Articles: Horse News
Jeffery Welles and Armani Triumph at 2010 $200,000 Gene Mische American
Invitational presented by G & C Farm
Jeffery Welles produced a double clear effort with Armani to win the 2010
$200,000 Gene Mische American Invitational. Photo By: Anne Gittins
Rebecca Walton for
Phelps Media Group, Inc.
at (561) 753-3389 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
Tampa, FL - April 10, 2010 - It was with speed and grace that Jeffery Welles
was able to capture tonight's victory with his top mount Armani during a
three-horse jump-off. The pair raced through the finish line in 44.36
seconds after completing a clear short course during the 2010 $200,000 Gene
Mische American Invitational presented by G & C Farm at Raymond James
Stadium. Peter Leone tried to catch his time with Select, who also left all
the rails intact, but the duo's time of 44.87 seconds would fall just short
and take second place. Mac Cone lowered the heights of three fences for a 12
fault score and third place honors.
2008 Olympic course designer Steve Stephens of Palmetto, FL, designed
tonight's difficult course. The 13 numbered obstacles featured three double
combinations, including a double liverpool combination, an aqueduct wall, a
triple bar, and a tall plank fence vertical. The most difficult fences
proved to be the first part of the double liverpool combination and the
Leslie Howard and Lennox Lewis II were one of nine riders to fall victim to
the liverpool combination, but they stopped the clock at 83.01 seconds to be
the fastest four-faulter and earn the fourth place award. Howard was one of
six four-fault riders, which also included Nicole Shahinian-Simpson, Cara
Raether, Georgina Bloomberg, Michael Morrissey, and Hugh Graham.
Canadian Mac Cone and Ole, owned by Sara Houston and Larry Evoy, was the
fourth rider on course and the first to complete a clear effort. Nine rounds
later it was Jeffery Welles and Aramni, owned by Abigail Wexner and Triton
Ventures, that managed to cross the finish line without accruing any faults,
guaranteeing a jump-off. Peter Leone was not going to be left out of a final
round after waiting almost 10 years to show in the American Invitational
again. He rode Select, owned by Lionshare Farm and Ger Poels Horses, to
clear round and joined Cone and Welles to compete for the top prize during
the short course.
The jump-off round began over a single vertical, and riders made a bending
line to an oxer before making a sharp right turn to another single
vertical. They then had to jump through a long oxer-to-oxer double
combination before making another sharp right turn to a single oxer. Riders
then made a long left turn to a tall vertical, and finished over the triple
bar and the aqueduct wall.
Cone and Ole were first in the ring to show over the shortened course. They
were able to clear the first five obstacles without fault, but after
completing the double combination the rails started to fall. The duo lowered
the height of the next oxer, the single vertical going away from home, and
the aqueduct wall, for a 12 fault score in 46.00 seconds and the third place
"My horse was a handful and he mentally took a lot out of himself," said
Cone. "I usually use a class during the week to tone down his nerves a
little bit , but he spent a lot of nervous energy tonight. During the first
part of the jump off he was fantastic and it was like all of a sudden he ran
out of gas on me."
Next to compete in the jump-off was Welles and Armani, and Welles knew the
pair had to complete a good effort with Leone showing next. Welles and
Armani carefully made their way over the fences, gaining ground during the
first sharp turn and slicing the last single oxer. The duo left all the
rails in their cups and blazed through the finish line in 44.36 seconds to
jump to the top of the leader board and lead tonight's victory gallop.
"I did not want to be silly and go flat out with just one horse behind me,"
explained Welles. "I knew Peter's horse had a big step, but other than that
I do not know Peter's horse that well. I just tried to be as smooth as I
could be. I felt like the first three fences and the combination was
good. During the jump-off I was a little wide to fence 10 where Peter was
much more direct than I was, which almost cost me the class because I went a
little wide there."
The last to attempt tonight's short course was Leone aboard his new mount
Select. The pair maneuvered their way easily over each fence with Select
tightly tucking his legs and carefully avoiding any faults. They raced to
the final fence and tripped the timers at 44.87 seconds. Leone and Select
were just 5/10ths behind Welles, and their double-clear effort earned them
the second place prize.
"The fact is I know how fast Jeffery is with Armani, so even without Jeffery
leaving it all on the field I knew he was fast," commented Leone. "This was
my fourth grand prix on Select. I wanted to try and take a shot in the
jump-off, but still stay within myself. I know I was slow to the third jump
in the jump off but other than that I felt pretty good. I am really proud to
have even gotten within half a second of Jeffery's time."
Welles has ridden in the American Invitational many times and has placed
second twice, but this his only time winning the first place title. "I have
always loved this class," he smiled. "Armani was second here in 2005 so this
was only his second time competing in the class. It was great to come back
and do so well for myself and his new half-owner Abigail Wexner."
Armani and Welles have been paired together for eight years and they have a
very strong bond. "Armani is very sensitive and has quite a lot of blood, so
he suits my type of ride. I prefer to not have to kick to the back rail of
oxers. He is a horse that really stretches for the back rail and I can just
sit quieter because I know that I have the scope behind me. I know him so
well at this point so it is just so great to still have him and have him
jumping like this."
Tonight marked the 37th anniversary of the American Invitational, and all of
the riders were excited to be a part of the unique event. "G & C Farm was
wonderful to step up and support this class because it is the last special
class we have in our country," said Leone. "This class has always been on
the tour and it is very demanding."
Cone added, "Venues like this are special places and that is what really
makes the sport. Gene [Mische] is a big part of how strong the US has come
in show jumping worldwide. He was the one who started it all."
Welles continued, "It was nice to see Gene Mische here tonight. He has done
so much for our sport over the years. He has given so much and it was really
nice for him to be recognized tonight."
For more information about the 2010 $200,000 Gene Mische American
Invitational presented by G & C Farm please visit www.StadiumJumping.com.