Brazil's Alvaro de Miranda and AD Rahmannshof's Bogeno jumped to an exciting victory on Saturday night in the $500,000 FTI Consulting Finale Grand Prix CSI 5* at the 2013 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival (FTI WEF). The International Arena at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center saw its biggest crowd ever with a packed house of 8,600 fans in attendance to watch the best of the best from the winter circuit compete in the final event under the lights. Great Britain's Ben Maher and Cella finished second and de Miranda's wife, Athina Onassis de Miranda of Greece, placed third with Camille Z.
Ireland's Alan Wade designed the course for Saturday night's grand prix and set a challenging track for the 40 competitors. Ten entries cleared the first round course without fault to advance to the jump-off and three of those completed clear rounds over the short course in the race for the top prize. Alvaro de Miranda and AD Rahmannshof's Bogeno, owned by de Miranda and Victory Equestrian BV, had the fastest round in 43.96 seconds for the win.
Athina Onassis de Miranda was first to go in the jump-off and put in a steady clear round in 54.46 seconds aboard her horse Camille Z, owned by the rider and Victory Equestrian. Although she was slower than many of the other riders, her controlled approach paid off when most of the combinations had faults in their attempt to put in the fastest round. The pair's clear round finished in third.
Ben Maher and Jane Clark's Cella were the only other pair to complete a clear round in the jump-off and briefly held the lead with their time of 44.88 seconds, but Bogeno and de Miranda soon took over.
Kent Farrington (USA) and Robin Parsky's Blue Angel had the fastest time of the night in 43.52 seconds, but a rail at the last fence left them in fourth. Nick Skelton (GBR) and Beverly Widdowson's Big Star were also extremely fast in 44.21 seconds, but had one rail down to finish fifth.
De Miranda's winning mount, AD Rahmannshof's Bogeno, is a 13-year-old Belgian Sport Horse gelding by Baloubet du Rouet x Elanville. Flying in the jump-off, one of Bogeno's shoes actually flew off halfway through the round, but he went on to jump four more fences and blaze through the finish as if nothing ever happened.
"The jump-off was very good for my horse," the rider stated. "My horse is very quick when you have a long jump-off like that. I tried to go very fast to the wall. I really went as much as I could. I took a lot of risk, but I knew that I had to come into the double holding in seven strides because sometimes if I go too open coming in, I can make a mistake in the second of the double. My horse is so great and that makes my job much easier. He's very good. In the first round sometimes he's a little bit tense, but then in the jump-off he's very calm. When I ride well, normally he is first place."
This is the first time that de Miranda and his wife have placed at the top of a major class together and they were both thrilled. He was especially happy for the improvement that she has made in her riding this year.
"She trains very hard," he stated. "I think it's important to see somebody who really wants to do good. Not only buying good horses, but she really wants to give the best that she can always. She's a hard worker and she loves the horses. She thinks about the horses 99% of her time. When she's awake, she's thinking about horses. It's impossible for her not to succeed because she trains so hard and she loves them."
Commenting on her success, Onassis de Miranda smiled, "My horse was great today. It was really good. I knew they were going to come really fast after me. I knew they would be faster, but I was happy to be close."
Both Alvaro and Athina Onassis de Miranda have been training with legendary former U.S. Chef d'Equipe George Morris. Morris has also been helping Ben Maher with his new mounts for owner Jane Clark. All of the riders gave huge credit to Morris for improving their performances throughout the circuit.
"I would like to thank George Morris very much for all of his support here, especially for Athina," de Miranda stated. "He also has helped me and without his help, I'm sure that it would not be possible to have this great result, especially with my wife."
Second place finisher Ben Maher had a great finish in the class with Cella despite riding with three fractures in his lower back after a fall in the schooling ring last week. He congratulated his fellow competitors and praised his horse for helping him through the night.
"I'm very happy. Congratulations to everybody here," Maher smiled. "It has been a great finish to a great circuit for me. Cella compensated for me tonight. I've had a few injuries this week and I wasn't sure if we were going to ride earlier today. A lot of people have been helping me to make it as comfortable as possible. There were a couple of moments there that if I wasn't riding Cella, I wouldn't be sitting here. I'm very, very lucky to ride her. I just had to adapt my style a little bit to a lighter seat, which Cella thought was fun, but I didn't. She's unbelievable and she really helped me on a couple of jumps tonight."
"I did everything I could in the jump-off; maybe I wasn't as quick as I can be," Maher remarked. "I tried to beat the ones in front of me and Alvaro was just too fast."
Along with the winner's share of $150,000, de Miranda was presented with the brand new Dennis D. Dammerman Perpetual Trophy. The trophy was created to honor the contributions to equestrian sport of Dennis D. Dammerman, a longtime owner of horses and founding member of the Wellington Equestrian Partners.
This was one of de Miranda's biggest wins and he had a great experience during his first time competing in Wellington.
"For sure this was one of the most important wins of my life," he acknowledged. "To have the best riders and the best horses all jump in one class and they're all very fast. It was important especially to have a good program to keep the horse jumping good for the last week. It's also my first time here and I was a little bit lost. When I came and I saw the prize list and I saw all the classes, I didn't know how to fit it. That was what we spoke about with George; a plan about how to get to the last Grand Prix. This horse, I have him for a little bit more than one year, and he has been so nice for me. Every time there's something difficult, I know he's there and he's fighting for me and I'm happy to have so many good horses."
"This was my first time here, even to watch," de Miranda added. "I'm very happy and I hope we can come next year. We look forward to coming again. I'm really, really happy, especially to have good results and leave with good memories."
The $100,000 FTI Consulting Rider Challenge concluded on Saturday night after twelve weeks of jumper competition at the 2013 FTI WEF. Kent Farrington led the standings and earned a $50,000 cut of the bonus money for his success during the circuit. Conor Swail finished in second place to earn $25,000, Reed Kessler was third and received a $15,000 check, and Beezie Madden finished fourth for a $10,000 bonus.
Farrington was second last year and moved up to take the top prize with many great finishes throughout the circuit this year.
"It means I can take home some more money, which is great," Farrington smiled in response to the win. "I was second last year, and I've been telling Dennis Shaugnessy that I was going to take his money one of these years, so finally. It's great to have rider incentives like that. It's a long winter here and any time there are bonuses, it's really exciting for our sport and something we all look to a little bit. I have a good team of horses and I have a great group of owners to thank, along with my staff. It's a big team of people helping that happen."
Several other awards were presented on Saturday for the final week of competition in Wellington. Ben Maher's mount Cella had a fantastic circuit and her owner, Jane Clark, was presented with the Simba Run Perpetual Trophy as the owner of the open jumper who has earned the most prize money in classes held at 1.45m or more during the 2013 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival. Clark was also presented with The Harrison Cup Perpetual Trophy, which is awarded to the owner whose horses won the most jumper money in all of the open jumper classes held throughout the circuit. In addition, Cella's groom Joy Montgomery was presented with the Oliver O'Toole Perpetual Memorial Trophy, which is awarded to the groom of the horse who has earned the most money in the grand prix jumper classes.
Other awards included the Leading Lady Grand Prix Rider for the circuit, which was presented to Reed Kessler on behalf of Martha Jolicoeur of Illustrated Properties in memory of Dale Lawler. Conor Swail received the Niall Grimes Perpetual Trophy as the Irish rider that earned the most money during the week of CSIO competition. Laura Kraut and Woodstock O were presented with the Champion Equine Insurance Jumper Style Award for the overall circuit, which is awarded to the jumper whose style best exemplifies a show jumper based on scope, rideability, technique and competitive spirit.
Final Results: $500,000 FTI Consulting CSI 5* Finale Grand Prix
1. AD RAHMANNSHOF'S BOGENO: 2000 Belgian Sport Horse gelding by Baloubet du Rouet x Elanville
ALVARO DE MIRANDA (BRA), Alvaro De Miranda & Victory Equestrian Sport BV: 0/0/43.96
2. CELLA: 2002 BWP mare by Cento x Chin Chin
BEN MAHER (GBR) Jane F. Clark: 0/0/44.88
3. CAMILLE Z: 2003 Zangersheide mare by Cumano
ATHINA ONASSIS DE MIRANDA (GRE), Athina Onassis de Miranda & Victory Equestrian: 0/0/54.46
4. BLUE ANGEL: 2002 AES mare by Luidam x Ascendant
KENT FARRINGTON (USA), Robin Parsky: 0/4/43.52
5. BIG STAR: 2003 KWPN stallion by Quick Star x Nimmerdor
NICK SKELTON (GBR), Beverly Widdowson: 0/4/44.21
6. SIMON: 1999 KWPN gelding by Mr. Blue x Polydox
BEEZIE MADDEN (USA), Abigail Wexner: 0/4/44.80
7. QUICK STUDY: 1999 SFA gelding by Quick Star x What a Joy
LAUREN HOUGH (USA), Laura Mateo: 0/4/45.20
8. MYSELF DE BREVE: 2000 SFA mare by Quidam de Revel x Grand Veneur
MARIE HECART (FRA), Normandie Connection: 0/4/47.77
9. CHILL R Z: 2003 Zangersheide stallion by Chellano Z x A Lucky One
CHARLIE JAYNE (USA), Alex Jayne and Maura Thatcher: 0/8/46.49
10. LANSDOWNE: 2003 KWPN stallion by Guidam x Wolfgang
CONOR SWAIL (IRL), Ariel & Susan Grange: 0/8/48.81
11. CEDRIC: 1998 Holsteiner gelding by Chambertin x Carolus Z
LAURA KRAUT (USA), Cherry Knoll Farm, Inc: 4/82.18
12. CYLANA: 2002 Belgian Warmblood mare by Skippy II x Darco
REED KESSLER (USA), Reed Kessler: 4/82.50
Source: Jennifer Wood Media Inc.
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