Wellington, FL - March 25, 2012 - Week eleven of the 2012 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival concluded on Sunday with a victory for Great Britain's Scott Brash and Intertoy Z in the $25,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic. The pair won over Ben Maher (GBR) and Quiet Easy 4 and Cian O'Connor (IRL) and KEC Alligator Alley in second and third.
Today's course in the International Arena was set by Richard Jeffery of Bournemouth, England. The 1.50m class brought 40 entries to the ring in the first round, but none were able to clear the course without fault. Thirteen entries finished the round with four fault scores, and a jump-off was held to break the tie.
In the 13-horse jump-off, only four jumped clear, and their times were the deciding factor. Ben Maher and Mrs. Phillips' Quiet Easy 4 were the first to clear the course and stopped the clock in 40.854 seconds, which finished second.
Cian O'Connor and KEC Alligator Alley, owned by Sinead and Oonagh Kennedy, were next to jump clear and their time of 41.065 seconds placed third. Great Britain's Tina Fletcher and her own Unique IX also cleared the course, and their time of 43.420 seconds took home the fourth place prize. Last to go in the jump-off, Scott Brash and Intertoy Z jumped the final clear round to take the lead, crossing the timers in 40.403 seconds.
Paige Johnson and Salamander Farm's Chiron S had the fastest time in the jump-off in 38.453 seconds, but dropped a rail to finish with the fastest four-fault round for fifth place.
Class winner Intertoy Z is a 13-year-old Zangersheide gelding by Interadel x Centauer. Twenty-six-year-old Brash has owned Intertoy Z since the gelding was five years old, and the pair has gained great international experience together.
During this year's FTI WEF circuit, Brash and Intertoy Z have racked up many top placings, including a win in the $50,000 Wellington Equestrian Realty CSI 2* Grand Prix during week two. Brash has also won several classes with his other horses during the circuit. He won a $25,000 Suncast 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic with Whiskey Mac IV during week four, and won the $200,000 FEI World Cup Qualifier Grand Prix CSI 4*-W, presented by The Bainbridge Companies, with Sanctos Van Het Gravenhof during week nine.
There have been many challenging classes throughout the circuit in the International Arena, but this was the first to see no clear round and a jump-off of the four fault scores. Brash gave his opinion of the course, stating, "I don't know what was so difficult to be honest. It was just a bit different. It was quite a long course. That last line was a bit tricky, the last fence - a lot had the last fence. I think a lot of the four faulters were pretty unlucky and my horse was unlucky in the first round. I think there were quite a lot of horses in that position."
"You know, you get the odd class like that, but I think it still ended up being an entertaining class," Brash added. "I have not been in that situation so many times. That doesn't happen too often, but they are big, hard tracks here. The horses aren't jumping bad, it's just hard. The time is tight, everything is hard, and you can have the odd occasion where there is a class like that where everyone is jumping well, but just a bit unlucky. That's the way it is."
Despite the rail in the first round, Brash was happy with his horse today and was happy that he had the opportunity to come back for the jump-off and put in a clear round. "I was glad to come back to do the jump-off for sure, it was good," he noted. "He felt really good today. I think he was just unlucky in the first round, because he jumped very good, and then the jump-off he was fantastic."
The last fence on course in both round one and the jump-off was a Liverpool oxer coming toward the in-gate, and several entries made it through the entire course only to have a rail at that final jump. Intertoy Z had stopped at a Liverpool in the jump-off during a previous week, so Brash made sure to get his horse to the jump with confidence in both rounds.
"To be honest I was probably slightly off it when he stopped before, but he sometimes just looks a little bit at the Liverpool. If you are a little bit far off it and he looks, then he can be quite far off it then. These things happen sometimes, but you have to learn from them and move on," Brash said. "Today I just made sure I had enough leg on him and got up to the fence and he jumped it very good both rounds. It was not an issue; he was good."
As the end of the circuit draws near, Brash looks forward to competing in the $500,000 FTI Consulting CSI 5* Finale Grand Prix next Saturday night, but has not yet decided which horse he will show. Regardless of the final outcome, Brash has had a great experience this season and has learned a lot about himself and his horses.
"It has been fantastic for all of my horses to get up and running and going," he reflected. "There have been a couple of new horses here that I have just gotten to know throughout the circuit and you can't really get that experience with them anywhere else but here, so I think I am going home with a strong team ready for the year."
Brash is a strong hopeful for the British show jumping team for the Olympic Games this summer, but he is taking it one day at a time. "There is a long way to go yet," he acknowledged. "The most important thing is to keep the horses sound, keep them right and keep them jumping well, keep myself right, and you never know."
The Junior and Amateur-Owner Jumpers also showed in the International Arena on Sunday. The $10,000 Griffis Group High Junior Jumper Classic started the day with a win for Charlotte Jacobs and Alexandra Carter's Cyrina Z. In the $10,000 Charles Owen Low Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic, Danielle Cooper and Fidelity Farm's Calantus were the winners.
Young Hunter Riders Wrap Up The Week With Tricolor Wins
Lauren Henry of North Kingstown, RI, captured the championship tricolor in this week's Coldwell Banker Children's Hunter 15-17 division atop her mount, Esteban La Paz. The pair scored two firsts and a fourth over fences and finished sixth in the under saddle to top the division with 22.5 points. A close reserve went to Ashley Raynes of New York, NY, who collected two blue ribbons, one over fences and one under saddle, on her mount, Savannah. Raynes and the thirteen-year-old Oldenburg brought home the reserve tricolor with 20 points.
Young Hunter Riders Wrap Up The Week With Tricolor Wins
Esteban La Paz is a fourteen-year-old Warmblood by Espri, and is owned by Canadian Enterdata Inc. The chestnut gelding has had a successful career competing in the hunter and equitation divisions in the U.S. and Canada, and is periodically leased by Lauren Henry throughout the FTI WEF season.
Following today's victory, Henry described Esteban as "consistent, quiet and easy to adjust to." With this week being the second time Henry has ever shown Esteban, the young rider was pleased with their performance. "He's a great horse," Henry commented. "I came down over February vacation and showed him once and loved it. We did well; we placed sixth in the Taylor Harris and brought home ribbons in the Children's Hunter division."
Describing Esteban's rounds this week, Henry explained, "My first trip today went well and in the second trip I felt I was a little too conservative to a few jumps, but he still got a good ribbon. Then, yesterday he was really good and we won a class."
Henry, a sophomore at the Pratt School in Wakefield, RI, has been participating in equestrian sports for years. The young rider manages school and riding carefully by making time to practice during the week at the Heritage Equestrian Center while also attending classes. "There are a few kids that ride and show at my school," Henry commented, "but not many, mostly people think I race and so I'm always like, 'No, no racing guys!'"
In the future, Henry hopes to join the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association and compete at the college level. In the meantime, Henry will continue to show this year aboard her second mount, Carmichael, in the 3' and 3'6" equitation divisions.
In the pony hunter arenas this week, Hannah Lupica and Daisy Farish wowed judges with their mounts, Valeska, Rico Suave and Soprano. Lupica topped the Laura Hanson Large Children's Pony division, earning 22 points on Valeska, a thirteen-year-old large pony owned by Circle R Farms LLC. Farish also proved unbeatable in the Gotham North Small Pony and Small/Medium Green Pony Hunter divisions, earning 22.5 points on Rico Suave, a twelve-year-old small pony owned by Suave Pony LLC, and 32 points on Soprano, an eight-year-old medium pony owned by Kathy Kunsman.
The FTI WEF will continue with its twelfth and final week of competition, sponsored by FTI Consulting, on March 28-April 1. The week will feature the $500,000 FTI Consulting CSI 5* Finale Grand Prix as well as the $32,000 Suncast 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic Final and $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby.
For full results, please visit www.showgroundslive.com.
Final Results: $25,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic
1. INTERTOY Z, SCOTT BRASH, SCOTT BRASH: 4/0/40.403
2. QUIET EASY 4, BEN MAHER, MRS. PHILLIPS: 4/0/40.854
3. KEC ALLIGATOR ALLEY, CIAN O`CONNOR, SINEAD & OONAGH KENNEDY: 4/0/41.065
4. UNIQUE IX, TINA FLETCHER, TINA FLETCHER: 4/0/43.420
5. CHIRON S, PAIGE JOHNSON, SALAMANDER FARM: 4/4/38.453
6. RADIO CITY, VICTOR AMAYA, GOTHAM ENTERPRIZES: 4/4/41.768
7. MALOU, MEREDITH MICHAELS-BEERBAUM, CAMILLA ANDERSON: 4/4/43.528
8. QUICK LATINUS, MIRANDA SCOTT, MIRANDA SCOTT: 4/4/43.745
9. CARMENA Z, SAER COULTER, COPERNICUS STABLES, LLC: 4/4/43.971
10. SILVER EXCHANGE II, DAVID MCPHERSON, DAVID MCPHERSON: 4/8/40.116
11. MC GUINNESS, RICHARD R. FELLERS, HARRY & MOLLY CHAPMAN: 4/8/42.160
12. COLORADO, JONATHAN MCCREA, CANDY TRIBBLE: 4/8/45.798
13. PALOUBET, WILTON PORTER, SLEEPY P RANCH LLC: 4/12/41.846
Photo Credit: Scott Brash and Intertoy Z; Scott Brash and Intertoy Z with ringmaster Cliff Haines and Lauren Tisbo of Suncast; Lauren Henry and Esteban La Paz. Photos © Sportfot, Official Sport Photographer of the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival, www.us.sportfot.com.