Wellington, FL - January 28, 2010 - It was a picture perfect today at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center as the professional divisions finished their third week of competition at the 2010 FTI Winter Equestrian Festival.
In a tight race for the championship in the Conformation Hunter division, Ken Berkley and Premiere, owned by Gina Day, emerged victorious by garnering 28 points over two days of competition to clinch the championship award. Just behind Berkley with 27 points was Morgan Thomas and First Partners LP's mount Savant for the reserve championship.
Berkley, who bases out of Flemington, NJ, imported Premiere about two years ago, and has had the ride on the 6-year-old Holsteiner ever since. Premiere spent last year competing in the Pre-Green Hunters and does double duty when owner Gina Day shows him on the weekends in the Adult Amateurs.
Berkley raved about his mount whom he says is "a very easy horse to have, truly a sweet horse, and is as basic as you can get." Berkley noted that while Premiere has not yet won the model in the Conformation division, he has been in the top three ribbons every time he has stood on the line throughout this circuit. "He usually wins the hack, and he's good in the handy hunter classes. He trots jumps, he can turn, he can slice. He's pretty easy," Berkley acknowledged.
Premiere will continue to do the Conformation Hunters during the circuit, and will compete in the Adult Amateur Hunters 51 & over whenever Day is able to show. When asked if he will consider showing Premiere in the hunter derbies later in the year Berkley commented, "He just might because he's so uncomplicated with spooky stuff and it will probably be a great class for him."
Hunter competition will continue tomorrow, as Junior and Amateur riders will begin to vie for the championships in their divisions.
The 2010 FTI Winter Equestrian Festival has 12 weeks of top competition running from January 13 through April 4. WEF is run by Equestrian Sport Productions, LLC, and Wellington Equestrian Partners and held at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. All 12 shows are "AA" rated and Jumper Rated 6, and more than $5.5 million in prize money will be awarded.
Photo Credit: Ken Berkley and Premiere Clinch the Conformation Hunter Championship. Photo © 2010 Randi Muster/Mustphoto, Inc., Official Sport Photographer of the 2010 FTI Winter Equestrian Festival.