In the $32,000 G&C Farm 1.45m Classic, 17-year-old Reed Kessler notched yet another win at the FTI WEF, this time with Onisha. They sped around the course in 62.24 seconds, more than three seconds faster than second place finishers, Shane Sweetnam (IRL) and Little Emir, owned by Spy Coast Farm. Cian O'Connor (IRL) and KEC Alligator Alley were third in 66.57 seconds. There were 45 entries in the class and 13 clear rounds.
Kessler has been victorious in multiple classes so far this season, including the $25,000 WEF Challenge Cup Round 6, but this class added the bonus of ROLEX FEI ranking points and something special.
"It's CSIO week, so it means a lot for the national anthem to play, no matter what class it is," Kessler stated. "You want America to win on home turf during Nations Cup week. I was immensely proud that I could be the one to bring in the national anthem. It's great for the ranking points too. It's great that G&C Farm has put up the money to bring more ranking classes at WEF. I think that's another reason why they've attracted so many international riders this year. It makes a big difference. I'm really happy. I've been successful, but I've been winning in national classes so far. A lot of invitations to shows are based on ranking points, so it's nice to have won a FEI class."
Kessler commented on Rodrigo Pessoa and HH Palouchin, who have been racking up speed victories again this year. "He's beaten me every class and I've been second and third behind him," Kessler said with a smile. "I think I even had the time today though he had the rail. Any day that I can be faster than Rodrigo is a great day for me."
Kessler said that Onisha, a 1999 Holsteiner mare by Caretino x Athlet Z, is "freakishly careful." She continued, "I don't think there's another horse at this horse show that's more careful than she is. She's totally master of the 1.45m speed. I can go belly to the ground. She was great and it worked out well."
Giving credit, Kessler said, "All of the horses have been going great. I'm lucky; I have a fantastic string, great owners in my parents, and a phenomenal trainer. If I can just do my part, I have all the factors to do it. I have no excuses but myself."
Eric Lamaze and Wang Chung M2S Capture Equine Couture/Tuff Rider Speed Stake
In this afternoon's $25,000 Equine Couture/Tuff Rider Jumper Stake, there were 56 entries. Fifteen were clear in the first round to advance to the jump-off, and six of those ended up double clear. The fastest in the jump-off was Wang Chung M2S, ridden by Eric Lamaze (CAN) for Morningside Stud and Torrey Pines. They set the winning time at 38.308 seconds. Reed Kessler (USA) nearly came away with her second win of the day but settled for second place in 39.316 seconds on Ligist. Ben Maher (GBR) and Cloud Nine were third in 39.728 seconds.
Eric Lamaze and Wang Chung M2S Capture Equine Couture/Tuff Rider Speed Stake
Lamaze has been riding Wang Chung MS2 since this past summer, and the horse is owned by Lamaze and Tom Reed of Ireland. Lamaze described, "The horse has been really competitive all his career. He knows how to go fast! I've been trying to see if he has a gear to jump bigger fences. Running around at a 1.45m he's really good at and has done that. I'm hoping he has a little more in him. That's what I've been aiming for. I'm taking my time because he's really careful. It's a new horse for me."
Speaking of his jump-off plan, Lamaze said, "Reed was quite fast. My plan was to go faster to fence number one in the jump-off more then most people did. I was fast to it because he turns really well to the left. So I wasn't worried about missing my turn. I had a short turn to the liver pool, and then to the second to last fence, I turned really short to that. He's great in that he only needs a second to see it and jump it. I trust he'll do the right thing. Experience comes into play there. I know my way around the ring a little bit, so I know where to try to shave off some time in the turns. I saw Reed go and a few others with the screen now in the warm-up ring. That's great to have. Before, we all had to jam ourselves at the in-gate, which was difficult. But now we can see everyone go, so I could see where she (Reed) went, and had in my head where I could be a little quicker and it worked out."
Lamaze plans to compete in tomorrow's $150,000 Wellington Equestrian Realty Grand Prix, CSIO 4* with Derly Chin de Muze, his mount that went double clear in Friday night's FEI Nations Cup. He will start with Verdi next week, another new horse in his string.
He said of his summer plans and string, "Derly Chin is doing more then I thought she would be at this stage. I knew she was a good horse so it's great to be ahead of where I thought I'd be at this point of the circuit. She has surprised me with her attitude and everything else. Scendix I think is out of this world. Verdi has the most mileage in regards to London. But I've come to learn with horses you never know. You just have to compete in the season and see who steps up. It's hard to get used to any horse in such a short amount of time in preparation for an Olympic Games. I think the best way is to spend three to four years with a horse. Even in this stage in my career, the horse and rider need to have a rapport. I'm on a short track here, but London is really important to me, so we've done the best we could. Hopefully, in that short amount of time, I make a team with any one of these horses to be competitive there."
In the $15,000 Show Jumping Hall of Fame High Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic, Danielle Goldstein sped to the win with Waliba VDL. They were the only double clear in the class. Second place went to Meagan Nusz on Vesuvius, while Jennifer Waxman and Shakira were third.
John Ingram and Hush Earn Tricolor in Elite Shavings Amateur-Owner Over 35 Hunters
John Ingram of Nashville, TN, captured this week's Elite Shavings Amateur-Owner Hunter Over 35 division atop his mount, Hush. Ingram and Hush finished first, fourth and sixth over fences and topped the under saddle, claiming the championship tricolor with 22.5 points. Reserve honors went to Meredith Lipke of Boston, MA, who scored a first, second and fifth over fences, earning 17 points atop Sundance.
The winning mount, Hush, is a thirteen-year-old Hanoverian by Compliment. The dark brown gelding has been competing at FTI WEF for years and is known for his moves in the under saddle. "He's a great mover," Ingram explained. "Most of the time you can count on a hack ribbon, so if you do decently over fences, it's a nice advantage. Clara Lindner bought him as kind of a project and she and Tom (Wright) were the ones who really made him famous."
Following today's victory, Ingram commented on Hush's performance in the show ring. "He went around beautifully in the first round and unfortunately, knocked the top of the brush off in the handy," Ingram said. "This is actually the first week we've show him at WEF this season, so yesterday was like knocking a little rust off both for him and for me. He's been going really well and I felt that today he was going to march right into the ring and do his thing and he did."
Describing the high level of competition in the Over 35 Amateur-Owner division, Ingram commented, "This group has a lot of good riders and wonderful horses. It's very competitive, but at the same time, it's friendly too. There is a real camaraderie and a level of mutual respect out there. We all know that everybody can ride and any given day, anyone can win. The good news is, we're all Amateurs and we have other things to do as far as families and work, so this is just for fun. Of course, we all want to win, but we are happy for other people to do well too."
Ingram, a rider since childhood, feels fortunate to be able to have nice horses that are competitive in the show ring. "Tom Wright and Dominique Vonsiatsky do a great job of keeping the horses well prepared," Ingram said. "So, if I do my job right, we've got a shot."
While at home in Nashville, Ingram reserves time to practice at his farm, where his wife Stephanie and daughter Martha participate in the sport as well. "I enjoy my time in the saddle," Ingram said. "I have two older girls who don't ride anymore and a younger boy who pretty much likes to do everything but ride, so I get to do a lot of other things as well."
In the coming weeks, Ingram and Hush will have a few more chances to achieve victory in the hunter ring. "Hush has done a fair number of shows in his day," Ingram added. "Two years ago we qualified for the night class here and had a lot of fun, and then he was out last year with an injury. So now, it's kind of like having an old familiar pair of jeans back, but a very fancy pair of jeans."
Week eight will conclude tomorrow with the $150,000 Wellington Equestrian Realty Grand Prix, CSIO 4*, the $25,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic, as well as Marley Goodman Small Junior 16-17 Hunters. For full results, please visit www.showgroundslive.com.
Final Results: $32,000 G&C Farm 1.45m Classic
1 ONISHA: 1999 Holsteiner mare by Caretino x Athlet Z REED KESSLER (USA), Reed Kessler: 0/62.24
2 LITTLE EMIR: 1998 German gelding SHANE SWEETNAM (IRL), Spy Coast Farm, LLC: 0/65.94
3 KEC ALLIGATOR ALLEY: 2002 Irish Sport Horse gelding by Aldatus Z x Clover Hill CIAN O'CONNOR (IRL), Sinead & Oonagh Kennedy: 0/66.57
4 S&L SLINGBACK: 2002 KWPN gelding by Hors La Loi x Ekstein DARRAGH KERINS (IRL), S&L Farms: 0/67.67
5 AZZARO VAN'T HAGENHOF: 2000 BWP Gelding by Mr. Blue x Lys De Darmen LAURA KRAUT (USA), Susan Grange: 0/68.12
6 VIGARO: 2002 KWPN gelding by No Limit x Polydox SARAH TREDENNICK (USA), Wood Run Farm: 0/69.24
7 AL CALYPSO: 2002 Hanoverian gelding by Askari x Calypso II SAMUEL PAROT (CHL), Samuel Parot: 0/70.96
8 SASKIA: 2003 Oldenburg mare by Kannan x Silvi I NICOLAS PIZARRO (MEX), Nicolas Pizarro: 0/72.16
9 UTAN: 2001 KWPN gelding by Burggraaf x Concorde ANGELA COVERT-LAWERENCE (CAN), Eastwood Group: 0/72.33
10 OHLALA: 2003 Swedish Warmblood mare by Orlando x Cardento LAUREN HOUGH (USA), Lauren Hough: 0/74.06
11 GIOVANNI 151: 1999 Hanoverian stallion by Graf Grannus x Graf Remus DAVID WILL (GER), Paul Schockemohle: 0/76.05
12 ROYCE: 2004 Oldenburg stallion by Café au Lait x Grandilot MARGIE ENGLE (USA), Elm Rock LLC: 0/77.00
Final Results: $25,000 Equine Couture/Tuff Rider Jumper Stake
1 WANG CHUNG M2S ERIC LAMAZE MORNINGSIDE STUD & TORREY PINES: 0/0/38.308
2 LIGIST REED KESSLER REED KESSLER: 0/0/39.316
3 CLOUD NINE BEN MAHER MRS. COOK: 0/0/39.728
4 SANDOR DE LA POMME DARRAGH KENNY THE WANNAHAVE GROUP: 0/0/40.056
5 LORDAN NAYEL NASSAR NAYEL & SHARAFF NASSAR: 0/0/41.239
6 SILVER EXCHANGE II DAVID MCPHERSON DAVID MCPHERSON: 0/0/42.923
7 SANDRO KATHERINE DINAN GRANT ROAD PARTNERS: 0/4/39.608
8 MADISON ALEXA PESSOA ALEXA PESSOA: 0/4/40.667
9 DOMINO JOS VERLOOY AXEL VERLOOY: 0/4/40.697
10 BELMONT LAURA KRAUT BEVERLEY WIDDOWSON: 0/4/42.772
11 SIRI SHANE SWEETNAM SPY COAST FARM LLC: 0/4/45.588
12 TEMMIE JESSICA SPRINGSTEEN STONE HILL FARM: 0/8/39.699
Photo Credit: Photos © Sportfot, Official Sport Photographer of the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival, www.us.sportfot.com.