Wellington, FL – March 9, 2014 – Week nine of the 2014 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival (FTI WEF), sponsored by The Bainbridge Companies, concluded on Sunday with a win for Japan’s Eiken Sato and Egano van het Slogenhof in the $84,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic showing at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center in Wellington, FL.

Alan Wade (IRL) finished the week out with a tough course for 59 entries in the 1.50m Classic with just three clear rounds to advance to the jump-off. Eiken Sato and Stephex Stables’ Egano van het Slogenhof were the first combination to jump off and set the leading time in 46.15 seconds. Great Britain’s Scott Brash and Hello Annie, owned by Lord & Lady Harris and Lord & Lady Kirkham, jumped another clear round and finished second in 47.03 seconds. Venezuela’s Andres Rodriguez and Arao Enterprises LLC’s Caballito had one rail down over the short course and finished third in 53.06 seconds.

Eiken Sato and Egano van het Slogenhof

Eiken Sato and Egano van het Slogenhof

Twenty-eight-year-old Eiken Sato grew up riding in Japan. His father was a horseman as well, and Sato started riding at the age of eight. At 18 years old he moved to Belgium to pursue his passion, and four years ago he began riding for the world-renowned Stephex Stables.

“I moved to Belgium when I was 18 years old, and it was really hard,” Sato admitted. “I didn’t speak English at all, and I didn’t know anybody. I have been riding for Stephex for nearly four years now, and we have a really good team. We have Daniel Deusser in the top 10 riders in the world. Everyday we are training in the same place and that is really important for us. We have top grooms and a good boss, Stephan Conter. We have top management at the moment and top sponsors, so the whole team has been really good.”

Sato began riding Egano van het Slogenhof, a ten-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding (Electro x Nagano), six months ago.

“I have ridden this horse for six months, and I have always jumped 1.40m or 1.45m and he has gotten better and better,” Sato explained. “This show was really good. Last week in the grand prix he had one down. The ‘WEF’ (Challenge Cup) was not so good. He had two down, so I didn’t qualify for this week’s grand prix, so I was really motivated for this class.”

“I was first to go, so it was difficult to say what would happen with Scott going behind me,” Sato said of the jump-off. “I tried to do my best. My horse is naturally fast and he is very careful, so I can go fast and it really works out. I have nothing bad to say, I am really happy.”

“He is quite big for me,” Sato noted. “He is a big horse, but he has a lot of scope and so much quality and I am so happy that I can ride him. He is really amazing.”

Eiken Sato and Egan van het Slogenhof in their winning presentation with Jeannie, Tom and Lauren Tisbo of Suncast®, and ringmaster Gustavo Murcia

Eiken Sato and Egan van het Slogenhof in their winning presentation with Jeannie, Tom and Lauren Tisbo of Suncast®, and ringmaster Gustavo Murcia

Sato will remain in Wellington for the remaining three weeks of FTI WEF competition, showing Egano again during the last two weeks of 4* and 5* competition. He has his sights set on qualifying for the $500,000 FTI Consulting Finale Grand Prix CSI 5* during week twelve.

Final Results: $84,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic

1. EGANO VAN HET SLOGENHOF: 2004 BWP gelding by Electro x Nagano
EIKEN SATO (JPN), Stephex Stables: 0/0/46.15

2. HELLO ANNIE: 2004 Hanoverian mare by Contender x For Pleasure
SCOTT BRASH (GBR), Lord & Lady Harris/Lord & Lady Kirkham: 0/0/47.03

3. CABALLITO: 2002 Holsteiner gelding by Contendro x Argentinus
ANDRES RODRIGUEZ (VEN), Arao Enterprises LLC: 0/4/53.06

4. BARRON: 2004 Swedish Warmblood gelding by For Pleasure x Nabab de Reve
LUCY DAVIS (USA), Old Oak Farm: 1/74.58

5. CARRABIS Z: 2003 Zangersheide stallion by Canabis Z x Grannusso
RICHIE MOLONEY (IRL), Equinimity LLC: 1/74.88

6. MIC MAC DU TILLARD: 2000 Selle Francais mare by Cruising x Galoubet A
DAVID WILL (GER), Bernadette LeJeune: 4/66.44

7. QUIZ: 2004 Selle Francais gelding by For Pleasure x Laudanum
DARRAGH KENNY (IRL), Spruce Meadows: 4/69.31

8. ALSVID: 2001 Hanoverian gelding by Escudo I x Azur
RICHARD MOLONEY (IRL), Equinimity, LLC: 4/70.35

9. ANDRETTI S: 2005 KWPN gelding by Corland x Animo
LAURA KRAUT (USA), MH Sporthorse: 4/70.66

10. CARRIERE: 2003 Oldenburg mare by Catoki x Contango
LAUREN TISBO (USA), Tequestrian Farms LLC: 4/71.96

11. EVERYTHING: 2004 BWP gelding by Toulon x Mast vd Vrombautshoeve
KELSEY THATCHER (USA), Pony Lane Farm: 4/72.08

12. ARTEMIS: 2005 Zangersheide mare by Chamberlain Z x Casimir
ALI WOLFF (USA), John C. Wolff: 4/72.73

Elizabeth Faraci and Posh Are Best in Sylvester Center Adult Amateur 36-50 Hunters

Elizabeth Faraci, of Annapolis, MD, topped the Sylvester Center Adult Amateur 36-50 Hunter division on Sunday morning at the FTI WEF with Posh. At just five years old, Posh bested a field of experienced horses with two wins over fences and a second place finish in the hack.

The reserve champion for the division was Sea Walker, owned and ridden by Nicole Oliynyk. Oliynyk and Sea Walker were sixth, fifth, sixth, and first over fences and first under saddle to secure the reserve champion title.

Faraci bought Posh, a five-year-old Warmblood gelding by Christ, at the end of last year and was thrilled that her young horse has taken so well to the show ring.

“This was his first show,” Faraci revealed. “He’s just turning five, so I couldn’t be more pleased with him! He’s just adorable. He went right around yesterday and today, and I really can’t say enough about him. He’s the real thing, I hope.”

Faraci bought the stunning black gelding after only watching a video of him, but she admitted it was love at first sight.

“I actually bought him off a video and really lucked out! I saw him and fell in the love with him. Typical black stallion thing I guess!” Faraci laughed.

Elizabeth Faraci and Posh

Elizabeth Faraci and Posh

Faraci had Posh gelded and went to work training Posh at home at her farm in Annapolis. With the help of trainers Scott Stewart and Ken Berkley of River’s Edge Farm as well as hunter professional Sandy Ferrell, Faraci has successfully brought Posh along.

“It’s my favorite thing to do, to buy the young ones and bring them along. You’re just so pleased when they get it and they do something right, it’s even more rewarding,” Faraci explained.

“He’s been great. He’s always quiet and focused. He just wants to do a great job. He’s been one of those that from the very start he wants to do it right,” she continued. “He’s a dream to ride. He’s very smooth and balanced. He has a good rhythm with easy lead changes. That’s nice on a young one like that.”

The atmosphere of the PBIEC showgrounds can be a lot for any horse to handle, much less a five-year-old that had yet to step foot in a show ring. “I was really worried, but he kind of put my fears to rest yesterday when he just marched in the ring and marched around. He was totally focused,” Faraci explained.

Hunter competition for week nine of the FTI WEF, presented by The Bainbridge Companies, concluded on Sunday afternoon following Faraci’s victory. Competition for week ten of the FTI WEF, presented by Horseware Ireland, will kick off on March 12. 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. This photo may be used only in relation to this press release and must include photo credit.