West Palm Beach, FL - The Holiday HorseFest, presented by Fidelity Investments and staged by Equestrian Sport Productions, was held on Sunday, December 12, at The Meyer Amphitheatre in West Palm Beach, FL. The waterfront equestrian event was a great success, drawing over 4,000 spectators to see show jumping in a new venue, spreading the word about the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival and the 2011 FTI Great Charity Challenge presented by Fidelity Investments to a wider audience.
"We owe a big thank you to our sponsors and to the City of West Palm Beach for their support in making this event a reality and a huge success," said Mark Bellissimo, CEO of Equestrian Sport Productions. "We hope this will be the first of many events in Palm Beach County that will broaden the reach of equestrian sport here."
The event featured classes with 20 top jumper riders, and Andres Rodriguez of Boca Raton, FL, won the opening speed class with his horse Larkanaro. South Florida native and U.S. Olympian Margie Engle finished second on Ginger 729, owned by Lea Allen. U.S. Olympic Gold Medalist and Wellington resident Laura Kraut and Woodstock O, owned by Joan Kalman, were third.
Rodriguez, who competes for his home country of Venezuela, is a World Equestrian Games veteran at the young age of 26. He bases in the winter out of Boca Raton, and he was excited to compete at this new event in Palm Beach County.
"The event was great," Rodriguez said. "The footing was good, the sponsors are happy with the event, and I think all of the riders were satisfied. It was a new crowd for the sport and they seemed very enthusiastic. Hopefully they will come see us this winter in Wellington."
Kraut returned for the win in the second class, an exciting four-bar competition. She and Woodstock O competed through four rounds with the fences being raised each time. They stayed clear, as did Catherine Pasmore of Charlottesville, VA, on Vondavid. The 18-year-old trains with Kraut and was excited to tie with her. Third place went to Canadian rider Erynn Ballard on Fun 2 Fly, owned by the Looking Up Group.
"I thought they did a really incredible job putting the event on," Pasmore said. "This was only the fourth time I've competed with my horse. I've never done anything like a four-bar before; it was so much fun! The crowd was cheering at every jump and they want to pet your horse. It was such a great event."
Kraut added, "I thought it was a brilliant idea. It's not easy to execute, so I'm very impressed by all the effort that went into it. I think the public really enjoyed it, and it's really great for the sport. Hopefully this will help increase the popularity of the sport here. I loved it."
Viewers were treated to dramatic equestrian competition, featuring some of the most well-known Olympic riders in the world, but the fun didn't stop there. There was something for the whole family, including Lusitano and American Miniature Horse exhibitions, pony rides, a petting zoo, dog agility shows, street performers, musical performances by the The Monique McCall Band, and a jolly Santa Claus to ensure a fun and festive holiday afternoon. Over $10,000 in prizes were raffled away as well. Across the street, Gracie Street Interior Design store provided the perfect opportunity to gain aerial shots of the event.
The Holiday HorseFest also hosted the random drawings for the 2011 FTI Great Charity Challenge presented by Fidelity Investments. Over 160 Palm Beach County charities applied to be a part of the event, which will be held on February 19 at the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival. The goal for this year's FTI Great Charity Challenge presented by Fidelity Investments is to give away a million dollars to the 30 chosen charities, with each one receiving at least $10,000. The winning charity will be decided based on the performance of the equestrian team with which the charities are randomly matched.
The 30 charities chosen to be in 2011 FTI Great Charity Challenge presented by Fidelity Investments are:
4 Preselects/Pre Qualified:
YMCA of Palm Beach
Step by Step Foundation
Wellington Community Foundation
The charities chosen randomly at the Holiday HorseFest:
1. JAFCO - Jewish Adoption and Foster Care Options
2. Urban League of Palm Beach County
3. Junior Achievement of South Florida
4. Hospice of Palm Beach County
5. YWCA of Palm Beach
6. Oasis Compassion Agency
7. Wheels for Kids
8. George Snow Scholarship Foundation
9. H.O.W. - Hearing the Ovarian Whisper
10. Horses n' Heroes
11. Boys and Girls Club of Palm Beach County
12. Resource Depot
13. Friends of MacArthur State Park
14. American Red Cross
15. Chrons and Colitis Foundation
16. Drug Abuse Treatment Association Inc.
17. Loggerhead Marine Life Center
18. The Kings Academy
19. The Lord's Place
20. Norton Museum of Art
21. Children's Foundation for Equine Assisted Therapy, Inc.
22. Caridad Center
23. The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society
24. Partners International Women
25. South Florida Science Museum
One wild card is still available for the charity that sells the most tickets to the 2011 FTI Great Charity Challenge presented by Fidelity Investments between Wednesday, December 13, and January 15. Tickets are available for purchase at www.equestriansport.com.
This event would not be possible without the generous support from its kind sponsors: Fidelity Investments, FTI Consulting, Bank of America, Suncast, The Downtown Development Authority, Palm Beach Illustrated, the Business Development Board, SWS, and the City of West Palm Beach.
For more information about the FTI Great Charity Challenge presented by Fidelity Investments and the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival (January 12-April 3, 2011), please visit www.equestriansport.com or call 561-793-5867.
Photo Credit: Equestrian Sport Productions CEO Mark Bellissimo with Mayor of West Palm Beach Lois Frankel; Andres Rodriguez and Larkanaro won the speed class; Laura Kraut and Woodstock O in the four-bar class; Catherine Pasmore and Vondavid tied for the win with Laura Kraut in the four-bar class; An aerial view of the Holiday HorseFest; Representatives for the 29 charities chosen for the 2011 FTI Great Charity Challenge presented by Fidelity Investments. All photos © ManciniPhotos.