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.

Week one of FTI WEF was sponsored by The Mar-a-Lago Club. FTI WEF 2 runs January 16-20 and is sponsored by Wellington Equestrian Realty. The 2013 FTI WEF runs through March 31 featuring 12 weeks of world-class competition.

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.

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.”

In other results from the International Arena on Sunday, Michael Hughes and Christina Fried’s MacArthur won the morning’s $10,000 Griffis Group SJHOF High Junior Jumper Classic. The $10,000 Animo USA Medium Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic saw a win for Santiago Diaz and Quel Pacha.

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

Jessica Stitt Clinches Champion and Reserve Titles with On the Hour and Taken

Jessica Stitt took home both champion and reserve champion prizes with her geldings On the Hour and Taken in the FarmVet Amateur/Owner 3’3″ 18-35 division at the FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival (FTI WEF). Competition for the division wrapped up on the last day of week one of the FTI WEF in the Equine Tack and Nutritionals Ring 6.

On day one of competition for the division, Stitt and On the Hour placed first and seventh over fences and third under saddle. The pair secured the championship title on day two, jumping to seventh and first places.

Stitt and Taken were named reserve champion after strong over fences trips on day two of the division. Stitt piloted her mount to first and second places on day two after placing second over fences and fifth under saddle on day one.

Stitt purchased On the Hour, a twelve-year-old dark bay Warmblood, last year and has already had a successful show career with him. The duo was Reserve Circuit Champion at the FTI WEF 2012 in the Horseware Ireland Adult Hunter 3’3″ division. Holly Orlando also rode On the Hour to the Second Year Green Championship earlier in week one of the FTI WEF 2013.

“He’s an amazing little horse and I’m so lucky to have him,” Stitt expressed. “He’s a dream, to be honest,” she continued. “He gives you such a good feeling in the air and from the moment he goes in the ring, he’s on it. No matter how big or little the jumps, he’s always game and he always wants to win. He just gives you the best feeling and he’s a blast to ride.”

Stitt also had nothing but praise for her other mount, ten-year-old Dutch Warmblood Taken. “He can go from anywhere and jump any height, but he’s very similar [to On the Hour] in the way he goes. They’re both amazing animals and I’m just so lucky to have both of them,” Stitt stated.

Stitt, a Chicago native, has been competing at the FTI WEF for four seasons and looks forward to flying south each winter to compete. “It’s a beautiful showground and it’s very well run. It’s just gorgeous! It’s great to be here all winter long,” Stitt described.

On the Hour and Taken will both return with Stitt and trainer David Glefke for week two of the FTI WEF. Stitt may move her winning pair up a level after their impressive performances that wrapped up week one of hunter competition at the FTI WEF.

The FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival will continue with its second week of competition, the Wellington Equestrian Realty CSI 2*, on January 16-20. Highlight events include the $33,000 Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Round 2 on Thursday afternoon, the $50,000 Wellington Equestrian Realty CSI2* Grand Prix on Saturday evening, and the $25,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Series Classic on Sunday afternoon. For the prize list and more information, please visit
www.equestriansport.com. For full results, go to
www.showgroundslive.com.

About the FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival
The 2013 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival has 12 weeks of top competition running from January 9 through March 31. The FTI WEF is run by Equestrian Sport Productions, LLC, and Wellington Equestrian Partners and held at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. All 12 shows are “AA” rated and Jumper Rated 6, and more than $7 million in prize money will be awarded.

About FTI Consulting
FTI Consulting, Inc. is a global business advisory firm dedicated to helping organizations protect and enhance enterprise value in an increasingly complex legal, regulatory and economic environment. With more than 3,800 employees located in 24 countries, FTI Consulting professionals work closely with clients to anticipate, illuminate and overcome complex business challenges in areas such as investigations, litigation, mergers and acquisitions, regulatory issues, reputation management, strategic communications and restructuring. The company generated $1.56 billion in revenues during fiscal year 2011. More information can be found at www.fticonsulting.com.

Please visit www.equestriansport.com or call 561-793-5867 for more information.

20130113-233719.jpgCharlie Jacobs and Flaming Star in their winning presentation with ringmaster Cliff Haines and Giovana Pirolo, Membership Coordinator at The Mar-a-Lago Club. Photo © Sportfot.