Wellington, FL – January 14, 2012 – The FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival (FTI WEF) hosted its first “Saturday Night Lights” event this evening with the $30,000 Surpass Grand Prix. Olympic gold medalist Beezie Madden (USA) and new mount Simon, owned by Abigail Wexner, took home the blue ribbon. Nick Skelton (GBR) and Beverley Widdowson’s Unique finished second, while Cian O’Connor (IRL) rode Blue Loyd, owned by Ashkirk Ltd and Cian O’Connor, to third place.

In the first round of the grand prix, Olympic gold medalist McLain Ward fell with Oh D’ Eole at the 8b obstacle. Ward was taken out of the ring to an ambulance and transported to Wellington Regional Medical Center, where he is being attended by specialists for a fractured kneecap. Oh D’ Eole was examined by veterinarians and is unhurt.

The first week of the FTI WEF runs through Sunday, January 15, and is sponsored by Surpass. The 2012 FTI Winter Equestrian Festival has 12 weeks of competition that conclude on April 1, 2012, and they will be awarding more than $6 million in prize money through the circuit.”

Tonight’s class was sponsored by Surpass, a product of Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc. (BIVI). Amanda McAvoy, Sr. Brand Manager of the Equine Division at BIVI, was on hand to present awards for tonight’s class, and spoke on behalf of her company. “We are ecstatic to be a part of this and feel very fortunate to be able to be the sponsor of the first week of the event,” McAvoy said. “It is pretty neat to sit here with these riders. We really appreciate the partnership that we have with the FTI WEF and we are very thankful that we are able to be here.”

This week’s course designer in the International Arena is Steve Stephens of Palmetto, FL. There were 36 entries in tonight’s class, and seven were clear in the first round. The first to return for the jump-off was Cian O’Connor on Blue Loyd. They set a clear quick round in 42.642 seconds to start the second round. Their time held up for third place.

Nick Skelton and Unique put down a speedy time next in 40.880 seconds and with no faults, they jumped to the top. They would eventually finish in second place.

Reed Kessler (USA) and Ligist were next and had a rail for four faults in 41.490 seconds. She would finish in sixth place. Charlie Jayne (USA) and Uraya, owned by Pony Lane Farm, finished with four faults as well in 41.029 seconds for fourth place. Andrew Bourns (IRL) and Gowran Park had eight faults in 42.532 seconds for seventh place.

Madden and Simon were next to contest, and although they do not have fast jump-off experience together, they were able to speed easily around the course and set the winning time at 40.764 seconds for the win.

Watch Beezie and Simon in their winning jump-off round! Videos by Shownet – View 2012 FTI WEF Videos at www.shownet.biz

Margie Engle (USA) was the last to go on Ashland Farms’ Lord Spezi. They were quick in 41.340 seconds, but four faults left them in fifth place.

Beezie Madden earned the victory in tonight’s class aboard Simon, a 13-year-old KWPN gelding (Mr. Blue x Polydox), owned by Abigail Wexner. Simon is a new horse for Madden, previously ridden by Jeroen Dubbeldam, and purchased just over a month ago.

“We just got Simon six or eight weeks ago,” Madden stated. “He has been very successful with Jeroen. He was third in the World Cup Finals last year and he won the CN Grand Prix in Calgary the year before. He has been very good in Nations Cups for the Dutch team and this is actually the first grand prix that I have done with him.”

Beezie Madden and Simon

Madden explained that she hopes to aim Simon towards the Selection Trials for the Olympics Games, and wanted to start early to get to know him. “This is the first time that I have ridden him under the lights,” she said. “I had him at some indoor shows in the fall, but only three, so this is only my fourth show with him. I need to get to know him a little bit and then maybe back off a little bit before the trials.”

“I didn’t really know what to expect,” Madden said of going into the jump-off tonight. “That was the first time that I have tried to go fast with him. He has a history of being a fast horse, so I tried to just give him a good look and take a shot. I didn’t get to see these guys go, but they are fast riders, so I didn’t really need to ask how fast they were. I am just getting to know the horse, so I had to just take a shot and see what happens, and I was really happy with him. I didn’t know how strong he would get, but he wasn’t strong at all. Everything has gone pretty smoothly so far, knock on wood. I am happy with the progression.””

Beezie Madden and Simon with ringmaster Cliff Haines, Donna Durant – Sr. Sales Representative – Equine Division and Amanda McAvoy – Sr. Brand Manager – Equine Division of Surpass, and Katherine and Mark Bellissimo of ESP

Second place finisher Nick Skelton was pleased with the performance of his mount Unique as well. Skelton stated, “I was happy with my horse; he jumped good. I was going to jump him this week and then maybe jump Carlo next week just to start jumping him a little bit too, because he has been off. The last show he did was the beginning of December and he is not a horse that likes to sit around. He likes to jump, so he will probably do that next week.””

“He is a good horse. He is a good user,” Skelton said of Unique. “He can do anything, and if you really wanted to he could do even more. He can go quick. He wins a lot of classes through the year. Whatever show you take him to he will win a class somewhere.”

Third place finisher, Ireland’s Cian O’Connor, spoke about his horse Blue Loyd after the class. “He has been good this week. The first day in the 1.45m he was sixth, and the second day he was second. Today he was third, so he is earning his keep!” he said with a laugh.”

“I was happy to have all of the experience my horse had and I am just getting to know him,” O’Connor added. “I have just done three shows in the fall as well, like Beezie has, and I wanted to build my horse up and try to get the hang of him early in the year, so that is why I am here.  It is a wonderful show and I am delighted to be here.”

Earlier in the day, Alexandra Vanderrest piloted Oxsona M to the win in the $15,000 Show Jumping Hall of Fame High Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic. Nathalie Mathers and Windline captured the win in the $1,500 Surpass Medium Amateur-Owner Jumpers. Licapo and Madeline Schaefer won the $1,500 Griffis Group High Junior Jumper class.

The FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival will continue tomorrow with a full schedule of hunter, jumper, and equitation competition. The highlight class in the International Arena is the $25,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic at 1 p.m., which marks the first class in the Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Series . The Series will return this year with the $50,000 Leading Horse/Rider Combination Award.

For full results please visit www.showgroundslive.com.’

Final Results: $30,000 Surpass Grand Prix
1. SIMON: 1999 KWPN gelding by Mr. Blue x Polydox’
BEEZIE MADDEN (USA), Abigail Wexner: 0/0/40.764”

2. UNIQUE: 2001 KWPN gelding by Indoctro x Voltaire’
NICK SKELTON (GBR), Beverly Widdowson: 0/0/40.880

3. BLUE LOYD: 2000 Oldenburg gelding by Landor S x Hadj Ax
CIAN O’CONNOR (IRL), Ashkirk Ltd. & Cian O’Connor: 0/0/42.642”

4. URAYA: 2001 KWPN mare by Farmer x Zeno’
CHARLIE JAYNE (USA), Pony Lane Farm: 0/4/41.029

5. LORD SPEZI: 1998 Oldenburg gelding by Lord Pezi x Grandeur
MARGIE ENGLE (USA), Ashland Farms: 0/4/41.340”

6. LIGIST: 2000 Swedish Warmblood gelding by Levantos II x Robin Z’
REED KESSLER (USA), Reed Kessler: 0/4/41.490

7. GOWRAN PARK:  2001 Irish Sporthorse mare by Obos Quality 004 x Duca Di Busted
ANDREW BOURNS (IRL), Andrew Bourns: 0/8/42.532

8. ALSVID: 2001 Hanoverian gelding by Escudo I x Azur
RICHARD MOLONEY (IRL), Equinimity, LLC: 1/88.246′

9. PJOTTER VAN DE ZONNEHOEVE: 2001 Dutch Warmblood Gelding by Plato x Emilion’
MCLAIN WARD (USA), Louisburg Farm: 1/88.916

10. CAPITANO: 1995 Warmblood gelding by Carthago’
DANIELLE TORANO (USA), Sir Ruly, Inc.: 2/89.798

11. CORTES ‘C’: 2002 BWP gelding by Randel Z x Darco’
BEEZIE MADDEN (USA), Abigail Wexner: 4/84.712”

12. UP CHIQUI:  1997 BWP gelding by Quidam De Revel x Chin Chin
KENT FARRINGTON (USA), Alex Boone, William Dobbs, & K. Farrington: 4/85.134

Junior Hunters Being Competition, Take Home Championships

Schaefer Raposa and Spandau earned a championship tricolor and Horseware Ireland cooler this morning in the Marley Goodman Small Junior Hunter 16-17 division. The pair finished first in both classes yesterday, and placed first and fourth over fences and third under saddle today. Spandau is a seven-year-old Holsteiner gelding by Quidam de Revel, owned by Visse Wedell of North Salem, NY, and trained by Lyman T. Whitehead.

You can see Schaefer and Spandau in their handy hunter round here, where they scored a 90. Videos by Shownet – View 2012 FTI WEF Videos at www.shownet.biz

Also finishing with top ribbons this week, Huntington, shown by Kristen Lutz and owned by Stratford Stables, earned the reserve championship. The pair finished first, fourth, fifth and fifth over fences and won the under saddle.

Division winner Schaefer Raposa, of Clinton, NY, showed Spandau for the first time this week for owner Visse Wedell. Raposa rode Spandau at his farm once last year and then got on the gelding on Thursday to prepare for this week’s competition.

“He is awesome, he really is,” the rider smiled. “He is one of the coolest hunters I have ever ridden. His rhythm is amazing; he has that great canter where the distance is never too far and you just kind of go with it. He has the jump where he uses every part of his body and he is so brave. He is just really cool.”

Schaefer Raposa and Spandau

Describing her jumping rounds, which included a high score of 90 on Friday’s handy course, Raposa stated, “Yesterday I thought I did well in the first round. I just wanted to go in and be consistent everywhere and he jumped great. The handy was really fun. He has an awesome mouth, so you can just turn right back to everything.”

“Today I thought he was great too,” she continued. “I wished there was another handy to do because it was really fun, but he was great both days. I was thinking because it was colder today that he might wake up a little bit, but he was no problem.”

Spandau also showed in the Second Year Green Working Hunters with Lyman T. Whitehead this week. Raposa hopes to get more opportunities to show the gelding in the Junior Hunters throughout the circuit.

In addition to her hunter success, 18-year-old Raposa has excelled in the equitation and jumper divisions. She won Section A of the USEF/Platinum Performance Show Jumping Talent Search on Friday and will show in the jumpers throughout the winter as well.

Raposa enjoys showing at the FTI WEF and appreciates the comforts of home when she stays at her family’s farm in Wellington. “I stay down here the whole winter once we get here,” she said. “I know it can seem boring doing the same thing every week, but I like not having to travel; I like just being home.”

Week one of the 2012 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival, sponsored by Surpass, will conclude on Sunday with the completion of the Camping World Adult Amateur Hunters 51 & Over in the E.R. Mische Grand Hunter Ring. For full results, please visit www.showgroundslive.com.

Photo Credit: Beezie Madden and Simon, Spandau and Schaefer Raposa, won at the 2012 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival. Photo © Sportfot, Official Sport Photographer of the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival, www.sportfot.com. This photo may be used only in relation to this press release.