Wellington, FL - The 2011 FTI Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) held its second day of competition today with the first of 12 weekly WEF Challenge Cup grand prix classes. Canada's Yann Candele and Redefin, owned by Susan Grange, were the fastest double clear combination to earn the top prize. Held at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center in Wellington, FL, the 2011 WEF will hold 12 consecutive weeks of competition for its winter show circuit, running through April 3, 2011.
Round 1 of the $30,000 WEF Challenge Cup was held in the International Arena over a track set by course designer Anthony D'Ambrosio of Red Hook, NY. Out of 26 original entries, seven made it to the jump-off in the Table IIa class. A distinguished list of horses and riders qualified for today's jump-off in the WEF Challenge Cup and four were able to go double clear, each besting the leading time until the final competitor completed the fastest round.
Rodrigo Pessoa (BRA) and HH Ashley, owned by Double H Farm, were the first pair to jump clear in a time of 40.060 seconds but were then pushed out of the lead by Margie Engle (USA) and Hidden Creek's Pamina L with a time of 35.911 seconds.
McLain Ward (USA) and Louisburg Farm's Esplanade 7 completed the course in an even faster time of 35.589 seconds, but along came Yann Candele (CAN) and Redefin to shave another second off the clock to finish in a blazing fast 34.490 seconds. In the end, the top four riders finished in just that order respectively, with Candele and Redefin rising to the challenge to earn first place. Ward finished in second, Engle in third, and Pessoa in fourth. Kent Farrington (USA) and Vanhattan completed the fastest four-fault jump-off round in 35.588 seconds to finish in fifth place.
Class winner Redefin is a 13-year-old KWPN gelding by Larino x Zeus. Previously shown by Ian Millar, Candele got the ride on Redefin almost one year ago and was very pleased with the horse's performance this afternoon. "Starting off the circuit like that is always nice and especially with that horse that just came down from Canada before New Year's," Candele smiled. "I am very happy and actually a little bit surprised because McLain and Margie were very fast. We had some nice turns I guess because I do not think that my horse was much faster."
Candele had the opportunity to watch the other competitors navigate the jump-off course since he was the last entry, and he acknowledged that benefit. "That is always a huge advantage because then you know pretty much how many chances you have to take and today was pretty much all out," he stated. "Redefin is an experienced horse; yesterday he had a good warm-up but he had two rails down in the jump-off. The first round today I think I was lucky in one or two parts, but in the jump-off he jumped very well. I challenged him pretty hard to fence two and in the last line I was late to bring him back, but his reaction was very good."
In addition to earning the top prize for his efforts, Candele was also presented with a $3,000 bonus for riding in his SSG 'Digital' Gloves during today's class. The SSG 'Go Clean for the Green' promotion will be offered weekly in the WEF Challenge Cup Series, the Amateur-Owner Jumper Low Classic, and the Amateur-Owner Jumper High Classic competitions. If the winning rider in any of these three competitions is wearing SSG 'Digital' Riding Gloves with the SSG horse head logo clearly visible on the wrist, they will be presented with a cash bonus during the awards presentation.
Candele was not about to pass up that opportunity and said with a laugh, "Of course I wore my gloves; I have ridden with SSG gloves for a long time. They have always been a part of the sport and the new gloves are lovely. I was actually hoping that a few people didn't know about the challenge, but I think it is great. It is a very good idea and they are great gloves, so I think that at the end of the day everyone is in a win-win situation."
The 2011 FTI Winter Equestrian Festival will continue tomorrow with the Spy Coast Farm 1.40m Speed Challenge, held at 1 p.m. in the International Arena. The highlight class of the week is Sunday's $30,000 Speed Derby at 1 p.m.
Final Results: $30,000 WEF CHALLENGE ROUND 1
- 1 REDEFIN YANN CANDELE SUSAN GRANGE 0/0/34.490
- 2 ESPLANADE 7 MCLAIN WARD LOUISBURG FARM 0/0/35.589
- 3 HC'S PAMINA L MARGIE ENGLE HIDDEN CREEK FARM 0/0/35.911
- 4 HH ASHLEY RODRIGO PESSOA DOUBLE H FARM 0/0/40.060
- 5 VANHATTAN KENT FARRINGTON HILARY MCNERNEY 0/4/35.588
- 6 GAEL FORCE DARRAGH KENNY MISSY CLARK 0/4/36.352
- 7 VENT DU NORD KATE LEVY KATE LEVY LLC 0/4/38.250
- 8 G&C FLASH PABLO BARRIOS G&C FARM 2/80.234
- 9 URBAN BLYTHE MARANO RIVERVIEW FARM LLC 2/80.577
- 10 TRAFFIC BOY SHANE SWEETNAM SPY COAST FARM LLC 3/81.062
- 11 YB BLUE NICK NOVAK NICK NOVAK 4/75.162
- 12 GOWRAN PARK ANDREW BOURNS ANDREW BOURNS 4/75.522
The 2011 FTI Winter Equestrian Festival has 12 weeks of top competition running from January 12 through April 3. WEF is run by Equestrian Sport Productions, LLC, and Wellington Equestrian Partners and held at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. All 12 shows are "AA" rated and Jumper Rated 6, and more than $6 million in prize money will be awarded.
WEF is proud to be supported by their title sponsor, FTI Consulting, Inc. FTI Consulting, Inc. is a global business advisory firm dedicated to helping organizations protect and enhance enterprise value in an increasingly complex legal, regulatory and economic environment. With more than 3,600 employees located in most major business centers in the world, they work closely with clients every day to anticipate, illuminate, and overcome complex business challenges in areas such as investigations, mergers and acquisitions, regulatory issues, reputation management and restructuring. For more information, please visit www.fticonsulting.com.
Please visit www.equestriansport.com or call 561-793-5867 for more information.
Photo Credit: Yann Candele and Redefin won the first round of the $30,000 WEF Challenge Cup at the 2011 FTI Winter Equestrian Festival. Yann Candle and Redefin with ringmaster Cliff Haines and Jennifer Ward of Starting Gate Communications for SSG Photo © Sportfot, Official Sport Photographer of the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival, www.sportfot.com.