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Ben Maher and Aristo Z top $34,000 G&C Farm speed

Saturday, 08 March 2014

Ben Maher and Aristo Z. Photo by Sportfot. A $34,000 G&C Farm 1.45m speed class was held Friday afternoon in the International Arena at PBIEC with an exciting win for Ben Maher (GBR) and Jane Clark's Aristo Z. The class saw 60 competitors with 20 clear rounds and an increasingly fast pace as the rounds went on. Fifth to go, Shane Sweetnam (IRL) and Spy Coast Farm LLC's Cyklon 1083 set a very tough time to beat at 63.23 seconds. The pair held the lead through most of the class until two of the finals competitors eventually pushed them into third.

Darragh Kenny (IRL) and Oakland Ventures LLC's Picolo were the first combination to edge out Sweetnam's time in 62.97 seconds, eventually finishing second. A few rounds later, Ben Maher and Aristo Z completed the fastest round in 62.23 seconds. Last to go, Meagan Nusz (USA) and Amalaya Investments' Vesuvius jumped into fourth in 64.11 seconds.

Aristo Z is a ten-year-old Zangersheide gelding that Maher has had for several years, but is showing this year under new ownership for Jane Clark. Since the change, this is Aristo Z's first win. "He is normally a winner at those sort of speed classes," Maher noted. "Jane secured him for me just before Christmas. He was with another owner for the last couple of years, and he has won a lot of classes in different arenas. He is a great asset to the team."

"I said to Jane before we got here that he might not love Florida," Maher said. "It is a really big ring, and he is quite good in small arenas where he can kind of bounce off the walls a little bit. He has been jumping well, but we put him back in his old bridle today because I switched him to something else when I arrived and he wasn't winning. I spoke to Jane on the phone, and I said that I was going to try him in the old bit. We put it on and Jane made it back to watch and he won, so I am just happy that he has kind of 'broken the duck' for Team Clark."

Maher explained that Aristo Z's speed and agility are what gave him the winning time in Friday's class. "He is a useful horse," he stated. "He has jumped some bigger classes in one or two grand prix when I have needed him to, but this is kind of his division here, the 1.45m or 1.50m speed classes. He can bend his body very well. He is naturally very fast everywhere and today there were options to leave strides out in the course and I actually didn't. I kept the correct amount of strides, especially early on, and luckily his speed over the jumps and across the ground just was fast enough. These are difficult classes to win. There are quite a lot in them and a lot of galloping, and I am just happy he won a class here now."

Also showing on Friday, Laura Chapot earned her fifth win of the week in the International Arena at FTI WEF. Chapot has been unstoppable this week, winning back to back classes on Wednesday in the $6,000 Spy Coast Farm 1.40m speed class with Bradberry and the $6,000 Spy Coast Farm 1.40m jump-off class riding Mary Chapot's Umberto. On Thursday, she won the $8,000 G&C Farm 1.45m jump-off class aboard Quointreau un Prince, a horse she co-owns with McLain Ward. On Friday, Chapot added two more wins to her week, topping the $6,000 Spy Coast Farm 1.40m Speed Challenge with Bradberry and the $6,000 Spy Coast Farm 1.40m jump-off class riding Umberto.

Bradberry, a 16-year-old Selle Francais gelding, has been winning classes for several years with Chapot in the irons and kept his streak alive this week. He also posted back to back victories in both the $6,000 Spy Coast Farm 1.40m speed class and the $6,000 Spy Coast Farm 1.40m Speed Challenge during weeks six and eight.

Chapot has won classes outside of the International Arena this week as well, winning both the $2,500 Derby Gold Pine Shavings 1.35m speed and jump-off classes with Mary Chapot's Castellana, and topping a $1,500 Adequan 8-Year-Old Young Jumper class with Out of Ireland for owner The Edge. She continues to be one of the top riders at FTI WEF each year.

Final Results: $34,000 G&C Farm 1.45m Speed

1. ARISTO Z: 2004 Zangersheide gelding by Andiamo Z x Flamenco Desemilly

BEN MAHER (GBR), Jane Clark: 0/62.23

2. PICOLO: 2003 Selle Francais gelding by Diamant de Semilly x Alme

DARRAGH KENNY (IRL), Oakland Ventures LLC: 0/62.97

3.CYKLON 1083: 2001 Swedish Warmblood stallion by Cardento x Cortus

SHANE SWEETNAM (IRL), Spy Coast Farm LLC: 0/63.23

4. VESUVIUS: 2002 KWPN gelding by Numero Uno x Expert

MEAGAN NUSZ (USA), Amalaya Investments: 0/64.11

5. BLACK JACK 163: 2004 Hanoverian gelding by Escudo I x Drosselklang II

DAVID WILL (GER), Eveline Kraus: 0/64.49

6. MIMOSA: 2004 Swedish Warmblood mare by Cardento x Quite Easy

SHANE SWEETNAM (IRL), Sweet Oak & Spy Coast Farms: 0/65.17

7. CARMENA Z: 2000 Zangersheide stallion by Carthago Z x Irco Mena

SAER COULTER (USA), Copernicus Stables, LLC: 0/66.46

8. NAVALO DE POHETON: 2001 Selle Francais gelding by Cumano x Double Espoir

SCHUYLER RILEY (USA), Wolfstone Stables: 0/66.90

9. BREITLING LS: 2006 Dutch Warmblood stallion by Quintero x Accord II

BEEZIE MADDEN (USA), Abigail Wexner: 0/67.07

10. QUINTANA ROO 2: 2005 Holsteiner gelding by Quintero x Cardino

JOHANNES EHNING (GER), Nybor Pferde GmbH & Co.KG: 0/67.56

11. DOMINGO: 2003 Belgian Warmblood gelding by Thunder van de Zuuthoeve x Brownboy

DANIEL DEUSSER (GER), Stephex Stables: 0/67.80

12. UNEX ANNIKA B: 2005 KWPN mare by Tangelo van de Zuuthoeve VB x Flemmingh

TIM GREDLEY (GBR), Unex Competition Yard: 0/68.24

Nicole Bellissimo and VDL Bellefleur Win $25,000 Artisan Farms Young Rider Grand Prix Series Semi-Final

Nicole Bellissimo and VDL Bellefleur. Photo by Sportfot. The $25,000 Artisan Farms Young Rider Grand Prix Series Semi-Final was held on Friday night, presented by the Dutta Corporation in association with Guido Klatte. Fifty young riders under the age of 25 competed under the lights in the International Arena, with seven clear rounds to jump-off, and a win for 20-year-old Nicole Bellissimo of Wellington, FL.

Riding Bellissimo LLC's VDL Bellefleur, an eight-year-old KWPN mare by Cardento x Emilion, Bellissimo jumped the only double clear round in the jump-off to take top honors in 51.64 seconds. Twenty-four-year-old Jordan MacPherson of Toronto, Ontario, finished second aboard JEM Stables' Piccobello du val de Geer with the fastest four-fault round in 45.39 seconds. Twenty-year-old Adrienne Sternlicht of Greenwich, CT, jumped into third with four faults in 47.24 seconds aboard Starlight Farms' Oreade de Dames.

The young rider series was developed thanks to Artisan Farms as a stepping stone for up-and-coming riders as they gain experience competing at the grand prix level. In addition to great experience for the riders, it can also be a stepping stone for young horses. In the case of Nicole Bellissimo and VDL Bellefleur, the series serves as an amazing opportunity for both horse and rider.

"She is actually a very special horse for me," Bellissimo stated after her win. "I have had her for about a year-and-a-half. She is only eight, so I got her when she was turning seven, and I am the only one that has shown her. I did her throughout her seven-year-old year and I brought her to Spruce Meadows last summer, so she has done a lot as a young horse. We moved her up this year and this is the biggest class that she has ever done, so it is really exciting for me that she went out and did so well. She is just stepping up to doing this level."

Bellissimo showed in the young rider series two years ago in 2012, but explained that she did not have a horse to compete with last year. "This year is the first year that I have done all of the classes," she noted. "It is fantastic for bringing up young horses that aren't quite ready to go in the WEFs (Challenge Cup) or the grand prix classes, but maybe you want to step them up from the High Amateurs or the High Juniors. It is also great for riders such as myself who are stepping up to the WEFs, but maybe aren't as competitive in that, and want another stepping stone. I want to thank Artisan Farms for sponsoring the series because it is really great for the young horses and riders such as myself that are moving up to the next level."

In her freshman year at Harvard University in Boston, Bellissimo commutes back and forth from Wellington each week to compete between a full schedule of classes. This week was especially busy, but the extra traveling paid off in the end.

"This week was a little bit hectic because I had a midterm," Bellissimo detailed. "I go to school in Boston, and I actually had an exam yesterday. I usually fly in Wednesday nights so I can show my horse on Thursdays. I am the only one that shows her, so we didn't want to change anything and have my trainer (Candice King) show her, but I was a bit panicked because I couldn't fly in to show yesterday. She just had to walk into the class tonight and I was really scared going in, but she really took care of me. She ended up being fantastic."

Going second to last in the jump-off with everyone before her having rails, Bellissimo's main goal was a clear round. "I just wanted to go in and do a nice clear and hope that it was nice enough to be quick enough if the last person went clear, but at the same time if the last person had a rail also," she said.

This is the biggest win of the young rider's career, and a very exciting accomplishment on home turf. "It is my biggest win so far and it is extra special with a horse that I have kind of brought along myself," Bellissimo acknowledged. "She means a lot to me, and she is always fighting for me so much every time she goes in the ring. She has never done anything wrong. It was just really exciting that other people can see how great she is."

A student in her fourth year at the University of Western Ontario in Canada, Jordan MacPherson has had success in the young rider series before and was very happy with her rounds aboard Piccobello du val de Geer, a 15-year-old Swedish Warmblood mare (Kannan x Skippy II).

"It was exciting," MacPherson smiled after the class. "I have had her for about four years now, and I have done two other years with her in this series. She came out here like a pro tonight and was amazing. She gave me her heart, so I couldn't be happier."

Adrienne Sternlicht, a sophomore at Brown University, also had a great experience with her mount Oreade des Dames, a 12-year-old Selle Francais mare by Kannan x Hurlevent. "I have had her for three years, and she was really my horse that we intended for these classes," Sterlicht explained. "I bought her as a nine-year-old for these young rider classes, and she has ended up doing some more. She jumped the 'WEF' yesterday. I think it is nice for her to be challenged with a bigger class every once in awhile and then we bring her in this level and 1.45m/1.50m is really her comfort zone and she is quite a fast horse. I was really just trying to be a medium double clear and that didn't work out, but she was fantastic tonight and I am thrilled with the way she went."

Sternlicht first jumped in the young rider series two years ago and then was out last winter with an injury. "This year for me has been the first year that I really feel competitive at this level, and I am starting to be competitive at a bigger level," Sternlicht acknowledged. "For me, I was more nervous for today than I was for the WEF (Challenge Cup) because I kind of put pressure on myself in these classes to really perform. I think it is a fantastic series, and it is a really neat experience."

Week nine competition will continue on Saturday with the feature $280,000 FEI World Cup™ Grand Prix CSI-W 4*, presented by The Bainbridge Companies at 7 p.m., which will be live streamed at http://www.chronofhorse.com/article/2014-280000-fei-world-cup-grand-prix-live. For full results, please visit www.showgroundslive.com.

Final Results: $25,000 Artisan Farms Young Rider Grand Prix Semi-Final

Horse/rider/owner

1. VDL BELLEFLEUR NICOLE BELLISSIMO BELLISSIMO LLC: 0/0/51.64

2. PICCOBELLO DU VAL DE GEER JORDAN MACPHERSON JEM STABLES INC: 0/4/45.39

3. OREADE DES DAMES ADRIENNE STERNLICHT STARLIGHT FARMS LLC: 0/4/47.24

4. DON JUAN VICTORIA COLVIN BRIGID COLVIN AND KAREN LONG DWIGHT: 0/4/48.34

5. SKARA GLEN'S BASEL GABRIELA MERSHAD MERSHAD STABLES LLC: 0/4/51.31

6. ELENA MM MARCUS HAGGLUND MARCUS HAGGLUND: 0/8/53.56

7. CAMPBELL VDL JENNIFER GODDARD STATESIDE FARM LLC: 0/RT

8. UDONNA GABRIELA MERSHAD MERSHAD STABLES LLC: 1/76.10

9. CHAMONIX H KELLI CRUCIOTTI KELLI CRUCIOTTI: 1/77.33

10. PUNCHY DORCEL BRITTNI RAFLOWITZ ESI SHOWJUMPERS: 1/77.65

11. SUNNY FACE G RILEY NEWSOME MOLLY NEWSOME: 1/77.78

12. CHRISTINE CAITLIN ZIEGLER ARTISAN FARMS LLC: 2/80.42

Source: Press release from Lauren Fisher for Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.

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