZEIDLER ZEIDLER FARM CANADA: 0/64.337
10 WINDBREAKER KIMBERLY PRINCE CHLOE D REID LLC: 0/64.408
11 CASH 51 SAER COULTER COPERNICUS STABLES: 0/67.229
12 AGRO STAR RICHARD SPOONER LITTLE VALLEY FARM: 0/68.329
Photo Credit: Kimberly McCormack, Taylor Brown, Carly Anthony, Laura Chapot and Bradberry, and Bruce Duchossois and Just Fred all won at the 2012 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival. Photo © Sportfot, Official Sport Photographer of the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival, www.sportfot.com.