Wellington, FL - March 29, 2012 - Germany's Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum rode to an exciting one-two finish on Thursday afternoon in the $32,000 WEF Challenge Cup Round 12 at the FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF). Michaels-Beerbaum topped the class aboard Cantano and finished second riding Checkmate 4, both owned by Octavia Farms LLC.
Other wins for the day went to Johannes Ehning and Cayenne 162 in the $32,000 G&C Farm 1.45m Classic and Darrin Dlin and Janou in the $10,000 Adequan 5-Year-Old Young Jumper Final. In the hunters, Hayley Barnhill and Surfs Up were presented championship honors in the Performance Working Hunter 3'3" division.
Sponsored by FTI Consulting, Inc., the final week of the FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival will feature the highlight grand prix of the season, the $500,000 FTI Consulting Finale Grand Prix, CSI 5*, on Saturday, March 31. The USHJA International Hunter Derby will host the top 25 on the grass field at The Stadium on Sunday, April 1.
The final round of the $32,000 WEF Challenge Cup Series featured 45 horse and rider combinations on Thursday afternoon. Ireland's Alan Wade designed the course, and 11 went clear to advance to the tie breaking jump-off. The challenging track for the short course saw only four entries jump without fault.
First to go, Egypt's Nayel Nassar and Raging Bull Vangelis S set the pace with the first clear round in 49.53 seconds and finished in third place overall. Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum and Checkmate 4 were next to jump clear and took the lead in 47.67 seconds, eventually finishing second. Great Britain's David McPherson also cleared the course aboard his own Silver Exchange II and his time of 55.67 seconds placed fourth.
Michaels-Beerbaum was last to go with her second mount Cantano and beat her own time in 47.34 seconds to take the lead once more. Cantano earned the first place prize, placing Checkmate in second.
Checkmate 4, a 17-year-old Hanoverian gelding by Contender x Pik Bube II, has earned many big wins as a longtime partner for Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum. Cantano, a twelve-year-old Holsteiner stallion by Cascavelle x Acord, is a newer mount that she earned her first win with just two weeks ago. Although the two horses are at very different levels of experience in their careers, both had the guidance of a great rider to place them at the top.
Commenting on her success, Michaels-Beerbaum smiled, "This is a great honor here amongst the best riders in America and a lot of the best in the world. To be first and second in a WEF like this is just a highlight, absolutely, of my circuit here. I am really proud of both my horses. Checkmate is 17 years old, which is not young, as everybody knows. Cantano is a new mount for me since the end of last year and he had another win here, so this was just another addition to his successes here. This is the first time I won with a really fast jump-off with him. The other day I won with being the only clear round in the 1.50m. All of it was just a lot of highlights for me and I am really excited about this."
Already in the lead aboard Checkmate, Michaels-Beerbaum was surprised that she was able to beat that time, not knowing how fast Cantano could go with their little experience together. She explained, "I went fast in a couple of classes early on in the circuit and he was third in one grand prix and fourth in another WEF, but I kind of thought that I would try for second place to be honest. I didn't really think that I would be so much faster on him, but I didn't know his speed and he really was on it. When I looked up at the timers I was even a little bit surprised. It was hard to measure exactly how fast I was going or how fast that horse is."
"I think Cantano has a lot of ground speed," she noted. "Checkmate is really difficult on right hand turns, and the jump-off had quite a few right hand turns, so I couldn't risk too much on those. That is maybe where he caught Checkmate a little bit."
On getting getting to know Cantano better this winter, Michaels-Beerbaum acknowledged, "He has scope and heart and everything. The only thing I struggled with was the rideability, which seems to be a lot better now. This circuit is great for things like that. Bringing along a young horse like Bella Donna. I have another mare, my eight-year-old Malou, who jumped two clear rounds in the WEF last week, so I was able to bring her up from the 1.30m to the 1.50m here on this circuit. It is wonderful for young horses and it is wonderful for getting to know your horse."
Michaels-Beerbaum will compete this Saturday with her young, up and coming star Bella Donna in Saturday night's $500,000 FTI Consulting Finale Grand Prix, CSI 5*. That mare, along with Checkmate 4, have both been named to the short list for Germany's show jumping team for this summer's Olympic Games in London. Michaels-Beerbaum has high hopes for the summer and looks forward to a great experience with the mare on Saturday night.
Johannes Ehning and Cayenne 162 Top $32,000 G&C Farm 1.45m Classic
Germany's Johannes Ehning had a great day in Wellington earning both the first and fifth place prizes in the $32,000 G&C Farm 1.45m Classic on Thursday. Fifty-one entries showed over the speed course with fourteen clear rounds.
Johannes Ehning and Cayenne 162 Top $32,000 G&C Farm 1.45m Classic
Ehning took the winner's share with Winley Farm's Cayenne 162 with the fastest clear round in 58.67 seconds. Reed Kessler (USA) finished second with Onisha in 59 seconds flat, and Mario Deslauriers (USA) and Jane F. Clark's Vicomte D placed third in 61.40 seconds.
Fourth place went to Australia's Matt Williams and Bolero Van't Heike with a time of 61.99 seconds. Ehning also earned the fifth place prize aboard Oscar Du Rozel, owned by Equestrian Sport GMBH, stopping the clock in 62.56 seconds.
Ehning's winning mount, Cayenne 162, is a nine-year-old Westphalian mare by Marco Kutscher's famous stallion Cornet Obolensky, and her damsire is Gonfaron. Ehning has had the mare for three years, and explained that she is very talented, but can be difficult to ride and has taught him a lot. "Cayenne is a really special mare; the difficult thing with her is to ride the course," Ehning stated. "She is really hot blooded and a little bit strange to ride, but she has a super mind and she is really a fighter."
"She is always turning left, right; she is never straight," he detailed. "She has her own way to make it. In the end, she has taught me to just go with it and not put it away because she is really fighting; that is a really good thing from her."
Oscar Du Rozel is a ten-year-old Selle Francais stallion by Dollar Du Murier x Narcos II. As challenging as Cayenne can be, Ehning explained that Oscar is the complete opposite. "Oscar is a whole different story," he stated. "He is good to ride; he is super relaxed in the head. He is the other side from Cayenne. He is also a fighter for sure, but he is really simple to ride. You can put a kid on him and he is super easy."
Ehning went first in the class aboard Oscar Du Rozel and jumped Cayenne 162 second. On his rounds in the class, he explained, "The course was quite good I think. It was good with the clear rounds. To be in the front I think you had to go fast. Okay, that is any class here, but I had a good round with my first one, so I thought I would place and then I thought with the second one I could go with a little bit more risk. I am lucky that it worked."
Ehning was a part of Germany's winning team in the FEI Nations Cup presented by G&C Farm during week eight of the FTI WEF. He acknowledged that as the main reason for coming to compete in Wellington this year, but has also been here two years before.
"The Nations Cup brought me back this year for sure. We had the team from Germany and I spoke with one friend of ours, Dietmar Gugler, who has many contacts here. Also, one owner for me lived fifteen years in America and they came to Wellington the whole time. She moved all of her horses to me five years ago and she really likes to go here, so we decided to plan it every two years. I enjoy it here," Ehning said. "It is completely different to Europe. The weather is great. To make it four or five weeks is really, really great."
Darrin Dlin and Janou Win Five-Year-Old Young Jumper Final
Canada's Darrin Dlin guided Janou, owned by Susan Grange, to the championship in the $10,000 Adequan 5-Year-Old Young Jumper Final early on Thursday morning. Janou, a five-year-old Canadian Sport Horse mare, is by the stallion For Pleasure out of the Polydox mare Bequia. Janou is home-bred, born and raised at Grange's Lothlorien Farm in Cheltenham, Ontario, Canada.
Darrin Dlin and Janou Win Five-Year-Old Young Jumper Final
Dlin and Janou showed throughout the FTI WEF circuit this year, and made great improvement each week. Janou progressed from an eighth place finish in the Adequan 5-Year-Old Young Jumpers during week three, then moved up to a fourth place finish in week five, placed second during week ten, and finally won the division's final Classic today. On Janou's rise to the top, Dlin explained, "She has been great. She has been clear numerous times. Every time she goes in she learns. She is so fast and she so wants to do it; she is so competitive."
"I started riding her in late December and she was very green, but she is very smart," he stated. "She is a very quick learner. She is unbelievably careful and all heart."
Forty-six entries showed in the Adequan 5-Year-Old Young Jumper Classic this morning, which was held as the final for the series during the FTI WEF circuit. Twenty-two went clear to jump-off, and Dlin and Janou completed the fastest of 11 double clear rounds. The top three competitors were separated by just tenths of a second. Dlin and Janou stopped the clocked in 36.108 seconds for the win. Pablo Barrios and Balou, owned by Maria Barrios, finished in second with their time of 36.459 seconds. Nathalie Mathers and Caramel finished in 36.979 seconds earning the third place prize.
Commenting on today's class, Dlin noted, "She was great; today she really stepped up. When she walked in the ring she just owned it; she was on. She was all competitive today and she just wanted to win."
"I want to acknowledge the horse show for doing such a good job presenting this class for the five-year-olds," he added. "They make it such a big deal and it is nice for the parents and the owners to watch. It is a great way to finish out here."
Janou will go home now for a break. She will begin showing again in Canada over the summer. Dlin, who has his own business in Calgary with his wife, rides for Grange when they meet up at horse shows. He will ride the mare again when their paths cross at Spruce Meadows later this year.
Hunter Champions Set The Bar For Week 12
Hayley Barnhill of Collierville, TN, rode to the top of this week's 3'3" Performance Working Hunter division atop her mount, Surf's Up. After just one day of competition, the pair's back-to-back blue ribbons were sufficient enough to capture the championship tricolor with 20 points. Reserve honors went to Chris Payne and Holden, a ten-year-old Holsteiner owned by Susan Moriconi.
Hunter Champions Set The Bar For Week 12
The winning mount, Surf's Up, is an eight-year-old Holsteiner by Casall. Affectionately known as Chester in the barn, the chestnut gelding is owned by Missy Luczak-Smith and periodically shown by Barnhill. After Luczak-Smith purchased Chester from Robin Patton in 2011, he began to show as a Pre-Green horse and has since found success in the First Year Green and Adult Amateur 36-50 Hunter divisions.
Following today's victory, Barnhill commented on her winning rounds. "He was perfect in both classes," Barnhill said. "He's one of my favorite horses to show and he's always one I can count on to go in and win. I showed him a little for the Pattons last year - we did the Junior Hunters briefly and I continued to show him throughout the year. You know if he's good, you're going to win."
Chester's owner, Missy Luczak-Smith, is pleased with the hunter's performance since last year. "He did the Pre-Greens and the First Years a little last year, but not too much," Luczak Smith explained. "When he didn't really fit into any specific program in the barn, I decided to show him the last two weeks of WEF in 2011 and he was actually reserve and champion. This year, he was for sale for a while, but again, didn't really have a job in the barn. So, I've been showing him in the Adults and he's been champion and reserve several times. We are actually second in line for circuit champion in the Adults right now."
Describing Chester's personality, Luczak-Smith added, "He doesn't like peppermints and he loves apples and carrots - pretty straight forward. He would be that handsome boy, the good-looking player. But, it's definitely his way or the highway most of the time."
In the coming weeks, Chester plans to enjoy time off after a successful FTI WEF season. As for Barnhill, the young professional will finish up the 2012 season before heading back to Nashville and showing over the next couple of months in Brownland, Kentucky, Devon and Upperville.
Additional Hunter champions this week include Whitney Hollinger and Miranda Scott. Hollinger topped the WEF 3' Open Hunter division atop Utah, an eleven-year-old Dutch Warmblood owned by Jennifer Martucci; the pair collected 27 points for the championship win. In the Low Hunter 2'6 division, Scott captured the championship tricolor on Gallatin, earning 23.5 points on the ten-year-old Hanoverian owned by Carolyn Pace.
Week twelve of the FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival will continue on Friday with the finals for the $15,000 Adequan 6-Year-Old Young Jumper, $20,000 Adequan 7-Year-Old Young Jumper, and $20,000 Adequan 8-Year-Old Young Jumper divisions in the International Arena. The Horseware Ireland Adult Amateur Hunter 3'3" division will present championship honors in the Rost Arena.
For full results, please visit www.showgroundslive.com.
Final Results: $32,000 WEF Challenge Cup Round 12
1. CANTANO: 2000 Holsteiner stallion by Cascavelle x Acord MEREDITH MICHAELS-BEERBAUM (GER), Octavia Farms LLC: 0/0/47.34
2. CHECKMATE 4: 1995 Hanoverian gelding by Contender x Pik Bube II MEREDITH MICHAELS-BEERBAUM (GER), Octavia Farms LLC: 0/0/47.67
3. RAGING BULL VANGELLIS S: 1998 BWP stallion by Nonstop x Feinschnitt I Van De Richter NAYEL NASSAR (EGY), Nayel Nassar: 0/0/49.53
4. SILVER EXCHANGE II: 2001 Oldenburg gelding by Landjunge x Lavallo DAVID MCPHERSON (GBR), David McPherson: 0/0/55.67
5. BIG STAR: 2003 KWPN stallion by Quick Star x Nimmerdor NICK SKELTON (GBR), Beverly and Gary Widdowson: 0/4/45.94
6. ROYCE: 2004 Oldenburg stallion by Café au lait x Grandilot MARGIE ENGLE (USA), Elm Rock LLC: 0/4/50.12
7. WATCH ME VD MANGELAAR: 2003 KWPN gelding by Heartbreaker x Wolfgang MATT WILLIAMS (AUS), Samantha Tuerk: 0/4/50.46
8. SANDOR DE LA POMME: 2002 SBS gelding by Vigo D'arsouilles x Darco DARRAGH KENNY (IRL), The Wannahave Group: 0/8/52.28
9. HUNTER'S SCENDIX: 2003 Hanoverian stallion by Stakkato x Dinar ERIC LAMAZE (CAN), Torrey Pine Stables & LVS Hunters: 0/8/52.60
10. ATTICUS: 2003 Holsteiner stallion by Colman x Contender SAER COULTER (USA), Copernicus Stables LLC: 0/8/57.38
11. KEC ALLIGATOR ALLEY: 2002 Irish Sport Horse gelding by Aldatus Z x Clover Hill CIAN O'CONNOR (IRL), Sinead & Oonagh Kennedy: 0/11/64.93
12. LA BOOM: 1999 Oldenburg gelding by Last Liberty x Libris LISA CARLESEN (CAN), La Boom Syndicate: 1/87.82
Final Results: $32,000 G&C Farm 1.45m Classic FEI
1. CAYENNE 162: 2003 Westphalian mare by Cornet Obolensky x Gonfaron JOHANNES EHNING (GER), Winley Farm LLC: 0/58.67
2. ONISHA: 1999 Holsteiner mare by Caretino x Athlet Z REED KESSLER (USA), Reed Kessler: 0/59.00
3. VICOMTE D: 1998 BWP gelding by Flamenco Desemilly x Randell Z MARIO DESLAURIERS (USA), Jane F. Clark: 0/61.40
4. BOLERO VAN'T HEIKE: 2001 Belgian Warmblood gelding by Polidiktus Vd Helle x Major De La Cour MATT WILLIAMS (AUS), Matt Williams: 0/61.99
5. OSCAR DU ROZEL: 2002 Selle Francais stallion by Dollar Du Murier x Narcos II JOHANNES EHNING (GER), Equestrian Sports GmbH & Co.KG: 0/62.56
6. ULTIMO: 2001 KWPN gelding by Marlon x Laroche HECTOR FLORENTINO (DOM), Stransky's Mission Farm: 0/63.90
7. LEONITAS: 2001 stallion by Leone x Zeus DAVID MCPHERSON (GBR), David McPerson & M/M Mutter: 0/65.83
8. GLORY DAYS: 2001 Swedish Warmblood gelding by Cardento 933 x Diamond Serpent DANIEL ZETTERMAN (SWE), Springfield Showjumpers: 0/67.77
9. CHE GUEVARA 17: 2001 Holsteiner stallion by Concept x Rebel Z JORG OPPERMANN (GER), Heinz Eufinger: 0/68.09
10. QUIRINUS: 2002 Holsteiner gelding by Quantum x Cornetto DANIEL ZETTERMAN (SWE), Familien Kinneson: 0/70.73
11. CARMENA Z: 2000 Zangersheide stallion by Carthago Z x Irco Mena SAER COULTER (USA), Copernicus Stables, LLC: 0/71.37
12. VANDAVID: 2002 KWPN stallion by Madison x Voltaire CATHERINE PASMORE (USA), Pasmore Stables: 0/71.50
Photo Credit: Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum and Cantano; Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum and Checkmate 4; Johannes Ehning and Cayenne 162; Darrin Dlin and Janou; Hayley Barnhill and Surfs Up. Photos © Sportfot, Official Sport Photographer of the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival, www.us.sportfot.com.