Wellington, FL - January 26, 2012 - For the second week in a row, Nick Skelton and Beverley Widdowson's Carlo 273 led the victory gallop in the Thursday afternoon $32,000 WEF Challenge Cup Grand Prix in Wellington. Today's class was the third in the series at the 2012 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival, which runs through April 1, 2012.
Week three of the FTI WEF runs Wednesday, January 25, through Sunday, January 29, and is sponsored by Horseware Ireland. The highlight jumper classes in week three are the $55,000 Nespresso Battle of the Sexes on Saturday, January 28, as well as the $50,000 Horseware Ireland CSI 2* Grand Prix on Sunday, January 29.
Today's WEF Challenge Cup saw 50 entries in the first round of competition showing over a course set by Olaf Petersen Sr. of Germany. Seventeen jumped clear to return for the short course, and Great Britain's Nick Skelton and Carlo 273 had the fastest double clear time of 38.76 seconds to beat out the competition.
"I don't think I went as quick as I did last week," Skelton said of his jump-off ride. "I didn't feel like I was anyway. I think I was quite quick from one to two, then to the double."
Petersen's jump-off course proved challenging as the first few entries set a quick pace, leading just seven of the 17 contenders to jump clear. Many fast rounds followed, and it was Skelton and Carlo who went halfway through the order who would prove unbeatable. Kent Farrington (USA) and RCG Farm's Uceko came close as the next competitors in the ring with their time of 38.97 seconds, but had to settle for second place.
"Uceko felt great," Farrington said. "I started him last week and he felt a little fresh and rusty, so I thought I'd get him back in the ring again this week. He was more like himself. (For) Uceko, that's a difficult jump-off for him because the jumps aren't huge. Nick is riding a very fast horse, and mine's not as fast of a mover. I'm trying to gear that horse up for later in the week."
An earlier round from Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum (GER) and Octavia Farm's Cantano finished third in a time of 39.43 seconds. Quentin Judge (USA) and Double H Farm's HH Carotino stopped the clock in 39.79 seconds to finish in fourth, and Jeffery Welles (USA) and Merlin, owned by Noel Love Gross, finished in 39.97 seconds to grab the fifth place position. Ian Millar (CAN) and Team Works' Star Power went first in the jump-off and set the standard in 40.34 seconds, which eventually earned the sixth place prize. Charlie Jayne (USA) and Pony Lane Farm's Chill RZ had the only other clear round over the short course and landed in seventh with their time of 41.13 seconds.
Farrington and his second horse in the class, Up Chiqui, had a faster jump-off time than Skelton, but four faults left them in ninth place. Farrington remarked, "Chiqui, this is his kind of class. I was really ashamed because I would have caught Nick. He's a very fast horse, so that was just unfortunate. I didn't quite get him deep enough at that oxer and he just nicked it behind. Both of my horses were great and they tried really hard and feel on form. I'm happy with them. Nick's one of the fastest riders in the world, so you can't be too disappointed when he wins," he said with a smile.
Class winner Carlo 273 is an eleven-year-old Holsteiner gelding by Contender x Cascavelle. Skelton said that Carlo will compete in the grand prix on Sunday and then have two weeks rest. "Big Star gets out next Tuesday," Skelton noted. "Carlo was great again today. The heat is wearing him down a little bit. This was quite quiet for him really. He takes a lot out of himself; he's a busy horse. Unique could probably go around out there four times and not take a bit of energy out of him. He puts so much effort into everything."
Jimmy Torano and Bentley Bring Home the Pre Green Hunter Level 1 3' Division Championship
Jimmy Torano of Ft. Lauderdale, FL, scored the championship tricolor in the Pre-Green Hunter Level One Division atop eight-year-old warmblood, Bentley. The pair scored two firsts and a fifth over fences and totaled 21 points for the championship win. Bridgitte Laroux and Sugar Ray received the reserve tricolor with 11.5 points, placing second, third, fifth and seventh over fences and finishing sixth under saddle.
Bentley, owned by Kathryn Haefner of Stellar Equestrian in Hamburg, NY, triumphed over 24 competitors in the Pre-Green Level One division this week. Rider Jimmy Torano collaborated with trainer Stewart Moran to help bring the bay gelding to a win.
Following his ride, Torano commented on Bentley's performance in the show ring. "Bentley is a very consistent horse," Torano said. "Today, we had a light rub in the first class that set us back a bit but yesterday he had two dynamite rounds and won both classes. It's pretty common for him to pin high and come up champion or reserve."
According to Torano, Bentley's strengths lie in his jumping style and looks. "He's not an offensive mover by any means," Torano explained, "but he really shines over the jumps. He's a cute horse and he's super honest, has perfect lead changes and never spooks at a thing - he's really enjoyable to ride."
Describing the Haefners strategy in managing their show horses, Torano commented "The Haefners are careful to rotate who shows each week so they are not in constant competition with each other. It's a good strategy and it allows the horses to have some weeks of rest."
For Bentley, the rest of the season promises to be full of excitement. While he continues to show with Torano in the Pre-Green Division, he will also begin competing with Kathryn Haefner in the Adult Amateur Hunter 18-35 Division.
Additional show champions for this week's hunter divisions thus far include Kelley Farmer and her mount Not Tonight who topped the The Sanctuary First Year Green Working Hunter division and Christopher Payne atop Big Time who won this week's WEF Open Hunter 3'3" division.
The 2012 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival will continue in the International Arena tomorrow with the Spy Coast Farm 1.40m Speed Challenge. The hunter competition will feature the Horseware Ireland Adult Amateur 3'3" Hunters. For full results please visit www.showgroundslive.com.
Final Results: $32,000 WEF Challenge Cup Round III
1. CARLO 273: 2001 Holsteiner gelding by Contender x Cascavelle NICK SKELTON (GBR), Beverly Widdowson: 0/0/38.76
2. UCEKO: 2001 KWPN gelding by Celano x Koriander KENT FARRINGTON (USA), R.C.G. Farm: 0/0/38.97
3. CANTANO: 2000 Holsteiner stallion by Cascavelle x Acord MEREDITH MICHAELS-BEERBAUM (GER), Octavia Farms LLC: 0/0/39.43
4. HH CAROTINO: 2002 Holsteiner gelding by Caretino x Corrado I QUENTIN JUDGE (USA), Double H Farm: 0/0/39.79
5. MERLIN: 2002 Royal Dutch Warmblood gelding by Hors La Loi II x Emilion JEFFERY WELLES (USA), Noel Love Gross: 0/0/39.97
6. STAR POWER: 2001 Dutch Warmblood gelding by Quick Star IAN MILLAR (CAN), Team Works: 0/0/40.34
7. CHILL R Z: 2003 Zangersheide stallion by Chellano Z x A Lucky One CHARLIE JAYNE (USA), Pony Lane Farm: 0/0/41.13
8. EVERYTHING: 2004 Belgian Warmblood gelding by Toulon x Mast VD Vrombautshoeve CIAN O'CONNOR (IRL), Abdulla Humaid Al Muhairi: 0/4/36.99
9. UP CHIQUI: 1997 BWP gelding by Quidam De Revel x Chin Chin KENT FARRINGTON (USA), Alex Boone, William Dobbs, & K. Farrington: 0/4/38.42
10. DERLY CHIN DE MUZE: 2003 BWP mare by For Pleasure x Nebab de Reve ERIC LAMAZE (CAN), Ashland Stables: 0/4/38.78
11. APACHE: 1999 Selle Francais/Thoroughbred gelding by Mescalaro x Unknown ASHLEE BOND (USA) Little Valley Farm: 0/4/39.67
12. MARK Q: 2002 Irish Sport Horse gelding by Obos Quality 004 x Positively KEVIN BABINGTON (IRL), Kevin Babington: 0/4/39.94
Photo Credit: Nick Skelton and Carlo 273, Jimmy Torano and Bentley won at the 2012 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival. Photo © Sportfot, Official Sport Photographer of the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival, www.sportfot.com.