Wellington, FL - January 19, 2012 - Ken Berkley and Gina Day's six-year-old Zangersheide gelding Prestige took home a championship tricolor and Horseware Ireland cooler in the Sanctuary First Year Green Working Hunters for week two of the FTI WEF. Prestige and Berkley won two classes over fences today and earned two fourth place ribbons yesterday. Scott Stewart rode his own Caldwell to the reserve championship, finishing first over yesterday's handy course and second under saddle, and placing sixth in today's stake class.
Prestige was circuit champion in the Pre-Green 3' Hunters during last year's FTI WEF and this was his first time showing in the First Year division. "Prestige is just a baby; he just turned six years old," Berkley stated. "He was four and then turned five when we started him last year. He is so simple that we gave him the summer off. He has not shown since Kentucky last spring in May and this is his first week doing the First Years."
Commenting on the horse's demeanor, Berkley declared, "He is bomb proof; he doesn't look at a thing left or right. The spookier the fence, the higher he jumps. He has a big stride and he lands on every lead. I never had to do a flying change in two days over four courses."
"He is a great horse," Berkley praised. "He is going to be a great, fun First Year horse. He is going to be fun to do derbies with because he is perfect in that kind of environment. He would jump in and out of a circle of hay bales like they had last year; he doesn't care about a thing."
Berkley detailed the ease of Prestige's show routine, explaining that he takes very little preparation. "He requires no lunge; he just gets a fifteen minute ride in the morning. It is rare for First Year horses to be that simple," he emphasized. "Usually they need to do a warm-up, but I did a warm-up with him last week and I jumped two jumps with him this week, and now I don't think I will ever need to do one."
Berkley plans to show Prestige through the first few weeks in Wellington to make sure that he is qualified for the Devon Horse Show, and will then give him a couple of weeks off before World Championship Hunter Rider (WCHR) week (week 6). Prestige's owner, Gina Day, hopes to show the gelding herself this year as well. She plans to show in the Adult Amateurs later in the season.
Week two of the FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival continues tomorrow with many classes, including the USEF Talent Search equitation class for junior riders and the World Development Group 1.35 Jumpers.
Photo Credit: Ken Berkley and Prestige were the Sanctuary First Year Green Working Hunter championship at the 2012 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival; Owner Gina Day with Prestige. Photo © Sportfot, Official Sport Photographer of the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival, www.sportfot.com.