Sunday, March 29, 2009

Jennifer Alfano & Jersey Boy Win $50,000 USJA International Hunter Derby at Palm Beach Saturday Night

Photo: Jennifer Alfano and Jersey Boy on their winning ride at the USHJA International Hunter Derby at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center Saturday. Photo: © 2009 Ken Braddick

WELLINGTON, Fla., Mar. 28--Jennifer Alfano and Jersey Boy won the richest ASG Software Solutions/USHJA International Hunter Derby Saturday night when they triumphed over a record number of entries to win the $50,000 class at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center.
Alfano of Buffalo, N.Y. held on to the lead she established in the first of two rounds of competition to return for the final to post her second straight victory in the multi-year nationwide series. The derby is a highlight of the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival and caps 12 weeks of world class jumper, hunter, equitation and dressage competition at the world's largest and longest running horse show.
Kelley Farmer of Keswick, Va., and Early Applause--winners of the AHJF Hunter Spectacular Classic at PBIEC just six weeks earlier--moved up to finish second from their fifth place after the first round. It was their first International Hunter Derby.
Scott Stewart of Wellington, Fla. placed third on the veteran gray Grand Prix Carlos Boy after he retired on Castlewalk, on whom he had been in second place after the first round.
A record 66 combinations started the first round of the final under lights in the showcase International Arena before a crowd estimated at 3,000 that was broadcast live over the Internet and will be broadcast in high definition on WHDT in South Florida on Sunday at 9 p.m.
The class was preceded by the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival Parade of Champions in which the circuit champions paraded in the International Arena for photos for posterity.
The riders in the derby complimented the course by designer Bobby Murphy of Lexington, Ky. for presentng challenges with a rock field with geese at the start of a course that laid out the different elements of the derby.
Alfano said of her round: "Jersey Boy is coming into his own. He is only seven years old and is starting to step up.
*There were a lot of challenges tonight. My horse is looky at things on the ground, like the rock field. Those things are more difficult than the jumping..."
Farmer said: *I knew I had to be bold."
She praised her horse as "amazing" who was "great under the lights and has proved himself."
Randy Mullins, a member of the judging panel, said it *so special to judge this class, it brings out the beauty, scope and elegance of the sport."

Ken Braddick - Director of Communications
Equestrian Sport Productions, LLC
14440 Pierson Rd., Wellington, FL 33414

Saturday, March 28, 2009

2009 FTI Winter Equestrian Festival Champions
Parade of Champions Saturday Night, Mar. 28

WELLINGTON, Fla., Mar. 27--The 2009 FTI Winter Equestrian Festival Parade of Champions will be held at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center Saturday night, Mar. 28.
The parade will be broadcast live on the Internet at beginning at 6:30 p.m. Eastern US time (2230 GMT) before the ASG Software Solutions/USHJA International Hunter Derby final round.
Ken Braddick - Director of Communications
Equestrian Sport Productions, LLC
14440 Pierson Rd., Wellington, FL 33414

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Photos: McLain Ward and Sapphire, Nick Skelton and Nemo 119, Todd Minikus and FTI Rider Challenge winners McLain Ward, Beezie Madden and Charlie Jayne with Dennis Shaughnessy, FTI Chief Executive Officer. All photos" © 2009 Ken Braddick

McLain Ward & Sapphire Win $400,000 FTI Finale Grand Prix CSI 5*
Todd Minikus Takes $200,000 FTI Rider Challenge at Palm Beach

WELLINGTON, Fla., Mar. 21--Olympic double gold medalist McLain Ward and Sapphire won the biggest purse in his career Saturday night by capturing the $400,000 FTI Consulting Finale CSI 5* Grand Prix Saturday night at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center.
Todd Minikus of Wellington won the $200,000 FTI Rider Challenge in a double header event that made the total purse the largest pay day in U.S. jumping history.
The finale grand prix of the 12 weeks of the FTI Winter Equestrian at PBIEC that has undergone a multimillion dollar makeover was a dramatic highlight of the world's longest and largest horse show with prize money approaching $6 million in jumpers, hunters and dressage.
Lauren Hough of Wellington, Fla. who had dominated the circuit-long FTI Rider Challenge withdrew her horse, Quick Study, only hours before the competition due to a slight strain in the high suspensory on the left hind leg, an ailment that veterinarians said could have allowed her to ride. She withdrew "for the sake of the horse," an action that drew unanimous praise.
Despite heavy rain throughout much of the day that stopped just as the first of 35 horse and rider combinations went on the course designed by Guillherme Jorge of Brazil, about 5,000 spectators turned out for the event under lights.
Eight pairs made it to the jump off.
Ward of Brewster, N.Y. and the 14-yeard-old Belgian warmblood mare, owned by Ward and Tom Grossman's Blue Chip Bloodstock, were the fastest in the jump off, posting a time of 41.56 secs., earning them $120,000.
The win was the third in a row for Ward and Sapphire, earning the pair $320,000 at this winter circuit.
Great Britain's Nick Skelton and Nemo 119, owned by Beverly Widdowson, cleared the course in 42.55 secs., earning them second place and $88,000. Venezuela's Pablo Barrios and Lagran, owned by Pablo Barrios and Andres Olivares, rounded out the top three with a time of 43.64 secs., earning them $52,000.
The Finale Grand Prix was the concluding event of the $200,000 FTI Rider Challenge.
After Hough's withdrawal was announced, Ward said: "Lauren made a hard call today. A lesser horseman would have gone. By taking herself out tonight, she took herself out of the bonus."
The fifth place finish tonight by Pavarotti, owned by Todd Minikus LTD., the Wellington resident captured the top spot on the Rider Challenge rankings and $100,000.
Ward was second in the Challenge taking home another $50,000. Third place and $30,000 went to Beezie Madden of Cazenovia, N.Y., the 2008 winner, while fourth place and $20,000 went to Charlie Jayne of Elgin, Ill.
Minikus said of the Challenge: "There's no question you think about it. Tonight was a huge class. It's a high pressure situation."
"My stomach started to turn yesterday. It's a familiar feeling. I was excited for tonight and giddy this afternoon," Ward said of Saturday's class which he ranked as one of the top three victories of his career that includes gold medals on Sapphire at the 2004 and 2008 Olympics.
Skelton, one of the most celebrated riders in show jumping history, said: "I knew McLain was going to take a bit to beat. I think it was a lack of experience on the horse and a trip up by the in-gate. I was going as fast as I could."
Dennis Shaughnessy, Chairman of FTI Consulting, the New York Stock Exchange company that sponsored both the grand prix and the challenge, described his company's involvement:
"At FTI we fix tough problems and people have to trust us.
"I have never seen a sport where you have to have that trust between the horse and rider. That's why this sport is such a good parallel to what we are trying to do."
Minikus said his jump off round was "not smooth enough" but that winning the FTI Rider Challenge is "outstanding."
Ward said the goal for Sapphire is the World Cup Final in Las Vegas April 15-19.
Meantime, he said, he has bought a new farm and home in Wellington for which Saturday night's winnings help to meet the mortgage.
Ken Braddick - Director of Communications
Equestrian Sport Productions, LLC
14440 Pierson Rd., Wellington, FL 33414

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Media Information
Media inquiries, credentials and interviews
Ken Braddick

Tel: 561.793.3684






7:00 p.m. - Pipe Band Marches Around International Arena

7:10 p.m. - 2008 Olympic team gold medal riders, Canadian team silver medal riders, and riders from Great Britain, Russia and Venezuela who participated in the 2008 Games driven around International Arena in four convertible autos in Salute to 2008 Olympians

7:13 p.m. - Winner of Braman Motorcars WEF Challenge Cup Series presented with keys to BMW 323i Convertible

7:26 p.m. - Rodeo queen with Stars and Stripes leads parade of cars, stilt walkers and clowns in International Arena

7:28 p.m. - National Anthem

7:30 p.m. - First horse on course

9:30 p.m. (approx.) - Awards:

$400,000 FTI Finale Grand Prix
$200,000 FTI Rider Challenge

Media parking passes are available at the PBIEC media center

For more information, please call Ken Braddick 561.214.2672 or email

DIRECTIONS: From the Florida Turnpike south, take Exit #93, Lake Worth Blvd., and travel west, crossing over US 441. Travel five miles to South Shore Blvd., turn right on South Shore and proceed one mile to Pierson Road, then turn left at the light. Spectator Entrance is first left, Equestrian Club Road.

From Interstate I-95, take Exit #49. Travel west on Forest Hills Blvd. 11 miles to South Shore Blvd. Turn left on

Friday, March 20, 2009

Top Show Jumpers Vie for $600,000 at FTI Winter Equestrian Festival FTI Finale Grand Prix CSI5*

WELLINGTON, Fla., Mar. 19--Forty of the world's top riders, including 17 Olympians, will jump for $600,000 at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center on Saturday night, Mar. 21.
FTI Consulting is sponsoring the $400,000 Finale Grand Prix CSI 5* at the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival which is also the final event of the $200,000 FTI Rider Challenge.
The Grand Prix is the richest ever held in Wellington and, combined with the Rider Challenge, will make it the richest pay day in USA jumping. Guillherme Jorge of Brazil, the course designer for the 2005 and 2007 FEI World Cup Finals in Las Vagas, has designed the Finale course.
There will be a Salute to 2008 Olympians, a parade of convertible autos to carry around the International Arena three riders from the USA's gold medal team, Beezie Madden, McLain Ward and Laura Kraut, three from the Canadian silver medal team, Eric Lamaze, Ian Millar and Mac Cone, two from Great Britain, Nick Skelton and Ben Maher, plus individual riders Ljubov Kochetova of Russia and Pablo Barrios of Venezuela.
A family festival with face painters, bounce house, street performers and a pipe and drum band will begin an hour before the first horse is scheduled to enter the ring at 7:30 p.m.
The event is a highlight of 12 weeks of WEF that ends on Sunday, March 29.
Riders from 11 nations have earned points at each week's grand prix events to qualify to be one of the 40 starting combinations.
The winner will earn $120,000, $88,000 for second, $52,000 for third with payment down to 12th place of $8,000.
Those same grand prix plus 11 weeks of the WEF Challenge Cup have been used to earn points for the FTI Rider Challenge in which $100,000 is awarded to the winner, $50,000 for second place, $30,000 for third place and $20,000 for fourth.
Sydney 2000 Olympian Lauren Hough of Wellington finished at the top of the qualifying list and is also at the top of the latest FTI Rider Challenge standings with two competitions to go. In second place in both standings is Rodrigo Pessoa of Brazil, the 2004 individual Olympic gold medalist, while 2004 and 2008 Olympic team gold medal winner Beezie Madden of Cazenovia, N.Y. is in third place in the rider challenge. She won the title in 2008.
The Finale Grand Prix will be broadcast live on the Internet at for $19.95.
It will also be televised on Sunday on WHDT Channel 44 throughout the counties of Palm Beach, Broward and Dade and also available on DirecTV Channel 44 and Comcast Cable Channel 438 in Palm Beach and ATT Channel 1044 in Dade, and WHDN Channel 26 and ATT Channel 26 in the Boston area.
For more information and VIP seating reservations telephone 561.793.5867 or go to
The official poster of the FTI Finale Grand Prix
Ken Braddick - Director of Communications
Equestrian Sport Productions, LLC
14440 Pierson Rd., Wellington, FL 33414