Canada's Tiffany Foster and Victor have been on quite a roll during this year's FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival (FTI WEF) and secured another win on Sunday in the $84,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic to conclude week five. The pair beat out world number one, Scott Brash (GBR), aboard his mount Hello Annie for the win.
Sunday's competition concluded FTI WEF week five, sponsored by Rolex. FTI WEF will continue with its sixth week of competition, sponsored by Salamander Hotels & Resorts, on February 12-16, 2014. The FTI WEF, held at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in Wellington, FL, features 12 weeks of world-class competition through March 30, awarding $8 million in prize money.
Great Britain's Robert Ellis set the tracks in the International Arena at PBIEC for week five competition and challenged the horses and riders right to the end with his course for Sunday's 1.50m. The class saw 91 entries in total with only ten clear rounds to advance to the jump-off. Twelve others cleared the course but finished with a single time fault to keep them out of the second round with a tight time allowed. The short course only saw three clear rounds.
Scott Brash and Hello Annie, owned by Lord and Lady Harris and Lord and Lady Kirkham, were first to go in the jump-off and set the pace in 46.75 seconds to eventually finish second. Markus Beerbaum (GER) and Copernicus Stables LLC's Don VHP Z were also clear and finished in a slower time of 52.37 seconds to place third. Second to last, Tiffany Foster and Victor stopped the clock in 44.25 seconds to earn their victory.
Foster and Victor, a 12-year-old KPWN gelding (Elmshorn x Grandeur) owned by Artisan Farms LLC and Torrey Pines, kicked off their FTI WEF circuit with a win in Section B of the $34,000 Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup during week three, sharing top honors in the split class with Todd Minikus (USA) and Quality Girl. The pair then earned another big prize on Thursday afternoon with a shared victory with Ben Maher (GBR) and Urico in the $125,000 Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup Round 5. Both classes were held in a "California Split" due to the large number of entries, with two sets of placings distributed, so Foster and Victor technically had the second fastest time in each class to top both B Sections. This time, they did not have to share their victory.
"He was was awesome," Foster stated after the class. "It feels really good (to win). I am so happy with my horses. All of them jumped unbelievably this week and Victor won both classes, so you can't really ask for better than that."
Foster has had top finishes in the presence of many show jumping greats, sharing the winner's circle with Todd Minikus and Ben Maher, and now beating world number one, Scott Brash. Not to mention, she rides with Olympic Gold Medalist Eric Lamaze. The 29-year-old rider has gotten a feel for what it's like to win big.
"Beating Scott is the coolest part of the whole thing," Foster beamed. "I made him stand there and take a picture with me just to have proof that this actually happened!" "It looked to me like Scott was actually pretty conservative," she said of the jump-off. "I think that is a horse that is pretty new to him, because we all know he can go super fast. He looked like he wanted to just give the horse a really nice round. I kind of did the same track as him, just a little faster I think, just a little more ground speed everywhere because my horse has a little bit more experience, and that seemed to work out in the end."
Foster explained that Victor has stepped down a little bit to jumping in the 1.45m and 1.50m classes this year and has excelled at that level. "This is a horse that has jumped some big tracks and has a lot of experience," she noted. "I got Verdi, and he has been able to do the really big classes, so I have been able to use Victor in a few of these classes now and he is extremely comfortable and extremely confident. It is actually pretty easy on him."
The horse is actually quite versatile, as Foster explained that he started his career as a four-in-hand driving horse before learning to jump. "Until he was five years old he pulled a cart!" she emphasized. "He is very multi-talented!"
"Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum and Markus Beerbaum found him and they tipped Eric off about him when he was a seven-year-old," the rider detailed. "It's always fun when they are here. They always pay a little extra attention to him because they loved him from the beginning also."
"He is maybe the cutest horse ever," Foster gushed. "He is so sweet. He has a ton of character and a ton of personality. I know him really well now, so we have a really good relationship I think. Eric helps me a lot. He rides him at home. He does all of the jumping work at home and I just flat him, and it is working out really well."
In addition to her wins for the week, Foster was acknowledged on Saturday night as the Leading Lady Grand Prix Rider for week five. The award is sponsored by Martha Jolicoeur of Illustrated Properties in memory of Dale Lawler. Foster was happy to get the special award and thanked her owners, Andy and Carlene Ziegler of Artisan Farms, as well as her groom, Caroline Holmberg, for their help and support.
"I was so happy," Foster stated. "I have never gotten that award. Last year I didn't go clear any time, except for Nations Cup, so it was absolutely great to get special recognition for that. It is a great idea and it is always fun. A lot of the European shows do that and it is always an honor, so it is really cool to have the recognition here as well."
Final Results: $84,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic
1. VICTOR: 2002 KWPN gelding by Elmshorn x Grandeur
TIFFANY FOSTER (CAN), Artisan Farms LLC & Torrey Pines: 0/0/44.25
2. HELLO ANNIE: 2004 Hanoverian mare by Contender x For Pleasure
SCOTT BRASH (GBR), Lord & Lady Harris/Lord & Lady Kirkham:0/0/46.75
3. DON VHP Z: 2004 Zangersheide stallion by Diamant de Semilly x Voltaire
MARKUS BEERBAUM (GER), Copernicus Stables LLC: 0/0/52.37
4. QUALITY GIRL: 2003 Oldenburg mare by Quidam's Rubin x Dobrock
TODD MINIKUS (USA), Quality Group: 0/4/44.18
5. MULLAGHDRIN RADO: 2002 Irish Sport Horse gelding by Radolin x Tresor de Mesnil
ALEX GRANATO (USA), Wood Run Farms: 0/4/45.58
6. ZERNIKE K: 2004 KWPN gelding by Sam R 60 x H Topas
BRIANNE GOUTAL (USA), Remarkable Farms LP: 0/8/47.82
7. ELKY VAN HET INDIHOF: 2004 Belgian Warmblood mare by Toulon x Thunder van de Zuuthoeve
LORENZO DE LUCA (ITA), T & L NV: 0/8/47.94
8. VINDICAT W: 2002 KWPN gelding by Guidam x Libero H
JESSICA SPRINGSTEEN (USA), Stone Hill Farm: 0/12/41.48
9. AD NORSON: 2001 Selle Francais stallion by Quidam de Revel x Grand Veneur
ALVARO DE MIRANDA (BRA), Victory Equestrian Sport BV & Alvaro de Miranda: 0/EL
10. INDIGO: 2000 KWPN gelding by Indoctro x Unknown
MARGIE ENGLE (USA), Griese, Garber, Hidden Creek & Gladewinds: 0/WD
11. QUIDAM 13: 2004 Danish Warmblood stallion by Bogegardens Quattro x Carano
SYDNEY SHULMAN (USA), Back Country Farm: 1/76.17
12. S.F. URYADI: 2001 KWPN mare by Guidam x Amaretto I
JENNIFER CROOKS (IRL), Olivia Cox-Fill & Stella Farm: 1/76.22
Source: Press release from Equestrian Sport Productions
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