Wellington, FL – Tami Hoag consistently entertains fans with her spine-tingling mystery novels, and during the finale of the 2010 Top Shelf Dressage Under the Stars competition Hoag proved that she can also thrill the crowd and the judges while in the dressage ring. Hoag, a New York Times bestselling author and professional dressage rider, rode away the winner of the much-anticipated Dressage Under the Stars finale held at the Players Club & Restaurant in Wellington, featuring over $10,000 in prizes. Hoag rode Feliki, her 23-year-old Grand Prix mare, to the victory, riding away with armfuls of prizes from generous sponsors, as well as a $2,500 check from the Players Club and a brand new dressage saddle from Custom Saddlery, valued at $3,600. “Feliki gave us a great performance and she certainly doesn’t act her age,” said Neil Hirsch, owner of the Players Club. Feliki was decked out in sparkles from head to toe. Her coat and her hooves were sparkly and she topped off her look with a gold curb rein.
Hoag was ecstatic about the win, “ It was awesome, I was so proud of Feliki”, exclaimed Hoag. “And the prizes were impressive. We just don’t have many dressage competitions that offer this level of prizes and it was so much fun”, added Hoag. Hoag braved coming out to compete as she was just recuperating from a flu. In addition, the weather had been cool and rainy in the afternoon, but Hoag wanted to compete. By 5 PM the night of the Finale the arena footing was perfect and Hoag said “game on”. It was a gamble that paid off handsomely for Hoag and Feliki put on show that will not soon be forgotten.
Betsy Rebar Sell, who co-owns Sho Clothes dressage boutique with Michele Hundt, finished second on her Pan Am winning partner Wonderful Walden, who wore sparkling green polo wraps honor of St Patrick’s day. Rebar Sell’s helmet featured flashing lights, as did Walden’s browband. Rebar Sell wasn’t the only rider sporting a unique outfit, as Leah Wilson wore a pink leotard with a tutu and even danced on her horse.
“The contestants really went the extra mile in the finale to put on a great show,” Hirsch comment. Canadian Olympian Jacquie Brooks disguised as “Dixie Brooks” rode in a western saddle and did tempi changes with only one hand, while Olympian Bent Jensen had everyone laughing thanks to his all white outfit complete with white patent stiletto heels.
There was a star-studded line-up of judges at the finale also, including USDF President George Williams, famous equine photographer Susan Stickle from Hoofprints, and Combined Driver Chester Weber, the seven-time US National Four-In-Hand Champion. Many of the event’s sponsors were also in attendance and helped hand out prizes in the awards ceremony. “The atmosphere was fantastic and everyone really had a good time. All in all, I would say the 2010 Dressage Under the Stars series was a huge success”, said Hirsch.
Hirsch thanked all of the sponsors for their generous contributions to the Dressage Under the Stars series, including Absolut Vodka, Perrier Joulet, and Patron. “It was great to award a handcrafted dressage saddle to our winner thanks to Custom Saddlery,” Hirsch said, “The high quality prizes our sponsors provided really added to the excitement.” Custom Saddlery is well known in the equestrian community for their wonderfully made saddles and famous dressage clients including Steffen Peters, Sue Blinks and Hilda Gurney. Hirsch also thanked the sponsors who supported the riders throughout the whole series with donations of saddle pads, coolers, supplements and gift certificates. The series sponsors were Cavalor Feed, SmartPak, Succeed, The Wellington Institute, and Der Dau Boots.
A special thanks to all the sponsors who made the Finale prize one of the richest prizes in dressage this season; Draper Equine Therapy, Sho Clothes, Tackeria, Moxie, Elite Horse Transport, The Sanctuary Equine Sports Therapy & Rehabilitation Center, TailRx, Choice of Champions, Equilite, the makers of Sore No More, Der Dau, SmartPak, Succeed, Cavalor Feed, Diane Scasser, Idlewild Furnishing, The Wellington Institute, Dressage Training Online and Custom Saddlery.