Wrap Up For Winter Equestrian Festival Week 9, March 24-28, Tampa Bay Classic
March 30, 2004 -- The ninth week of the 10-week 32nd Winter Equestrian Festival entitled Tampa Bay Classic was held March 24-28 at the Bob Thomas Equestrian Center in Tampa, Florida. Guilherme Nogueira Jorge of Brazil was the course designer for the covered arena, Luc Musette built the tracks in the Jumper Annex, and Philip DeVita designed the Grand Hunter Ring and Indoor Arena.
The 2004 Winter Equestrian Festival wraps up in Tampa next week, March 30 through April 3, with the Tournament of Champions CSI-W at the Bob Thomas Equestrian Center, and caps off with the $200,000 Budweiser American Invitational Presented by Publix and The Tampa Tribune on April 3 at the Raymond James Stadium. Total prize money for the 2004 WEF is three-million-dollars. Produced by founder Eugene R. Mische and Stadium Jumping, Inc., the Winter Equestrian Festival is the largest and longest consecutively running equestrian sporting event in the world.
Beezie Madden And DeSilvio Win $75,000 Grand Prix of Tampa, Presented By Kilkenny/ICH
The highlight of the Tampa Bay Classic was Sunday, March 28, which featured the $75,000 Grand Prix of Tampa, Presented By Kilkenny/ICH. Beezie Madden, 40, of Cazenovia, NY, riding DeSilvio for owner Abigail Wexner bested a field of 36 riders to claim victory. Madden and DeSilvio were the fastest of six double-clear performances, topping the nine-horse Jump-Off. Derek Petersen, 37, of Archer, FL, aboard his own Promised Land placed second. Alison Firestone, 27, of Upperville, VA, riding Casanova for owners Mr. and Mrs. Bertram Firestone placed third. The Grand Prix was a World Cup Qualifier, a Final Qualifying Class for the Budweiser American Invitational, and a Qualifying Competition for the AGA Grand Prix Series.
Brazil's Guilherme Nogueira Jorge designed a Round One course of 16-efforts that included a double at No. 7 and a triple at No. 10 with Time Allowed set at 88 seconds. "It suited my horse. The triple combination, which was a little bit scopey for some - he does that easy and he was very ride-able today," said Madden. Almost half the field was unable to clear the triple with 17 horses logging faults. The last jump in the first round, a plank with no set distance, was "the test of the course," according to Petersen, and caught eight riders.
In the Jump-Off, Firestone led off the roster of nine horses and posted a clear round with Casanova in 38.91 over the eight-effort tiebreaker with time allowed set at 48 seconds. Firestone's lead was short-lived when Madden took to the ring next with DeSilvio and shaved almost a full second off her time, going clean in 37.95. Madden's pace held up as the next seven riders chased her time, but she could not be caught, even with four more clear trips. Coming closest was Petersen and Promised Land who clocked in at 38.10, claiming second place and edging Firestone into third.
Madden noted that her mount is still learning to make adjustments, which formed her Jump-Off strategy. "He's learning to be clever but switching gears is difficult for him so I just tried to set the pace on my approach to fence one and tried to keep it the same. That's the way I can be fastest with him because if I have to hold up and then start again I lose time with him."
For Derek Petersen, the second place finish earned him $16,500, and moved him up in the standings for the American Invitational from 39th to 14th place with total earnings of $19,750, allowing him to compete in the $200,000 class on April 3 with Promised Land - a longtime dream of his. Originally from Pennsylvania, Petersen grew up in South Africa, and upon returning to the US in 1986 got his first job - working for Gene Mische's jump crew at the American Invitational. "I had no money and I told the other guys 'I'm going to be riding in this one day' and they thought it was kind of funny," said Petersen.
Firestone was ranked 8th in the standings for the American Invitational and with her earnings on Sunday, $9,750, she tallied up to $43,650, which moved her up to 7th place. She plans to ride Casanova in the Invitational.
Madden was a member of the 2003 Pan American Gold Medal winning team and already had an automatic invite to the American Invitational, but her win added $22,500 to her total earnings for the 2004 WEF, giving her $56,325. She plans to ride Authentic in the American Invitational.
Though the class was a World Cup Qualifier, all three riders said they were not aiming to compete in the Milan, Italy, event April 21-25. Firestone and Madden are focusing their mounts on the Athens Olympic Selection Trials in California in May.
Highlights Wednesday Through Saturday
Minikus And Kappler Notch Wins On Opening Day
Opening day, March 24, of the Tampa Bay Classic saw Todd Minikus of Loxahatchee, FL, aboard Sasha for owner Harry R. Gill claim victory in the $7,500 1.45 Meter Time First Jump Off class. Minikus and Sasha were the fastest clear round in a seven-horse jump-off.
Chris Kappler of Pittstown, NJ, riding Korina, a mare he owns with Pro Jump, won the $5,000 1.40 Meter Time First Jump Off. Kappler and Korina were the fastest clear round in a 15-horse jump-off.
Alison Firestone And Iceburg Win $25,000 WEF Challenge Cup Series, Round VIII
On Thursday, March 25, Alison Firestone, 27, of Upperville, VA, riding Iceburg owned by Mr. and Mrs. Bertram Firestone, won the $25,000 WEF Challenge Cup Series, Round VIII, besting a class of 59 entries. Firestone placed third with Casanova, also owned by her parents. Laura Chapot, 30, of Neshanic Station, NJ, aboard her own Little Big Man placed second. Six horses cleared Round One and qualified for the Jump-Off. Going fourth in the tiebreaker order, Firestone aboard Iceburg was the first to post a clear trip in 41.43, which held up for the win. The ring took a brief break while she readied her second mount, Casanova, then posted a clear trip on him as well, though their slower time of 45.87 left them in third place. Last to go, Chapot posted the third double-clear performance of the day with Little Big Man, but breaking the beam just splits behind the leader at 41.42 they had to settle for second place. With a fast clear already in place aboard Iceburg, Firestone did not ask for full steam on Casanova. "I knew that there was only Laura left in the jump-off, so I just went for a slow clear with him. I figured that at the worst we would get third with the clear round. I didn't stress him quite as much going full, full speed," explained Firestone, but also noted, "Actually Iceburg is the faster of the two horses. If I'd gone full speed on Casanova, I don't think I would have been as fast as I was on Iceburg. Iceburg is extremely quick." Iceburg is a 14-year-old, gray Dutch gelding by Estaban.
Serio And Smith Clinch Hunter Championships
Earlier in the day on Thursday, Louise Serio riding True/Balanchine for owner Fashion Farm and Gregory Mongo claimed the Championship in the Pre-Green Working Hunter 3'3". Following two days of competition the duo notched a red ribbon in the Under Saddle, and over fences earned second, fifth, and first to clinch the tri-color.
Ken Smith riding Noir for owner Mrs. Quentin Alexander won the First Year Green Working Hunter Championship. After two days of competition, Smith and Noir placed eighth in the Under Saddle, and over fences claimed two seconds, a third, and won the class today, securing the championship.
Jeffery Welles And Octavius Win $5,000 1.40m Acorn Hill Farm Challenge
On Friday, March 26, Jeffrey Welles of Pound Ridge, NY, riding Octavius for International Jumpers LLC won the $5,000 Acorn Hill Farm Challenge besting 27 entries. The 1.40m speed class is a member event of the North American League (NAL) Open Speed Series. Mary Lisa Leffler riding Graf Rossini S for Bruce Chovnick LLC went sixth in the order and posted the first clear trip in 73.552, but her lead was short-lived and she ended up third. Welles went 10th in the order aboard Octavius, an eight-year-old, dark brown Dutch stallion by Jumbo Jet, and blazed around the course fault-free in 67.445, which proved to be unbeatable, though three more riders went clean. Seven-time Olympian Ian Miller of Perth, Ontario, aboard Sweet Dreams owned by Scotia Farms broke the beam at 70.969, but still three seconds slower than Welles, the time put him in second place. Laura Chapot of Neshanic Station, NJ, posted the fastest trip, crossing the timers in 66.230 aboard Sprite, but a rail down put her sixth.
Leigh Healey And Laurin Win $2,500 Junior Jumper High
Earlier in the day on Friday, Leigh Healey of Mt. Holly, NY, topped a class of 16 entries aboard Laurin owned by Mary Alexis Healey to claim victory in the $2,500 Junior Jumper High Power & Speed. She was one of only two riders to post clear rounds in both the Power and Speed phases. Nine riders were able to clear the Power phase and move on to the Speed phase. Charlie Jayne of Elgin, IL, riding Champion for owner Alex R. Jayne, was the only other fault-free performer in the class. Jayne had the lead from his 11th place start in the order, clearing the Speed phase in 49.618. Going last in the order, Healey left all the fences up in the Power phase, and then conquered the Speed phase in 45.661 seconds, more than four seconds faster than Jayne, which gave her the win. Third place went to Sloane Coles riding Cloud Nine for Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Patton of Cedarburg, WI, who had the fastest time of all the riders in the Speed phase, breaking the beam at 44.390, but a rail down kept her out of the winner's circle.
Abigail Carpenter And Augustus Win $2,500 Amateur-Owner Jumper High
Also on Friday, Abigail Carpenter of Greenwich, CT, riding her own Augustus bested a class of 11 entries to win the $2,500 Amateur-Owner Jumper High, a two-phase Power & Speed competition. Six riders cleared the Power phase and moved on to the Speed phase. Going fifth in the order, Carpenter posted two clear trips, crossing the timers in the Speed phase at 48.944, which proved to be a time no one could catch. Megan Moran of Malvern, PA, riding her own Mr. Happy came closest, breaking the beam in the Speed phase at 51.657 for second place. Cara Cheska of Waukesha, WI, aboard Modra owned by Donald Cheska was the only other rider to post a double clear performance. Cheska's time in the Speed phase was 52.961, which placed her third.
Smith And Hofstetter Secure Hunter Championships
In the hunters on Friday, Ken Smith of Wellington, FL, riding Carmen for owner Millridge LLC won the Regular Working Hunter Championship. After two days of competition, Carmen placed third in the Under Saddle and in the over fences classes logged two wins and two second place finishes to clinch the Championship. Louise Serio riding Gray Slipper for Bridget Hallman was the Reserve.
Scott Hofstetter of Ocala, FL, riding Paladyne for owner MatchMaker Farm claimed the Regular Conformation Hunter Championship after two days of classes. Paladyne placed second in the model, and over fences earned fourth, second, and two first place ribbons to secure the Championship. Ken Smith aboard Westcliffe owned by Christy Russo and Elizabeth Russo was the Reserve.
Molly Ashe And Lutopia Win $20,000 1.5m Classic
On Saturday, March 27, Molly Ashe, 33, of Wellington, FL, riding Lutopia for owner Jane Forbes Clark won the $20,000 1.5 Meter Classic. Ashe topped a field of 41 entries. Laura Kraut of Oconomowoc, WI, aboard Miss Independent for the Pasmore Stables placed second. Kate Levy of South Salem, NY, in the irons on her own Lydia placed third. "This is my Olympic hopeful horse," said Ashe of the 11-year-old Dutchbred chestnut mare by Gentleman.
The pair exhibited at only one Grand Prix during the 2004 WEF and today's class was their return to competition. "I want to jump her in the Invitational so I was letting her do her thing, which is let her go and stay out of her way. She rose to the occasion. She was right back where she should be, so that was a big sigh of relief." Ashe is a two-time winner of the $200,000 Budweiser American Invitational with Kroon Gravin.
"This is the heir to the throne," Ashe said of Lutopia. Twelve horses went clean for the jump-off, including two of Ashe's three mounts. Coming back first for the tiebreaker, Ashe aboard Naomi had eight jumping and one time fault, ending up in 12th place. Going fifth in the order, Kate Levy and Lydia posted the first clear trip in 39.891. Ashe was next with Lutopia and shaved more than four seconds off Levy's time, clocking in clean at 35.722, which held up through the efforts of the remaining six riders, including three more clear rounds. Kraut riding Miss Independent clocked in clear at 36.014 for second place. Ashe said she was faster everywhere in the tiebreaker. "That mare is incredibly fast. Just her natural tempo is very, very fast," said Ashe of Lutipia. "She slices and cuts with you."
Erica Garcia And Solo Win Children's Jumper
In earlier competition on Saturday, Erica Garcia riding Solo for owner Alex Jayne won the $500 Children's Jumper 13 & Under, topping a class of 36 horses. Eleven horses went clean over the Round One course and qualified for the Jump-Off. Going second in the tiebreaker, Garcia set the pace with the first clear round, clocking in at 28.181, well under the 43-second Time Allowed, which held up through the next nine riders, including four more clear trips. Finishing just splits behind the winner were Margaret Lenfest aboard Spendid for owner Stephanie McCarron, who broke the beam at 28.434 for second place; and Nicole Lakin in the irons on Kick The Clouds for Rolling Acres Farm and Mary Lisa Leffler, who also rode fault-free, clocking in at 28.960 for third.
Studio 54 Claims AA Working Hunter 18-35 Championship
In the hunter ring on Saturday, March 27, Studio 54 with Kara Flynn up claimed the Adult Amateur Working Hunter 18-35 Championship after two days of competition over fences and on the flat. Damascus ridden by Lynley Reilly was the Reserve.