Highlights from Week Two of the 2005 Winter Equestrian Festival
Phelps Media Group, Inc
The second week of the 33rd Annual Winter Equestrian Festival was held February 2 through February 6 at the Palm Beach Polo Equestrian Club in Wellington, Florida. The five day show, the Bayer Gold Coast Jumper Classic CSI 3*, featured top-notch jumpers competing in five rings. Olaf Petersen was the Internationale Ring Course Designer. Five more weeks of competition are scheduled at the Wellington venue before the festival moves to Tampa and the Bob Thomas Equestrian Center for two additional weeks of equestrian excellence. The grand finale is the $200,000 Budweiser American Invitational at Raymond James Stadium, Saturday night, April 2, 2005.
Olympian Chris Kappler and Primeur 58 Race to First Grand Prix Win of the Year in $50,000 Bayer Wellington Cup at Winter Equestrian Festival
It was a race to the finish to determine the winner of the $50,000 Bayer Wellington Cup CSI 3*, the second Sunday grand prix offered this year at the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, FL. Olympic course designer Olaf Petersen saved the best for last, as he set a demanding course this afternoon for a field of 44 competitors.
Only six horse and rider combinations were fault-free in the first round. They returned for the challenging jump-off course that was set across the whole length of the large Internationale Arena. The first to tackle the jump-off was Olympian Margie Engle and Hidden Creek’s Alibi. The pair set the pace with a time of 47.38 seconds, but had an unfortunate eight faults along the way.
Next in the ring were Salamander Farm’s Lancier 4 and 19 year-old Paige Johnson. This is only the second time Johnson has shown in the big Sunday Grand Prix class, and her plan was to be “neat, clean, and fast going into the jump-off.” The big course was a little daunting to begin with, said Johnson. “I’ve never ridden a course that hard and at that level. I was proud that I was clear in the first round. I knew my horse was capable of it.”
Johnson attacked the jump-off, and as she made her last rollback to the remaining two fences, the crowd was screaming and whistling for more speed. She flew to the top of the leaderboard as she crossed the timers in 44.90 seconds with no faults.
The always-competitive Markus Beerbaum followed Johnson in the jump-off. The German native guided Hyperion Farm’s Le Mans 8 with precision as he sliced across the jumps. His time fell just short of the lead in 45.49 seconds with no faults.
Argentinean Olympian Federico Sztyrle and Quarnak de Longpre, owned by Christian Wolffer, slipped into third place at the time, as two rails dropped in the jump-off for eight faults and he crossed the timers in 44.85 seconds.
2004 Olympian Chris Kappler and Primeur 58, owned by Kappler and Kathy Kamine, were next into the ring. Primeur 58 is not a new mount for Kappler, and he admitted, “He’s kind of been in Royal Kaliber’s shadow for the last couple of years. He has really come into his own in the last year and a half.” Primeur 58 is set to emerge from the shadow of Kappler’s Olympic mount and have his name flash on the leaderboard. This is the first grand prix of the year for Primeur 58, and the win puts Kappler on track for the Winter Equestrian finale, the $200,000 Budweiser American Invitational. “The Invitational is my favorite class, and that’s what I try to prepare for the whole time down here,” revealed Kappler.
As the elegant bay Westphalian gelding entered the ring for the jump-off and approached the first fence, the crowd became silent. All eyes were on Kappler as he skillfully guided Primeur 58, twisting and turning over the jumps. As he galloped to the last fence, onlookers held their breath. The timers flashed up the winning time of 44.23 seconds with no faults. The 7,500 person crowd erupted in cheers and all waited as the last horse entered the ring.
Overlook Farm’s Couletto K. James and Kim Frey sped across the course and were two seconds ahead of Kappler’s time as they approached the end of the jump-off. However, a miscommunication caused Couletto K. James to crash through the last jump, sealing the win for Kappler.
Kappler said afterwards that he was thrilled to have an early win, and was happy that the rookie Johnson competed so well. “I’m so excited for Paige. She’s a very good young rider, her family has been a wonderful patron to the sport, and I really look forward to seeing her come along as a rider.”
Jumper Highlights- Wednesday Through Sunday
On Wednesday, Olympic Silver Medalist Chris Kappler, riding Primeur 58 owned by Kathy Kamine, topped a field of 49 starters for the 1.45m victory. 13 of the 49 competitors produced first round clears and seven of those advanced to the tiebreaker against the clock.
Kappler raced across the finish line in 40.575 seconds to post his first win of the young 2005 season. His margin of victory was .68 seconds over Ramiro Quintana and Carousel, owned by Mary B. Schwab, who finished second in 41.260 seconds.
Kappler was glad to get back to the winners circle. “I was really happy because this was Primeur’s first class of the season,” he explained. “He’s had a nice break since the Syracuse show this fall and he came out jumping really well today.”
The second round of the $25,000 WEF Challenge Cup Series was the featured event on Thursday afternoon. The 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.
60 entries went to the post in Thursday’s 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 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.
2004 Olympic silver medalist Beezie Madden of Cazenovia, NY, posted another win at the 2005 Winter Equestrian Festival on Friday, as she raced to victory in the Acorn Hill 1.40m Speed Challenge on Pia, owned by John Madden Sales.
The Acorn Hill Speed Challenge, offered during each week of the Winter Equestrian Festival, is part of the North American League Open Speed Challenge Series.
Pia is a new ride for Madden, but she felt comfortable going fast across the course. “I actually just started riding that horse last week. She placed in both the 1.40 meter classes last week, so I felt comfortable trying to take a shot and win today,” explained Madden.
Madden and Pia were the thirty-first pair to challenge the difficult course set by 2004 Olympic course designer, Olaf Petersen. Eighty four horse and rider combinations attempted the course, and many found that it posed some hard questions. Madden said, “It’s hard enough just to jump clear on such a long course. The double at 6a-b was difficult because it was quite short.”
Madden was at the ring after her class, and commented, “I think I was fast, but there were a few places I could have been beat.” Luckily, Madden was wrong, as she and Pia came away with their first win of the season.
Flubber Cocoy and owner/rider Lisa Silverman were the only ones to answer the difficult questions set in a huge, sprawling course for the Amateur Owner Jumpers Friday in the Internationale Arena. They were one of only four horse and rider combinations to advance to the speed phase out of 16 competitors, and finished with a time of 30.030. Second place went to November Rain and Cara Cheska, who had four faults in the speed phase and a time of 35.624. Georgina Bloomberg and Lumina 2 had the fastest time of 29.770, but it brought eight faults.
Jamaica and Aimee Aron improved on their fourth place finish last week, and sped to the win in the High Junior Jumper (II, 2c) Power and Speed class on Friday.
Four horse and rider combinations were clear in both phases, but Aron had the fast time of 37.297, and edged out Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Patton’s Cloud Nine and Sloane Coles, who finished just behind them with a time of 37.747.
Cloverleaf Farm’s Onira and rider Brianne Goutal were also clear through the speed phase with a time of 40.316 for third place. Amona and Carolyn Kelly were the only other double clear round, but had a slower time of 44.051 for fourth place.
A field of 41 jumpers attempted to clear the course for the $20,000 1.50m Classic on Saturday of the second week of the Winter Equestrian Festival.
The first round saw only five faultless horse and rider combinations, because almost two-thirds of the class were unable to clear a tight triple combination in the first round.
The jump-off track was long, and provided opportunities for horses to gallop and then make tight rollback turns.
U.S. Olympic silver medalist, McLain Ward, tore through the jump-off on Galant, setting the crowd off with a time of 40.883 and no faults.
Milona and U.S. Olympian Laura Kraut made it through the tough triple combination in the first round to advance to the jump-off. “She just turned herself inside out to make it through that combination. She was amazing,” said Kraut, who rode the mare for owner Peter Wetherill. As Kraut and Milona galloped in for the jump-off, some were unsure if she could beat Ward’s time. “I felt very slow from fence one to two to three. After that, I was like, ‘You chicken! Come on!’” Kraut then sped across the next three obstacles and made a cut to the last jump, causing the crowd to roar as they crossed the timers in a blazing speed of 39.094. “She just made an amazing effort to the last jump; it felt like she was 22 feet long to get over it!” exclaimed Kraut.
The last to go in the jump-off were Kadena R and Paige Johnson, riding for Salamander Farm. Johnson moved up from the High Amateur-Owner Jumpers last week because she felt “really comfortable with her.” The move paid off, as Johnson went clear in the first round and returned last in the jump-off to challenge Kraut.
“When I went in the ring, I didn’t think I’d even be close [to Kraut’s time], but I was going to try!” reported Johnson. This was evident as Johnson galloped from fence one and left out a stride to fence two. Kadena R and Johnson made tight turns and were stride for stride with Kraut’s time. As she landed from the last jump, the crowd held their breath. The pair were clear, but were 8/10ths of a second behind Kraut and Milona.
Milona returned from an injury last year, and Kraut hopes “this will be the year to win.” It seems the pair are off to a good start.
The $10,000 High Amateur/Owner Jumper Classic riders had a race to the finish over Olaf Petersen’s Table II, Section 2a, Time First Jump-Off course on Saturday morning.
The starting field of 32 horses saw six clear rounds advance to the jump-off. True Love and Sarah Segal moved up in the order for the jump-off. True Love’s natural speed set them up perfectly for the win. Segal explained, “My horse is very fast on his own, so usually I don’t have to worry about speed. I planned on leaving a few strides out in some lines, but he’s just so fast in the air and quick across the ground that we made up a lot of time that way.”
The win in the High Amateur-Owner Jumpers is new for Segal, of New York, NY. “This is the first time I’ve done this class. It was interesting and a little bit difficult, but had some good questions,” commented Segal.
The first class on Sunday of the Bayer Gold Coast Jumper Classic at the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, FL, put junior riders to the test. The $10,000 High Junior Jumper Classic had 31 entries, and saw eight clear in the first round to advance to the next phase in the Table II Sec 2a, Time First Jump-Off class designed by Olaf Petersen.
First to go in the jump-off phase was Ali Wolff, riding Hertel Landman. A too-tight rollback to an imposing oxer caused a refusal, and Wolff passed through the timers at 52.630 with four faults. Next in the ring were Blast and Carolyn Kelly, riding for Rivers Edge Farm. Blast and Kelly were clear until they had a rail at the last jump, and ended up with a time of 44.678 and four faults.
Onira and Brianne Goutal, who rode for Cloverleaf Farms, galloped into the ring, made tight turns, and ran through the timers with a clear round in 41.637. They were the new class leaders for only a brief moment, as Kinloch Enterprises’ Jamaica and Aimee Aron entered the ring next. Aron sliced turns, and her careful horse brought her home with a clear round and a time of 40.666.
The next four horse and rider combinations could not keep the top rails of the jumps up, despite some having faster times than Aron. Flight and Addison Phillips followed Aron with four faults and a time of 44.277, and River and Blythe Marano came through with a time of 41.629 and one rail. Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Patton’s Cloud Nine and Sloane Coles blazed across the course in a time of 39.890, but it came at the cost of four faults. Last in the ring were Rastella and Addison Phillips, riding for Halifax Farm, who beat Aron’s time in 40.006, but they pulled a rail at the last jump.
Aron, of Keswick, VA, was happy with her win today, and looks forward to next Sunday morning, where she will compete again for the high junior jumper title.