The first ever $100,000 Trump Invitational Grand Prix CSI 2* debuted to rave reviews on Sunday, January 6, at the beautiful Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, FL. With some of the world's top show jumpers competing on the lawn of Donald Trump's scenic estate overlooking South Florida's Intracoastal Waterway, U.S. rider Kent Farrington jumped to victory in the inaugural class aboard Amalaya Investments' Dynamo.
The Trump Invitational benefits the 2013 FTI Consulting Great Charity Challenge (FTI GCC), present by Fidelity Investments®, one of the hallmarks of Equestrian Sport Productions' FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival. The event has raised and distributed over $2.7 million to local Palm Beach charities over the last three years. In addition to the grand prix competition on Sunday, a wild card charity was drawn for the 2013 FTI GCC, The Voice winner Cassadee Pope performed some of her top songs as well as the national anthem, and Olympic Dressage duo Tina Konyot and Calecto V performed their winning freestyle exhibition. "We were thrilled with this successful event," said Equestrian Sport Productions CEO Mark Bellissimo. "The setting couldn't have been more stunning and the equestrian sport was fantastic. This event was such an amazing combination of sport, entertainment, and philanthropy."
During the festivities, a wild card charity was chosen to compete in this year's FTI GCC. Donald Trump performed the random drawing and picked Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Palm Beach County. Following the great success of the live auction (all proceeds going to the FTI GCC) for a foursome at the world-famous Trump International Golf Club with Donald Trump, which brought in $34,000 from bidder Nadine Allen and was then matched by the generous support of Mike Smith, concluding at $68,000. Mark Bellissimo added an unexpected draw to benefit another charity. The lucky winner, Horses Healing Hearts, will receive a $25,000 donation rather than being included as a participant of the FTI Consulting Great Charity Challenge. Bellissimo also made a $10,000 contribution to Natural High in Cassadee Pope's name, a drug prevention organization that she works closely with, which was then matched by Donald Trump. "We knew that Cassadee took time out of her busy schedule to join us here today, and we wanted to make sure that the charitable giving also helped a cause that is close to her heart," Bellissimo said. Concluding the wonderful spirit of giving of the event, Mr. Trump announced that he will be a major contributor of the 2013 FTI GCC by donating $100,000 to the event.
Bellissimo honored the sponsors of the event in a special presentation where they were presented with bottles of Veuve Clicquot champagne. Thank you to The Mar-a-Lago Club, Donald and Melania Trump; G&C Farm, Gustavo and Carolina Mirabal; Suncast®, Tom and Jeannie Tisbo; Gut Einhaus, Ansgar and Ellen Holtgers; and corporate sponsors Nespresso USA, Celedinas Insurance Group, American Eurocopter, Carol Sollak Realty LLC/Engel & Volkers Wellington, Moet Hennessy, Braman Motorcars, and Badgley Mischka.
International course designer Anthony D'Ambrosio, of Red Hook, NY, set the track for Sunday's class with 36 entries competing. Four of the horse and rider combinations were able to clear the course without fault to advance to the jump-off, and the over 600 spectators that enjoyed VIP dining in the ringside tents watched an exciting tiebreaker.
Brazil's Rodrigo Pessoa and HH Let's Fly, owned by Double H Farm, were the first pair to clear the course and first to return for the jump-off. The accomplished duo put in another clear performance in the second round and set the pace at 44.31 seconds to eventually place second. Charlie Jayne (USA) and Pony Lane Farm's Waldman Z were next to compete, but had one rail down in a time of 44.62 seconds to finish third. Schuyler Riley (USA) and M. Michael Meller's Waterloo also had a rail in the jump-off and stopped the clock in 46.97 seconds to place fourth. Last to jump-off, Kent Farrington and Dynamo thrilled the crowd with a fast, clear round almost two seconds faster than Pessoa to take the win in 42.62 seconds.When the top four riders returned for the jump-off, they were careful to plans their tracks accordingly on the grass footing. Following the class, winner Kent Farrington spoke about the benefit of going last.
"I think whenever there are a small number of horses in a jump-off it is a big advantage to go at the end. You want to use that time to watch everybody go and make a strategy," Farrington noted. "I watched Rodrigo go first and I think with the footing not being great there wasn't top speed today and it was more about just going fast enough to win. His horse is very fast, so the one thing that I had to be aware of was that I didn't get lulled into thinking it was going to be an easy jump-off because the horse is going much faster than it looks."
Winning horse, Dynamo, is a ten-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding by Skippy II x Lys de Darmen who belongs to one of Farrington's students, Meagan Nusz. Nusz usually rides Dynamo and lent him to Farrington for the special class."He is a great horse," Farrington stated. "He has been a great horse for Meagan. He has won lots of classes before, so I think that is a sign of his quality and how nice he is, that he is able to come out for a class like this and go in and win."
Farrington's top horses are resting before the winter show season picks up, so he needed a reliable mount. He explained, "I was giving my horses a little bit of a break after I showed them in Europe. They worked pretty hard this fall, so I was just giving them some down time. I knew the setting would be pretty impressive here with the crowd and on the water, so I wanted to make sure that I brought a horse that was brave and I knew I could count on to march right in there."Commenting on the class further, Farrington smiled, "It is really exciting. It is a great event to win. I am excited just to be a part of the first event and to win it is always special. This is good prize money, a great venue and it is really special with a good crowd and a beautiful setting. I would love to see more top level show jumping events like this."
"I think the event has a great feel," Farrington added. "You could not ask for a better setting. They talked about next year already and improving the footing, which is the only thing that you would want as a rider to be better. That is obviously not what that field is normally used for, so I thought they made the best of what they had today and still put on a great event."Second place finisher Rodrigo Pessoa also spoke about his round and the advantage he had of going early on in the class as well as the jump-off with HH Let's Fly.
"For once I was happy to go in the beginning of the class and get really the best footing available today," he stated. "We knew that it was going to get pretty chewed up as it went. My horse jumped really well in the first round and in the jump-off I just tried to find my way through, not going too slow to make it too easy for the other riders, but also in these conditions you cannot go like you would normally. You had to find some good spots in the corners to get some good push off the ground. I must say, I am really pleased with that horse. He behaved really well and it was nice to be part of this first Trump Invitational."
The small confines of the ring also made a difference for some of the horses and riders. Pessoa pointed out that it was much like riding in a smaller indoor arena and required an accurate ride. "It is a big difference from showing at the International Ring in Wellington where you have time to think about stuff in the corners and set up your lines the way you really want," he said. "Here it was kind of like an indoor set up, like what we are used to in Europe. Things come really fast and you need your horses to be obedient and listen to you and respond to your commands straight away. The horse that I rode today is very experienced. His rideability is perfect, so it was not difficult for me with this particular horse."
Third place finisher Charlie Jayne and fourth place finisher Schuyler Riley each also spoke about the class and their rides. Jayne stated, "I think this is a beautiful venue. I just want to say that it is really exciting to be able to put on a class like this to give to all of these charities in the West Palm Beach area, I think that is fantastic. I think what the Bellissimos and Donald Trump have done is amazing and I see a great future for this event. I am really excited the way my horse went today and I think the course designer did a very fair course. At the end of the day, that is a perfect number for a jump-off and I thought it was a great class."Riley added, "I was not sure what was going to happen when I got in there, but I was pleasantly surprised. Like Rodrigo said, my horse is very obedient and it takes a real rideable horse to ride in a small arena like that, even under the not best pushing conditions for the horses to jump. I thought the course was fair. The setting was amazing. You couldn't ask for anything more beautiful and I think we were all really pleased that we were able to be here today."
Equestrian Sport Productions' CEO Mark Bellissimo was thrilled with the event and looks forward to making improvements in order to ensure that the class will be even better next year. "I would like to thank everyone who participated in and attended this phenomenal event," Bellissimo stated. "A special thanks to Mr. Trump and all of our sponsors and event chairs, Georgina Bloomberg, Paige Bellissimo, and Kimberly VanKampen Boyer. We look forward to having this class again next year and we plan to bring in a footing specialist to make sure that the ground endures more than 36 trips with a jump-off."
Donald Trump had a great time and also looks forward to hosting the event again. He already has ideas on how to make improvements. "I think what we may do is flatten the course totally and actually make it bigger because we have tremendous amounts of land here," Trump remarked. "We were actually thinking about turning it so that we are looking at this great federal landmark. My wife, Melania, came up with the idea to turn the tents, that way the sun would be at our backs and we would have the food served on the water and have an even more magnificent view."
Commenting on the grass, Trump detailed, "It is a very good root system, but it is not made for horses. Today we made it for horses and I think overall it worked out well. That was always a par-3 golf course. Now that we have the number one ranked course in the state of Florida four minutes away, which is Trump International, people don't want to play out here, they want to go to the golf course. I think we can do something with the footing. We can flatten it and use a very strong grass."
All in all, the inaugural Trump Invitational was a huge success and everyone looks forward to planning a bigger and better event for the coming year. Equestrian Sport Productions would like to thank those who made this year's event possible and hopes to see everyone back next year!
Sunday's class was a kick-off to the season for the 2013 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival. The 12-week circuit begins this Wednesday, January 9, and runs through March 31, 2013. The Mar-a-Lago Club is the title sponsor of week one competition as well as the presenting sponsor of the $30,000 Mar-a-Lago Club Grand Prix, which will be held at 2 p.m. on Sunday, January 13, at the beautiful Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. Another highlight of the week is the $55,000 Nespresso Battle of the Sexes to start the "Saturday Night Lights" series on Saturday, January 12, with gates opening at 6 p.m. For more information, please visit www.equestriansport.com.
Final Results: $100,000 Trump Invitational Grand Prix CSI 2*
1. Dynamo: 2003 BWP gelding by Skippy II
Kent Farrington (USA), Amalaya Investments: 0/0/42.62
2. HH Let's Fly: 2000 Hanoverian gelding by Lordanos
Rodrigo Pessoa (BRA), Double H Farm: 0/0/44.31
3. Waldman Z: 2004 Zangersheide gelding by Canabis Z
Charlie Jayne (USA), Pony Lane Farm: 0/4/44.62
4. Waterloo: 2004 KWPN gelding by Heartbreaker
Schuyler Riley (USA), M. Michael Meller: 0/4/46.97
5. Cedric: 1998 Holsteiner gelding by Chambertin
Laura Kraut (USA), Cherry Knoll Farm, Inc: 1/82.04
6. Nougat Du Vallet: 2001 Selle Francais gelding by Herif d'Elle
Katherine Dinan (USA), Grant Road Partners LLC: 4/78.52
7. Diktator Van De Boslandhoeve: 2004 BWP stallion by Thunder van de Zuuthoeve
Shane Sweetnam (IRL), Spy Coast Farm, LLC: 4/78.71
8. Show Show: 2002 BWP gelding by Darco
Alvaro De Miranda (BRA), RD Jumping Higher Ltda: 4/78.77
9. Caballito: 2002 Oldenburg gelding by Contendro
Andres Rodriguez (VEN), Arao Enterprises LLC: 4/78.85
10. Rothchild: 2002 SBS gelding by Artos
McLain Ward (USA), Sagamore Farms: 4/79.41
11. Unex Omelli: 1996 KWPN gelding by Burggraaf
Tim Gredley (GBR), Unex Competition Yard: 4/79.90
12. Kismet 50: 2001 BWP mare by Kannan
Candice King (USA), Bellissimo LLC: 4/80.34
Please visit www.equestriansport.com or call 561-793-5867 for more information on Equestrian Sport Productions and the 2013 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival.
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