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Winter Equestrian Festival Week 3 Wrap-Up, February 11 - 15

WELLINGTON, FL - February 16, 2004 - The third week of the 32nd Winter Equestrian Festival entitled Kilkenny/ICH Internationale CSI*** was held February 11 through February 15 at the Palm Beach Polo Equestrian Club in Wellington, Florida. Frank Rothenberger of Germany was the course designer in the Internationale Arena. Philip DeVita designed the courses for the Grand Hunter Field.

The Winter Equestrian Festival continues in Wellington through March 21, and then the action moves to Tampa for two weeks at the Bob Thomas Equestrian Center, and caps off with the Budweiser American Invitational 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.

Alison Firestone And Iceburg Win $50,000 Kilkenny/ICH Internationale Cup CSI***
Topping a field of 37 riders, Alison Firestone, 27, of Upperville, Virginia, aboard Iceburg for Mr. and Mrs. Bertram Firestone, won the $50,000 Kilkenny/ICH Internationale Cup CSI*** on Sunday, February 15. In the 10-horse jump-off, five horses went clean with Firestone racing just splits in front of Anne Kursinski aboard Sun God who placed second, and Kimberly Frey riding Marlou who placed third.

Firestone described the 16-effort Round One track as 'technical' and that the most difficult parts of it were the lines to the combinations. "To have a triple combination that early in the course, and a big triple bar coming in, it's always tough to get your horses going for that," explained Firestone. "The blue in-and-out (No. 12) was very tight inside, and either a very tight five to another wide oxer or a really forward four."

Going into the jump-off Eric Lamaze, 36, of Schomberg, Ontario, led off aboard Tempete V/H Lindehof for owner Stacey Krembil and set the pace with his clear trip in 41.040, which placed him fourth in the final results. Kursinski riding Sun God for owners Ron and Cheryl Krise immediately took over the lead with her clean trip in 39.23, which held up for the next five riders, including two more clear trips. Kate Levy clocked in clean at 44.13, which put her fifth, and Kim Frey riding Marlou for owner Windmill Ranch LLC tripped the timers at 39.66 for third place. But it was Alison Firestone and Iceburg who edged Kursinski into second place and took the victory with 39.17 seconds. Two more riders chased her but incurred faults in slower time.

Though she had the advantage of going last in the Jump-off, Firestone said she did not see Kursinski's ride so did not strategize off that trip. "I took a little shot to the second jump and then I slowed down over to the outside line because in the first round my horse got very surprised at how big the triple bar was," explained Firestone. "When he got there he felt like he took a second look at it, so I wanted to give him a really good ride down to the triple bar the second time. As soon as I got through the combination, then I just let him go. He's so careful I can take a shot at running down to the jumps a little bit."

Firestone is aiming for the Olympic Selection Trials this year, but not with the 14-year-old Iceburg.
"If I make the team for the Olympics, Casanova is the horse I want to take. He's jumped a lot of Championship courses and I think I have the best shot with him at the Olympics," she said. "Today, if I had both of them in the jump-off, Iceburg for sure would have been faster, but for a really huge, scopey track, Casanova is my horse for that."

Three-time Olympian Kursinski noted that Sun God, a nine year-old chestnut Hanoverian gelding by Drossel Klang II, will join her 1992 Barcelona Olympic mount, Eros, in her quest for a fourth Olympics. "I'm tickled that he's as good as he was. We haven't gone that fast together over even a lot of smaller courses so I was delighted that he went that fast and left the jumps up," she said. "He has all the ability, now we need some mileage."

Frey was also aboard a new Grand Prix mount that she is aiming for the Olympic Selection Trials in May. "This is only my third big class," she said of the 10-year-old Dutch mare by Jus de Pomme. "She's relatively young. When I walked the course I said, well let's see if she can jump this high. She's got a ton of ability and I'm really thrilled with her. She really rises to the occasion all the time, so although she hasn't done a lot of big courses I feel very confident. She's very, very confident herself. If I put that [Olympics] in front of her I'm sure she would give it her best shot."

Highlights Wednesday Through Saturday

McLain Ward And Cinderella Win $7,500 1.45m
A starting field of 60 horses contested the $7,500 1.45 Meter Time First Jump-Off, kicking off the week on February 11 in the Internationale Arena. McLain Ward 28, of Brewster, NY, and the Double H Farm-owned mare Cinderella went 29th in the order and was the sixth combination to clear the 15-effort round one. The format calls for the rider to immediately attack the eight-effort jump-off. Ward clocked in clean over the short course in 33.596 seconds, topping the five previous double clears. The last half of the class chased his time, and though eight more combinations crossed the timers fault-free, all were slower than Ward. Molly Ashe riding King Louie for Rosewood Glen Ltd placed second with her time of 34.643. Anne Kursinski riding Sun God for Ron and Cheryl Krise placed third in 34.717.

McLain Ward And LaBelle Win $5,000 1.40m Faults Converted, Section A
Later in the day on Wednesday, Ward notched another win to his streak, upping it to nine victories at this point for the 2004 WEF. With 127 entries on the order of go for the $5,000 1.40m Faults Converted class, Stadium Jumping, Inc. management split the class into two sections. Ward had three horses in the first section and won the class on Labelle for owner Turnabout Farm, topping 68 horses. He had a look at the course early on when he went sixth in the order aboard Prins for owner Meghan Moran and set the pace witha clear in 53.402. Ward maintained his lead for most of the class, until he topped himself as the 40th rider on course with LaBelle who ate up the course in a phenomenal 50.581. Three rides later, Margie Engle on Hidden Creek's Charlie Brown took a shot and posted a clear in 52.235, which proved to be good enough for third place. Joe Fargis directly followed Engle on the roster aboard Carousel owned by Mary B Schwab and came close to Ward with his clear trip in 51.820, but had to settle for second place.

Joe Fargis And Maria Bonita Win $5,000 Faults Converted, Section B
In the second section of the $5,000 1.40m Faults Converted class, Joe Fargis riding Maria Bonita for owner Mary B. Schwab topped the roster of 59 horses. Laura Chapot aboard Copper Twist for owner Mary Chapot set the pace early on - the duo went third in the order and clocked in clear at 54.622, but they ended up in second place. Emily Williams aboard her own Abracadabra took aim at the leader, but fell short by almost two seconds and had to settle for third place. Fargis was the 24th rider to take the test and burned up the grass with his clear in 53.465, which proved to be unbeatable for the remaining 34 riders. Fargis also rode Caucalis for owner Frederick Graham and placed sixth with a fault-free trip in 57.145.

McLain Ward And Hurricane Win $25,000 Challenge Cup
Starting off his day on Thursday, February 12, McLain Ward chalked up his 10th win at this year's WEF, claiming victory over 56 horses in the $25,000 WEF Kilkenny/ICH Challenge Cup Series Round III, CSI*** riding Hurricane I for owner Sarah Willeman and Turnabout Farm. "The problem with having such a good run is that you get fearful when it's going to end, because you know at some point it's going to end," Ward said. "But we'll keep riding and enjoying it while it goes on." Fifteen horses cleared the 15-effort Round One track. The lead changed hands several times in the Jump-Off, but going ninth in the order Norman Dello Joio jumped to the lead when he laid down a trip with Quriel owned by Eleanor Belknap and Anthony Weight that would be hard to beat - 33.64 seconds. However, going last in the line-up aboard Hurricane I, Ward produced a clear trip in 32.71 for the win, and edged Dello Joio into second place. Seven horses put in double clear performances today. Kim Frey rode Couletto K. James for owner McLain Ward and clocked in at 35.08 for third. "That was also very exciting for me," said Ward. "He's only eight years old and it was his first grand prix this season. It was a great day all the way around."

Ken Smith And Carmen Win Regular Working Hunter Championship
After two days of competition in the Regular Working Hunter division sponsored by First Savings Mortgage Company, Ken Smith riding Carmen emerged as the champion on Thursday afternoon, February 12. Millridge, LLC owns Carmen, a 10-year old, 15.3-hand Oldenburg mare. Smith has had the ride since October 2003. Louise Serio riding Gray Slipper for owner Bridget Hallman earned the Reserve. Smith, 36, of Wellington, Florida, rode Carmen in four over fences classes and took the victory in three of them. He picked up a third place ribbon in one jumping class. The division competed in one Under Saddle class, in which Smith and Carmen placed fourth. "She was really good. Yesterday especially because she had last week off so she was fresh and jumped real, real high," said Smith. "She showed great expression over the jumps, real smooth, and she's a beautiful mover, so between the jumps it worked out real nice." He attributed today's third place in the first over fences classes to an unlucky rub when she jumped lower than her norm, but then she went on to win the final class today and clinch the championship. Smith, who is over six feet tall, attributes his height to the lower score in the Under Saddle class where she was fourth. "She was good. I'm a little tall for her for the Under Saddle. Over the jumps they're watching the horse more, but Under Saddle I like to put a shorter rider on her." Smith noted that the most special aspect of Carmen's personality is her attitude. "She goes in to win the classes. She has all the talent, but she really wants to win the classes and you can't teach them how to do that. They're born to do it or not. She's a really consistent horse."

Jeffery Welles And Ursa Major Win 1.40 Meter Acorn Hill Farm Challenge, Section B
The featured class on Friday, February 13, was the $5,000 1.40 Meter Acorn Hill Farm Challenge Time First Round. With 114 horses entered, management split the class into two sections, A and B. Jeffery Welles aboard Ursa Major clinched the win in Section B, out-jumping a field of 58 horses. "I tried to base my ride off of McLain's ride on LaBelle," said Welles, 41, of Pound Ridge, NY. "He didn't leave much room for anyone. I just had to go for it." McLain Ward had gone as the ninth rider in the class and posted a comet-like time of 52.705 seconds with LaBelle owned by Sarah Willeman and Turnabout Farm, putting himself at the head of the class. Welles and Ursa Major, an 11-year-old, bay 17-hand, Belgian gelding owned by Mr. and Mrs. Fred Croft, took to the field 14 rides later and edged Ward into second place when he zapped the course in 51.425 seconds. Welles maintained his lead as 35 more riders tried to catch him, but with no success. Chris Pratt going 54th in the order riding Ishan for owner Sue Grange placed third with a time of 52.907. "I left out one more stride than McLain did in the last line," said Welles. "His time looked unbeatable because his horse is so fast. After watching him go, I knew I couldn't hold anything back."

Fabio Leivas De Costa Wins 1.40 Meter Acorn Hill Farm Challenge, Section A
In earlier competition in the Internationale Arena on Friday the 13th, Fabio Leivas De Costa of Brazil riding his own Tijuana Domar won Section A, besting a field of 56 horses. Nineteen horses went clean, but it took a dozen trips over the test designed by Frank Rothenberger before Cara Cheska on her November Rain logged the first clear in 61.572 seconds. Cheska ended up in sixth place. Then it was rider after rider besting the previous leader's time. Knocking Cheska out of the lead was Joe Fargis aboard Maria Bonita for owner Mary B. Schwab who blazed the course of 13-efforts in 57.891. Fargis stayed at the top against the next 18 contenders, but ended up fourth. Anne Kursinski snatched the lead from Fargis with her time of 57.195 aboard Faldo for Robin Hill Farm, clocking in at 57.195, but Kursinski finished in third place. Kim Barone just barely edged Kursinski out of the lead with her time of 57.184 aboard her own Kid Rock. Barone's lead was short-lived and she ended up second as De Costa took over the course four rides later and was more than a second faster aboard Tijuana Domar, rocketing around the course in 55.959. The time was unbeatable for the next 13 horses, and De Costa claimed his victory.

Rob Bielefeld And C.C. Bloom Win First Year Green Hunter Championship, Section A
In the Grand Hunter Field on Friday, Rob Bielefeld, 39, of Ithaca, New York, and Wellington, Florida, riding C.C. Bloom for owner Samantha Hallman won the First Year Green Hunter Championship, Section A. The duo competed in four over fences classes held over two days and chalked up one win, two third-place ribbons, and a fourth place ribbon. They did not compete in the Under Saddle class, but still accumulated enough points to claim the Championship. Heather Caristo rode Indian Summer for Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Caristo and earned the Section A Reserve. C.C. Bloom is an eight-year-old, 16.1-hand chestnut Dutch mare by the French Olympic Team stallion Joue de Pomme. Hallman imported her from Joey Norick two years ago. Bielefeld and C.C. Bloom are commencing their second season together. "She's a good jumper," stated Bielefeld. "Her consistency really paid off. She always tries hard but the first day she just gave that extra effort. She jumped so high over all the jumps and stayed in the air." Forty-one horses competed in Section A yesterday and 42 competed today. Competition in the division was tough, Bielefeld acknowledged. "Ten years ago First Year horses used to make a few errors and be okay because they were First Year horses and green," he said. "But nowadays there's no room for error. You have to be right on. The horse has to be right on. If you don't get above a score of 80, you're not getting a ribbon. It's very, very competitive this year."

Ken Smith And Noir Win First Year Green Hunter Championship, Section B
Later in the day on Friday, Ken Smith of Wellington, Florida, riding Noir for owner Mrs. Quentin Alexander won the First Year Green Hunter Championship, Section B. Thirty-nine horses competed in two over fences in this section of the division yesterday, and 42 contested the final three classes today, including an Under Saddle class and two jumping classes. Tim Goguen riding George for Janet Read was the Reserve.

Marley Goodman And Jumper Win $10,000 Adequan Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic High
Kicking off the action in the Internationale Arena on Saturday, February 14, Marley Goodman, 23, of Wellington, Florida, aboard Jumper won the $10,000 Adequan Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic High, besting a field of 56 entries. Thirteen horses went clear over the 14-effort Round One course and qualified for the Jump-off. Goodman was the second rider to go over the eight-effort course and set the pace with her clear round in 41.508 seconds. The dozen riders who chased her time could not catch her, though four more riders produced clear performances. Cara Raether riding Zypria for Trelawny Farm Inc. placed second, tripping the timers in 41.807. Paige Johnson riding Landria W for Salamander Farm took the third place ribbon, covering the short course in 41.947. "It's always difficult going early in a jump-off because you don't know how fast to go," said Goodman. "I decided to use this as practice and go as fast as I could. I was lucky enough to keep the lead. You have to have luck with you as well. I don't think there was any place where I could have been faster." The aptly named Jumper is a 12-year-old, 16.2-hand, bay Dutch warmblood gelding with one blue eye. Goodman and her family's Turtle Lane Farm have owned him for three years. "He's just a fantastic horse. He always wants to win for you, every time," Goodman said. At last year's WEF, Jumper was the second leading money winner in the amateur division. "I know how he rises to the occasion. He's the perfect fit for me." Today's win marked Goodman's first victory in this year's WEF. "It feels very good," she said. "We were second last week in this class and it was nice to win it, very nice. It's always good to win a class here because the competition is very difficult with many competitors with good horses and good riders."

Chris Pratt And Rivendell Win $20,000 1.50 Meter Classic, Time First Jump-Off
It was a happy Valentine's Day on Saturday, February 14, for 34-year-old Chris Pratt of Toronto, Canada. Riding Rivendell for owner Sue Grange, Pratt bested a field of 53 riders to win the $20,000 1.50 Meter Classic, Time First Jump-Off at the 32nd Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, Florida, today. Pratt was the fastest of five double clear performances. Going last in the 17-horse jump-off, Pratt shifted the leaders down a notch from what looked like a cinched one-two-three finish for Norman Dello Joio, McLain Ward, and Markus Beerbaum. "I've got a superb horse," said Pratt. "He's fast and I trust him." Canadian Ainsley Vince, the second rider on course in the tiebreaker aboard her own Uno, set the pace at 43.873, but she finished in fifth place. Markus Beerbaum riding Le Mans 8 for Hyperion Farm was seventh in the order and snatched the lead in 39.342, but ended up fourth. Five riders later, McLain Ward put the pedal to the metal and took over the top spot riding one of his own, Furioso Du Parc - the duo tripped the timers at 39.273, but finished third. Norman Dello Joio went immediately after Ward, riding Leonardo for owner Anthony Weight, and took over the lead with his blazing time of 38.990. Four more riders chased Dello Joio, but none were clear or fast enough, except the last to go - Pratt galloped the course in 38.078 for the win. "I knew how fast I had to go," said Pratt who noted that he watched the riders before him. "Those were top international competitors ahead of me. This is the biggest win to date in my career." Pratt has been riding Rivendell, an eight-year-old, 16.3-hand chestnut Westfalen by Piano for just over a year. He explained that he beat the leaders' time by turning back to the combination faster and leaving a stride out going to the sixth fence on course. He said his mental strategy going into the pressure-cooker jump-off was to "stay positive. I was worried about one turn, but it was no problem. I have 100% confidence in my horse." He said the key to his relationship to Rivendell is, "Patience. This is a super quality horse that in other hands might have been pushed before he was ready."

For full results of today's classes, visit

NEXT SHOWS: February 18 - 22, Florida Classic/WCHR Spectacular CSI-W/Y CSI-Ch
February 19 - 22, Zada Enterprises, LLC Florida Dressage Classic

Show days for the 2004 Winter Equestrian Festival are Wednesday through Sunday. Gates open at 8:00 am. Ticket Prices: Wednesdays are free to everyone; Children 12 and under are admitted free every day; Young Adults 13 to 18 and Seniors are $5 on Thursday through Sunday; Adults are $5 on Thursday and Friday, $10 on Saturday, and $15 on Sunday. The Palm Beach Polo Equestrian Club is located on Pierson Road off South Shore Boulevard. For additional information, visit or call 561-793-5867.

February 18 - 22 Florida Classic/WCHR Spectacular CSI-W/Y CSI-Ch
February 19 - 22 Zada Enterprises, LLC Florida Dressage Classic
February 25 - 29 PDP Capital Wellington Masters CSI***
March 3 - 7 CN Wellington Open CSI-W
March 10 - 14 CSIO United States Cosequin Finale CSIO***
March 18 - 21 Zada Enterprises WEF Dressage Classic CDI***/Y
(Qualifier for Olympic Selection Trials)
March 24 - 28 Tampa Bay Classic CSI-W (Bob Thomas Equestrian Center)
March 30 - April 3 Tournament of Champions CSI-W (Bob Thomas Equestrian Center)
April 3 Budweiser American Invitational (Raymond James Stadium)

February 22 $60,000 Idle Dice Classic, presented by Palm Beach Post, CSI-W
February 29 $75,000 PDP Capital Masters Cup, CSI***
March 7 $75,000 CN Wellington Open presented by Estates of Wellington Green, CDI-W
March 12 $50,000 Samsung Nations' Cup, presented by CN, CSIO****
March 14 $100,000 Cosequin U.S. Open Jumper Championship, CSIO****
March 28 $75,000 Grand Prix of Tampa, presented by Kilkenny/ICH, CSI-W
April 3 $200,000 Budweiser American Invitational, presented by The Tampa Tribune


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