Nick Skelton Returns to Winner's Circle with Big Star


Wellington, FL - February 26, 2012 - The seventh week of the FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival concluded today with an exciting 11 horse jump-off in the $32,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic. Nick Skelton (GBR) scored yet another big win with Big Star, owned by Beverley Widdowson. Second place went to fellow British rider Ben Maher on Quiet Easy 4, owned by Mrs. Phillips, while Darragh Kerins (IRL) and S&L Slingback, owned by S&L Farm, finished third.

While week seven has concluded, week eight, sponsored by G&C Farm, will run from February 29-March 4. 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.

There were 54 entries competing over a course set by Germany's Olaf Petersen Jr. in the 1.50m class. Eleven of those were clear in the first round to continue over the shortened jump-off course. Skelton and Big Star came back ninth in the order and with a bold gallop, they brought the winning time down to 33.29 seconds. 


"I saw Ben on the screen and knew he was quick," Skelton recalled. "I know Big Star's quick. When you let him go, he can go! He has a big stride and in a big ring like that you can go. The course was quite a running course today in the jump-off, so it was easy to let him go. He still keeps his shape, even if he's going quick."

Five horses earlier, Maher and Quiet Easy 4 finished in 34.39 seconds. The previous leader was Teirra, ridden by Laura Kraut (USA) for Stars and Stripes, who were clear in 35.60 seconds for fourth place. Darragh Kerins and S&L Slingback completed the course in 35.49 seconds for third place. Finishing in fifth place was Marie Hecart (FRA) on Opal du Golfe, owned by Ecurie Michel Hecart, who had a time of 37.24 seconds.

Skelton and Big Star won the $80,000 Adequan Grand Prix during week four. This week, they had one rail in the WEF Challenge Round 7. Skelton noted that he showed today because, "I thought he could do with jumping a bit more. He's well fresh with himself really. Carlo is the same. Neither of them are good when they're fresh; they're better when they jump a bit more," he said.

Skelton commented that Big Star, who is known as "Henry" in the barn, is a sweet horse and well-behaved. "You wouldn't know he was a stallion. He has a really good temperament. You can stand him with the mares and everything. He's not a noisy stallion. He nearly neighs every time he goes in the ring. I don't know why, but that's the only noise he makes." 

Skelton plans to compete in week eight with Carlo 273 and Big Star, and believes he will show Big Star in the $75,000 FEI Nations Cup presented by G&C Farm on Friday night. It will be Big Star's first Nations Cup competition.

Shawn Casady rode to victory in this morning's $10,000 Griffis Group High Junior Jumper Classic aboard Elm Rock LLC's Zubantos in a two horse jump-off out of the 30 horse field. Casady and Zubantos jumped clear in 33.488 seconds to beat out Lydia Ulrich and Up the Creek Farm's Santos Utopia, who dropped one rail in the jump-off in 32.085 seconds to finish second.



Lyn Pedersen and Tivoli Take Tricolor in FarmVet Amateur-Owner 36 & Over 3'3" Hunters


Lyn Pedersen of Greenwich, CT, emerged victorious in today's FarmVet Amateur-Owner 3'3" 36 and over division atop her mount, Tivoli. The pair claimed first, third, and fourth over fences and fourth under saddle to win the division with eighteen points. A close reserve went to Sarah Ingram of Nashville, TN, who finished first and third over fences, gathering fourteen points on her fifteen-year-old Mecklenburg, Four Iron.

The division champion, Tivoli, is a nine-year-old Rheinlander by PRH Abanos. Affectionately known as Tivo in the barn, the chestnut gelding began his show career as a Pre-Green hunter and has since been successful in the Amateur-Owner and First Year Green hunter divisions. Last week, Pedersen and Tivoli topped the $5,000 WCHR Amateur-Owner 3'3" Classic in the International Arena, surpassing a field of over thirty competitors. 

Following today's victory, Pedersen commented on the chestnut gelding's performance in the show ring. "He was great this weekend," Pedersen said. "When he's good, he's so easy and straight forward. We often work on getting him soft because he can be a little stiff in the neck, and he's getting better and better all the time. I think today we just clicked."  

For Pedersen, competing at FTI WEF is a logistical struggle as the Amateur rider attends weekly classes at Fordham University in New York, where she is working toward a Masters in Social Work. In the future, Pedersen hopes to work with at-risk children who would benefit from mentoring programs. 

In the meantime, managing school and competition has become a challenge. "It's hard to do both because they are each so time consuming," Pedersen explained. "You just have to kind of keep your head down and put one foot in front of the other. It's about compartmentalizing really. When I come here, I try to be one hundred percent here, and when I go home, I'm one hundred percent a student." 

This week marks Pedersen's first time showing her newest mount, Guess Again, in the FarmVet Amateur-Owner 3'3" 36 and Over Hunters. Guess Again is a ten-year-old bay Warmblood who Pedersen refers to as a "steady Eddie." Dubbed Gus in the barn, the gelding competed in the Adult Amateur Hunter division earlier this circuit. In the coming weeks, Pedersen hopes to begin competing at the 3'6" height on both Tivoli and Guess Again. 

Additional division champions this week include Barbara Merryman and Meredith Darst. Merryman topped the Large Green Pony Hunter division with forty-two points atop her mount, Twilight, a six-year-old Welsh Pony Cross owned by Richard Cunkle. In the Equine Couture Large Pony Hunter division, Darst claimed both champion and reserve tricolors on her mounts, For The Laughter and For The Love. Darst acquired thirty points on For The Laughter, owned by Dr. Betsee Parker, and finished with twenty-four points on For the Love, owned by Alexandra Crown.

Final Results: $32,000 Suncast 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic
1. BIG STAR: 2003 KWPN stallion by Quick Star x Nimmerdor NICK SKELTON (GBR), Beverly and Gary Widdowson: 0/0/33.29
2. QUIET EASY 4: 2004 Oldenburg gelding by Quidam's Rubin x Zapateado BEN MAHER (GBR), Mrs. Phillips: 0/0/34.39
3. S&L SLINGBACK: 2002 KWPN gelding by Hors La Loi x Ekstein DARRAGH KERINS (IRL), S&L Farms: 0/0/35.49
4. TEIRRA: 2000 KWPN mare by Tolano Van Het Riethof x Aldatus LAURA KRAUT (USA), Stars & Stripes:: 0/0/35.60
5. OPAL DU GOLFE: 2002 Selle Francais by Elf D'or SF MARIE HECART (FRA), Ecurie Michel Hecart: 0/0/37.24
6. DOMINO: 2003 Belgian Warmblood gelding by Thunder van de Zuuthoeve x Azur Depaulstra JOS VERLOOY (NED), Axel Verlooy: 0/0/38.26
7. WOODSTOCK O: 2003 KWPN gelding by Hors La Loi x Ferro LAURA KRAUT (USA), Joan Kalman/The Freedom Group: 0/4/34.76
8. GELEDIMAR: 2003 Zangersheide mare by Grosso Z x Lord Z NICHOLAS DELLO JOIO (USA), Wembley Farms Inc.: 0/4/38.42
9. EMERALD: 2004 Belgian Warmblood stallion by Diamant de Semilly x Carthago HARRIE SMOLDERS (NED), Axel Verlooy: 0/4/42.88
10. OLYMPIC DE CHAMANT: 2002 Selle Francais gelding by Gentleman IV SF x Apache D'Adriers CEDRIC ANGOT (FRA), Nicolas Paillot: 0/12/42.09
11. OCEANE DE NANTUEL: 2002 SFA mare by Diamant de Semilly x Quidam de Revel ALEXANDRA PAILLOT (FRA), Michel Hecart: 0/13/54.81
12. CHAMBERLAIN Z: 2001 Zangersheide gelding by Chellano Z x Peter Pan DAVID MCPHERSON (GBR), David McPherson & M/M Holtgers: 1/68.46

Photo Credit: Photos © Sportfot, Official Sport Photographer of the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival, www.us.sportfot.com.




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