Horse and pony - site index.Horse chat message boards.Horse breeds, types and breeding gallery.Search for horse information on Equiworld.Horse information and equestrian news horse and pony magazine.Horse web links.  

2003 Winter Equestrian Festival Featured Show Jumping and Dressage at its Best

Wellington, FL—April 8, 2003—The Winter Equestrian Festival opened its 31st season at the Palm Beach Polo Equestrian Club in Wellington, FL, with the Nutrena/Western Hay Wellington Classic, January 22- 26, where Sydney Olympian Lauren Hough of Wellington, FL, captured the first grand prix of the winter circuit and the feature event of the first week, the $35,000 Farr Legacy/ Western Hay Grand Prix of Palm Beach. Under the sunny Florida sky, Hough, aboard Windy City, was one of only three riders out of a starting field of 32 to qualify for the jump-off by riding clear over Conrad Homfeld’s demanding first-round course.

Hough turned in a fault-free jump-off ride in a time of 37.84 seconds to earn the win. Emily Williams of Wellington, FL, rode Hushabye to a second-place finish with a clear jump-off round in a time of 39.87 seconds. Dropping one rail to accumulate four faults in the jump-off, Margie Engle of Wellington, FL, finished in third place aboard Hidden Creek’s Jones.

Dressage competition highlighted the second week of the 2003 Winter Equestrian Festival, the Wellington Dressage Classic, January 30- February 2. Over 9,000 people gathered at the Palm Beach Polo Equestrian Club over the course of the weekend to watch the competition unfold in dressage as well as show jumping.

The primary focus of the week’s dressage competitions was the series of USET Qualifiers, most notably the qualifiers for the Pan American Games Selection Trials to be held at the Bayer/USET Festival of Champions, presented by State Line Tack, at the USET Olympic Training Center in Gladstone, NJ, in June.

The Pan American Games are contested at the Intermediaire level and the USET Intermediaire Championship will serve as the Selection Trials. In the first of the Pan Am qualifiers at the Wellington Dressage Classic, the USET Prix St. Georges, Jan Brons rode Josien to victory with a score of 69.083%. Placing second was George Williams on Marnix with 68.333%.

Brons and Josien returned to the winner’s circle when they also won the USET Intermediaire I class, scoring 70.000%. Tara Stegen placed second with a 68.333% on New Tango and Williams and Marnix were third with a 67.417%.

Williams and Rocher earned the blue ribbon in the USET Grand Prix “A” with a score of 73.889%. Finishing behind Williams in the class was 1999 Pan American Games Team Gold Medalist Lynda Alicki and Impressario with a score of 65.625%.

Judy Garofolo of Dover Plains, NY, and Oliver III, owned by Higher Ground Farm, won the feature event of the weekend in the show jumping ring, the $50,000 Bayer/USET Wellington Cup. Only four of the starting field of 35 horse-and-rider combinations went clear in the first round to qualify for the jump-off. First to go in the jump-off, Garofolo laid down a clear round in a time of 40.21 seconds, which held as the fastest time of the day. The first week’s Grand Prix winner, Lauren Hough, rode Clasiko to a second place finish with a clean jump-off round in a time of 42.55 seconds.

Week three brought more exciting competition to the show grounds with the Kilkenny/ICH Internationale, February 5-9. Federico Sztyrle of Argentina was the winner of the Winter Equestrian Festival’s third grand prix. Sztyrle rode Caya, owned by the Sag Pond Farm of Sagaponack, NY, to the win in the featured class of the weekend, the $50,000 Kilkenny/ICH Internationale Cup. Sztyrle, who trains with Joe Fargis, and McLain Ward of Brewster, NY, who finished second aboard Rio, were the only two riders out of a starting field of 33 to ride clear in the first round to qualify for the jump-off. Both riders produced faultless jump-off rounds; however, Ward crossed though the timers just half a second slower than Sztyrle to put him in second place.

Beezie Madden of Cazenovia, NY, and her 2002 World Equestrian Games mount, Judgement, owned by Iron Spring Farm, topped the field of 29 entries to win the $50,000 Idle Dice Classic, the highlighted event of the fourth week of competition in Wellington, the Florida Classic/WCHR Spectacular, February 12-16. This grand prix also served as a qualifying event for the Budweiser World Cup, the Show Jumping World Cup Final, in Las Vegas in April.

Six horses went clear in the first round to qualify for the jump-off, where it was Madden who prevailed with the fastest time of 39.56 seconds. Finishing second with a time of 40.03 seconds was Margie Engle and Hidden Creek’s Jones. Lauren Hough, who had already posted a win and a second place finish in 2003 grand prix events in Wellington, rode her Sydney Olympic mount Clasiko, owned by the Clasiko Group, to a third place finish in a time of 40.15 seconds.

Hunter horses and riders were in the spotlight during the fourth week of competition as the Winter Equestrian Festival presented the prestigious AHJF Hunter Classic Spectacular, a night of competition under the lights on February 15. Emily Williams and Strapless, owned by the All Season Farm, captured the championship for an unprecedented third time. Strapless qualified for the Classic after capturing the Championship in the Regular Working Hunter division. Strapless was also the Reserve Champion in the Small Junior Hunter 16-17 with owner/rider Clara Lindner. Scott Stewart rode Chopard, owned by Krista Weisman, to a second place finish in the Classic. Chopard and Stewart finished as Reserve Champion in the Regular Conformation Hunter division earlier in the week to be eligible to compete in the Classic.

Scott Stewart continued to have great success in the hunter rings as the circuit continued. During the sixth week of the Winter Equestrian festival, Stewart rode three horses to Hunter Championships. Chopard was Regular Conformation Hunter Champion with Stewart riding for Alexa Weisman. Prove It was Regular Working Hunter Champion for owner Mimi Tashjian, and Grace was named Champion Second Year Green Working Hunter for owner Sarah Alvarez.

The Zada Enterprises, LLC Wellington Masters took over the Palm Beach Polo Equestrian Club, February 19-23. The event, which marked the fifth week of the 2003 Winter Equestrian Festival, brought more warm weather and intense competition. The week culminated in an exciting grand prix win for Olympic veteran Norman Dello Joio of Wellington, FL.

Dello Joio and Quriel, owned by Belknap & Weight, bested a starting field of 36 horse-and-rider combinations to win the week’s featured event, the $75,000 Zada Enterprises Wellington Masters Cup. Six horses went clear in the first round to earn the right to ride over the shortened jump-off course.

In the end, it was Dello Joio and Quriel, who crossed through the timers the fastest. The pair edged out the second place finisher by the slimmest of margins. Sydney Olympian Laura Kraut and Anthem, owned by the Summit Syndicate, stopped the timers only one one-hundredth of a second slower then Dello Joio to earn second place. Finishing in third place was Canadian Karen Cudmore, aboard Blair Cudmore’s stallion, Conejo.

In the next week of competition in Wellington, the grand prix, the $75,000 Tommy Bahama Florida Open, drew thirty-six horses. This important competition was a qualifier for the Budweiser World Cup Final. Seven horses qualified to return for the jump-off on the course designed by Prof. Arno Gego of Germany. Meredith Beerbaum, a rider representing Germany, won the class in the fastest time, with Shutterfly, owned by Hyperion Farm.

Three horses had clean jump-off rounds. McLain Ward placed second on Onyx 66, a horse that he co-owns with Harry Gill. Third place went to Candice King of Wellington, FL, riding Caliskan for Louisburg Farm LLC. Norman Dello Joio and Quriel came in fourth.

Beezie Madden and Judgement were back to the winner’s circle one last time during the final week in Wellington when the pair won the $100,000 Cosequin U.S. Open Jumper Championship, Presented by CN,.

Out of a field of 30 horse-and-rider combinations, only two qualified to return for the jump-off. Madden and Judgement returned first and had a clean round with a good pace. Anne Kursinski of Flemington, NJ, with her 1996 Atlanta Olympic mount Eros, owned by The Eros Group, returned second and made good time but had the last jump down to score 4 faults. Todd Minikus and Gardenio, owned by the YZ Partners, came in third with 1 time fault in the first round.

To add to the excitement of the final week of competition, the Winter Equestrian Festival hosted the Samsung Nations’ Cup, Presented by CN for the second time. The United States successfully defended its title in dramatic fashion by winning the event held on March 7.

The U.S. finished with a score of 8 faults to edge out Ireland, who finished the two rounds with 9 faults. Canada came in third with 38 faults.

After Ireland’s Kevin Babington rode fault-free in Ireland’s final ride at the Palm Beach Polo Equestrian Club, Sydney Olympic veteran Margie Engle of Wellington, FL, entered the ring knowing that she needed a clean ride on Hidden Creek’s Jones to clinch the win. One rail down would give the win to the Irish team and one time fault would force a jump-off.

“Yes, I felt the pressure,” the seven-time American Grandprix Association Rider of the Year said. “I could have been the bum of Wellington real quick.”

That did not turn out to be the case. Exhibiting the skill and nerve that have gained her more Grandprix wins than any rider in U.S. history, Engle guided her 12-year-old Dutch-bred to her second clear round of the day giving the U.S. the win in the Nations’ Cup for the second straight year.

Equitation riders were also featured in the final week of competition as twenty-three qualified riders competed in the Ronnie Mutch Equitation Classic on March 8. A score judged in the warm-up area was added to the score of each round. After the first course, 10 riders were asked to return and submit their own written course of 8 – 10 jumps and then execute it.

After the second round, four riders were asked to return to the ring. At this time, only 8 points separated the top four riders -- Whitney Roper, Courtney McKay, Maggie McAlary and Sloan Coles.

They were asked to switch horses with no outside assistance and then remain in the ring. Coles and McAlary switched horses, and McKay switched with Roper. Next, they were asked to jump the first 8 jumps of the original course.

In the end, Roper maintained the top position and took home the Championship. McKay took second place, Coles finished third, and McAlary was fourth.

At the Tampa Bay Classic CSI-W***, March 19-23, the first week of competition at the winter circuit’s Tampa location, the Bob Thomas Equestrian Center, it was McLain Ward who took top honors. There were 35 entries in the week’s highlighted event, the $60,000 Grand Prix of Tampa, CSI***W presented by Kilkenny Insurance Agency/ICH, but it was Ward who bested the field aboard Viktor, a horse he co-owns with Harry Gill. Although Ward had consistently been earning top ribbons in Sunday classes in Florida, this marked his first 2003 Florida grand prix win. Finishing in second place was Candice King aboard Caliskan, owned by Louisburg Farm, LLC.

At the Tournament of Champions CSI-W, March 25-29, in Tampa, FL, Chris Kappler and Royal Kaliber, a horse he co-owns with Kathy Kamine, won the winter’s most highlighted event, the $200,000 Budweiser American Invitational at Raymond James Stadium on March 29. Kappler rode two clear rounds over a demanding course designed by Steve Stephens of Wellington, FL, to win over the 30 horse and rider combinations who attempted the first round course. Kappler was the only rider out of eight who qualified for the jump-off to produce a clear round in the jump-off. Finishing behind Kappler, with four faults in the jump-off was Meredith Beerbaum and Shutterfly, owned by Hyperion Farm. Anne Kursinski and Eros took third place.

Laura Kraut won the final $25,000 WEF Challenge Cup, which served as the last East Coast League qualifier for the Budweiser World Cup. Kraut piloted May, owned by Pasmore Stables, over a course designed by Mehves Trak of Turkey to the win the class over 33 horse and rider combinations who entered. Seven horses jumped clear in the first round to qualify to jump again in the jump-off round, but it was Kraut who finished in the fastest time with no faults. Leslie Howard and Priobert De Kalvarie crossed through the times just slightly slower than Kraut to earn second place in the class.

The Winter Equestrian Festival returned to Wellington for one final week of competition at the Palm Beach Polo Equestrian Club, April 2-6. Chris Kappler aboard Royal Kaliber took the highlighted event of the week, the $150,000 AGA Championship. Out of the starting field of 30 horse-and-rider combinations, Kappler and Royal Kaliber, a Dutch Warmblood stallion, were the only pair to complete two clear rounds. Finishing behind Kappler was Kevin Babington aboard Carling King, owned by Kindle Hill Farm. Meredith Beerbaum piloted Shutterfly to the third place award.

Beginning in January, the Winter Equestrian Festival offered eleven weeks of high-level competition in the sun. The show grounds of the Palm Beach Polo Equestrian Club as well as the show grounds in Tampa will now lie dormant until next year. However, the excitement of the 2003 show jumping, hunter, and equitation divisions as well as dressage will inspire riders to come back to Florida in 2004.


Find out more, visit the links page or find answers on the message board.