Wellington, FL - February 17, 2011 - The 2011 FTI Winter Equestrian Festival continued on Thursday with World Champion Hunter Rider (WCHR) hunter competition at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. All of the rated professional hunter divisions concluded today and awarded championship honors for week six. Champion and reserve champion horses will qualify to compete in the WCHR Palm Beach Hunter Classic Spectacular on Friday evening, showcasing the hunters on an international stage.
No surprise as a qualifier for Friday night's classic, four-time WCHR Professional Champion Scott Stewart earned multiple championship awards today with his string of talented horses. Stewart dominated the First Year Green Hunter division, earning the championship aboard Inclusive and the reserve championship aboard Reality, owned by Krista Weisman. Inclusive, an eight-year-old Warmblood gelding, finished first in both classes over fences today and earned first and second place ribbons on Wednesday. Reality, an eight-year-old Mecklenberg stallion by D'Olympic, earned second in both classes today and placed third on Wednesday.
Stewart first rode Inclusive to victory in the Future Hunter division at the 2010 Capital Challenge Horse Show this past fall and expects great things from the horse this year. Along with showing in the First Years with Stewart, Inclusive also competes in the Large Junior Hunter 15 and Under division with rider Victoria Colvin and has earned championship honors with both riders.
"He is just really a fantastic jumper," Stewart noted. "I bought him last summer in July and after Capital Challenge, we started again here in the beginning of December. He has been great."
Reserve champion Reality also competes in the Amateur-Owner Hunter 3'3" division with his owner, Krista Weisman. "I bought Reality a year and a half ago and he is a really nice horse," Stewart said. "He is a stallion and I have bred a lot of my broodmares to him. He is really beautiful and so easy going."
Discussing each horse's ride, Stewart commented, "Reality is a little bit more laid back. Inclusive tries too hard sometimes; he jumps really high. Reality is just really pleasant and he is such a pretty horse when he goes around. They are both very brave, so they should handle the night class under the lights really well."
Stewart also earned a tricolor in the Green Conformation Hunters today riding Empire, owned by Becky Gochman. The pair earned first place ribbons in all four classes over fences and a third under saddle. Kelly Farmer took home the reserve championship honors aboard Crown N Sceptor, owned by Larry Glefke.
Other top competitors today included Louise Serio, who rode Castle Rock, owned by Bryan Baldwin, to the High Performance Hunter championship. Kelly Farmer and Rosalynn, owned by Larry Glefke, took reserve.
Cookie Beck topped the Second Year Green Hunters riding Lisa Cudahy's Last Call to championship honors over Whatever, owned by Boggs Hill and ridden by Tim Goguen.
Continuing through the day, Ken Berkley guided Sambalino, owned by Becky Gochman, to a championship tricolor in the Regular Conformation Hunters with Peter Pletcher and Garfield, owned by Steeplechase Farm, coming in reserve.
The Performance Working Hunter 3'6"-3'9" division completed the day's classes with a championship win for Small Affair, ridden by John French for owners Iwasaki & Reilly. Onassis, ridden by Elizabeth Boyd for Sarah Ward, finished in reserve.
The USHJA would like to thank its generous sponsors for the 2011 WCHR Hunter Classic Spectacular, including: Ogilvy-The Official Therapeutic Saddle Pad of the USHJA, who will be supplying therapeutic saddle pads to the top six riders in both the Professional and Junior/Amateur-Owner Hunter Spectaculars; Essex Classics, who will be providing riding shirts to the high score Professional and Emerging Professional riders and to the high score Junior and Amateur riders on Sunday morning; and Arc De Triomphe (ADT), the Official Saddlery of the WCHR, who will be supplying bridles and bridle bags to the winners of each WHCR Classic.
The sixth week of the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival will continue tomorrow with Junior and Amateur-Owner Hunters competing in the International Arena as they try to qualify for their WCHR Hunter Classic Spectacular on Sunday.
The FTI Winter Equestrian Festival's sixth week of competition continues through Sunday, February 20. Week six, sponsored by Fidelity Investments, will feature the $31,000 WEF Challenge Cup Round 6 on Friday at 2 p.m. at The Stadium, the FTI Great Charity Challenge presented by Fidelity Investments, on Saturday at 7 p.m., the Suncast 1.50m Championship Jumper Series Classic on Saturday afternoon, and the $50,000 G&C Farm Palm Beach Jumping Derby on Sunday at 3 p.m. at The Stadium. The 2011 WEF will continue through April 3 and award more than $6 million in prize money.
Photo Credit: Scott Stewart dominated the First Year Green Hunter division during week six at the 2011 FTI Winter Equestrian Festival, earning the championship aboard Inclusive. Scott Stewart and Inclusive with ringmaster Cliff Haines and Keeley Gogul of the USHJA . Ken Berkley and Sambalino were the Regular Conformation Hunter champions. Photo © Sportfot, Official Sport Photographer of the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival, www.sportfot.com.