Wellington, FL - February 12, 2012 - A large field came to compete on Sunday in the $32,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic, and it was Olympian Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum (GER) on Octavia Farms LLC's Checkmate 4 who came away with the win. Cian O'Connor (IRL) and Everything, owned by Abdulla Humaid Al Muhairi, were second, while Kirsten Coe (USA) rode Ilan Ferder's Baronez to third.
In the morning, Canada's Jordan MacPherson rode to the top of the standings in the Artisan Farms Young Rider Grand Prix Series (presented by Dutta Corp. in association with Guido Klatte), when she and Piccobello Du Val De Geer won the first $15,000 class. Little competitors also took to the ring, and Erica Felder rode Thumbs Up to the tricolor in the Pine Hollow Short Stirrup Hunters.
Today's 1.50m class was held under FEI rules and was a FEI ROLEX world ranking competition. Guilherme Jorge of Brazil set the courses in the International Arena. There were 68 entries, and nine returned for the jump-off. Michaels-Beerbaum and Checkmate 4, a 17-year-old Hanoverian gelding by Contender x Pik Bube II, returned second to last in the jump-off. They lowered the winning time to 35.31 seconds.
"I watched Cian and he had a really super round with his nice young horse. He's a really fast rider, so I just tried to do my best," she said afterward. "I have a lot of experience with Checkmate. He's 17 years old already. I've been riding him since he was six, so I think experience came into play. I could just shave a couple of tenths off his time I think."
O'Connor and his first horse in the jump-off, Everything, set the early pace with a clear round in 35.82 seconds, which would hold up for second. Kirsten Coe and Baronez were just behind in third place with a time of 36.91 seconds. The last double clear round was O'Connor and his second mount, KEC Alligator Alley, who finished in 38.31 seconds.
Michaels-Beerbaum was very happy with Checkmate 4, her partner of 11 years. They have won many grand prix classes together and scored the clear round that helped the German team win the gold medal at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games. The pair was clear in Thursday's WEF Challenge Cup as well, getting a great start to their circuit in Wellington. Michaels-Beerbaum related, "You don't see many at 17 winning at the international level. He's really an outstanding horse. We've won a lot of grands prix together, so I'm delighted he's still going so well. Last year he was injured quite a bit of the year, so this is really a nice comeback."
It has been 10 years since Michaels-Beerbaum competed regularly at the FTI WEF, and she plans to stay and compete throughout the full 12-week circuit. Changes have come in her life with the arrival of her daughter Brianne, and she was impressed with the facelift that the PBIEC has undergone. "I think Mark Bellissimo has done an outstanding job. He's really improved the facility tremendously since I've been here," she said. "The footing is absolutely fantastic everywhere, in the ring, out in the schooling ring. It's really an event on Saturday nights, it's fun, people come to watch. The VIP area is outstanding. It's really a nice experience for owners and riders. I think he's really put some class into the show."
Twenty-two-year-old Jordan MacPherson of Toronto, Ontario, Canada guided her 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare Piccobello Du Val De Geer, owned by Jem Stables Inc., to the victory in Sunday's $15,000 Artisan Farms Young Riders Grand Prix presented by Dutta Corporation in association with Guido Klatte. Fifty-six entries started the class and 14 completed clear rounds to return for a jump-off.
MacPherson and Piccobello Du Val De Geer completed the fastest of four double clear rounds in a time of 37.581 seconds for the win. Just one-tenth of a second separated the top two finishers in today's class. Alexandra Carter's time of 38.606 seconds aboard Cyrina Z finished second. Third place went to Charlotte Jacobs and Promised Land, owned by Candy Tribble and Windsor Show Stables, with a time of 38.873 seconds. Mavis Spencer and Valentino stopped the clock in 40.862 seconds in fourth.
Class winner Jordan MacPherson trains with the Millar family out of Perth, Ontario, Canada and has been riding with them for about three years. MacPherson got Piccobello Du Val De Geer during last year's winter circuit and has had her for one year now.
"She has been an amazing partner; she has taught me a lot and today she was incredible," MacPherson smiled. "I thought the first round went well. She did some amazing things for me. In the jump-off, she is a very fast horse, and I just went for it. She does have a lot of blood, but as long as you look where you are going she will follow you wherever you need to go."
The pair also showed in last year's Artisan Farms Young Rider Grand Prix Series and looks forward to another great series this year. "I think it is a great series; it is a great program," MacPherson stated. "Coming from Canada there are not many classes that are at this height that allow you to move up in the sport, so I think that having this here is a great opportunity for myself and all of the other young riders."
Sunday Hunters Brave the Cold
Erica Felder of Durham, NC, soared to the top of this week's Pine Hollow Short Stirrup Hunter division atop her mount, Thumbs Up. Unaffected by the chilly weather, the pair scored a first and fourth over fences and a third under saddle to bring home the championship tricolor with a total of sixteen points. The reserve tricolor went to Kara Constantakos and her mount, Sugar Fix, who finished first over fences and fourth under saddle to earn a total of twelve points.
Sunday Hunters Brave the Cold
Thumbs Up, a fourteen-year-old Welsh Pony Cross, emerged victorious out of a field of thirteen ponies in today's competition. Affectionately known as Prancer in the barn, the bay roan gelding is a veteran of the FTI WEF show circuit. According to Felder, Prancer "was really, really good today. Sometimes he can chip a little bit, but I think today he was good. The under saddle class was fun too."
Felder attends elementary school as a second grader in her hometown of Durham, where her favorite subject is Science. The junior rider has little time to practice during the week, but flies down to Wellington to compete in the FTI WEF circuit every weekend. Although her rigorous travel schedule can be tiring at times, Felder enjoys the opportunity to compete all winter where she enjoys both jumping and under saddle classes equally.
Following today's victory, Felder described Prancer as "just awesome" and expressed her plans to give the pony his favorite treats, Paddock Cakes, before heading to the airport to catch a plane home. In the coming weeks, Felder hopes to achiever further success in the Short Stirrup ring on Thumbs Up and her second mount, Tin Man.
Additional hunter champions for week five of FTI WEF include Shawn Casady, who topped the Antares Large Junior Hunter division atop his mount, Avalon, and Emma Kurtz, who claimed the Gotham Small Pony Hunter division championship on her mount, Bit of Laughter.
The fifth week of the FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival has concluded, and week six, sponsored by Equine Couture/Tuff Rider, will be held on February 15-19. The 2012 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival has 12 weeks of competition that conclude on April 1, 2012, and they will be awarding more than $6 million in prize money through the circuit. For full results please visit www.showgroundslive.com.
Final Results: $32,000 Suncast 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic
1. CHECKMATE 4: 1995 Hanoverian gelding by Contender x Pik Bube II MEREDITH MICHAELS-BEERBAUM (GER), Octavia Farms LLC: 0/35.31
2. EVERYTHING: 2004 Belgian Warmblood gelding by Toulon x Mast VD Vrombautshoeve CIAN O'CONNOR (IRL), Abdulla Humaid Al Muhairi: 0/0/35.82
3. BARONEZ: 2001 Warmblood mare by Heartbreaker x Unknown KIRSTEN COE (USA), Ilan Ferder & Kirsten Coe: 0/0/36.91
4. KEC ALLIGATOR ALLEY: 2002 Irish Sport Horse gelding by Aldatus Z x Clover Hill CIAN O'CONNOR (IRL), Sinead & Oonagh Kennedy: 0/0/38.31
5. TALOUBET: 2000 KWPN gelding by Baloubet Du Rouet x Quidam De Revel PAULO SANTANA (BRA), Jennifer Santana: 0/4/35.19
6. WHISKY MAC IV: 2003 Scottish Sporthorse gelding by Emilion x Burggraff SCOTT BRASH (GBR), Mr. Stanley Brash: 0/4/35.93
7. NOUGAT DU VALLET: 2001 Selle Francais gelding by Scherif D'elle KATHERINE DINAN (USA), Grant Road Partners: 0/4/37.26
8. VALENTE: 2002 KWPN gelding by Gentleman x Sit This One Out TIM GREDLEY (GBR), Mrs. R. Gredley: 0/4/39.97
9. VORST: 2002 KWPN gelding by Lux x Jeraldo MICHAEL MORRISSEY (USA), EH Redman: 0/8/34.31
10. QUITE EASY 4: 2004 Oldenburg gelding by Quidams Rubin x Zapateado BEN MAHER (GBR), Quainton Stud: 1/78.52
11. HELLO SAILOR: 1999 KWPN gelding by Kigali x Indoctro TINA FLETCHER (GBR), Lady P. Harris & Lady P. Kirkham: 1/78.54
12. AVENIR: 2000 BWP gelding by Phin Phin x Flamingo CHRISTINE MCCREA (USA), Candy Tribble: 1/78.76
Final Results: $15,000 Artisan Farms Young Rider Grand Prix
1. PICCOBELLO DU VAL DE GEER, JORDAN MACPHERSON, JEM STABLES INC: 0/0/37.581
2. CYRINA Z, ALEXANDRA CARTER, ALEXANDRA CARTER: 0/0/37.606
3. PROMISED LAND, CHARLOTTE JACOBS, CANDY TRIBBLE & WINDSOR SHOW STABLES: 0/0/38.873
4. VALENTINO, MAVIS SPENCER, MAVIS SPENCER: 0/0/40.862
5. SANTOS UTOPIA, LYDIA ULRICH, UP THE CREEK FARM: 0/4/38.161
6. KAID DU RY, ALISE OKEN, HI HOPES FARM LLC: 0/4/38.210
7. VALENCIA, CAITLIN ZIEGLER, ARTISAN FARMS LLC: 0/4/39.347
8. LORDAN, NAYEL NASSAR, NAYEL & SHARAFF NASSAR: 0/4/41.700
9. NICHOLAS, AMELIA MCARDLE, OLD BARRINGTON LLC: 0/4/42.694
10. BRAVOMAN, ABIGAIL MCARDLE, OLD BARRINGTON LLC: 0/8/38.184
11. HENNESSEY, CHASE BOGGIO, CHASE BOGGIO: 0/8/40.005
12. VLEDDER, TATIANA DZAVIK, SOUTH SHORE FARM: 0/8/43.999
Photo Credit: Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum and Checkmate 4, Jordan MacPherson and Piccobello Du Val De Geer, Erica Felder and Thumbs Up won at the 2012 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival. Photo © Sportfot, Official Sport Photographer of the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival, www.sportfot.com.