McLain Ward and Optimum Pozitano clear 7'2 1/2" to win EMO/Berkley Underwriting Partners Puissance, plus other jumper highlights

McLain Ward and Optimum Pozitano Clear 7’2 ½’’ in Washington International Horse Show’s EMO/Berkley Underwriting Partners Puissance

Whitney Weeks and Subliem Nail It for Amateur-Owner Ambassador’s Cup Title; Kraut and Miss Independent Capture Top Honors in President’s Cup Qualifier

Washington, D.C. – October 27, 2006 – EMO/Berkley Underwriting Partners Night at Washington International Horse Show took center stage tonight at the Verizon Center, with the EMO/Berkley Underwriting Partners Puissance as the evening feature. Eight competitors partook in the annual tradition, and a record crowd estimated at 11,000 spectators cheered for each and every rider. The class was held under a FEI Article 262.2 format.

Harrie Smolders, last year’s winner, and Exquis Quebec were the first to take on the course, which consisted of three smaller jumps and the final fence, an intimidating red brick wall that stood six feet in height. Exquis Quebec put on the brakes at the wall, refusing to jump the obstacle, and Smolders’ opted to retire by re-jumping fence one. William Lowry and Rio Corde approached the course next. Lowry’s horse sailed over the wall with ease and qualified for another round of action as the crowd erupted into applause.

Aaron Vale and Gentleman George, owned by Solitude Farm, gave it their best, but the pair pulled down the green boxes at the top of the wall and accumulated four faults. Jimmy Torano and Lerona also took home a score of four faults after knocking down the wall. Their identical scores of four faults would tie Vale and Torano for sixth place.

McLain Ward and Optimum Pozitano, owned by Ward and Gut Einhaus, soared over the wall, indicating a jump off would be in order. Nineteen year old Evan Coluccio and Tornado R also qualified for a tie breaker. Tornado R is owned by Randy Johnson and Greener Pastures. Soon after, Nick Skelton and Lisa Hales’ horse Russel arched effortlessly over the wall, and Mark Leone, a previous winner of the class, rode Ri-Arm Farm’s Diamond Safari to a clear round as well.

After the jump off course was set, riders were required to successfully jump fence three and make a turn to the massive wall, which stood at 6’5’’. Lowry, Ward, Coluccio, Skelton, and Leone each mastered the course, causing the audience to cheer wildly for another round of excitement.

The wall was then raised to a towering 6’11 ½’’, and Lowry was the first to approach the obstacle. Green boxes flew in the air as Rio Corde attempted the jump, and the pressure grew for the riders that followed. Ward confidently rode in, and the liveliness of the Verizon Center intensified. Optimum Pozitano was unaffected by the change in height, and Ward left the colossal wall untouched.

Coluccio returned and Tornado R punched through the wall, leaving red blocks scattered on the arena sand. After the fence was rebuilt, Russel and Skelton revisited the ring and, while in the corner, trotted a few steps before picking up the canter and heading towards the huge jump. Russel slowly leapt into the air, athletically clearing the puissance fence and demonstrating incredible scope. The throng of spectators shouted with surprise as they watched a second horse clear 6’11 ½’’.

Leone and Diamond Safari attempted to make it three; however, his horse caught the top part of the jump and stumbled upon the landing. The harsh landing jumped Leone loose in the tack and resulted in an unlucky fall. It was determined that two riders had qualified for another go.

Much to the disappointment of spectators, Skelton elected to not participate in the following round. Ward and Optimum Pozitano, however, were ready to go once again. The fence was reset and stood at an epic height of 7’2 ½’’. In order to let the horse and rider focus, the announcer asked fans to stay silent until the pair had jumped the giant fence. The stands held their breath as Ward cantered down to the gargantuan obstacle. Optimum Pozitano nudged the boxes, but the puissance jump remained standing tall. Ward looked behind him to find that he and his mount had cleared 7’2 ½’’, and a standing ovation congratulated Ward as he received the Congressman’s Challenge Trophy.

"It was the first time I ever did him in the Puissance," exclaimed Ward. "He’s done one before in Europe. Every round he felt great; he was very confidant, jumping it pretty easy. Nick [Skelton] really didn’t want to go again, but we really thought that they make such an effort to put on this class, and the crowd supports it, we should try to put on a little bit of a show."

"You don’t want to override it, but at the same time, it’s starting to look big," smiled Ward. "You can’t sit too quiet, so it’s kind of finding the right balance and having a good horse. Actually, we were looking today, and this is the ninth time between my dad and I that we have won this class," he said proudly. "So, that was also nice. He’s a very powerful, scopey, brave horse, and he really felt like he did it quite easily. He wasn’t struggling to jump it. I think he could have jumped a bit bigger, but I don’t have the aspirations to break the world record tonight," he laughed.

The $25,000 Open Jumpers President’s Cup Qualifying Class welcomed 30 top caliber grand prix riders to take on the challenge of Steve Stephens’ course. The best of this class will round out the field of entries in tomorrow night’s $100,000 President’s Cup Grand Prix. The qualifier was held under a Table A, 238.2.2 Time First Jump Off format. Only nine riders successfully cleared the first course fault free and within the time allowed of 61 seconds. Two of these riders, Schuyler Riley aboard her mount Ilian and Kim Prince with Windmill Ranch’s Marlou, had already qualified for tomorrow’s grand prix highlight, so they chose to not compete in the jump-off.

Lauren Hough and Ottaline, last night’s winning team in the $20,000 Gambler’s Choice, were the first to return for the tie breaker. Ottaline, owned by Peppercorn Ltd and Lake Hill Farm, pulled one rail and came in with four faults in 33.60 seconds. Nick Skelton and Russel, owned by Lisa Hales, approached the challenge and came away with eleven faults in 43.09 seconds, which would hold up for sixth. Winsor Farms Sales’ Polygraaf and William Lowry took a shot and jumped faultlessly in 33.27 seconds.

Ken Berkley amassed 17 faults in 45.17 seconds with Carlos Boy, owned by Krista and Alexa Weisman, and Beezie Madden rode Allan Shore’s Play On from start to finish in 34.44 seconds and left all of the obstacles in tact.

Laura Kraut then piloted Miss Independent to a fast, fault free finish in 32.24 seconds, jumping into the lead. Lisa Silverman and Obelix R trotted into the arena last in the order and gave it their all. Galloping through the finish timers in 32.66 seconds, Silverman just missed her chance at the win.

Kraut and Miss Independent, owned by the Miss Independent Group, earned the O’Meara Trophy and a slot in tomorrow evening’s roster of competitors.

"We’ve been showing in a lot of Nation’s Cup classes and classes with no jump-offs," related Kraut after her win. "I think my horse is learning how to go fast again. I think her gallop is what helped her win today. She had some nice turns in the jump off, but she is a very speedy horse."

The $20,000 Open Jumper Accumulator’s Class added an element of excitement to the evening, and horses and riders sped over a course of jumps with allotted points. Riders were given 60 seconds to jump over ten obstacles, with the first jump offering one point, the second offering two, the third awarding three, and the following jumps continuing the pattern up to the tenth fence. With an option at the end, the highest score possible was a 65. With seven riders jumping the Steve Stephens course clear and accumulating 65 points, the times on course were what determined the winner.

Aaron Vale and Waldi, owned by Millstream Inc, had a late start after they let the 45 second countdown clock run out, and their time on course started to elapse. They made up for the lost time and blasted through the finish line in 44.86 seconds. Second place went to Norman Dello Joio and Enrique Garcia’s horse Marengo, who stopped the clock in 45.73 seconds, and third place was awarded to Harrie Smolders and Exqui Quebec. Smolders and his mount came home with a time of 45.79 seconds.

In the $10,000 Amateur-Owner Ambassador’s Cup, held under a Table II 2(a) Time First Jump-Off format, only seven qualified for the tie breaker out of sixteen entries. Whitney Weeks and Subliem gave the other competitors a run for their money after they jumped fault free in the first round and were then the first horse and rider combination to come back for the short course. The pair blazed across the arena, making hair pin turns and galloping at full speed. Breaking the beam with a clear round in 31.610 seconds, Weeks’ impressive score claimed the top spot on the leader board.

Paige Johnson and Salamander Farm’s La Martinee were the next to take on Weeks’ fast time. Lowering the height of one fence, Johnson and her mount crossed the finish line in 32.312 seconds, leaving Subliem at the head of the class. Jackson and Ashley Baker then took a shot; however, they also ticked a rail and came away with a four fault penalty, tripping the timers in 33.233 seconds. Samantha Tuerk and Loraine 18 entered the arena next and matched Baker’s four fault score, coming home with a slower time of 34.658 seconds.

Katherine Miracle and Madonna, owned by the Overlook Farm, clocked in with eight faults in 33.751 seconds, which would hold up for sixth place, and Jeanne Hobbs aboard Nielson B finished with the fastest time, 30.397 seconds. Their four fault penalty unfortunately kept them from taking over the lead. Christina Serio and Olympieck racked up 18 points in a slower time of 47.692 seconds, revealing that Weeks and Subliem would lead the victory gallop.

"I was a little nervous about going first," reported Weeks about her jump off. "Usually she’s a little bit hard to turn, but she was really good today. I’ve never done jumpers indoors before, so it was a little weird," she admitted. "My horse is a pro at it though. I knew I had to go a little bit faster because I was the first to go. I knew I had to be neat, but I couldn’t go way too fast. She was perfect."

Her trainer, Kent Farrington, commented, "Whitney rode great today. She has a really nice horse that’s super careful. We had to go first, and we had to take a shot with some fast riders coming behind her. She nailed it in the jump off," he asserted.

The $2,500 Junior Jumper Classic was also held under a Table II, 2(a) format. Twenty competitors went to post, with only three entries qualifying for the short course. Jessica Springsteen and Stone Hill Farm’s La Movida were the first to return in the jump off. La Movida had two rails down in a time of 33.432 seconds. Haylie Jayne entered the ring next aboard Cartier and also left the arena with eight faults. Her time of 31.384 seconds, however, ranked her first on the score board.

Maggie McAlary and Pedro, who won last night’s Junior Jumper class, cleared the course without fault in 32.967 seconds, edging Jayne into second. McAlary took home top honors once again, earning a double victory in her division.

Show Jumping continues tomorrow with the Open Jumper Hit n’ Hurry and the much anticipated $100,000 President’s Cup Grand Prix. The schedule also includes the Media Sports Celebrity Challenge, the WIHS Equitation Jumper Phase and Final Work-off.

RESULTS of EMO/Berkley Underwriting Partners Puissance

1 McLain Ward, Optimum Pozitano – 0-0-0-0 (7’2 ½")
2 Nick Skelton, Russel -0-0-0-WD (6’ 11 ½")
3T William Lowry, Rio Corde 0-0-4 (6’5")
3T Evan Coluccio, Tornado R -0-0-4 (6’5")
3T Mark Leone, Diamond Safari -0-0-4 (6’5")
6T Aaron Vale, Gentlemen George 4 (6’)
6T Jimmy Torano, Lerona 4 (6’)
8 Harrie Smolders, Exquis Quebec - Retired

Results of Class 214 - $20,000 Accumulator

T/A: 60.00

1 71 WALDI AARON VALE USA 65 44.86 $6000

MILLSTREAM INC

2 46 MARENGO NORMAN DELLO JOIO USA 65 45.73 $4000

ENRIQUE GARCIA

3 55 EXQUIS QUEBEC HARRY SMOLDERS NED 65 45.79 $2400

AXEL VERLOOY / TEAM EXQUI

4 40 RIO CORDE WILLIAM LOWRY USA 65 49.28 $2000

WINSOR FARMS SALES INC

5 17 CEDRIC LAURA KRAUT USA 65 49.81 $1500

K&H ENTERPRISES

6 57 NAMUR NICK SKELTON GBR 65 50.74 $1200

NICK SKELTON

7 65 INSULTECH PORTOFINO MICHAEL WHITAKER GBR 65 53.47 $1000

MICHAEL WHITAKER

8 27 FLUBBER COCOY LISA SILVERMAN USA 56 46.67 $800

LISA SILVERMAN

9 36 KISS ME DES JONCS MEGAN JOHNSTONE USA 56 47.39 $600

STONEY HILL LLC

10 76 LENNOX LEWIS 2 LESLIE HOWARD USA 52 45.31 $500

LESLIE HOWARD

11 75 QUIK TODD MINIKUS USA 39 46.40

SPLIT ROCK FARM

12 8 SUPERIEUR KIM PRINCE USA 38 60.47

KRISTEN POLLIN

Results of Class 201 -$2500 Junior Jumpers II, 2(a)

1 758 PEDRO MAGGIE MCALARY 0.00 56.689 0.00 32.967 $750

BEAVER BROOK PONIES

2 191 CARTIER HAYLIE JAYNE 0.00 57.236 8.00 31.384 $435

ALEX JAYNE

3 493 LA MOVIDA JESSICA SPRINGSTEEN 0.00 55.971 8.00 33.432 $335

STONE HILL FARM

4 298 FELIX DES NOUES JULIE WELLES 4.00 55.438 $270

MISSY CLARK/NORTH RUN

5 846 QUINCY B HILLARY DOBBS 4.00 55.684 $240

HILLARY DOBBS

6 847 VDL LOTUS EXCEL HILLARY DOBBS 4.00 55.928 $180

HILLARY DOBBS

7 836 LUDWIG LEXY REED 4.00 56.250 $145

LEXY REED

8 615 BLACK OPAL SHELBI SICLARI 4.00 56.336 $145

SHELBI SICLARI

9 508 MON GAMIN BRIANNE GOUTAL 4.00 57.213

CLOVERLEAF FARM

10 762 SARGEANT HENRY PFEIFFER 4.00 57.978

FOX MEADOW FARM

11 505 LOUISIANA SLOAN COLES 4.00 59.022

JULIE COLES

12 845 CORLETT HEATHER DOBBS 4.00 59.177

HEATHER DOBBS

Results of Class 208 - A/O Jumper Ambassador's Cup - II, 2(a)

1 246 SUBLIEM WHITNEY WEEKS 0.00 59.324 0.00 31.610 $3000

WHITNEY WEEKS

2 399 NIELSON B JEANNE HOBBS 0.00 59.075 4.00 30.397 $2000

JEANNE HOBBS

3 742 LA MARTINEE PAIGE JOHNSON 0.00 55.624 4.00 32.312 $1200

SALAMANDER FARM

4 840 JACKSON ASHLEY BAKER 0.00 58.229 4.00 33.233 $1000

ASHLEY BAKER

5 170 LORAINE 18 SAMANTHA TUERK 0.00 59.943 4.00 34.658 $750

SAMANTHA TUERK

6 240 MADONNA KATHERINE MIRACLE 0.00 58.505 8.00 33.751 $600

OVERLOOK FARM INC

7 681 OLYMPIECK CHRISTINA SERIO 0.00 56.354 18.00 47.692 $500

CHRISTINA SERIO

8 455 MODRA CHLOE WORMSER 4.00 54.863 $400

CHLOE WORMSER

9 397 NIGHT AND DAY 8 JEANNE HOBBS 4.00 59.260 $300

JEANNE HOBBS

10 667 MR. HAPPY ERIN STEWART 8.00 58.735 $250

ERIN STEWART

11 832 VICTORIA DE ZELLIK RANDY JOHNSON 22.00 72.001

GREENER PASTURES

12 747 OLAF JESSICA MILTZ 24.00 60.528

JESSICA MILTZ

Results of Class 211 - $25,000 Open Jumper 238.2.2

1 24 MISS INDEPENDENT LAURA KRAUT USA 0.00 55.68 0.00 32.24 $7500

MISS INDEPENDENT GROUP

2 26 OBELIX R LISA SILVERMAN USA 0.00 56.89 0.00 32.66 $5500

LISA SILVERMAN

3 41 POLYGRAAF WILLIAM LOWRY USA 0.00 57.70 0.00 33.27 $3250

WINSOR FARMS SALES INC

4 5 PLAY ON BEEZIE MADDEN USA 0.00 58.67 0.00 34.44 $2000

ALLAN SHORE

5 43 OTTALINE LAUREN HOUGH USA 0.00 58.73 4.00 33.60 $1500

PEPPERCORN & LAKE HILL

6 56 RUSSEL NICK SKELTON GBR 0.00 57.32 11.00 43.09 $1250

LISA HALES

7 51 CARLOS-BOY KEN BERKLEY USA 0.00 53.40 17.00 45.17 $1000

KRISTA & ALEXA WIESMAN

T8 49 ILIAN SCHUYLER RILEY USA 0.00 55.16 dns. $750

SOUTH BEACH STABLE

T8 70 MARLOU KIM PRINCE USA 0.00 59.99 dns. $750

WINDMILL RANCH

10 54 EXQUIS OLIVER Q HARRY SMOLDERS NED 4.00 54.56 $500

AXEL VERLOOY/TEAM EXQUIS

11 18 YOUP LESLIE BURR HOWARD USA 4.00 55.19 $500

S'BLIEFT GROUP

12 33 HC OSCAR MARGIE ENGLE USA 4.00 55.76 $500

HIDDEN CREEK FARM