Nick Skelton and Unique Continue A Good Week


Wellington, FL - January 15, 2012 - The FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival concluded competition for week one today. In the International Arena, the $25,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic was the main event. Nick Skelton (GBR) continued his solid week of success and capped it with a win on Unique, owned by Beverley Widdowson. Darragh Kenny (IRL) and Wannahave, owned by The Wannahave Group, finished second, while Alexa Pessoa (USA) on Madison was third.

The first week of the FTI WEF is sponsored by Surpass. The second week of the FTI WEF runs from Wednesday, January 18, through Sunday, January 22, and is sponsored by Wellington Equestrian Realty. The 2012 FTI 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.

Today's class was the first in the in the Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Series. The Series will return this year with the $50,000 Leading Horse/Rider Combination Award. Skelton won last year's first prize of $25,000.

Six riders were clear in the first round and returned for the jump-off. Katherine Dinan (USA) came back first on Nougat du Vallet, owned by Grant Road Partners, and set a solid clear round in 40.067 seconds, which would hold up for fifth place. Olympic gold medalist Leslie Howard (USA) and Lennox Lewis 2 were next, but they had four faults in 38.190 seconds for sixth place.

The lead changed hands when Alexa Pessoa and her mare Madison lowered the winning time to 38.533 seconds with no faults. They would finish in third place. Cian O'Connor (IRL) and Wednesday's winner Everything (owned by Abdulla Humaid Al Muhairi) were also clear, but with a slightly slower time in 38.634 seconds for fourth place.

Fellow Irishman Darragh Kenny and The Wannahave Group's Wannahave took the lead next with a speedy 38.375 second jump-off time, and they would finish in second place. As the last in the ring, Skelton and Unique had the prime position to know the time to beat with no competitiors left. Skelton took advantage of this and pressed Unique around the shortened course. They won handily by almost two seconds in 36.537 seconds.


It was a good weekend for the pair who also placed second in last night's $30,000 Surpass Grand Prix. "He felt good. He's fresh," Skelton commented. "This is the fourth time he's jumped this week, but he's in a good swing now and he's going well. I thought after last night that I might as well jump him today. There weren't too many in it. I'll rest him now this week. I might jump him next Sunday and see how he goes. I'll start Carlo next week."

Unique competed in December's Holiday and Horses show at the PBIEC and didn't jump until the the FTI WEF started this week. "He had a good bit of time off, and he didn't do much all summer really. I'm pleased enough with him," Skelton said.

Regarding the jump-off, Skelton said, "I did watch Darragh go, and I thought, 'Just keep it tight.' He's a fast horse, and he'd been around this last night so he knew where he was going!"

Skelton said that Unique, a 2001 KWPN gelding by Indoctro x Voltaire, is "in his prime." He went on to describe, "He's a good horse to do anything with. If he really put his mind to it, he could do everything. He's well above his station in the 1.50s really. Luckily I've got the other two horses so he doesn't have to do the top classes."

On his successful week, Skelton said with a smile, "It's always nice to get off to a good start. It's keeping it up that's the hardest thing. We've got 11 weeks to go."



Debbie Kelly and Sheldon Cooper Win Camping World Adult Amateur Hunter 51+ Championship


Completing their second day of classes, the Camping World Adult Amateur Hunter 51 & Older Section B awarded championship honors to Debbie Kelly and Sheldon Cooper for the week. Quality Control and Margaret Taylor earned the championship in Section A yesterday.

Sheldon Cooper is a nine-year-old gelding owned by David Glefke, of Keswick, VA. Rider Debbie Kelly, of White Hall, MD, trains with Larry Glefke and Kelley Farmer. Kelly rode when she was a child and decided to get back into the sport after a long hiatus about five or six years ago. She had never ridden Sheldon Cooper before this week.   

"I just met Sheldon yesterday!" Kelly laughed. "Larry has only had him a few weeks, and that is really all I know, but he was awesome. He is amazing and just as sweet and smooth as can be. He took care of me and he was great."

Commenting on her jumping rounds, Kelly stated, "Yesterday he was just about perfect. He just went in there and carried me around, and today he was pretty close. I was a little worse today than yesterday because probably I was nervous. Yesterday I just wanted to get around, because I did not have any expectations, but he was just great every time. It was really fun."


Kelly explained that she enjoys riding and showing again and tries to get down to Florida a few times each winter. "I showed three times last winter and that is the only time I have been here except for when I was a kid in the 70s," she said. "I always wanted to get back into riding and I felt like I was running out of time; that's what made me come back."

"I would like to show maybe three or four times this year," Kelly noted. "I just like showing and I like getting away from the cold weather up north for a few days. I just get to come a few times during the season and then it's back to work on Monday morning."

The 2012 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival will continue with its second week of competition, the Wellington Equestrian Realty CSI 2* "AA" show on January 18-22, with the highlight class of the week, the $50,000 Wellington Equestrian Realty Grand Prix on Saturday evening.

Final Results: $25,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic
1 UNIQUE NICK SKELTON BEVERLEY WIDDOWSON: 0/0/36.537
2 WANNAHAVE DARRAGH KENNY THE WANNAHAVE GROUP: 0/0/38.375
3 MADISON ALEXA PESSOA ALEXA PESSOA: 0/0/38.533
4 EVERYTHING CIAN O'CONNOR ABDULLA HUMAID AL MUHAIRI: 0/0/38.634
5 NOUGAT DU VALLET KATHERINE DINAN GRANT ROAD PARTNERS: 0/0/40.067
6 LENNOX LEWIS 2 LESLIE HOWARD PETER HOWARD: 0/4/38.190
7 RADIO CITY VICTOR AMAYA GOTHAM ENTERPRIZES: 4/76.993
8 WOODSTOCK O LAURA KRAUT JOAN KALMAN: 4/80.499
9 DRYDEN YANN CANDELE ARIEL AND SUSAN GRANGE: 4/82.545
10 ATHENA JENNIFER SANTANA SANTANA STABLES, LLC: 4/82.902
11 O'CONNELL STREET CIAN O'CONNOR RONOCCO JUMP LTD & LANDER DE BRUYN: 4/83.510
12 ALLIGATOR ALLEY CIAN O'CONNOR SINEAD & OONAGH KENNEDY: 5/86.325

Photo Credit: Nick Skelton and Unique, Debbie Kelly and Sheldon Cooper won at the 2012 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival. Photo © Sportfot, Official Sport Photographer of the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival, www.sportfot.com.




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