Wellington, FL – February 13, 2014 – Hunter competition took over the International Arena during Week 6 of the FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival (FTI WEF). The country’s best hunter riders and horses will compete throughout Week 6 for a qualifying spot in the week’s feature event, the $100,000 WCHR Peter Wetherill Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular on Saturday evening.

FTI WEF week six, sponsored by Salamander Hotels & Resorts, runs February 12-16, 2014. The week features the coveted World Championship Hunter Rider (WCHR) competition, with hunters taking to the International Arena at PBIEC for their daily classes, weekly championships, and a chance to compete in Saturday night’s $100,000 USHJA/WCHR Peter Wetherill Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular.

The $100,000 USHJA/WCHR Peter Wetherill Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular will be livestreamed on Chronicle TV at the following link on Saturday, February 15, at 7 pm here: http://www.chronofhorse.com/article/2014-wchr-hunter-spectacular-live.

Friday night’s $84,000 Salamander Hotels and Resorts Valentine’s Grand Prix CSI 3* at The Stadium will also be livestreamed at this link: http://www.chronofhorse.com/article/2014-salamander-grand-prix-live.

As the hunters are featured on the main showgrounds at PBIEC, the highlight jumper competitions will be held on the adjacent showgrounds at The Stadium at PBIEC. Exciting jumper classes will be held on the beautiful grass derby field at The Stadium, including the $34,000 Suncast 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic at 1 p.m. on Saturday afternoon, and the $50,000 Equestrian Sotheby’s Jumper Derby at 2 p.m. on Sunday afternoon. A special $84,000 Salamander Hotels and Resorts Valentine’s Grand Prix CSI 3* will also be held in the International Ring at The Stadium at PBIEC at 7 p.m. on Friday night as part of the “Friday Night Stars” series. Anyone who wants to purchase a VIP table for Friday night’s grand prix should contact vip@equestriansport.com.

Thursday brought the first round of hunter division champion awards, with Scott Stewart and Quest topping the Equine Tack & Nutritionals First Year Green Working Hunter division. Quest, a seven-year-old Warmblood owned by Stephanie Danhakl, won two over fences classes with Stewart and was third under saddle. The pair was also fifth in the handy round. Reserve champion for the division was Scripted, an eight-year-old Warmblood gelding owned by Glefke & Kensel LLC and ridden by Kelley Farmer. Farmer piloted Scripted to first and third over fences out of 37 entries for the division. Stewart and Quest were also presented with the Music Row Perpetual Trophy, donate by Susan Stanley, for their victory in the division.

Quest in his winning presentation with owner Stephanie Danhakl

Quest in his winning presentation with ringmaster Gustavo Murcia, Susan Stanley, owner Stephanie Danhakl, and Maria Holt of USHJA

The expansive International Arena and its surrounding stadium seating could be a lot for any green horse to handle even without the towering palm tree additions, but Quest took it all in stride on Thursday morning. “He was awesome. I was a little worried because he schooled a little bit fresh today and it was tough out there with everything blowing around, but not in a bad way. He felt perfect the whole time, so I was really happy with him,” Stewart commented.

Stewart actually owned the gelding up until a few months ago, after buying Quest as a three-year-old with Ken Berkley. Since then, Quest hasn’t seen much of the show ring, showing only once last year at Capital Challenge. Despite being a little inexperienced, Stewart aimed the gelding at WCHR competition during the FTI WEF and also hoped his owner could debut with him in the FarmVet Amateur-Owner 18-35 3’3” Hunter division the same week. Danhakl and Quest are also off to a good start, wining an over fences class on the first day of competition.

“That was our goal in mind to hope to peak for Hunter Week and for Stephanie to show him this week, so that turned out great,” Stewart smiled.

Peaking in time for WCHR competition is on the mind of every competitor, and Stewart acknowledged that each horse needs a different plan, whether it means showing them early on and giving them time off, or doing a week of prep-work leading up to “Hunter Week.”

“Quest is better the less he does,” Stewart explained. “He’s really brave, always. He’s usually better the first time in the ring.”

That’s lucky for Stewart, since the annual trip south to Wellington from Flemington, NJ, where Stewart’s River’s Edge Farm is based, seems to make Quest uncharacteristically feisty. “He’s always been pretty mature, but for some reason, each year when he comes to Florida he gets a little wild! He’s naturally a very quiet horse. This is only his third show of the season because he was a little bit too fresh to get going well [and keep focused in the ring],” Stewart commented.

Earlier in the day, Stewart swept the Perfect Products High Performance Hunter division with Everly and Golden Rule. Everly, a 10-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare owned by Dr. Betsee Parker, was champion of the division after finishing third and first over fences and winning the under saddle to wrap up the division. Stewart rode Golden Rule to reserve champion with third, first, and third place finishes over fences. Stewart was presented with the Peterbilt Special Perpetual Trophy, donated by Leslie Clarke, for his win with Everly.

Up until August, Everly could be seen jumping around 1.50m show jumping courses with Irish show jumper Shane Sweetnam. Stewart and Parker purchased the mare in August and were able to easily transition her into the ideal High Performance Hunter mount for Stewart.

“She started off really well. We’ve had it pretty easy,” Stewart smiled. “We showed her the next week [after we bought her] in Kentucky. I was already there for USEF Pony Finals [Lexington, Ky.], so I got to ride her every day. It was pretty simple. It was just getting her to realize she could be quiet. She’s such a naturally good jumper, there’s nothing really to train her to do!” Stewart remarked.

Keeping Everly relaxed has continued to be Stewart’s focus with the mare, which is why he is unsure of whether she’ll be showing under the lights Saturday evening for the Hunter Spectacular. “I’m worried that she might get a little bit lit up under the lights. I might let her wait [until next year]. I don’t know if that atmosphere might give her flashbacks to her old jumper days! I don’t want to get her upset, so I’m going to wait and see until tomorrow,” Stewart explained.

Scott Stewart and Quest

Scott Stewart and Quest

Stewart picked up his third championship of the day in the Shapley’s Green Conformation Hunter division, this time with Lucador. Stewart was presented with the Wrenwood Farm Perpetual Trophy after winning four of the six classes for the division aboard Lucador, including wins in the model and under saddle. Lucador is a six-year-old Oldenburg gelding owned by Dr. Betsee Parker.

The reserve champion for the division was also a familiar face; Kelley Farmer collected reserve honors with Scripted, an eight-year-old Warmblood gelding owned by Glefke & Kensel LLC. The pair won the stake round over fences in addition to placing second and fourth in the model and under saddle, respectively.

Stewart and Farmer continued to trade off division championships, with Farmer topping the Shapley’s Regular Conformation Hunter division with Quotable. The pair won two over fences classes and the model as well as placing second under saddle and eighth in the handy round. Quotable, a nine-year-old Warmblood gelding owned by Glefke & Kensel LLC, and Farmer were presented with the Montoga Perpetual Trophy for their victory. The reserve champion for the division was Scott Stewart with Showman. The pair were second in the model, first under saddle, and second, eighth, and second over fences.

Quotable was already familiar with the International Arena after contesting the Hunter Spectacular last year with Farmer. The gelding has been wildly successful with Farmer over the past year, and Farmer couldn’t be more grateful for their success. “Every time, he’s been a winner. He’s done nothing but win for us!” Farmer expressed.

While Quotable is quite a handsome dark bay now, Farmer revealed he wasn’t always so polished looking. Nevertheless, Lane Change Farm knew they had something special on their hands.

“It was funny, when we got him, he was not hugely fat and was sort of that liver chestnut [color]…or really [the color] of this dirt!” Farmer laughed, gesturing to the arena footing. “He walked off that truck though, and we thought, ‘God he’s going to be a pretty horse!’”

Havens Schatt conquered the Equine Tack & Nutritionals Second Year Green Working Hunter division, winning champion with Balin, an eight-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Ainsley Sadlo. Balin and Schatt were first, second, and eighth over fences and fourth under saddle. Schatt was also reserve champion with Bacardi, an eight-year-old KWPN gelding owned by Caroline Moran. The pair were sixth, first, and sixth over fences and finished fifth under saddle. For her win with Balin, Schatt was presented with the Pin Oak Farm Perpetual Trophy.

Balin is a star in his own right, but sharing a barn with a horse like Bacardi, who Schatt has piloted to multiple division championships over the last year, has kept Balin out of the limelight despite multiple wins in the Green Conformation divisions at last year’s FTI WEF. “Balin is great. It’s hard to be in the same barn as Bacardi. Everybody’s all about Bacardi!” Schatt laughed. “But Balin has always held his own.”

She continued, “Balin has always had to catch up to Bacardi in two ways. He only had one year of Pre-Green, where Bacardi did two. Bacardi’s never really done amateur [divisions] all the time, whereas Balin has always had to do both. Balin is just one you can always count on, no matter where you go.”

Balin will get the chance to step into the spotlight on Saturday night. Schatt has decided to leave Bacardi in the barn and let Balin shine. It’s exciting for every rider to qualify for the Saturday evening Hunter Spectacular, but Schatt was especially pleased with Balin’s performance after she asked owner Sadlo to let her show the gelding during FTI WEF 6.

“I had to beg her to let me show him here. She lives in Atlanta, and she was supposed to fly down yesterday. With the ice and everything, they’d already cancelled her flight on Monday. So she was like ‘I can’t come, so what if we just wait and show him Week 7?’ So I had to be like ‘Please? It’s Hunter Week!’” Schatt recounted.

Schatt continued, “She was ecstatic when I called her and told her. It was nice that it worked out!”

Schatt, like all the professional riders qualified thus far, is also looking forward to increased prize money for this year’s Hunter Spectacular. At an impressive $100,000, it’s on par with USHJA International Derby Finals (Lexington, Ky.)

“I think it’s great for the hunters. Any time we can get more money going is good, especially for this kind of class. It’s only open to champion and reserves, and it’s a special thing and a special night,” Schatt commented.

The Performance Hunter divisions wrapped up competition on Thursday evening. The CWD Performance 3’6” Hunter division was split due to the number of entries, ultimately pinning two division champions. Come Monday, owned by Davlyn Farms, Inc., and ridden by Tara Metzner, were champions of Section A after winning the under saddle and placing fourth, first, and third over fences. The reserve champion was Fonteyn, ridden by Hayley Barnhill and owned by John & Stephanie Ingram. Barnhll and Fonteyn were third under saddle and first and second over fences.

Section B champion was By The Way, owned by Ruth Kanner and ridden by Jeff Gogul. Gogul rode By The Way to fourth under saddle and two blue ribbon over fences rounds. The Section B reserve champion was Illusion, ridden by Tara Metzner and owned by Dogwood Hill, LLC. Metzner and Illusion were third, second, and fourth over fences.

The Amberway/Kraft KT1 Peformance Hunter 3’3” division was also split, awarding tricolor honors in Section A to Caliber, owned by Laura Karet and ridden by Hayley Barnhill. Barnhill piloted Caliber to a first place finish under saddle and fourth and third place ribbons over fences. The reserve champion for Section A was Smiles, ridden by Havens Schatt and owned by Bruce Duchossios. Schatt and Smiles won the under saddle and were second in two over fences rounds.

The Section B division champion was Rookie, owned by Belhaven Stables, LLC. Tim Goguen was in the irons and rode Rookie to second under saddle and first, second, and third over fences. The reserve champion in Section B was Endeavor, ridden by Christopher Payne and owned by Hunt Tosh. Payne and Endeavor were third under saddle before jumping to first, third, second, and third place finishes.

WCHR competition will continue on Friday in the International Arena with championships for the Amateur-Owner 3’3” Hunter divisions and the start of the Amateur-Owner 3’6” Hunters and junior hunter divisions.

Farrington and Blue Angel Fly to Win

It was a win for Kent Farrington (USA) and Blue Angel in the $34,000 Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup Round 6. Held as a speed class, the pair topped the two fastest times both held by Ireland’s Kevin Babington, who finished second and third respectively with Shorapur and Mark Q.

Great Britain’s Richard Jeffery is the course designer at The Stadium at PBIEC for week six competition and set a challenging speed track for 74 competitors in Thursday’s $34,000 Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup Round 6 with 14 clear rounds. Kevin Babington and Mark Q were the first pair to clear the course, fifth to go, with a time of 75.34 seconds that held on to the lead for most of the class to eventually finish third. Fifty-seven rounds later, it was Babington again who beat his own time to move into the lead with Shorapur in 72.91 seconds. It looked like the rider might have a one-two finish on his hands, but Kent Farrington got the edge with Robin Parsky’s Blue Angel to win it in 71.51 seconds with just four horses left to go.

Kent Farrington and Blue Angel

Kent Farrington and Blue Angel

Farrington and Blue Angel have developed a great partnership and are no strangers to the winner’s circle. The rider noted that the day’s tight speed track suited his horse quite well in addition to the advantage of going at the very end. Blue Angel is a 2002 Anglo European mare by Luidam x Ascendant.

“I saw Kevin’s first horse go,” Farrington noted. “Kevin is a great rider; I thought he had a really competitive round to start, but I had an advantage there going at the end. I have a very fast horse, so for her it is kind of just doing her round and knowing if there is something incredible that she has to do. I thought today the course really suited her. In the small arena, her natural speed just kind of carried her around all by itself.”

“I think generally the horse is very fast across the ground,” Farrington said of his winning round. “I did the leave-out strides the same as everybody else. I think she had a great turn to the skinny fence and a great rollback to the last line, that’s probably where she made up the time. When there’s a small ring like that and all of the horses have to do more or less the same track, it is an advantage to be on a handy horse like that, that has natural foot speed. You are already going to be a second up on everybody just with the horse’s gallop.”

“It is a very consistent horse,” the rider described. “She has been a great addition to my team of horses and she is a real winner. She is an opinionated mare like most of the good mares are. She has a little bit her own way of going and the way she wants to do things. I think now, I know her well enough that we sort of have an agreement of terms, a little bit my way and a little bit her way, and it works out pretty well.”

In addition to the prize money in Thursday’s class, Farrington earned a special $3,000 bonus as part of the SSG ‘Go Clean for the Green’ promotion for wearing his SSG ‘Digital’ Riding Gloves. Each week of the Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup Series, a $3,000 bonus will be awarded to the winning rider if they are wearing SSG ‘Digital’ Riding Gloves in all rounds of competition with the SSG logo clearly visible.

Farrington plans to show Blue Angel again in Friday night’s $84,000 Salamander Hotels & Resorts Valentine’s Grand Prix CSI 3* and will then bring her back out for CSIO week.

Kent Farrington and Blue Angel in their winning presentation with SSG Gloves representative Jennifer Ward and ringmaster Gustavo Murcia

Kent Farrington and Blue Angel in their winning presentation with SSG Gloves representative Jennifer Ward and ringmaster Gustavo Murcia

Although he got beat in the end, Kevin Babington had a great day with his second and third place finishes aboard Shorapur and Mark Q, and spoke about each of his mounts.

“It’s never over until Kent has gone,” Babington admitted. “I was very surprised that Mark Q’s time held up as long as it did. It was a careful course and those table A speeds always end up harder than you think. He tried really hard today, but I knew there were a few places that they could catch me. It just turned out that a lot of the very fast ones had faults, so it just kind of worked out.”

“When I went on my younger horse, it’s her first time really moving up to this level here in Florida, so she really impressed me that she was able to go as fast as she did,” Babington noted. “She is naturally a faster horse than Mark Q. She is fast across the air, she is just learning to turn a little better.”

Shorapur, a 2005 Hanoverian mare by Stakkato Gold x Drosselklang II, did the eight-year-old young jumper classes last year and moved up to some national grand prix classes this summer, but Babington is taking his time with her. “I have really high hopes for that horse,” the rider stated. “My plan down here is just to keep her in the 1.50m and not do Saturday night classes, but we are just playing it by ear right now.”

“She is quite sensitive,” Babington detailed. “She is very much a mare, but she is leveling out in the ring. She was very hot when I first got her. She likes you to sit a little bit quiet, and I ride her without a spur. She has so much scope and she is extremely careful, so I am just trying not to move too fast with her and not move her up the ranks too fast. She is the kind of horse you could easily do that because she is so brave, but she is also extremely careful, so I have to be careful”

Babington has a list of great achievements with his more experienced partner, Mark Q, a 2002 Irish Sport Horse gelding by Obos Quality 004 x Positively. He explained that although it is a comfortable relationship, the horse always keeps things interesting. “He is a different kettle of fish,” Babington laughed. “He comes out and you never know what hat he is going to have on. The first week I jumped him down here he was too strong and then I thought he jumped extremely well last week, but I over bridled him. On Sunday I did him in the 1.50m and put him back in a softer bridle and he was fantastic, and he was really good today, so I think I have the bridle sorted out now.”

“He has never felt better in his body,” Babington added. “He feels very strong and straight. I am hoping he has turned the corner. He was always weaker on one side, and it just took a long time to get him balanced. He is quite opinionated, so he doesn’t allow you to train him much, but he is getting better all the time. He is eleven this year, so he has matured a lot. I love that horse; he keeps me thinking.”

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

Final Results: $34,000 Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup Round 6

1. BLUE ANGEL: 2002 AES mare by Luidam x Ascendant
KENT FARRINGTON (USA), Robin Parsky: 0/71.51

2. SHORAPUR: 2005 Hanoverian mare by Stakkato Gold x Drosselklang II
KEVIN BABINGTON (IRL), Shorapur LLC: 0/72.91

3. MARK Q: 2002 Irish Sport Horse gelding by Obos Quality 004 x Positively
KEVIN BABINGTON (IRL), Kevin Babington: 0/75.34

4. ZZ TOP VH SCHAARBROEK Z: 2001 Zangersheide gelding by Zandor Z x Latus I
EMANUEL ANDRADE (VEN), Hollow Creek Farm: 0/75.67

5. CAFINO: 2003 Swedish Warmblood gelding by Cardento 933 x Roderik 856
ALEXANDER ZETTERMAN (SWE), Alexander Zetterman: 0/76.04

6. ROCKY W: 1998 KWPN gelding by Libero H x Corofino
KAITLIN CAMPBELL (USA), Kaitlin Campbell: 0/76.85

7. DAKOTA: 2003 Belgian Warmblood mare by Calvados Ex Sable Rose x Cash
PAIGE JOHNSON (USA), Salamander Farm: 0/77.90

8. BAN BAN: 2001 stallion
JUAN MANUEL GALLEGO (COL), Aurelio Piedrahita: 0/78.47

9. HELLO SUNSHINE: 2006 Belgian Warmblood gelding by Diamant de Semilly x Hardi
SCOTT BRASH (GBR), Lord & Lady Harris/Lord & Lady Kirkham: 0/79.07

10. ANEMONE’S VICKY: 2002 KPWN mare by Krunch de Breve x Animo
HECTOR FLORENTINO (DOM), Stransky’s Mission Farms, Inc: 0/79.11

11. CEONTO: 2001 Holsteiner gelding by Cassini I
KAREN CUDMORE (CAN), Blair Cudmore: 0/79.48

12. CISCO’S ZIDANE: 2004 KWPN mare by Lupicor x Baloubet du Rouet
ROOSJE BROUWER (NED), Stal Thijssen BV: 0/81.15

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.