Wellington, FL - April 1, 2012 - The 2012 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival drew to a close today. The feature attraction of the day was the $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby at The Stadium, and Kelley Farmer rode Nancy Amling's Taken to victory. Competition concluded in the International Arena on Sunday with the junior and amateur-owner jumpers competing in their final classics.
Beginning the morning, Abigail McArdle jumped to victory in the $10,000 Griffis Group High Junior Jumper Classic aboard Bravoman. Cara Dayton and Caballero 81 earned top honors in the $10,000 Charles Owen Low Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic, and Alexandra Crown and Can Be Good won the $10,000 South Florida SportChassis Low Junior Jumper Classic. In the Beval Palm Beach Adult Medal, Tracey Mack-Gorin won the final class, while Devon MacNamara won the circuit award. Schaefer Raposa wrapped her last week with wins in the Marley Goodman Small and Antares Large 16-17 Junior Hunters.
Yesterday, some special awards were presented at the winner's circle of the International Arena. Richard Spooner's top mount Cristallo won the Simba Run Perpetual Trophy. Spooner accepted on behalf of Show Jumping Syndications International as the owners of Cristallo, who has earned the most Open Jumper prize money in classes held at a 1.45m or more during the FTI WEF. Cristallo's groom, Antonio Camarino, was presented with the Oliver O'Toole Perpetual Memorial Trophy for his hand in Cristallo's success.
Another important award presented on Saturday night was The Harrison Cup Perpetual Trophy, which was awarded to Beverley Widdowson for the second year in a row as the owner of Nick Skelton's fantastic horses, who won the most jumper money in all of the open jumper classes at the FTI WEF. Skelton accepted the award on Widdowson's behalf.
The Christy Conard Perpetual Trophy for Equestrian Excellence was given to Catherine Tyree, who accumulated the most points in the four major equitation classes held during the FTI WEF.
The $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby was the highlight class of the day and held on the grass derby field at The Stadium. The top 25 finishers from yesterday's first round returned for their handy round and jumped over a variety of fences, including the the hedge brush, table bank, and the derby bank. There were 16 jumps on the course designed by Bobby Murphy, and it tested not only the horses' versatility, but their stamina.
The first horse in the ring was Charleston Z, ridden and owned by Victoria Press. The junior rider galloped right around the course and showed how it was done, scoring a 182 in the second round to move from 25th to 12th place.
A big move from ninth to second place came from Declaration, ridden by Scott Stewart for Fashion Farm. Stewart and Declaration picked up a gallop and had no troubles on the course. The judges rewarded them with a second round score of 218 for a total of 396 for second place.
Stewart said that he aimed two of his mounts - Declaration and Dedication - for today's class. Dedication came back on top in the second round, but an unfortunate refusal and fall for Stewart at the second jump took him out of the ribbons.
He felt that Declaration was well-suited for the derby. "Declaration is usually so relaxed and he is naturally lazy; he is almost too lazy. Before I go in I have to gallop him around because he is so quiet. Not much fazes him and he has a pretty nice life. He's fairly brave about everything. He was perfect today and just really good."
He added, "I thought the course was beautiful and the footing was great. Everything was just very well done."
Jennifer Alfano and Jersey Boy were sitting in second place after the first round, and they had a solid second round trip to finish with a total of 386.5 points for third place.
"I have to say, when I walked the course I was quite nervous about the bank, but both of my horses were awesome," said Alfano, who also placed seventh with Helen Lenahan's Miss Lucy. "I was thrilled with them. On Jersey Boy, I felt like I picked up the gallop and just kept galloping, you didn't have to break it up anywhere and it just rode really nicely."
She added with a laugh, "Mostly it was the bank that worried me and not even the going up, it was coming down. You don't get to practice going downhill at a gallop much. I really had worked myself into a lather about that before the class!"
Farmer and her third mount of the day, Taken, looked right at home galloping around the grass field. They showed a great, even pace throughout the course and stepped it up for the two hand gallops asked on course. They took all of the high options on course and received handy scores of ten and eight for a second round score of 213 and a total score of 398 and the win. This was Farmer's and Taken's eighth derby victory.
"Oh my God, that was so much fun out there," Farmer declared. "It was great and I loved that field. You get to gallop like that and jump hedges, the banks and everything. How much fun for the horses to be out here and to get out here, I loved it. I thought they jumped great and all the horses did nicely out here. We all had little bits; I had one (that was) a little overwhelmed out here, but for the most part I thought the horses were great."
Farmer felt that Taken was perfectly suited to go out on the big field. "He loves the grass. I mean, every time I've shown him on the grass he is great. He is absolutely fantastic on it and he just likes these big fields and he likes being able to gallop. I absolutely enjoyed having a change in venue. We haven't been able to go out there, it's lovely to get out of the ring; the ring was beautiful yesterday, but we've been there for a while so it was really nice to be somewhere different."
While noting that oftentimes people are telling her to slow down with Taken, her usual galloping pace worked well today. "He has a huge stride. Actually, everyone is usually telling me to slow down. He's fun to gallop. He's a little lazy, a quiet horse and I can kick him and he is in a rubber snaffle. He is like a little windup toy."
Junior and Amateur-Owner Jumpers Wrap Up the Season
Ireland's Alan Wade set the courses in the International all week and finished out with a successful day on Sunday. In the $10,000 Charles Owen Low Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic, 76 entries showed and 21 cleared the course to advance to the jump-off. Sixteen jumped double clear, and Cara Dayton and Caballero 81 had the fastest round in 30.085 seconds for the win. Chandra Cummin and Ornella R placed second in 30.917 seconds. Michaelle Navarro-Grau and Maharshi finished third with a time of 31.052 seconds.
Junior and Amateur-Owner Jumpers Wrap Up the Season
Class winner Cara Dayton is a twenty-four-year-old rider from Chesapeake City, MD. Dayton rode as a junior, then took some time off for college and is now excited to be back on the horse show scene. Dayton currently has three horses: Lucifer, Caballero 81, and Holly, and is training with Olympian Anne Kursinski.
Dayton's winning mount today was Caballero 81 or 'Cabo'. Dayton has owned the eleven-year-old Hanoverian gelding (by Contender) for almost two years.
"Cabo is a little, spooky horse," the rider detailed. "He doesn't have very much self-confidence, so we are always trying to do things to give him the feeling that he can really do it. Today I was a little worried because we both got a little rattled in the warm-up and I didn't know what was going to happen in the ring, but he was a good boy. He has his days of brilliance and then he has his days where he sort of shrinks into himself and gets all nervous about the world, so today was a good day for him."
Dayton went 22nd in the order of 76 horses and jumped off immediately following her first round, so her leading time held on through most of the class. She spoke about her plan on course, stating, "I strayed a little bit from the plan in the first round because I felt him spook a little, and then I over rode and got a little crazy. I got lucky in the last line in the first round; I left one out. Then in the jump-off, I decided when I walked the course that if we made it I was just going to go as fast as I could, so I pretty much did that. Then at least, since we went early, I could rest the class knowing we went as fast as we could. If we got beaten there was nothing else we could do, but luckily we held on."
The $10,000 South Florida Sport Chassis Low Junior Jumper Classic completed the day's competition with a win for 16-year-old Alexandra Crown and her mount Can Be Good, a twelve-year-old German-bred Holsteiner mare.
That class saw 54 entries and 17 made it to the jump-off. Eight jumped double clear, and Crown and Can Be Good finished with the fastest jump-off time in 29.700 seconds for the win. Jackson Brittan and Silver Oak Farm LLC's Torpedo finished second with their time of 30.195 seconds. Victoria Colvin and Ax-Cent, owned by Rivers Edge, placed third in 30.468 seconds.
Crown, of New York, NY, just stepped up to showing in the Low Juniors in January and also purchased Can Be Good aka 'Candy' at the same time. Crown trains with Scott Stewart and Ken Berkley at Rivers Edge, and they found the mare in Germany.
"I just started the Lows in January and she has basically brought me up from the Children's," Crown explained. "She is just perfect. She has taught me so much. She likes to go really fast and she has the most comfortable jump and she has the best gallop when she opens up; she has the biggest stride."
The pair has excelled throughout this year's FTI WEF circuit, winning four classics in the Low Junior Jumper division, including this one. They won during weeks eight, nine, eleven and now twelve, and are well in the lead for the division's circuit championship.
Crown commented on her rounds today, stating, "I thought in the first round I could have ridden a little bit better, but then in the jump-off we went really fast and she was just really game and ready. Ken and I discussed doing the six strides in the first line and with her big stride it was really easy for her and then just to fly to the next jump. Then I had to really steady for the one-stride so I didn't eat it up. She is really good at balancing back at combinations, so she was good at that, and then I just had to go to the last two jumps."
Crown competes with and against barn mate and good friend Victoria Colvin, who finished third today. On the barn camaraderie, Crown acknowledged, "I love it. Tori and I are really good friends, so I am fine with either of us winning. She is such an amazing rider. It is just really fun to compete against each other."
Crown plans to take a week off to relax and will then show during the ESP Spring Circuit before continuing on to Kentucky and Devon.
The first class in the International Arena this morning was the $10,000 Griffis Group High Junior Jumper Classic. There were 25 entries and just three were clean to advance to the jump-off. Class winner Abigail McArdle (17) of Barrington, IL, rode Bravoman, an 11-year-old Argentine stallion by Countryman, to victory. They had the last spot in the jump-off and knew that a clear round would get them the win. They did just that, gaining the victory over Lillie Keenan on Abigail Wexner's Zycarla Z and Kira Kerkorian on Malcolm.
She said of her jump-off ride, "Originally my plan for the jump off was to go inside 1 to 2, but after we saw that Lillie had that rail, we decided to be safe and go around. Be tidy but clean."
McArdle started riding Bravoman this past summer and trains with Katie and Henri Prudent. "He doesn't act like a stallion at all," McArdle described. "He's lovely at the barn and to flat. It's been great to know you have the scope and all the tools, it's just up to you to know how to use them. It's been fun to be able to work with a great horse."
"We started this circuit with a win in a classic like this," she continued. "There have been ups and downs since then. It's such a long circuit which is a great learning opportunity. This circuit allowed me to figure out his intricacies. I was happy with him today. It was a long circuit and it's a great way to finish with a win."
Equitation and Hunter Riders Capture The Last FTI WEF Tricolors For 2012
Tracy Mack-Gorin of Mystic, CT, surpassed a field of 15 to claim top honors in this week's Beval Palm Beach Adult Medal. The race to accumulate the highest number of points this season, and be named circuit champion in the division, remained close up to the very end. Ultimately, Devon MacNamara of Philadelphia, PA, pulled ahead by just one point above Mack-Gorin to win the series with 64 points.
Equitation and Hunter Riders Capture The Last FTI WEF Tricolors For 2012
Following today's victory, the overall medal victor, MacNamara, commented on her success this season. "This year worked out better than I ever could have hoped for," MacNamara admitted. "This is the first time I've ever been down here and my boss has made my dreams come true."
MacNamara's partner in the series victory is a twelve-year-old Westphalian named Paramount. "We started week seven and I truly didn't think it would amount to this," MacNamara said. "Paramount normally does the hunters, but we decided to play with him in the equitation and he loves it."
Describing her performance in the show ring, MacNamara added, "The course today was great. I was really nervous and wanted to do well so it was nice that it kept me thinking and distracted my nerves. I think everything rode really well. The whole season has been great, really. The first time I did this class, I won it - it was amazing. I think last week was the epiphany point, though; it was the course I was most happy with."
For her efforts this seasons, MacNamara received a custom Butet saddle from Beval Saddlery. The dedicated rider looks forward to using her new saddle while working as a groom at Journey's End Farm in Glenmoore, PA.
The winner of today's final installment of the Beval Palm Beach Adult Medal series, Mack-Gorin, commented on today's victory. "This is the third or fourth year I've ridden in this series," Mack-Gorin explained, "and I think it gets harder every year. More and more people find out about it and a lot of people are aging out. I'm competing against a ton of friends from when I was a junior and it's gotten really, really fun to have more people in it, but it's also gotten much more competitive."
Describing her rounds this morning, Mack-Gorin added, "I don't watch because it makes me nervous. So, I didn't really see anybody else go, but I did do a couple of the inside turns that were tricky. My trainer told me very specifically where to go and that I should go inside. At first, I didn't really believe her, but then I got in there and it ended up working out! So, that was my hardest thinking moment. I think I was the only one who completed that turn. My horse was super."
Mack-Gorin's victory today earned the adult rider a new bridle and custom engraved picture frame from Beval Saddlery. According to Mack-Gorin, the opportunity to lease and catch ride several different mounts to compete was a blessing, and adjusting to each ride was a challenge met by accepting detailed instruction from her trainer.
In the coming weeks, Mack-Gorin and MacNamara plan to recover from a season filled with hard work and determination. Both Adult riders are grateful for the remarkable training they received this year from trainers Erica Hogg-Belden and Debbie Wilson-Brock.
In the Junior Hunter arena today, Schaefer Raposa wowed judges atop her Marley Goodman Small and Antares Large Junior 16-17 mounts, Turtle Bay and Enzo. Raposa captured the championship tricolor in both divisions, earning 28 points on Turtle Bay, a bay Warmblood gelding owned by Terrapin Hill Farm, LLC, and 40.5 points on Enzo, an eight-year-old chestnut Warmblood owned by David Oberkircher.
The FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival has come to a close. Equestrian Sport Productions thanks everyone for another highly successful season. For full results, please visit www.showgroundslive.com.
Final Results: $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby
1 TAKEN KELLEY FARMER NANCY AMLING R1/J1 89 4 R1/J2 88 4 185.00 R2/J1 93 10 4 R2/J2 94 8 4 213.00 398.00
2 DECLARATION SCOTT STEWART FASHION FARM R1/J1 85.25 4 R1/J2 84.75 4 178.00 R2/J1 96 10 4 R2/J2 94 10 4 218.00 396.00
3 JERSEY BOY JENNIFER ALFANO SBS FARMS R1/J1 89 4 R1/J2 90 4 187.00 R2/J1 87.5 8 4 R2/J2 87 9 4 199.50 386.50
4 GARFIELD SCOTT STEWART ALEXANDRA CROWN R1/J1 82 4 R1/J2 81 4 171.00 R2/J1 94 9 4 R2/J2 95 9 4 215.00 386.00
5 GENUINE VICTORIA COLVIN ROSE HILL FARM R1/J1 87.25 3 R1/J2 82.5 3 175.75 R2/J1 92 10 4 R2/J2 90 8 4 208.00 383.75
6 SIENNA PATRICIA GRIFFITH LEXI MAOUNIS R1/J1 86.25 4 R1/J2 84.5 4 178.75 R2/J1 90 8 4 R2/J2 89 9 4 204.00 382.75
7 MISS LUCY JENNIFER ALFANO HELEN LENAHAN R1/J1 88 4 R1/J2 82 4 178.00 R2/J1 89 6 4 R2/J2 90 6 4 199.00 377.00
8 BASES LOADED KELLEY FARMER AM FREE INC. R1/J1 79.75 4 R1/J2 80.75 4 168.50 R2/J1 87 9 4 R2/J2 85 7 4 196.00 364.50
9 FRIDAY NIGHT SANDRA FERRELL KAR, LLC R1/J1 78.25 4 R1/J2 82.25 4 168.50 R2/J1 88 4 4 R2/J2 86 5 4 191.00 359.50
10 TEMPTATION KRISTY MCCORMACK AUTUMN JANESKY R1/J1 80 2 R1/J2 80 2 164.00 R2/J1 85 7 2 R2/J2 83 6 2 185.00 349.00
11 QUATRAIN ELIZABETH BOYD FINALLY FARM & JANET PETERSON R1/J1 85.5 4 R1/J2 85 4 178.50 R2/J1 80 3 4 R2/J2 74 4 4 169.00 347.50
12 CHARLESTON Z VICTORIA PRESS VICTORIA PRESS R1/J1 76.5 2 R1/J2 79.25 2 159.75 R2/J1 82 6 3 R2/J2 81 7 3 182.00 341.75
Photo Credit: Scott Stewart and Declaration; Jennifer Alfano and Jersey Boy jump off the table bank; Kelley Farmer and Taken; Cara Dayton and Caballero 81; Alexandra Crown and Can Be Good; Abigail McArdle and Bravoman; Devon MacNamara and Paramount.Photos © Sportfot, Official Sport Photographer of the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival, www.us.sportfot.com.