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Jeffery Welles and Octavius Take WEF Challenge Cup at the 2005 Winter Equestrian Festival

Phelps Media Group, Inc.

The second round of the $25,000 WEF Challenge Cup Series was the featured event on Thursday afternoon during the 2005 Winter Equestrian Festival at the Palm Beach Polo Equestrian Club at 14440 Pierson Road, Wellington, Florida. The nation’s largest and longest running equestrian extravaganza is in its thirty third year in Florida.

The WEF Challenge Cup, a nine week long series of $25,000 Grand Prix events concludes in Tampa as part of the final week of the Winter Equestrian Festival. The Challenge Cup is also a major money qualifier for the $200,000 Budweiser American Invitational to be held on Saturday night, April 2, 2005, under the lights at Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium.

2004 Olympics Games Course Designer, Olaf Petersen, is designing the challenges in the Internationale Arena for week two at WEF.

Today’s scoring was FEI Table A – One Round Against the Clock. Article 238.2.1.

60 entries went to the post in today’s 1pm main event. Of the sixty starters, only ten produced clear rounds, while eighteen competitors had a single knockdown, with most coming at a tough triple combination located along the Jockey Club side of the Internationale Arena.

2004 Olympic Silver Medalist McLain Ward and his Fanfan du Orbec set the early pace, riding out of the third slot in the order. Ward cruised the course without penalty and tripped the timers in 67.22 seconds. Ward’s lead lasted until 1984 Olympic Gold Medalist Joe Fargis took over the lead on Mary B. Schwab’s Edgar 12. Fargis, showing 12th in the order, crossed the finish line in 65.45 seconds to take over the top spot.

Fargis’s lead held up until eventual class winner Jeffery Welles entered the arena on Octavius, owned by International Jump, Inc. Welles and Octavius posted a victory last week at the Winter Equestrian Festival, racing to the win in the 1.40m jump-off over 60 fellow competitors. Welles once again was very fast and clear and the duo took over the lead in the Challenge Cup, breaking the beams in 64.85 seconds.

Forty entries remained when Welles took over the lead, but following his ride, the only one to come close was Keean White of Canada on Arriscraft Rocca, who crossed the finish line in 65.96 seconds, a score that would eventually hold up for third place.

Welles was not confident that his time would stand. “I could have done one less stride from 10 to 11 to 12 to be a little faster, so, I wasn’t sure if my time was going to hold up or not with that many rounds to go,” he admitted.

Welles enjoys the fast pace, but had to slow it down a bit this week. “I work with a lot of pace anyway, so you just mix that style of riding in with the course. This wasn’t like our win last week when we were flat out. That was 1.40m. Today’s Challenge Cup was 1.50m,” Welles explained. “You really have to be more careful, it’s a little more difficult to fly around when the fences are that big, so you take your chances where you can at that height,” he said.

Welles says that he is developing a lot of confidence in Octavius. “He’s very focused on his job. He’s always been a winner. He’s always been there for me and he’s very fast,” Welles said. “He’s only done a few big classes. He won the Sally Hansen Grand Prix at the Hampton Classic and then this win today. He got a lot of good mileage and won a couple of nice classes at Spruce Meadows this past summer,” said Welles.

Welles’s margin of victory over Fargis was 6/10ths of a second. And while most of the rails today came down in the tough triple, Welles felt that the combination was where he won the class. “That combination really suited him because of the tight distance from A to B. Also, the distance getting to the triple worked well for me today. A lot of riders swung wide to get the eight to be more careful, but that lost time,” noted Welles. “Octavius is really good about galloping down to the jump, patting the ground a bit and just jumping. So that line worked well for me today.”

The Acorn Hill Speed Challenge takes center stage on Friday afternoon at the Winter Equestrian Festival. Saturday is the $20,000 1.50m Classic and the second week’s main event is the $50,000 Bayer Wellington Cup CSI 3* at 2pm on Sunday afternoon.

Official Results - #101 - $25,000 WEF Challenge Cup, Round 2 – Table A 238.2.1 – 02-03-05 – Internationale Arena

1 – Octavius, Jeffery Welles – 0/64.85
2 – Edgar 12, Joe Fargis – 0/65.45
3 – Arriscraft Rocca, Keean White - 0/65.96
4 – Poleander, Cody Baird – 0/67.15
5 – Fanfan du Orbec, McLain Ward – 0/67.22
6 – In Style, Ian Millar - 0/67.87
7 – Lagretto 5, Kate Levy – 0/68.18
8 – Marcel, Jimmy Torano - 0/69.65
9 – Ratina 79, Aaron Vale - 0/71.30
10 – Fit 3, Cody Baird – 0/73.77
11 – Bull Runs Apollo Anton, Steve Schaefer – 4/63.55
12 – Timbuktu, Peter Leone – 4/65.20

PHOTO CREDIT: Octavius and Jeffery Welles win Round Two of the WEF Challenge Cup Series. Photo by Randi Muster.