Wellington, FL - February 4, 2012 - Great Britain's Nick Skelton and Big Star triumphed in Saturday night's $80,000 Adequan CSI 2* Grand Prix during the fourth week of competition at the 2012 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF). Nineteen countries were represented in the world-class event with a record 81 starters, the largest recorded weekend grand prix field. Riders from Canada, Venezuela, Great Britain, the United States, Ireland, Germany, and Sweden made it to the jump-off with Skelton leading the way.
Week four of the FTI WEF runs February 1-5, and is sponsored by Adequan. 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. This week will conclude with the $25,000 Suncast 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic.
This year's Olympic Games course designer, Bob Ellis of Great Britain, set the track for tonight's 81 entries and skillfully narrowed the field down to ten for the jump-off. Skelton and Big Star, owned by Beverley Widdowson, were the clear winners with their faultless round over the short course in 45.93 seconds. Charlie Jayne (USA) and Alex Jayne's Urbanus were the only other pair to clear the jump-off course without fault, stopping the clock in 51.70 seconds for the second place prize.
Class winner Big Star is a nine-year-old KWPN stallion by Quick Star x Nimmerdor. Following the win Skelton spoke about his ride aboard the talented young horse in tonight's class, stating, "He jumped fantastic. I'm really pleased. He had one down in the WEF on Thursday, but I think he was a little bit rusty. He hadn't jumped for awhile. Today he was really very good. I'm very lucky to be riding him. I don't know what more to say really."
Skelton praised Bob Ellis on his course for the evening. "I'll be a bit biased really because he's from my country, but Bob's a great course builder," he smiled. "With 81 starters and he got 10 clear rounds, I think that was an amazing job. Fair play to him; he did a very good job. I thought there would have been 20. It was a good course."
Second place finisher Charlie Jayne agreed, stating, "Eighty-one in a class is a big number, I do agree. But I think if you look at the class tonight, I think everyone in there should have been in there. I think they all had a great shot and I think Bob Ellis did a fantastic job with the course. To only have 10 clear out of 81 with two star specs is great. Fences fell down from fence one to the skinny at the last fence. He did a fantastic job of not over-facing the younger horses but still causing errors at the right places."
On his ride aboard Urbanus, Jayne noted, "My horse is more of a Nations Cup horse. I've never really gone fast with him. Before I walked in the ring, my dad said, 'You know, double clear is going to get you a good check.' It's his horse, so I listened! When you have someone like Nick Skelton and Big Star, who are two amazing athletes, and when they're on, you're the first loser no matter what. I was very happy with my result today."
Venezuela's Andres Rodriguez and Caballito, owned by Arao Enterprises LLC, finished with one rail in 46.06 seconds to place third behind the two double clears.
Rodriguez detailed his jump-off round, explaining, "I knew I needed to take a chance. With the riders I had behind, I needed to risk a little bit. I was a little bit too tight for the double and I had the back rail. Otherwise I would have gone clear. I'm happy I took the chance and ended up third than not taking a chance."
Rodriguez is still getting to know his mount Caballito, but was pleased with the horse's efforts tonight. "Caballito I haven't had for a long time. He was supposed to be my ride in the Pan American Games and then at the last moment he couldn't make it. I've had him now for six months. I am really pleased with him. I think I've never had a horse like that. It's a horse that whenever you get to the jump-off, you know you have a real chance. I'm really looking forward to having him for a long time."
Rodriguez had the fastest of several four fault rounds in the top ten. Finishing close behind, Daniel Zetterman put Sweden in the top of the class riding Glory Days, owned by Springfield Jumpers, to four faults in 46.22 seconds to earn the fourth place prize. Beezie Madden (USA) and Abigail Wexner's Cortes 'C' also earned four faults and finished fifth with their time of 46.34 seconds. Ireland took sixth and seventh place with Cian O'Connor and Blue Loyd 12, owned by O'Connor and Ashkirk Ltd., and Richie Moloney and his own and Equinimity LLC's Ahorn Van De Zuuthoeve each incurring four faults.
As the sponsor of the class, Adequan's Allyn Mann was thrilled with the result. "It was exciting to learn that this was the largest grand prix ever on a weekend. For it to be Adequan's week and to host something like this was very exciting," Mann stated. "Just to see the level of competition was great. As far as being a sponsor at the Winter Equestrian Festival, it's a great venue. I think it's a testament to Mark Bellissimo and all that he's done to make this a world-class operation. I think it's only going to get better. We're honored to be a part of it and look forward to many years of continued success. Thank you to all of the horses and riders that support us. Hopefully we'll continue to try and support you in many ways. For those going to London this year, best of luck. I hope some dreams can come true."
Katherine Johnson Victorious in THIS Children's Medal 14 & Under
Katherine Johnson of Holliston, MA surpassed a field of 27 competitors to claim victory in this week's Taylor Harris Insurance Services (THIS) Children's Medal 14 & Under atop her mount Millthyme Lambrini. Johnson reserved the lead spot after testing against the top four riders and finishing with a score of 86. Competition in the equitation ring was fierce with a spread of just half a point between the first and third place winners. Hannah Pattin and her mount Agostino were just shy of the win with a second place score of 85.75, while Maria Moore and Kashmir finished third with an 85.5.
Millthyme Lambrini, affectionately known as Larry in the barn, is a twelve-year-old Holsteiner by Millthyme Luksus. According to Johnson, the bay gelding's perfect temperament has made him a barn favorite.
Following their win, Johnson commented on her experience in the show ring. "We really connected today," Jonson said. "Larry is one of those horses who gives you a lot of confidence and today everything came up as if there was no question whether it was going to work out. He likes ring seven too. We were really in sync and felt like a team."
This year marks Johnson's second season moving up from ponies to horses and only her second month riding Millthyme Lambrini. "Last year was my first year doing horses," Johnson explained. "I showed mostly in the hunters but I did the Taylor Harris as well. Larry's just starting me in the Medal and Maclay equitation this season."
Describing her strategy when testing in the equitation ring, Johnson explained, "I just think about what my trainers tell me beforehand. They encourage me to listen to my instincts and not to freak out if anything goes wrong. Larry does his part by listening to everything I tell him. He's so great."
In the coming weeks, Johnson will continue to show Millthyme Lambrini along with her Children's Jumper, Lucio 13. The junior rider recognizes the challenges of competition and has high hopes for future success in the equitation and jumper divisions.
The 2012 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival will conclude its fourth week of competition tomorrow with the $25,000 Suncast 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic in the International Arena. The hunters will wrap-up their competition for the weekend with the presentation of championship honors in the Voltaire Design Adult Amateur 18-35 division.
Final Results: $80,000 Adequan CSI 2* Grand Prix
1. BIG STAR: 2003 KWPN stallion by Quick Star x Nimmerdor NICK SKELTON (GBR), Beverly and Gary Widdowson: 0/0/45.93
2. URBANUS: 1997 BWP gelding by Heartbreaker x Ramiro CHARLIE JAYNE (USA), Alex Jayne: 0/0/51.70
3. CABALLITO: 2002 Holsteiner gelding by Contendro x Argentinus ANDRES RODRIGUEZ (VEN), Arao Enterprises LLC: 0/4/46.06
4. GLORY DAYS: 2001 Swedish Warmblood gelding by Cardento 933 x Diamond Serpent DANIEL ZETTERMAN (SWE), Springfield Showjumpers: 0/4/46.22
5. CORTES 'C': 2002 BWP gelding by Randel Z x Darco BEEZIE MADDEN (USA), Abigail Wexner: 0/4/46.34
6. BLUE LOYD 12: 2000 Oldenburg gelding by Landor S x Hadj Ax CIAN O'CONNOR (IRL), Ashkirk Ltd. & Cian O'Connor: 0/4/46.39
7. AHORN VAN DE ZUUTHOEVE: 2002 Hanoverian gelding by Acorado x Calypso II RICHIE MOLONEY (IRL), Equinimity LLC/Richie Moloney: 0/4/46.65
8. CELLA: 2002 BWP mare by Cento x Chin ChinMARIO DESLAURIERS (USA), Jane F. Clark: 0/8/48.13
9. VIGARO: 2002 KWPN gelding by No Limit x Polydox SARAH TREDENNICK (USA), Wood Run Farm: 0/8/49.84
10.BELLA DONNA 66: 2003 Holsteiner mare by Baldini II x Calido I MEREDITH MICHAELS-BEERBAUM (GER), EOS Sport: 0/18/65.39
11. CARLOTTA SINGULAR LA MAGNIFICA: 2002 Hanoverian mare by Chasseur x Singular Joter YANN CANDELE (CAN), Susan Grange: 1/77.44
12. NEMO 119: 1999 Holsteiner gelding by Cambridge x Cantus LUCY DAVIS (USA), Old Oak Farm: 4/73.60
Photo Credit: Nick Skelton and Big Star, Katherine Johnson and Millthyme Lambrini won at the 2012 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival. Photo © Sportfot, Official Sport Photographer of the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival,www.sportfot.com.