Wellington, FL - March 17, 2012 - The $32,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic was held under the lights on Saturday night at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center with a win for Germany's Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum and Cantano. Twenty-six entries showed over a challenging course set by Michel Vaillancourt of Aiken, SC, and the pair completed the only clear round for the win.
With just one faultless round, no jump-off was necessary. Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum and Cantano were the winners, and nine four-fault entries ranked in order of their times to follow.
Fellow German rider David Will and Giovanni 151, owned by Paul Schockemohle, had the fastest four fault round in 69.84 seconds to place second. Great Britain's Ben Maher took third place honors riding Mrs. Emma Phillips' Quiet Easy 4 to four faults in 69.91 seconds and also placed fourth with Miss Louise Flower's Rowan with four faults in 71.71 seconds. David McPherson put Great Britain in fifth place as well, earning four faults in 72.27 seconds with his own and Mr. & Mrs. Holtger's Chamberlain Z.
This was Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum's second 1.50m win during the FTI WEF circuit after also topping a class with her veteran partner Checkmate 4 during week five. Her ride tonight, Cantano, is a newer mount with lots of potential.
"This is a relatively new horse for me and our first win, so it was quite a big deal. He was outstanding tonight." Michaels-Beerbaum smiled. Canatano, owned by Octavia Farms, LLC, is a twelve-year-old Holsteiner stallion by Cascavelle x Acord. "I got him in the fall of last year, so this is really my first big circuit with him," the rider detailed. "He's a stallion, so he can be feisty, but he has a great temperament. I think I'm starting to get to know him better. We are becoming a team. He won a lot before I got him in California, but this was a major step for him and I together."
The pair has done well throughout the FTI WEF circuit building up to their victory tonight. "This is one of the hardest circuits in the world," Michaels-Beerbaum acknowledged. "He received some good ribbons early in the circuit. He was fourth in the two-star grand prix the second week and third in the WEF Challenge Cup during week three. Then we went through an adjustment period where I was trying out different bits, figuring out his mouth a little bit. I feel that now we have made a big step forward."
Michaels-Beerbaum has had a couple of firsts in her prestigious career during this year's FTI WEF. During week eight's $75,000 FEI Nations Cup Presented by G&C Farm, she was the anchor rider for her German team and did not have to return in the second round after it was determined that the team could not be beat. The clear in tonight's class was her first time winning a classic with the only clear round and no jump-off.
She commented on the class tonight, stating, "I thought the course was difficult when I walked it; it was a real test. I found it was a great achievement for my horse and I together. To have a clear round over this type of course was a big step up for us in the right direction."
Also showing in the International Arena today, it was a one-two finish for Kira Kerkorian in the $1,500 Reist Industries Medium Junior Jumper speed class to begin the day. Kerkorian rode Ballypatrick Mystique to the win and finished second aboard Malcolm, both horses owned by Lisa Kerkorian.
Charlotte Jacobs and Deeridge Farm's Kachina then topped the $10,000 Griffis Group High Junior Jumper Classic. Jacobs and Kachina were the fastest of four double clears in a jump-off of eight competitors in the class, and they also came away with a $3,000 bonus for wearing SSG 'Digital' gloves with the SSG horse head logo clearly visible. "I think it is great," said Jacobs of the SSG Riding Gloves promotion. "It makes it more competitive. You are always doing your best to win, but it is fun when you get a little extra!" Jacobs also took the fourth place honors with North Star's Karonda V. Schl'Hof CH. Lillie Keenan and Abigail Wexner's Zycarla Z were second; Lydia Ulrich and Up the Creek Farm's Santos Utopia finished third.
The final class of the day session was the $15,000 SJHOF High Amateur-Owner Classic, which saw a win for Kelsey Thatcher and Pony Lane Farm's Klotaire Du Moulin. The pair had the fastest of four clear rounds in a six horse jump-off. Vanessa Mannix and Nirvana De Terlong finished second; Katie Dinan and Grant Road Partners' Sandro were third.
Shawn Casady Sweeps Antares Older Large Junior Hunter Division
Shawn Casady of Harriman, TN, continued his success in the Antares Large Junior 16-17 Hunter arena atop Blue Steel and Avalon, sweeping the division for second time this season. Casady and Blue Steel scored two firsts, a second and a third over fences to top the division with 30 points. Reserve honors went to Casady's second mount, Avalon, who finished second, second, third and fourth over fences and sixth under saddle, collecting 18.5 points total.
Shawn Casady Sweeps Antares Older Large Junior Hunter Division
The winning mount, Blue Steel, is an eleven-year-old Warmblood owned by Abigail McArdle of Barrington, IL. The dapple gray gelding has had a successful season at FTI WEF, earning two championship tricolors and three reserve tricolors to date. Casady's second mount, Avalon, is a twelve-year-old Belgian Warmblood owned by Visse Wedell of North Salem, NY, and has been equally successful, collecting three championships and two reserves thus far.
Following today's victory, Casady commented on his performance in the show ring. "The horses jumped really, really consistently," Casady explained. "They weren't fresh one day and quiet the next or anything, they each had nice rounds both days. Blue Steel has a big, comfortable stride that is nice to find the jumps on and he has a nice, easy jump. So, I just try to keep everything slow and smooth on him. Avalon has a comfortable canter, too, with a big stride, but he has a sharper jump up front. I wouldn't say he's a quick jumper, he's just one that can ride more to the base and go a little bit faster and ride tighter turns in the handy."
Casady, a rider of eleven years, has found success in both hunter and jumper divisions at FTI WEF. Describing the quick transition from one category to the next, Casady commented, "It's really all the same. The riding, I mean. It's always about the horse. It's not like they all flat the same and I have to change myself. Some jumpers flat like hunters and some hunters flat like jumpers. It's about getting them to perform the way you want them to perform. It's not about me riding like a jumper rider or a hunter rider, it's about the horse."
In the coming weeks, Casady plans to continue showing in both the Junior Hunter and Junior Jumper divisions at FTI WEF, while finishing up his senior year in high school at The Number One Education Place. In the future, the talented young rider plans to earn a college education as he continues to pursue his passion for equestrian show jumping.
Week ten will conclude on Sunday with its two highlight events on the scenic derby field at The Stadium. The $15,000 Artisan Farms Young Rider Grand Prix Final will begin at 10:30 a.m. followed by the $80,000 Pennfield Feeds Grand Prix CSI 2* at 2 p.m.
For full results, please visit www.showgroundslive.com.
Final Results: $32,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic
1. CANTANO: 2000 Holsteiner stallion by Cascavelle x Acord MEREDITH MICHAELS-BEERBAUM (GER), Octavia Farms LLC: 0/78.26
2. GIOVANNI 151: 1999 Hanoverian stallion by Graf Grannus x Graf Remus DAVID WILL (GER), Paul Schockemohle: 4/69.84
3. QUIET EASY 4: 2004 Oldenburg gelding by Quidams Rubin x Zapateado BEN MAHER (GBR), Mrs. Phillips: 4/69.91
4. ROWAN: 2003 stallion by Animo BEN MAHER (GBR), Miss Louise Flower: 4/71.71
5. CHAMBERLAIN Z: 2001 Zangersheide gelding by Chellano Z x Peter Pan DAVID MCPHERSON (GBR), David McPherson & M/M Holtgers: 4/72.27
6. MAKAVOY: 2003 KWPN gelding by Hors La Loi II x Ahorn JONATHAN ASSELIN (CAN), Attache Stables: 4/75.08
7. WATCH ME VD MANGELAAR: 2003 KWPN gelding by Heartbreaker x Wolfgang MATT WILLIAMS (AUS), Samantha Tuerk: 4/75.85
8. KING KOLIBRI: 2002 Hanoverian stallion by Kolibri x Achill-Libero H LAUREN TISBO (USA), Tequestrian Farms LLC: 4/76.21
9. HELLO SAILOR: 1999 KWPN gelding by Kigali x Indoctro TINA FLETCHER (GBR), Lady P. Harris & Lady P. Kirkham: 4/77.67
10. AMOR VAN DE ROSTAL: 2000 BWP gelding by Peter Pan x Nimmerdor 147 MAC CONE (CAN), Chadburn Holdings Inc: 4/78.68
11. VADELINE: 2002 KWPN mare by Placido x Orthos SCOTT SMITH (GBR), Mrs. Judith Studd: 8/73.74
12. VOSKE: 2002 KWPN mare by Hors La Loi II x Holland TIM GREDLEY (GBR), Mrs. R. Gredley: 8/75.10
Photo Credit: Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum and Cantano; Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum and Cantano with ringmaster Cliff Haines and Tom, Jeannie, and Lauren Tisbo of Suncast; Shawn Casady and Blue Steel. Photos © Sportfot, Official Sport Photographer of the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival, www.us.sportfot.com.