The second week of competition at the 2013 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival (FTI WEF), sponsored by The Mar-a-Lago Club, concluded on Sunday afternoon with a win for Charlie Jacobs (USA) and CMJ Sporthorse LLC's Flaming Star in the $30,000 Mar-a-Lago Club Grand Prix.
Jumping a course set by Eric Hasbrouck, 46 horse and rider combinations contested Sunday's class. Thirteen entries jumped clear to advance to the jump-off, and 10 went double clear. The fastest of those clear jump-off rounds belonged to Charlie Jacobs and Flaming Star in a time of 37.163 seconds.
Alvaro de Miranda (BRA) and RD Jumping Higher, Ltda.'s Show Show finished second stopping the clock in 37.413 seconds. Reed Kessler (USA) and Ligist were third with a time of 37.708 seconds.
Class winner, Flaming Star, is fourteen-year-old Anglo European gelding by Fairman, and has a great track record as a speed horse for Jacobs. Following Sunday's win, Jacobs noted, "He has had a very good year. Obviously it is a great start for him to come out the way he has here. I feel very fortunate to have the horse in my barn. I have taken him twice to South America and both times he has won a car for me; he is that kind of speed horse. He is a real quick horse and real catlike over a course like today's size. Today's course was a very good match for him and his skill set."
"I thought the course and the ring itself rode very nicely," Jacobs acknowledged. "Eric Hasbrouck did a wonderful job in my opinion, building the course appropriately for roughly 50 riders. Maybe he got one or two more clean than he expected, but I thought it was very appropriate for week one out of the gate. I am really happy with it."
Alvaro de Miranda (more commonly referred to as 'Doda') had set a very fast pace in the beginning of the jump-off and Jacobs had to be very sharp to beat him. He admitted, "I didn't think I was going to catch him. I was out here warming up and people were saying Doda just flew around this course. I was having discussions with my trainer about maybe taking a stride out or two in the first line, but after I jumped the first jump and my horse sort of curled over it nicely, I knew that there was absolutely no five for me. It had to be a forward six. Then I elected to slow down a bit so I could make the turn quickly after jump three."
Commenting on the difference in time, Jacobs stated, "My horse was real catlike on that turn right in front of the Swedish oxer. We just sort of sliced it and kept going. There were just hundredths of a second that split the three of us, so it was really a horse race."
With the international growth of the FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival, brand new competitors are arriving each year, including Alvaro de Miranda, of Brazil. Following the day's class, Miranda also spoke about his mount, Show Show, who he has had for just four months.
"Originally we bought this horse for my wife, but she didn't adapt to him so much because he has a lot of blood and he is a little bit big for her," the rider explained. "She told me to ride him a little bit and if I liked him I could keep him for me and enjoy it. He is a very good horse. I use him in this difficult job more as a second horse in Europe. He does all of the speed classes. When I have one grand prix like this he can do a very good job, so I am very happy."
In the jump-off, Miranda was extremely fast, but knew that one of the eight riders to follow might catch up. "I knew that I was in the beginning of the jump-off. I had a good feeling when I came out, but I thought that one could beat me because I know that the classes are always very fast here," he detailed.
This is Miranda's first time traveling to Wellington to compete for the winter and the rider was very complimentary. Miranda and his wife, Athina Onassis de Miranda, brought 16 horses with them from Europe for the circuit. He smiled, "We brought them all. Only one horse that is not okay for the moment we left behind, but we brought all of the others. We brought our 16 horses and two ponies for my daughter. We brought all of the dogs and everything."
"I love it," he stated. "I did the winters in Europe for the last 15 years and then I always wanted to come here, but something always came up the last moment that we couldn't make it. Now we made it and I am really happy. Some people told me 12 weeks is too long, but I think it is too short for me. I really love it here."
Third place finisher Reed Kessler also commented on her round in Sunday's class and her always dependable mount Ligist, a.k.a Goose. Kessler stated, "I have been in Europe and Goose has been my speed horse and many a time I have been going after Doda in the jump-off knowing that I had to go really, really fast. Goose was great. He has a really big stride, so again you were tempted to do five or six down the first line, but it just didn't really materialize to be an option for everybody. I think maybe I could have done eight (strides) around to the double. I did nine, but they are both lightning fast riders, so I was happy with third."
"Goose is like the backbone of my string," Kessler said, speaking about her horse's plans for the circuit. "He is the Jack of all trades. You couldn't ask for a better horse; he does everything. He will rip around the speeds. If he needs to do the grand prix, he can do any height. We build our schedule around Cylana and Mika and the other horses and then wherever he needs to fill in, he fills in. He is a rock star like that. Everyone thinks the sun rises and sets with Cylana, but without Goose it would be hard to fill the schedule."
Final Results: $30,000 Mar-a-Lago Club Grand Prix
1. FLAMING STAR CHARLES JACOBS CMJ SPORTHORSE, LLC: 0/0/37.163
2. SHOW SHOW ALVARO DE MIRANDA RD JUMPING HIGHER, LTDA: 0/0/37.413
3. LIGIST REED KESSLER REED KESSLER: 0/0/37.708
4. USER ID DARRAGH KENNY ATLANTA EQUESTRIAN CENTER: 0/0/38.280
5. QUICK DU POTIER ALONSO VALDEZ PRADO ALONSO VALDEZ PRADO: 0/0/38.661
6. SANDOR DE LA POMME PETER WYLDE THE WANNAHAVE GROUP: 0/0/39.062
7. UATA BRIANNE GOUTAL CLOVERLEAF FARM: 0/0/39.495
8. VANCOUVER D.M.L. CONOR SWAIL CLOVERLEAF FARM: 0/0/40.722
9. ORMSBY HILL LIZA FINSNESS LIZA FINSNESS: 0/0/42.791
10. UNEX DAMORA Z TIM GREDLEY UNEX COMPETITION YARD: 0/0/44.621
11. ZERLY CHRISTINE MCCREA CANDY TRIBBLE: 0/4/ 37.976
12. BELMONTLAURA KRAUT BEVERLY WIDDOWSON: 0/4/38.954
Source: Press release from Lauren Fisher and Laura Cardon for Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.
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