Wellington, FL – March 2, 2014 – Week eight of the 2014 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival (FTI WEF), sponsored by G&C Farm, concluded on Sunday with another big win for Great Britain’s Ben Maher in the $150,000 CSIO 4* Grand Prix, presented by Wellington Equestrian Realty. Maher guided Jane Clark’s Urico to victory over USA’s Laura Kraut and Nouvelle in second and Ireland’s Cian O’Connor aboard Quidam’s Cherie in third. Also showing at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) on Sunday, McLain Ward (USA) and HH Carlos Z won for the second day in a row with a top finish in the $25,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic.

Steve Stephens concluded a fantastic week of world-class competition with a challenging course for Sunday’s $150,000 CSIO 4* Grand Prix. There were riders from 18 different countries in in today’s grand prix, and 36 of 50 riders were from outside of the United States.

The course yielded 12 clear rounds out 50 entries for an exciting jump-off of top international riders from eight different countries. In the end, it was once again Ben Maher who led the victory gallop after completing the fastest clear jump-off round in 40.85 seconds aboard Urico. The pair finished over three seconds faster than second place finishers Laura Kraut and Nouvelle with a time of 44.09 seconds.

Cian O’Connor and Quidam’s Cherie took third place honors in 44.23 seconds. Sharn Wordley (NZL) and Ashland Stables’ Derly Chin de Muze finished fourth in 46.86 seconds, and Kent Farrington (USA) and Robin Parsky’s Blue Angel had the fastest time in 38.30 seconds, but had the last jump down to place fifth.

Ben Maher and Urico

Ben Maher and Urico

“It was a difficult course actually in the first round,” Maher said after the class. “I thought it got big; after the water jump it really changed. The fences before it weren’t too difficult, and then once the water took its toll on the horses, the jumps got bigger and a lot of faults came. There were a lot of clears today and certainly a lot of fast ones in the jump-off. I tried to ride the jump-off that I could do, not one that I couldn’t do.”

“Urico is an incredibly fast horse,” Maher dedcribed. “He kind of anticipates turns before you’re even there. It looked like one of those jump-offs where rails were falling, and it maybe wouldn’t get too quick. I know that Cian’s horse is quite inexperienced; jumping very well, but I did not know how quick he would go. I knew that Beezie would be faster than me probably whatever I did, so I rode the round that I could, and fortunately it was just quicker than Laura today and good enough to win.”

Maher described the win with Urico as an important moment in his partnership with the 13-year-old KWPN gelding (Zandor Z x Fedor). “I think this is probably even more special for me today because we took a lot of time with Urico since this time last year,” he stated. “We had a few teething problems and a lot of work has gone into him for six or seven months. Jade Steinsdorfer, who looks after him, has put a lot of time in. Jane Clark believed in my system and has let me get on with it and it has really paid off. He certainly feels a very, very useful horse to go along with Cella and my other horses right now. It is a big milestone and a confidence boost for us today.”

“He did start very well here,” Maher detailed. “He had some good results here last year as well, I just felt that we needed a slightly different program. I went home and worked on building him physically in a different way and getting him stronger and more confident. I am just gaining his trust really. I think that he really believes in me now, and he trusts me. He is a very sensitive horse and a very careful horse. You have to be careful when to push the right buttons and when not to.”

Ben Maher and Urico in their winning presentation with ringmaster Gustavo, Chris Desino, Craig Martin and Matt Varney of Wellington Equestrian Realty, and Equestrian Sport Productions President Michael Stone

Ben Maher and Urico in their winning presentation with ringmaster Gustavo, Chris Desino, Craig Martin and Matt Varney of Wellington Equestrian Realty, and Equestrian Sport Productions President Michael Stone

Maher has now won four of the eight major grand prix classes at this year’s FTI WEF. He also won week one’s $30,000 Mar-a-Lago Club Grand Prix aboard Kavanagh IV and topped both week three’s Fidelity Investments Grand Prix CSI 3* and week five’s $370,000 FEI World Cup Grand Prix CSI-W 5* presented by Rolex aboard Cella.

“It has been incredible here so far for me,” Maher acknowledged. “I think Jane’s horses love being at home. They get to go in the paddock and be real horses and come to the ring here fresh. Things seem to be going my way right now and I know how quickly things can change around, so I am enjoying it as much as I can while it is happening.”

“I love jumping here,” he added. “I enjoy the fact that Jane can come and watch as many events as we can get to. The horses haven’t jumped too much. We make a very careful plan for here. It’s only early in the year, but Urico had three months off the end of last year, and I chose not to use him in the indoor season and keep him ready and fresh for here. Cella also didn’t jump so much towards the end of last year. They come over here about four or five times each and don’t have to jump too many classes when we’re here because I have been pre-qualified for some of the grand prix. The plan is going great so far and I hope it continues, but I am just going to enjoy what’s happening so far.”

Behind Maher and Urico, Laura Kraut finished second aboard the Evita Group’s Nouvelle, a ten-year-old KWPN mare by Solitair x Contango. Nouvelle is just coming back this season after an injury and had a great finish.

“She got hurt last June, she broke her pedal bone in her foot, so basically from June until I got here she was off,” Kraut explained. “The first fences she jumped were here in January, so today is her very first grand prix and I am really pleased with how she performed. She has matured and I don’t think the time of rest seemed to hurt her too much because she has come back sort of where she was ready to be before she got hurt.”

Laura Kraut and Nouvelle

Laura Kraut and Nouvelle

Kraut was a little worried about Nouvelle’s inexperience in the class, but was hoping for a good result. “I knew that I had Ben and Beezie and Kent and quite a few people behind me,” she said. “I was really hoping to finish in the top six, and I was hoping to be double clear. Ben beat me by a lot, he beat me by three seconds. It wasn’t like he just beat me. I am really proud of her. I did the inside turns, the one back on the vertical, and she handled that well. I am just thrilled. Her owners are here and they have been long-time supporters of me. Their last grand prix horse was Anthem, so I know they are so excited.”

Commenting on Maher’s great success, Kraut noted, “He rides great, he has super horses and he deserves to win the classes that he has won. I would like to have a shot to try to beat him at some point. I will get Cedric revved up here here hopefully at some point and we will give it a shot, but at this level you appreciate the superior riding and horses. He and Scott (Brash) are so impressive. It is going to raise the level of riding here. To have number one and number two in the world is just a great opportunity for WEF and for all of the riders here.”

In third, Cian O’Connor was jumping Adena Springs’ Quidam’s Cherie, a nine-year-old Oldenburg mare by Quidam’s Rubin x Lifestyle, that the rider has only been partnered with since December.

“I got Cherie in middle of December and did one show before coming here,” O’Connor explained. “With her previous rider she did 2* grand prixs in Germany, so she is very green. That is the brilliant thing about coming to this festival is that the horses really get mileage, you get experience. I jumped her in the Nations Cup the other night, and she jumped a very good clear in the first round. She was a little tired in the second round and then I gave her a day off yesterday to freshen up, and she really jumped her heart out today.”

“I am very excited about her because it has been a while since I have had a horse as talented as that,” O’Connor said. “She is so careful and I am just going to drop her down and move her up and not do too much because it is hard when you only have one horse like that. You really want to spare them, and I am looking forward to a good year with her.”

Cian O'Connor and Quidam's Cherie

Cian O’Connor and Quidam’s Cherie

On behalf of Wellington Equestrian Realty, Craig Martin spoke about Sunday’s fantastic class and his company’s continued support of equestrian sport in Wellington.

“Wellington Equestrian Realty, we really love sponsoring this class,” Martin stated. “I have known Ben for a long time since he was a young fellow. He is definitely a tactician of the sport, and I would love to congratulate him on his win. Congratulations to Laura and Cian as well. The show for us is a very important part of our whole marketing strategy. The way that we feel the direction the show is going, it is only getting bigger and better. It is definitely, without a doubt, one of the best horse shows in the world.”

Several special awards were also presented during Sunday’s Grand prix. In memory of Niall Grimes, the “CHEERS” perpetual trophy was awarded to Cian O’Connor as the top Irish rider during the CSIO, Nations Cup week.

Brazil’s Alvaro ‘Doda’ de Miranda was presented with the Kate Nash Boone Style Award, a perpetual trophy presented by Michael Meller, friends and family to honor the memory of Kate’s support and love of “all things equestrian.”

Beezie Madden (USA) also earned a special award as the Leading Lady Grand Prix Rider for week eight, an award presented by Martha Jolicoeur of Illustrated Properties in memory of Dale Lawler.

Final Results: $150,000 CSIO 4* Grand Prix, presented by Wellington Equestrian Realty

1. URICO: 2001 KWPN gelding by Zandor Z x Fedor
BEN MAHER (GBR), Jane F. Clark: 0/0/40.85

2. NOUVELLE: 2004 KWPN mare by Solitair x Contango
LAURA KRAUT (USA), Evita Group: 0/0/44.09

3. QUIDAM’S CHERIE: 2005 Oldenburg mare by Quidam’s Rubin x Lifestyle
CIAN O’CONNOR (IRL), Adena Springs: 0/0/44.23

4. DERLY CHIN DE MUZE: 2003 BWP mare by For Pleasure x Nebab de Reve
SHARN WORDLEY (NZL), Ashland Stables: 0/0/46.86

5. BLUE ANGEL: 2002 AES mare by Luidam x Ascendant
KENT FARRINGTON (USA), Robin Parsky: 0/4/38.30

6. CORTES ‘C’: 2002 BWP gelding by Randel Z x Darco
BEEZIE MADDEN (USA), Abigail Wexner: 0/4/40.58

7. SHOWGIRL: 2000 Selle Francais mare by Gold De Becourt x Elf III
YANN CANDELE (CAN), The Watermark Group: 0/4/40.84

8. EVITA VAN DE VELDBALIE: 2004 BWP mare by Wandor vd Mispelaere x Clinton
DANIEL DEUSSER (GER), Stephex Stables: 0/4/42.09

9. ZIGALI P S: 2004 KWPN gelding by Kigali x Palfrenier
ERIC LAMAZE (CAN), Artisan Farms LLC: 0/4/42.77

10. ZOE II: 2004 AES mare by Kannan x Goes Without Saying
LORENZO DE LUCA (ITA), Mike Collins: 0/4/43.18

11. ZARA LEANDRA: 2004 KWPN mare by Metropole x Ahorn
PABLO BARRIOS (VEN), ZL Group, Inc: 0/8/42.87

12. MAKAVOY: 2003 KWPN gelding by Hors La Loi II x Ahorn
BEN ASSELIN (CAN), Attache Stables: 0/WD

McLain Ward and HH Carlos Z Top $25,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic for Second Win in Two Days

After topping Saturday’s $25,000 Nutrena Jumper Classic at the FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival, the brand new partnership of McLain Ward (USA) and Double H Farm’s HH Carlos Z went on to their second victory of the week in Sunday’s $25,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic. The class saw 52 entries with six to jump-off.

Laura Kraut and MH Sporthorse’s Andretti S were first to jump-off and incurred 16 faults (8 jumping and 8 time in 55.88 seconds) to finish sixth. Caitlin Ziegler (USA) and Artisan Farms LLC’s Touchdown jumped next and cleared the course in 44.94 seconds to eventually place third. Ward and HH Carlos Z followed, posting a time of 40.64 seconds to take the lead.

Kristen Vanderveen (USA) and Bull Run’s Holy Smokes jumped into second with a clear round in 43.45 seconds. Germany’s Johannes Ehning had eight faults in 47.59 seconds to place fifth with Nybor Pfere GMBH & Co. KG’s Balounito. Last to go with his second mount, Ward also took fourth place honors with a clear round in 45.77 seconds aboard Arnoud Dobber’s Cannavaro D.

McLain Ward and HH Carlos Z

McLain Ward and HH Carlos Z

Ward first sat on HH Carlos Z for the first time two weeks ago and is quickly getting to know the talented 12-year-old Zangersheide gelding (Chellano Z x Voltaire). “He is a phenomenal horse,” Ward praised. “I am just trying to get to know him a little bit. He is electric careful, fast. It is like having a 12-year-old Goldika again, so it is very exciting for us.”

“He has had a good past,” the rider pointed out. “The horse won the Grand Prix of Falsterbo already, that’s a 5* grand prix. I think he has a great future. He is maybe not a horse that you jump every day 1.60m, but you go up and down a little bit because he has so much carefulness, and he is going to be a phenomenal addition to our string.”

With two wins in a row, it is obvious that Ward and Carlos have good things to come. Ward has already learned a lot about Carlos is a short period of time and looks forward to the future.

“He knows the game and we are still getting to know each other and we will be for a while,” Ward noted. “I will get to know to know little things about him and he will get to know me, but he knows his job and I mostly know my job, so hopefully we can be somewhat competent.”

“I have learned little things already just about the warm-up and preparation for the class and just how he reacts to different things in the ring, which have all been positive feeling,” Ward added. “I am just getting to know him and it is exciting. It is an exciting venture with Hunter (Harrison). He likes to win and I like to win, so it’s a good combination.”

McLain Ward in his winning presentation with Tom and Jeannie Tisbo of Suncast® and ringmaster Gustavo Murcia

McLain Ward in his winning presentation with Tom and Jeannie Tisbo of Suncast® and ringmaster Gustavo Murcia

Ward also jumped a brand new mount, Cannavaro D, in the jump-off on Sunday and had a great round with him to finish fourth. “It wasn’t a very big jump-off. There weren’t many clear, but I thought the course was difficult enough,” Ward commented. “I had a pretty strong feeling that I had the fastest horse in the jump-off with Carlos. I was pretty confident in that, but I also knew that Kristen Vanderveen was coming behind me and she would always give it a good try, so I wanted to make sure that I did enough that I didn’t leave the door open. The other horse that I did in the jump-off I have only been riding for ten days. He is a little less experienced, so I knew that I couldn’t go as fast with him as I did with Carlos.”

Final Results: $25,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic


Nicole Lyvere and Wink Champion the Bainbridge Companies Amateur-Owner Hunter 18-35 division at the FTI WEF

Nicole Lyvere of Denver, CO, topped the Bainbridge Companies Amateur-Owner Hunter 18-35 on Sunday morning at the FTI WEF. Lyvere and her nine-year-old Warmblood gelding Wink were third in the under saddle, won two over fences classes, and were second in another over fences round to clinch the division title.

The reserve champion of the division was Humor Me, owned and ridden by Stephanie Danhakl. Danhakl rode Humor me to second place under saddle and first, fifth and fifth over fences.

Nicole Lyvere and Wink

Nicole Lyvere and Wink

Lyvere has owned Wink for the last few years after buying him from Don Stewart in Ocala. She admitted Wink was quite green when she got him and was happy to see her journey with the gelding come full circle.

“He was super, super green when I got him. He’s come a long way,” Lyvere smiled. “Now, he’s getting in the routine where he loves the horse show and he hates to be at home! When he’s at a horse show, he’s happy.”

Despite Wink being green when Lyvere first tried him, there was something about the gelding that instantly clicked with her.

“He just had this really cool feeling and he was the first fancy horse that I got. I’d never had a horse that jumped as well. He wasn’t very broke, and I’m out there flopping around. He would even bear down at the jumps a little bit, but we just clicked at the beginning. We’ve had our battles, but he’s just so fun to ride,” Lyvere descrbed.

Wink has made a lot of progress, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t occasionally give Lyvere a run for her money.

“He’s super comfortable. He’ll always push your buttons, though. If you give him an out, he’ll take it most of the time. He has an attitude, a sassy attitude that he knows he’s good. But he’s perfect! The best ones always have some sort of attitude,” Lyvere remarked.

Nicole Lyvere and Wink in their winning presentation

Nicole Lyvere and Wink in their winning presentation

Bringing Wink along with the help of trainer Cindy Cruciotti has been a rewarding experience for Lyvere, who prefers working her way up the levels with her horse instead of going for one that’s a bit more push-button. After Cruciotti campaigned the horse in the First Year Green Working Hunters, Lyvere contested the 3’3” amateur-owner divisions with Wink before making the move up to 3’6” in 2013.

“It’s awesome. That’s my favorite thing. It’s nice to have a made horse and go in there and win, but for me that’s not as fulfilling. Most of my horses, I’ve had them since they were younger and brought them up through the ranks,” Lyvere expressed.

Lyvere’s victory with Wink wrapped up the eighth week of competition at the FTI WEF, presented by G&C Farm. Week 9, presented by the Bainbridge Companies, kicks off on Wednesday, March 5, with a full schedule of show jumping and hunter competition. For full results, please visit www.showgroundslive.com.

Photo Credit: Photos © Sportfot, An Official Photographer of the FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival, us.sportfot.com, An Official Photographer of the FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian. These photos may be used only in relation to this press release and must include photo credit.