TAMPA, FL – The 10th and final week of the 32nd Winter Equestrian Festival entitled Tournament of Champions was held March 30 through April 3 at the Bob Thomas Equestrian Center in Tampa, Florida. The 2004 WEF wrapped up 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 was 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.
Norman Dello Joio And Glasgow Win $200,000 Budweiser American Invitational
Norman Dello Joio, 47, of Wellington, Florida, riding Glasgow for The Glasgow Group topped a field of 35 horses to win the $200,000 Budweiser American Invitational presented by Publix and The Tampa Tribune on Saturday night, April 3. In a five-horse jump-off, Dello Joio was the faster of two clear rounds and claimed $60,000 for his win. Beezie Madden, 40, of Cazenovia, New York, riding Authentic for owners Elizabeth Busch Burke and John Madden Sales placed second, earning $44,000. Alison Firestone, 27, of Upperville, Virginia, aboard Casanova for Mr. and Mrs. Bertram Firestone placed third for a $26,000 check. The 32nd American Invitational was held on grass under lights at the Raymond James Stadium with a crowd of 9,800 fans in attendance.
For ‘Stormin’ Norman’, the 1992 Individual Bronze Medallist at the Barcelona Olympic Games, the win marked his second victory in this historic class – he notched his first win 26 years ago aboard Allegro. “I was star-struck and awe-struck when I came here that first time,” said Dello Joio. “The second time I showed in the Invitational, I remember my horse hung a leg really badly over the first jump and it scared him into jumping clean. I felt like I won by accident actually. It was nice to win because it was a plan for Florida – to try to bring the horse up and have a good night tonight.” This was Glasgow’s third time competing in the American Invitational. Dello Joio is aiming the 13-year-old Dutch gelding for the Athens Olympic Selection Trials in May.
Steve Stephens, who has designed the American Invitational courses for 19 years, erected a 17-effort Round One with Time Allowed set at 96 seconds. Four riders did not complete the course. Rails fell at every jump except for No. 8. Most problematic was No. 10, a liverpool with a scalloped top element that 14 horses were unable to clear. “The triple line was really, really difficult, and that was fairly early in the course. It’s as big a test as I’ve seen in a non-championship grand prix,” said Dello Joio. “It was a big course – hard to jump.”
It was not until the 26th rider on course, Lauren Hough, 26, of Wellington, FL, aboard her 2000 Sydney Olympic mount Clasiko, that the leader board flashed a clear round. The order of go in the American Invitational is set by money won during the WEF, so some of the heaviest hitters were among the last to go, which produced three more clean rounds – Firestone, Chris Kappler, 37, of Pittstown, NJ – the 2003 title holder of the American Invitational aboard Royal Kaliber, a stallion he owns with Kathy Kamine, and Madden. Last to go, the top money-earner with $73,825 to his name, McLain Ward, 28, of Brewster, New York, aboard Sapphire, a mare he owns with Missy Clark and Double H Farm, incurred eight faults and did not qualify for the Jump-Off.
For the tiebreaker, Stephens re-set with nine fences to jump in a Time Allowed of 53 seconds. Hough aboard Clasiko led off but had the seventh fence down for four faults in 46.69, and finished fourth. Dello Joio and Glasgow went next and raced the course clean in 41.84, which proved to be unbeatable. Firestone and Casanova followed, and had a rail down at the third fence, but clocked in splits faster than Hough at 46.30, for third place. Kappler and Royal Kaliber toppled the first and seventh fences, logging eight faults in 48.87 for fifth place. Madden and Authentic were last to go and broke the beam clean in 43.99, but had to settle for second place.
All five of the jump-off contenders stated that they are aiming their mounts for the 2004 Athens Olympic Games.
McLain Ward And Hurricane Win $30,000 Ariat WEF Challenge Cup Series Finale
McLain Ward of Brewster, NY, riding Hurricane I for Turnabout Farm won the $30,000 WEF Challenge Cup Finale CSI-W on Wednesday, March 31. Topping a field of 36 horses, Ward rode the fastest of three clear rounds in a six-horse jump-off to claim victory. Laura Linback of Mundelein, IL, aboard Remember Me 9 owned by Woodrun Farm placed second. Anne Kursinski of Frenchtown, NJ, riding Sun God for owners Ron and Cheryl Krise placed third.
The $30,000 WEF Challenge Cup Finale was the ninth and final class in the 2004 WEF Challenge Cup Series. Ward notched five wins in the series, including three aboard Hurricane. “We had a good run,” said Ward. “He jumped super all circuit.”
Luc Musette of Belgium designed the 16-effort Round One, which featured a double at No. 5 and a triple at No. 11 with Time Allowed set at 79 seconds. Rails fell at every fence except for No. 7 but the big bogeys were the triple, which caught 16 riders and No. 12 added faults to 13 horses’ trips. In addition to Hurricane, Ward rode Goldika 559 and Quickstar II Z, both owned by Double H Farm, and had one rail down with each of them in the first round, ending up in a tie for seventh place with the 17 four-faulters. “Hurricane was my third ride so I was able to correct some of the little mistakes I had with the earlier rides,” explained Ward.
Six horses went clean for the eight-effort tiebreaker. Kursinski led off and set the pace with her clear round aboard Sun God in 39.02 seconds, well under the 52-second time allowed, but it was only good enough for third place. Ward immediately overtook her lead, posting a blazing clear round in 35.83 seconds. The remaining four riders chased Ward’s time, but could not catch him. Going third in the order, Beezie Madden of Cazenovia, NY, aboard Authentic logged four faults in 46.11 to finish fifth. Schuyler Riley of Hobe Sound, FL, and Opus Sept had a rail in 38.43 for fourth. Linback went clean in 38.57 for third. Todd Minikus of Loxahatchee, FL, aboard Sasha accumulated 12 faults in 40.60 seconds for sixth.
“Everything just showed up great for us,” said Ward, noting that his mount is an older, experienced horse. Missy Clark trains the 15-year-old German warmblood gelding.
Laura Chapot And Sprite Win $5,000 1.40m Acorn Hill Farm Challenge
Laura Chapot, 30, of Neshanic Station, NJ, riding her own Sprite won the $5,000 Acorn Hill Farm Challenge on Thursday, April 1. The win marked the third time Chapot and Sprite claimed victory in this class at the 2004 Winter Equestrian Festival. The $5,000 1.40m Acorn Hill Farm Challenge is a member event of the North American League (NAL) Open Speed Series.
Topping a class of 24 horses, Chapot aboard her eight-year-old gray Holsteiner mare by Quidam de Revelle, was the fastest of five clear rounds over the speed course. The 14-effort course included a triple at No. 6 and ended with a double at No. 11 with time allowed set at 75 seconds. Going 8th in the order, Paige Johnson of The Plains, VA, riding Crabamboli for Salamander Farm set the pace with a clear round in 72.031, but ended up 5th. Anne Kursinski of Frenchtown, NJ, riding Sincere for Meralex Farm took over the lead two trips later, clocking in clean at 65.844 but her time proved only good enough for 4th. Chapot and Sprite went 12th in the order and raced over the jumps in the unbeatable time of 59.697, which held up for the win. Finishing up the roster, Kursinski took another shot at the lead with Faldo for Robin Hill Farm, and broke the beam clean in 60.373, but had to settle for second place. Going 23rd in the order, Niall Grimes of Ireland aboard Mazepa for owner Melissa Decastor put in one last effort to catch Chapot and cleared the course in 64.220, but finished in third place.
Jeffery Welles And Octavius Win $20,000 1.50m Classic
Jeffery Welles of Pound Ridge, NY, riding Octavius for owner International Jumpers LLC won the $20,000 1.50-Meter Classic on Friday, April 2. Welles topped a class of 29 entries and was the fastest of three clear performances in a six-horse jump-off. Callan Solem of Colts Neck, NJ, aboard Mianta for Quiet Winter Farm placed second. Alison Firestone of Upperville, VA, riding Sansierra for owners Mr. and Mrs. Bertram Firestone was third.
Belgium’s Luc Musette designed the course, starting off with a Round One track of 15-efforts that included three double combinations – 3AB, 9AB, and 11AB – but no triple, with Time Allowed set at 80 seconds. The second of the three combinations caught the most riders on course, with nine horses faulting at that fence, however the big eliminator proved to be the time factor which ruled out 11 horses. Six horses went clear for the tiebreaker.
The eight-effort Jump-Off limited Time Allowed to 50 seconds. Solem led off with Mianta and set the pace with a clear round in 42.766, but her time proved to be only good enough for second place. Laura Kraut aboard Joyous for the Summit Partners picked up the pace with her time of 41.986, but she had the second fence down and placed 4th. Michael Morrissey riding Gera 28 for Eugene R. Mische incurred eight faults in 47.515 to take the 6th place ribbon. Then Welles took to the field and posted a clear round in 41.894 with Octavius – taking over the lead and keeping it for the remainder of the class. Clare Bronfman riding Limmitaire for Slate River Farm notched eight faults in 43.660 seconds, finishing 5th. Giving the leader a run for his money, Firestone and Sansierra were last to go and broke the beam clean in 43.811 but had to settle for third place.