Wellington, FL – February 4, 2017 – The team of riders Shane Sweetnam, Lindsey Tomeu, and Sedona Chamblee, team sponsors Spy Coast & Preston, and corporate sponsor Equine Tack & Nutritionals earned the top prize of $150,000 for their charity, Urban Youth Impact, on Saturday night in the 8th annual Great Charity Challenge, presented by Fidelity Investments®, at the 2017 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF).

Also competing at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in Wellington, FL, on Saturday, 2016 U.S. Olympic silver medalist Kent Farrington won the $35,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic riding Sherkan d’Amaury.

The fourth week of WEF competition, sponsored by Ariat®, concludes on Sunday, February 5, featuring the $216,000 Ariat® Grand Prix CSI 4* on the grass derby field at Equestrian Village. Live streaming of the event can be seen HERE. The 12-week WEF circuit continues through April 2, 2017, awarding over $9 million in prize money.

Palm Beach International Equestrian Center was a packed house on Saturday night as spectators cheered on teams in the Great Charity Challenge, presented by Fidelity Investments®, which has donated more than $10 million to Palm Beach County charities in eight years.

Palm Beach International Equestrian Center was a packed house on Saturday night as spectators cheered on teams in the Great Charity Challenge, presented by Fidelity Investments®, which has donated more than $10 million to Palm Beach County charities in eight years.

The 2017 GCC donated a record $1.5 million to 35 local Palm Beach County charities, bringing the eight-year total up to $10.7 million distributed through the event to date. The winning charity received the top prize of $150,000, with a sliding scale for the balance of the proceeds down to 35th place, which wins $15,000.

The competition is held as a pro-am team relay with each team made up of junior and amateur riders competing side by side with top professionals. The event also featured a fun theme, as riders (and their horses) dressed up as characters from their favorite animated movies.

Representing Urban Youth Impact, Sweetnam, Tomeu, and Chamblee rode for team sponsor Spy Coast & Preston, and corporate sponsor Equine Tack and Nutritionals dressed as characters from The Flintstones. All three riders cleared the course without fault and clocked the fastest combined time of 85.27 seconds for the win. Sweetnam and Tomeu were also part of the winning team in 2016, while Chamblee was competing in the event for the first time.

The winning team of Sedona Chamblee, Shane Sweetnam, and Lindsay Tomeu

The winning team of Sedona Chamblee, Shane Sweetnam, and Lindsey Tomeu

“It is a fantastic cause, not just for our team, but for a lot of different foundations in the area,” said Sweetnam, who anchored the team as professional rider. “I do not know if there is anything else like it in the country or anywhere really. Every year we try to do our best for whatever cause we are given. Obviously the girls did a great job, and I just finished it off. They were really motoring, so it was great.”

Tomeu (23), who has been competing in the event for the past four years, stated, “Every year we really try hard to win. We put together a good team, and last year we had a great team. We really wanted to step it up and do it again, and we did, which is amazing. We were even faster this year than we were last year, which I did not think was possible. Sedona was fantastic with her switch-off. It was really amazing.”

Chamblee (15) added, “This was my first year doing the Great Charity Challenge, and it was really fun. It was a great experience, and you get to ride for an amazing charity, which is really cool. Like Lindsey said, it was just amazing.”

Shane Sweetnam

Shane Sweetnam

Representing team sponsor Spy Coast Farm, Lisa Lourie commented on her team’s win for the second year in a row.

“I think it is a great way to involve the community here with our sport, as well as for us to give back to the community,” Lourie stated. “It is a win-win for both the community and for us. When we get to be involved with either educational or urban youth organizations, we are especially happy. We are very happy to be involved with Urban Youth Impact.”

Team sponsor Monica Preston added, “I am so proud to be a part of this group, and it is really wonderful that a small charity can benefit so greatly. I am so proud of the riders, and thank you to Lisa for getting me involved in this event.”

Lindsay Tomeu

Lindsey Tomeu

Charity winner Urban Youth Impact’s mission is to love, equip, and empower inner-city youth and their parents to fulfill their God-given purpose. Representing the organization, volunteer Sarah Armada detailed, “It is an organization that provides a safe place for kids to go after school. They get reading support; they get the arts. There is African drumming and ballet. There are things that these children would not be otherwise exposed to. They do so much for the community, and I think this is a great way to get their name out there and just provide them with all of the resources that those kids so desperately need. This is going to make a huge difference.”

Armada continued, “It is all about building their capacity and letting the kids feel empowered and equipped so that they can go out and be successful in their community.”

Sedona Chamblee

Sedona Chamblee

Adopt a Family was the second wildcard draw of the night, and ended up in second place overall, with riders Sydney Shulman, Lilli Hymowitz, and Hannah Patten representing the charity. Team sponsor the Patten family and corporate sponsor H5 Stables supported the riders, dressed as characters from Lilo & Stitch, with a combined time of 94.02 seconds.

Representing the charity Hepzibah House, Canadian Olympian Tiffany Foster, and amateur riders Alexandra Crown and Alexandra Welles, placed third. Dressed as My Little Ponies and riding for team sponsor the Crown family and corporate sponsor Stone Hill Farm, all three ladies jumped their courses without fault and clocked a combined time of 97.47 seconds.

The top three teams representing Urban Youth Impact, Adopt a Family, and Hepzibah House.

The top three teams representing Urban Youth Impact, Adopt a Family, and Hepzibah House.

GCC co-founder Paige Bellissimo was thrilled with the success of the eighth annual event and praised everyone involved on a fantastic evening of sport and charitable giving.

“It is really special year after year to have so many great riders participating in the event,” Bellissimo stated. “It is amazing that people donate their time to give back. The executive directors of all of the charity organizations are the lifeblood of these communities, and it is just really amazing that we can all come together to support the community and see it grow. I want to thank the riders and the sponsors. Thank you Lisa and Monica for supporting year after year. It is so cool to see the charities and everyone’s unique way of helping. Urban Youth Impact is empowering our youth, and the youth are our future, so thanks go to them for everything they do.”

Farrington Tops Suncast® 1.50m

2016 U.S. Olympic team silver medalist Kent Farrington was the winner of week four’s $35,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic on Saturday at the Winter Equestrian Festival riding Sherkan d’Amaury. Jumping a track set by course designer Steve Stephens (USA), Farrington topped a class of 29 entries and an eight-horse jump-off.

Kent Farrington and Sherkan d'Amaury

Kent Farrington and Sherkan d’Amaury

Sherkan d’Amaury, an 11-year-old Selle Francais gelding (Kannan x Quick Star) owned by Farrington, Haity McNerney, and Daniel Crown, carried his rider to victory in a time of 39.54 seconds over the short course. Shane Sweetnam (IRL) took second and third place honors, riding the Blue Buckle Group’s Cobolt through the timers in 39.92 seconds, and stopping the clock in 40.56 seconds aboard Sweet Oak Farm and Seabrook LLC’s Main Road. Canada’s Beth Underhill finished fourth, riding Sandy Lupton’s Count Me In to a clear round over the jump-off track in 40.59 seconds.

Remarking on his winning round with Sherkan d’Amaury, Farrington stated, “For him, I just did what I thought his strengths were. I think what won the class today was the leave-out to the last fence. He has a very big stride and big scope, and he is so careful that he is actually better if I am catching every jump accelerating, or out of rhythm. I think that is where we got it today.

“I think a lot of this horse,” Farrington continued. “I had him last year, and then he had a terrible colic surgery, and he just started showing this winter two weeks ago. The first class in the week he was third, and then yesterday he was second, and today he won, so he is really on the mend and I’m happy to have him back.”

Sherkan d’Amaury has a fast pace and a unique way of going that suits Farrington’s strengths as a rider.

“He is my style. He is super careful, which I try to find in all of the horses I buy,” Farrington stated. “I try to get extreme quality, and sometimes that works against me, but in the end I think that is the way you get the best horses. They tend to be a little bit the weirdos. They are spooky and not always the easiest to ride, but that often goes hand-in-hand with an extreme horse that has that kind of blood and that kind of carefulness. It is a double-edged sword, but that is what I like to ride.”

Kent Farrington and Sherkan d'Amaury in their winning presentation with ringmaster Steve Rector and Lauren Tisbo of Suncast®.

Kent Farrington and Sherkan d’Amaury in their winning presentation with ringmaster Steve Rector and Lauren Tisbo of Suncast®.

Sherkan d’Amaury is just getting back in top form and Farrington will continue developing him throughout the winter circuit.

“I think he can jump anything,” the rider noted. “It is just a matter of building him the right way, and seeing where his confidence is, and what his body is ready for. He came off of a long gap there not doing anything all last year, so we’ll see where he goes. It is a long winter and we have lots of time to build him up, so I am looking forward to it.”

Also competing in the International Arena on Saturday, Sarah Bagworth and Goldfinder vd Hengstenpoel won the $15,000 SJHOF High Amateur-Owner Classic, presented by Engel & Völkers.

Staszak Captures Beval Palm Beach Adult Medal Victory

The Beval Palm Beach Adult Medal concluded Saturday morning with Catie Staszak of Boynton Beach, FL, emerging as the winner. Staszak shows in the Adult Amateur Medals while also focusing on her career as a multimedia sports journalist. All 11 competitors participated in a jumping and a flat phase.

Catie Staszak and Agnes Augusta

Catie Staszak and Agnes Augusta

“Flatwork has typically been my weakness,” Staszak detailed. “The jumping phase felt phenomenal. Everything worked out well and was smooth, which is key. It wasn’t the most technical course, so it was really about position and keeping on a nice rhythm.”

Staszak was aboard Agnes Augusta, a 12-year-old Swedish Warmblood mare owned by East Wind Farm, LLC. The pair has been partnered together for about four years.

“We just click,” Staszak explained. “She’s really sensitive, and I’m a very soft rider so we get along well. She’s come so far, especially in the past year. I couldn’t be prouder of her. She’s really special, and I love her to death.”

Staszak rode in the equitation classes as a junior, but took a break from showing to get her degree in broadcast journalism at the University of Miami. She does grand prix commentary for live streaming events, which combines for a career of two of her passions – horses and journalism.

Rounding out the top three competitors were Sara Ballinger taking second place and Elissa Davis being awarded third place.

Catie Staszak and Agnes Augusta in their winning presentation with Christina Hearn from Beval Saddlery.

Catie Staszak and Agnes Augusta in their winning presentation with Christina Hearn from Beval Saddlery.

The fourth week of WEF concludes on Sunday with the $216,000 Ariat® Grand Prix CSI 4* on the grass derby field at Equestrian Village. The Bruno DelGrange Large Junior Hunter 16-17 division will award championship and reserve honors in the Rost Arena. For full results, please visit www.PBIEC.com.

Final Results: 8th Annual Great Charity Challenge, presented by Fidelity Investments®

TEAMS DONATIONS Charity Team Sponsor Corporate Sponsor Riders Time
1 $150,000.00 Urban Youth Impact SpyCoast & Preston Equine Tack & Nutritionals LINDSEY TOMEU 85.272
2 $125,000.00 Adopt a Family Patten Family H5 Stables HANNAH PATTEN 94.024
3 $100,000.00 Hepzibah House Crown Family Stone Hill Farm ALEX CROWN 97.478
4 $85,000.00 Paws 4 Liberty Poden Farm Dona Nives EMILY MOFFITT 97.704
5 $75,000.00 Florence Fuller Child Development Lothlorien Two Swans Farm DANIEL COYLE 97.713
6 $65,000.00 The Unicorn Children’s Foundation Pine Hollow Chronicle of the Horse GRACE DE LA GUERONNIERE 97.907
7 $55,000.00 Community Child Care Center of Delray Swede Ventures Benjamin Family ADRIENNE STERNLICHT 98.08
8 $50,000.00 Wycliffe Charities Foundation Wight Family Valliere SAMANTHA WIGHT 98.106
9 $45,000.00 Grandma’s Place Rose Hill Farm Diamante Dressage (Teri Kane) SYDNEY SHULMAN 98.727
10 $40,000.00 Children’s Home Society of FL Evergate Stables Artemis Farm CLEMENTINE GOUTAL 98.816
11 $37,500.00 Nonprofits First Louisburg Farm Meralex ANDREA CORREA 98.999
12 $32,500.00 Wellington Cares Dammerman & Little Memorial Sexton Engineering SCHUYLER RILEY 100.087
13 $30,000.00 Holy Ground Shelter for Homeless Goshen Hill Bluman Equestrian ALEXA SCHWITZER 101.405
14 $28,000.00 Light House Café Ministries H5 Riders Shaughnessy Family ABBY GRABOWSKI 101.568
15 $26,000.00 Families First of PBC Starwyn Farm Wiseman & Associates BROOKE GUNTHER 101.913
16 $25,000.00 Palm Beach Habilitation Center EnVisian Products Team Frontier Golf DANIELLE TORNAO 102.378
17 $24,000.00 Gold Coast Down Syndrome Org. Gierkink Family Strauss CORMAC HANLEY 103.762
18 $23,500.00 Junior League of Boca Raton McCahill Family Bank of America GRACE JORDAN 104.093
19 $23,000.00 The Soup Kitchen Schaufeld Family Newstead Farm HAYLEY SCHAUFELD 104.674
20 $22,500.00 The ARC of the Glades Mershad Family Branca GABRIELLE MERSHAD 105.015
21 $22,000.00 Step by Step Foundation Southern Arches Enterprise Holdings MADELYN PORTER 105.202
22 $21,500.00 Helping Hands Assistance Program Mershad Family Havensafe Farm OLIVER MCCARTHY 105.7
23 $21,000.00 The Glades Initiative Van Kampen Foundation Fidelity Investments HANA BIELING 105.941
24 $20,500.00 Rotary Club of Wellington Green River Salamander MCKAYLA LANGMEIER 107.128
25 $20,000.00 Equestrian Aid Foundation Kerkorian & Treacy Palm Beach Equine Clinic KIRA KERKORIAN 107.817
26 $19,500.00 JARC Florida Trelawny Farm Coleman CARA RAETHER 108.665
27 $19,000.00 Horses Healing Hearts Marrinan & Rotondo Gold Coast Feed NINA ROTONDO 110.639
28 $18,500.00 PBC Motorcyclists Toys for Tots Creel Family Hallman SAM RAMSAY 112.63
29 $18,000.00 Literacy Coalition of PBC Gochman Family Rosenbaum Mollengarden SOPHIE GOCHMAN 113.693
30 $17,500.00 Cancer Alliance of Help and Hope Peacock Ridge East Coast Lightning NIKKI SIMPSON 119.846
31 $17,000.00 Wellington PTO/PTA/PTSA Skyline Stables La Victoria Farm ANDREA HIPPEAU 120.237
32 $16,500.00 Genesis Assistance Dogs Solic Capital Marron SARAH TREDENNICK 121.944
33 $16,000.00 Farmworker Coordinating Council Kamine Family Dever Golf Carts OLIVIA NOTMAN 123.375
34 $15,500.00 Take Stock in Children Bellissimo Family Lugano NICOLE BELLISSIMO 129.738
35 $15,000.00 Jeff Industries McCaw Family Sunningdale ALISE OKEN 151.738

Additional Grants Awarded:

$10,000 – Legal Aid Society

Little League Grants:
$6,000 – Colts Travel Baseball
$5,000 – Wellington Wrestling
$4,000 – WCFL
$3,000 – Wellington Wolves Basketball
$2,000 – Wizards Youth Rugby

Randomly Drawn Grants:
$5,000 – Kids Safe Foundation
$5,000 – Feed the Hungry Pantry
$2,500 – P.B. Agency on Aging
$2,500 – Junior Achievement of Palm Beaches and Treasure Coast
$1,000 – The Arc of Palm Beach County
$1,000 – Delray Students First

Grand Prix Society/Ziegler Foundation Grants:
$5,000 – Adopt a Family of the Palm Beaches
$5,000 – Area Agency on Aging Palm Beach County
$5,000 – Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Palm Beach and Martin Counties
$5,000 – Boys and Girls Club of Palm Beach County
$5,000 – Florence Fuller Child Development Centers
$5,000 – Habitat for Humanity of Palm Beach
$5,000 – Literacy Coalition of Palm Beach County
$5,000 – Palm Beach County ARC
$5,000 – Palm Beach County Food Bank
$5,000 – YMCA of South Palm Beach County

Paige Bellissimo Outstanding Charity Award:
$25,000 – Place of Hope

Team Costume Awards, presented by Wellington Equestrian Realty:
1. $5,000 – Glades Initiative/Van Kampen Foundation/Fidelity Investments®/Todd Minikus/Peyton Utset/Hana Bieling

2. $3,000 – Achievement Centers for Children & Families/Swede Ventures/Benjamin Family/Adrienne Sternlicht/Mattias Tromp/Ava Stearns

3. $2,000 – Horses Healing Hearts/Marrinan & Rotondo/Gold Coast Feed & Supply/Jennifer Hannan/Ally Marrinan/Nina Rotondo

Best Team Spirit – $2,000 – Palm Beach Habilitation Center/En Visian Products Team/Frontier Golf/Jimmy Torano/Danielle Torano/Sam Walker

Best Horse Presentation – $2,000 – Take Stock In Children Palm Beach County/Bellissimo Family/Lugano/Jonathan Corrigan/Nicole Bellissimo/Teagan Long

Runner-up Best Horse Presentation – $1,000 – Paws 4 Liberty Inc./Poden Farm/Dona Nives/Jessica Mendoza/Emily Moffitt/Sophie Gracida

Groom’s bonus – $1,000 – Take Stock In Children Palm Beach County/Bellissimo Family/Lugano/Jonathan Corrigan/Nicole Bellissimo/Teagan Long

Wellington Public Schools Chalk Art Festival:
Most Creative – $1,000: Palm Beach Central High School
Most Inspiring – $1,000: Wellington Landings Middle School
Best Representation of WEF – $1,000: Emerald Cove Middle School
Best Overall – $1,000: Okeeheelee Middle School

Final Results: $35,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic

1. SHERKAN D’AMAURY: 2006 Selle Francais gelding by Kannan x Quick Star
KENT FARRINGTON (USA), Kent Farrington, Haity McNerney, and Daniel Crown: 0/0/39.54

2. COBOLT: 2006 Swedish Warmblood gelding by Cyklon 1083 x Camaro M
SHANE SWEETNAM (IRL), Shane Sweetnam & The Blue Buckle Group: 0/0/39.92

3. MAIN ROAD: 2008 Swedish Warmblood gelding by Heartbeat x Irco Marco
SHANE SWEETNAM (IRL), Sweet Oak Farm and Seabrook, LLC: 0/0/40.56

4. COUNT ME IN: 2007 Hanoverian gelding by Count Grannus x Sherlock Holmes
BETH UNDERHILL (CAN), Sandy Lupton: 0/0/40.59

5. SUPER CHILLED: 2008 Irish Sport Horse gelding by Gelvin Clover
KEVIN BABINGTON (IRL), Kevin Babington: 0/0/41.87

6. BUGATTI: 2006 KWPN gelding by Heartbreaker x Pilot
WILHELM GENN (GER), Eduardo Leon: 0/0/42.24

7. QUIDAMS QUIT 2: 2006 Oldenburg gelding by Quidam’s Rubin x Carthago
GABRIELA MERSHAD (USA), Mershad Stables LLC: 0/0/45.14

8. JACKIE BROWN 4: 2008 Hanoverian mare by Lord Pezi x Grandeur
MEREDITH MICHAELS-BEERBAUM (GER), Artemis Equestrian Farm LLC: 0/4/41.62

9. BROKEN HEART: 2006 KWPN gelding by Concorde x Heartbreaker
JEFFERY WELLES (USA), Herbert Sambol: 4/75.03

10. NENUPHAR’JAC: 2001 Selle Francais gelding by Cumano x Pidayack
IGNACIO MAURIN (ARG), Stransky’s Mission Farms Inc: 4/75.68

11. CELLAGON CORRAY: 2007 Holstiener gelding by Caretino x Corrado I
PEDRO MUYLAERT (BRA), Stenio da Silva: 4/76.68

12. BIJZONDER: 2006 KWPN gelding by Acodetto I x Quite Easy I
LACEY GILBERTSON (USA), Seabrook LLC: 4/77.56

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