Week eleven of the 2014 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival (FTI WEF), sponsored by Artisan Farms LLC, concluded on Sunday with jumper action on the grass derby field at The Stadium at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC). Sweden's Alexander Zetterman and Flecu topped the $50,000 Artisan Farms Young Rider Grand Prix Series Final. Victoria Colvin of Loxahatchee, FL, was the winner of the series overall. Great Britain's Ben Maher won the $84,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic with Diva II. The ASPCA Maclay sponsored by Sidelines Magazine was held in two sections at the main showgrounds, with wins for Rachael Barnes and Tye Donaldson.
Starting off Sunday's competition on the derby field, Sweden's Alexander Zetterman and Flecu jumped to victory in the $50,000 Artisan Farms YoungRiderGrandPrix Series Final, presented by the Dutta Corporation in association with Guido Klatte.
Twenty eight entries showed in the final, with eight entries qualifying for the jump-off and three double clear rounds over the short course. Zetterman and Flecu were the winners with the fastest round in 40.21 seconds. Sarah Hubbard and Chamcara finished second in 42.36 seconds, and Hayley Barnhill and Cara Cheska's Zephire placed third in 43.91 seconds.
Flecu is a ten-year-old Swedish Warmblood gelding by Hip Hop x Flamingo. Zetterman has been showing the horse in bigger classes such as the 1.50m and the WEF Challenge Cup this winter and decided to use the young rider classes to help build the horse's confidence.
"I got him when he was six," Zetterman detailed. "I wasn't overly sure about how far he could go because he has a little bit his own style, but we started off and we won the big seven-year-old young horse final in Falsterbo. He did that very good, and he has been developing along the way. He was just a horse who needed a lot of time to get to the solid 1.50m level, to do it week in and week out. That took an extra year. Last year here, we went up, we went down. We did one 1.50m and then we went down to the 1.40m. We gave him one more year and now he is 10 this year and he has just responded so well. We have never had to play around too much. We have basically been able to go in and do the big stuff, and he has been very good."
"He has been doing quite a lot of tough classes, so it was actually a little bit of a step down for him to do a nice class," the rider noted. "He likes the big grass ring as well, so that was good for him. He is always good in a big field with a lot of galloping. It definitely helps him in the jump-off because he is good at covering the ground."
Building Flecu's confidence definitely paid off in Sunday's jump-off when Zetterman took a big risk to the last fence that worked out in their favor. "I was a little bit nervous I wasn't going to get there," he admitted. "I kind of felt from the turn that I could get there, but then he was kind of backing off too much, so I started kicking and eventually we got there and he was good."
Although he shows in many big grand prix classes against some of the best riders in the world, Zetterman values the opportunity to show amongst his peers and gain valuable experience under a little less pressure.
"It helps you in so many different ways," he noted. "We all know how difficult the step is from being a young rider and then getting into the seniors. To have a class like this every now and then is nice. When you are going into the jump-off for example, if you are in against some of the best riders in the world, you sometimes do a little bit more than what you or your horse is capable to do. You go a little bit over your head sometimes. When you feel that you are in an equal league, then you have a good feeling and you make better decisions. In that way, it is very good; you have a chance at least. Wilton has been amazing in the big classes and Lillie Keenan and all of those riders, but still, getting in against Ben Maher and those riders is not so easy for anyone in the world to do, especially not when you're young."
Zetterman showed in one young rider grand prix last year and decided to get more involved in the series this year when he realized the opportunity that the classes provided. "Many years ago they had a similar series in Europe, but I think for sure this series is a lot better set up," he noted. "It is a little bit like a championship because you have the speed round, a team competition. The team competition was very good out here because you got a bit of atmosphere to it. The semi-final I didn't jump, but the final today was super. It is a fantastic idea, and I think they should do it more in Europe."
Sarah Hubbard, who finished second in Sunday's class with Chamcara, just recently stepped up to the bigger classes and also valued the experience of the series. She is 20 years old and from Cornwall, CT.
"I actually just used her for today. I used my other horse for the speed and the semi-final," Hubbard noted. "I usually use her for the 1.50m and some of the WEF (Challenge Cup) classes. She is really special to me because she has let me move up and do some bigger classes where I have never done anything like that before. It is nice to come in here and jump around on the grass and she was really good. She was really good to me in the jump-off. I kind of got down between jumps nine and ten, and she just tried really hard for me. I am very happy."
Hayley Barnhill (20) of Colliersville, TN, got several new experiences with her mount Zephire in the series and had a great round on Sunday to finish third. "She is 10 this year, and she has never done anything like this before," Barnhill stated. "She jumped 1.35m in Europe. The Cheskas got her this time last year and showed her a little in the 1.35m and 1.40m stuff. I got her in September and did a few 1.40m classes before I came down here, so this has all been a new experience for her and it has been great to test her through everything. She had never jumped under the lights before and she did that great. We haven't ever jumped on a grass field before and she was great out there, so this was a good experience."
"My plan for the jump-off was to go for it a little bit," Barnhill noted. "I know where I could have been faster; I could have done one less after the wall, but I actually haven't done a jump-off on her all circuit. We were a little rusty on some of the turns, but I thought she jumped great and I was really happy with her."
Sunday's class was the final event in the 2014 Artisan Farms Young Rider Grand Prix Series, which also awarded top prizes on Sunday for its overall standings. Sixteen-year-old Victoria Colvin was the series winner for her performance in all four of the series' events. Jordan Macpherson finished second and Wilton Porter placed third. Jennifer Goddard, Hayley Barnhill, and Sarah Hubbard were fourth, fifth and sixth respectively.
As the winning rider of the series, Colvin was awarded free entry to the Chantilly CSI 2* horse show on the Global Champions Tour in France in July, with tickets to the VIP lounge, and transportation provided by the Dutta Corporation in association with Guido Klatte. She was also awarded a custom Bruno delGrange saddle.
"It feels amazing to win," Colvin smiled. "I didn't think I was going to win it. I thought Jordan was going to win it, but I guess my four faults today counted, so that was good. I feel like I have gotten a lot of experience this year. Me and Don Juan are not perfect all of the time, but I think doing all of these classes, and to keep doing them, I think it has gotten a little better."
"We change bits all of the time," she noted of Don Juan. "He is delicate. He is careful, so that's good, but sometimes he is too quiet and sometimes he is too fresh, so we just have to go in and see how he feels that day."
Colvin is excited for the opportunity to travel to Europe for the first time to compete and plans to keep doing what she is doing to get ready. "We will go to the Devon Horse Show and then just keep going until I get there, and we will see what happens. I have never shown in Europe before, so that will be my first time and I am very excited."
Second place finisher Jordan Macpherson (24) is from Toronto, Ontario, and has had great success in this young rider series with her horse Piccobello du Val de Geer.
"Pico is amazing," the rider smiled. "I have had her for four years, and since the first time I stepped in the ring in the young rider series, it has been amazing. I have learned and grown from her. She came out here like a pro and was amazing today. I overachieved the nine-stride a little bit and had a rail, but it happens unfortunately. [My trainers] the Millars are always talking about consistency and if you ride consistent, eventually you will win and start doing well, so I think I have learned that lesson this year."
Wilton Porter (20) of Dallas, TX, also performed consistently with his horse Radio City this year and has earned valuable experience and knowledge throughout the series. "It was a great series," Porter acknowledge. "Radio City was the only horse that I used throughout the series, and she was fantastic. I think the series had a lot more structure to it this year. That's not to say that it wasn't good in the past, but it was really solid on other fronts as well as the jumping this year, with the interview training and the sponsorship opportunity, and I am really thankful to the Zieglers and Dutta Corporation for sponsoring it. This last competition was really special. I think they had a great jump-off. There were just the right number of clears and it ended well."
Final Results: $50,000 Artisan Farms Young Rider Grand Prix Series Final
1. FLECU ALEXANDER ZETTERMAN ALEXANDER ZETTERMAN: 0/0/40.21
2. CHAMCARA SARAH HUBBARD SARAH HUBBARD: 0/0/42.36
3. ZEPHIRE HAYLEY BARNHILL CARA CHESKA: 0/0/43.91
4. RADIO CITY WILTON PORTER SLEEPY P RANCH LLC: 0/4/39.28
5. PICCOBELLO DU VAL DE GEER JORDAN MACPHERSON JEM STABLES INC: 0/4/41.70
6. LUCKY LORD 20 JENNIFER GODDARD STATESIDE FARM LLC: 0/4/44.35
7. LONDINIUM LILLIE KEENAN CHANSONETTE FARM LLC: 0/6/51.40
8. URBAN VIRGINIA INGRAM RIVERVIEW FARM LLC: 0/6/51.61
9. DON JUAN VICTORIA COLVIN BRIGID COLVIN AND KAREN LONG DWIGHT: 4/69.37
10. COSMA 20 ABIGAIL MCARDLE DAVID MCARDLE: 4/70.63
11. OREADE DES DAMES ADRIENNE STERNLICHT STARLIGHT FARMS LLC: 4/72.98
12. WINDE KALVIN DOBBS TREESDALE FARMS: 4/74.08
Source: Press release from Jennifer Wood Media Inc.
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