February 7, 2014--Week five of the 2014 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival (FTI WEF) continued on Thursday afternoon with a shared victory for Ben Maher (GBR) aboard Urico and Tiffany Foster (CAN) riding Victor in the $125,000 Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup Round 5. Held in a "California Split" due to the large number of entries, the competition awarded two sets of placings, each with $125,000 distributed.
FTI WEF week five, sponsored by Rolex, runs February 5-9, 2014. The week will feature the $34,000 G&C Farm 1.45m on Friday, the $370,000 FEI World Cup Qualifier Grand Prix CSI-W 5* presented by Rolex on Saturday night, and the $84,000 Suncast? 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic on Sunday afternoon. The FTI WEF, held at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in Wellington, FL, features 12 weeks of world-class competition through March 30, awarding $8 million in prize money.
Great Britain's Robert Ellis set the course for the $125,000 Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup Round 5 on Thursday in the International Arena at PBIEC. The class saw a record total of 116 entries in round one with 30 clear trips to narrow the field down for an impressive tie breaking jump-off. Twelve entries jumped clear over the short course, and Ben Maher had the fastest time of 43.44 seconds overall for the win in Section A of the class riding Jane Clark's Urico. Tiffany Foster and Victor, owned by Artisan Farms and Torrey Pines, finished in 44.04 seconds for the win in Section B.
The top three finishers in Section A included Maher and Urico, Reed Kessler (USA) and Kessler Show Stables' Ligist in second with a time of 44.11 seconds, and Eric Lamaze (CAN) with Artisan Farms' Zigali P S in third in 44.93 seconds.
Section B saw a top finish for Foster and Victor, with Beezie Madden (USA) and Abigail Wexner's Cortes 'C' in second with a time of 44.79 seconds, and Wilton Porter (USA) and Sleepy P Ranch LLC's Paloubet in third in 44.96 seconds.
Jane Clark's horses had a fantastic day on Thursday with Urico and Cella both qualifying for the jump-off and having great rounds. Urico got the win and Cella had one rail over the short course and finished seventh in Section B. To add to the success, Clark's dressage horse, Wellnetta, earned an FEI Grand Prix 3* victory across the street at the Adequan? Global Dressage Festival with U.S. rider Katherine Bateson Chandler earlier in the day.
Although Clark could not be in Wellington for the day's top finishes, Ben Maher was happy to be a part of the winning team. He explained that he has made some adjustments to how he rides and prepares Urico since last year, and the changes seem to be working for the best.
"Urico was fantastic today," Maher stated. "We spent a long time building him up since this time last year. I had a couple of accidents on him and now we really pinpoint him for certain classes. We don't use him as much, but if we do it the right way, he is a great horse. It is looking like it pays off. He jumped a good first round, and I was lucky enough to have two in the jump-off. Cella jumped phenomenally in the jump-off and I just sliced the liverpool way too much. I thought she was a machine, not a horse I guess, so it reminded me I have to pay attention a bit more. On Urico, I had to ride a little bit wider there knowing that sometimes he gets a little afraid. He is naturally such a fast horse, so as soon as that was out of the way, I ran him to the end and luckily he was just a lot quicker."
"Whatever I was doing this time last year, I am doing the opposite now pretty much," Maher said. "He wanted to run quite close to the jumps and sometimes that caused him to panic a little bit, so I have worked him much differently. He gets a lot more work now in the mornings for preparation for the afternoon so that he is a bit quieter. I also tend to ride him with a little more space to the jumps so he does not have that moment of freezing up at the end. He is a very sensitive horse, so when he is confident, I am confident, and then hopefully the results come. That is the plan."
Maher commented on the course for Thursday's class, noting that it was one of the most challenging that he has seen yet at this year's competition.
"I thought Bob Ellis did an amazing job," he stated. "Where do you begin to start to build a course for 116 riders? It wasn't perhaps the biggest we've ever seen, but Bob is clever. He places jumps on angles and rollbacks. He catches people out everywhere. That is probably what we haven't seen yet here this season. There has been a lot of galloping, but not actually many real turnbacks and opportunities to cut across the fences. It was definitely the most testing course we have had here this year."
In addition to the prize money in Thursday's class, Maher earned a special $3,000 bonus as part of the SSG 'Go Clean for the Green' promotion for wearing his SSG 'Digital' Riding Gloves. Each week of the Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup Series, a $3,000 bonus will be awarded to the winning rider if they are wearing SSG 'Digital' Riding Gloves in all rounds of competition with the SSG logo clearly visible.
Tiffany Foster and Victor continued their successful FTI WEF circuit with their second big win after also topping Section B of the $34,000 Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup during week three. Foster was very happy with her rounds on Thursday and explained that she has gained confidence with their accomplishments.
"He was awesome," Foster noted. "The course obviously was difficult enough with so many entries in it, and I thought he jumped really well. He is really confident and comfortable here. He is really fast and now it is getting really fun because I can go really fast with him. I have to give all of the credit to Eric (Lamaze) though because since Barcelona last year, I don't jump Victor at home anymore, only Eric rides him. He does all the work and I get all the credit, but it's working so I'm going to make him keep doing it!"
In addition to Victor, Foster has many great horses to show this year thanks to the support of Artisan Farms, and she is having a lot of fun with them as well.
"I am always having fun, but I am especially having fun jumping like this when you can go fast," she stated. "Once you get on a roll it seems like you get some confidence, and then you are really prepared to take some risks. Then when the horses rise to you, it is really awesome. I have a super group of horses, and I have to thank the Zieglers and Artisan Farms because they are unbelievable owners. I am really happy that I am able to now have it all start to pay off."
Also on Thursday, an $8,000 G&C Farm 1.45m jump-off class was held in the morning with a win for Venezuela's Andres Rodriguez aboard Darlon van Groenhove. Abigail McArdle (USA) and David McArdle's Cosma 20 won the Engel & V?lkers High Amateur-Owner Jumper speed class.
Final Results: $125,000 Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup Round 5 Section A
1. URICO: 2001 KWPN gelding by Zandor Z x Fedor
BEN MAHER (GBR), Jane F. Clark: 0/0/43.44
2. LIGIST: 2000 Swedish Warmblood gelding by Levantos II x Robin Z
REED KESSLER (USA), Kessler Show Stables LLC: 0/0/44.11
3. ZIGALI P S: 2004 KWPN gelding by Kigali x Palfrenier
ERIC LAMAZE (CAN), Artisan Farms LLC: 0/0/44.93
4. QUIDAM'S CHERIE: 2005 Oldenburg mare by Quidam's Rubin x Lifestyle
CIAN O'CONNOR (IRL), Adena Springs: 0/0/46.02
5. UNEX CHAMBERLAIN Z: 2001 Zangersheide gelding by Chellano Z x Peter Pan
TIM GREDLEY (GBR), Unex Competition Yard: 0/0/49.34
6. DYNAMO: 2003 BWP gelding by Skippy II x Lys de Darmen
MEAGAN NUSZ (USA), Amalaya Investments: 0/0/50.89
7. VINDICAT W: 2002 KWPN gelding by Guidam x Libero H
JESSICA SPRINGSTEEN (USA), Stone Hill Farm: 0/4/44.25
8. ZARA LEANDRA: 2004 KWPN mare by Metropole x Ahorn
PABLO BARRIOS (VEN), ZL Group, Inc: 0/4/45.64
9. CEDRIC: 1998 Holsteiner gelding by Chambertin x Carolus Z
LAURA KRAUT (USA), Cherry Knoll Farm, Inc: 0/4/48.42
10. BLUE ANGEL: 2002 AES mare by Luidam x Ascendant
KENT FARRINGTON (USA), Robin Parsky: 0/4/49.94
11. CHILL R Z: 2003 Zangersheide stallion by Chellano Z x A Lucky One
CHARLIE JAYNE (USA), Alex Jayne and Maura Thatcher: 0/4/54.63
12. TIC-TAC: 2003 Belgian Sport Horse stallion by Clinton x Darco
LESLIE HOWARD (USA), Jane Clark: 0/4/55.74
Final Results: $125,000 Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup Round 5 Section B
1. VICTOR: 2002 KWPN gelding by Elmshorn x Grandeur
TIFFANY FOSTER (CAN), Artisan Farms LLC & Torrey Pines: 0/0/44.04
2. CORTES 'C': 2002 BWP gelding by Randel Z x Darco
BEEZIE MADDEN (USA), Abigail Wexner: 0/0/44.79
3. PALOUBET: 2001 Selle Francais gelding by Baloubet Du Rouet x Voltaire
WILTON PORTER (USA), Sleepy P Ranch LLC: 0/0/44.96
4. SHOWGIRL: 2000 Selle Francais mare by Gold De Becourt x Elf III
YANN CANDELE (CAN), The Watermark Group: 0/0/47.36
5. NICE DE PRISSEY: 2001 Selle Francais stallion by Rosire x Amarpour
BRIANNE GOUTAL (USA), Remarkable Farms LP: 0/0/50.67
6. FIFTY FIFTY 111: 2005 BWP mare by Action Breaker x Major de la Cour
ANDRES RODRIGUEZ (VEN), Arao Enterprises LLC: 0/0/53.00
7. CELLA: 2002 BWP mare by Cento x Chin Chin
BEN MAHER (GBR) Jane F. Clark: 0/4/44.40
8. SPECIAL LUX: 2004 Irish Sport Horse gelding by Lux Z x Coille Mor Hill
JONATHAN MCCREA (USA), Candy Tribble: 0/4/48.26
9. FLAMING STAR: 1999 AES gelding by Fairman x Unknown
CHARLIE JACOBS (USA), CMJ Sporthorse LLC: 0/4/49.32
10. URSULA XII: 2001 Scottish Sport Horse mare by Ahorn x Papageno
SCOTT BRASH (GBR), Lady Harris & Lady Kirkham: 0/4/54.33
11. MIC MAC DU TILLARD: 2000 Selle Francais mare by Cruising x Galoubet A
DAVID WILL (GER), Bernadette LeJeune: 0/4/55.26
12. SANCHA LS: 2003 SLS mare by Chin Chin x Polydor
DANIEL BLUMAN (COL), Daniel Bluman: 0/8/45.47