Wellington, FL - March 15, 2012 -The FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival (FTI WEF) continued on Thursday with round ten of the $32,000 WEF Challenge Cup Series and a victory for Irish rider Shane Sweetnam and Spy Coast Farm's Amaretto D'Arco. In a twelve horse jump-off, the pair was fastest of just two clear rounds, topping Canada's Tiffany Foster and Victor, owned by Torrey Pines Stables and Artisan Farms LLC.
Sponsored by Artisan Farms, week ten features two classes on Sunday, March 18, on the grass field at The Stadium. Starting at 10:30 a.m., the $15,000 Artisan Farms Young Rider Grand Prix Final runs first and is followed by the $80,000 Pennfield Feeds Grand Prix CSI 2* at 2 p.m.
Today's WEF Challenge Cup saw 46 entries showing over a course set by Michel Vaillancourt of Aiken, SC. Twelve posted clear rounds to return for the jump-off, but just two were able to clear the second round.
Six entries faulted over the short course before Tiffany Foster and Victor returned with the first double clear in 46.58 seconds. Last to go, Shane Sweetnam and Amaretto D'Arco were the second pair to go clear and their time of 45.73 seconds took over the lead.
In eight years of showing at the FTI WEF, this was Sweetnam's first WEF Challenge Cup victory. Amaretto D'Arco, a twelve-year-old BWP stallion by Darco x Tenor Manciais, has been a fantastic mount for Sweetnam for many years. They recorded clear rounds in the Nations Cup League last year for Ireland in places like La Baule, Aachen, Dublin, and St. Gallen. He is what Sweetnam considers "a horse of a lifetime."
"He's a great horse; even now he's still not up to peak form and he's jumping well," Sweetnam noted. "He was good in the Nations Cup. Last summer he had an amazing summer and couldn't do anything wrong really. He really does try for you. He has his own frame of mind, but if you meet him halfway, he's great. I'm hoping this summer will be a great year again."
Sweetnam commented on the Challenge Cup classes, which have been very difficult for every rider to win throughout the circuit. "I've been coming here for eight years now and that's the first time I've won a WEF. It's tough to win this class. The numbers are big. This is a quiet week and there were still a lot of horses. There are a lot of good combinations; all the big riders with multiple rides. I think it's very difficult. Luckily it wasn't so fast today for me, but it is still a very tough class."
Second place finisher Tiffany Foster was very pleased with her rounds aboard Victor, a ten-year-old KWPN gelding (Elmshorn x Grandeur) that Foster has been riding for two years. "He's amazing; he is great all the time," the rider beamed. "If it was not me riding him and it was somebody who never made a mistake, he would probably always go clear. He always tries really, really hard. He has been great here to go in the same ring over and over and he still tries as hard as he did the first day."
"He's a great horse and I think he knows when he is competing and when he's not," Foster added. "If you go do a schooling 1.40m, he'll kind of play around, but whenever you come out for a real class and ask him to take that next step, he's always there. I'm really starting to get to know him and I feel really comfortable with him. I know how to get him to do everything, so as long as I tell him the right thing, it usually works out."
First to complete a clear round over the jump-off course, Foster did not change her plan going into the round. She explained, "I was surprised there were no clear rounds for sure. It was a strong jump-off and there were good jump-off riders and horses in there. I should say my plan was to go slow and clear, but really my plan was to just go and I was slow. It just kind of happened that way, but it worked out and I'm really happy with second."
Charlie Jacobs, Sr. (USA) and CMJ Sporthorse LLC's Flaming Star finished third with four faults in the fastest jump-off time of 39.53 seconds. Tim Gredley (GBR) and Mrs. R. Gredley's Omelli placed fourth with four faults in 42.04 seconds. Sarah Tredennick (USA) and Wood Run Farm's Vigaro earned the fifth place prize with their four fault jump-off round in 42.13 seconds. Reed Kessler (USA) and Ligist finished sixth, Kevin Babington (IRL) and Mark Q seventh, and Alexandra Thornton (GBR) and Dunwalke LLC's Caballero 84 eighth to round out the four-fault scores.
"I was surprised at how little clear rounds there were in the second round," Sweetnam added. "It was lucky for me. I didn't have to go so fast. I knew what Tiffany had done. I came inside to the triple bar, but I actually slowed up. I tried to be quick in places that weren't so risky, and I was hoping that would be enough. That's the lucky thing about being last. I thought I had enough time and it worked out."
Showing earlier in the morning, Kelsey Thatcher and Pony Lane Farm's Everything won in the $2,500 High Amateur Owner Jumpers. Sydney Shulman and Little Lady D'Elle, owned by John Madden Sales Inc., topped the $1,500 Griffis Group High Junior Jumpers.
Green Hunters Strike A Move
Victoria Colvin of Loxahatchee, FL, earned the championship tricolor in this week's Sanctuary Second Year Green Working Hunter division atop her mount, Inclusive. The pair received top honors in all four over fences classes with impressive scores of 87, 88, 89 and 90. Combined with second place honors in the under saddle, Colvin and Inclusive secured 46 total points for the championship win. Reserve honors went to Havens Schatt and her mount, Macallan, who finished second, third, fourth and fourth over fences with scores of 84, 85, 80 and 81. The pair also received top honors in the under saddle class, collecting 24 points for the reserve tricolor win.
This week's Sanctuary Second Year Green Hunter Champion, Inclusive, is a nine-year-old Warmblood owned by Scott Stewart. According to Colvin, the bay gelding just recently began showing in the Second Year Green division last week and has been performing well.
Following today's victory, Colvin expressed that Inclusive was slightly more tired today than yesterday, but his performance in the arena was consistent both days. "I felt great about yesterday," Colvin commented. "I think he was a little better because he jumped higher. Today, he felt a little tired and my other one (Listen) just didn't feel like picking up his feet. So he had a few rubs, but they were both good." Colvin's second mount in the division, Listen, is an eight-year-old Dutch Warmblood owned by Dr. Betsee Parker.
Colvin, a rider of eight years, became involved in equestrian sports at an early age. "I started riding when I was three," Colvin explained, "then I fell off and I didn't get on again until I was six. After that, I did the ponies for a while and rode in my first Junior Hunter class when I was eight. I remember, it was at Capital Challenge and it was great."
Now fourteen years old, Colvin shows multiple mounts and has been very successful at FTI WEF this season, including winning the WCHR Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular. The young rider is careful to maintain her education while juggling a rigorous show schedule. "I go to a school called The Number One Education Place," Colvin commented. "It's similar to a home school, but you go to their location and meet with teachers there. So, I can go there during the hours that I'm not riding or do the work from home."
In the coming weeks, Colvin plans to continue showing Inclusive and Listen in the Sanctuary Second Year Green Hunter division, among many other mounts, and looks forward to playing tennis during her down time at the season's end.
The tenth week of the 2012 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival will continue tomorrow with a full schedule of hunter and jumper competition. In the International Arena, the $6,000 Spy Coast Farm 1.40m Speed Challenge will be the highlight class. In the Rost Arena, the Ariat National Adult Medal will award top honors.
For full results, please visit www.showgroundslive.com.
Final Results: $32,000 WEF Challenge Cup Round 10
1. AMARETTO D'ARCO: 2000 BWP stallion by Darco x Tenor Manciais SHANE SWEETNAM (IRL), Spy Coast Farm LLC: 0/0/45.73
2. VICTOR: 2002 KWPN gelding by Elmshorn x Grandeur TIFFANY FOSTER (USA), Artisan Farms & Torrey Pines LLC: 0/0/46.58
3. FLAMING STAR: 1999 AES gelding by Fairman x Unknown CHARLIE JACOBS SR., CMJ Sporthorse LLC: 0/4/39.53
4. OMELLI: 1996 KWPN gelding by Burggraaf x Equador TIM GREDLEY (GBR), Mrs. R. Gredley: 0/4/42.04
5. VIGARO: 2002 KWPN gelding by No Limit x Polydox SARAH TREDENNICK (USA), Wood Run Farm: 0/4/42.13
6. LIGIST: 2000 Swedish Warmblood gelding by Levantos II x Robin Z REED KESSLER (USA), Reed Kessler: 0/4/42.86
7. MARK Q: 2002 Irish Sport Horse gelding by Obos Quality 004 x Positively KEVIN BABINGTON (IRL), Kevin Babington: 0/4/44.32
8. CABALLERO 84: 2002 Holsteiner gelding by Chambertin x Carpaccio ALEXANDRA THORNTON (USA), Dunwalke LLC: 0/4/46.47
9. BELMONT: 2001 Canadian Warmblood gelding by Ahorn OT x Landfriese II LAURA KRAUT (USA), Beverly Widdowson: 0/8/41.52
10. UTAH: 2001 KWPN gelding by Andiamo x Jus De Pomme LESLIE HOWARD (USA), The Utah Group: 0/8/42.00
11. COLORIT: 2003 Württemberger stallion by Coriano x Capitol DAVID WILL (GER), Isaak Klaus: 0/16/41.57
12. INTERTOY Z: 1999 Zangersheide gelding by Interadel x Centauer SCOTT BRASH (GBR), Stan Brash: 0/24/66.08
Photo Credit: Shane Sweetnam and Amaretto D'Arco; Shane Sweetnam and Amaretto D'Arco with Jennifer Ward for SSG Gloves and ringmaster Cliff Haines holding Shane's new Nespresso machine; Victoria Colvin and Inclusive. Photos © Sportfot, Official Sport Photographer of the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival, www.us.sportfot.com.