Articles: Press Release
Leslie Howard and Youp Sweep Week One at WEF with Win in $50,000 Farr
XTN Grand Prix of Palm Beach
PHOTO CREDIT: Youp and Leslie Howard win Grand Prix of Palm Beach.
Photo by Randi Muster.
Kenneth Kraus of Phelps Media Group, Inc.
at (561) 753-3389 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
Wellington, FL -January 29, 2006 -The largest opening Sunday crowd in
the thirty-four year history of the Winter Equestrian Festival brought
week one, the Nutrena/Western Hay Classic, to a close and watched Leslie
Howard of Westport, Connecticut post her second major win in four days
as she galloped to victory in the $50,000 Farr XTN Grand Prix of Palm
The crowd of 8,476 show jumping fans enjoyed a gorgeous, partly cloudy
Florida day and were treated to the second largest starting field in the
long history of the Grand Prix of Palm Beach. Sixty-one starters went to
the post for the 1p.m. main event. The scoring was FEI art. 238.2.2,
Time First Jump-off. Canada's Michel Vaillancourt designed the track for
today's huge class and was up to the challenge.
Of the sixty-one starters, only four competitors completed the first
round course fault free. One competitor was clean with a single time
fault, while another seventeen competitors finished with a single
knockdown, many coming at the final fence on the long and technical
route that included seventeen jumping efforts.
Riding out of the fourteenth spot in the order, California's Megan
Lamaze and Stoney Hill's Ollandaise were the first horse and rider
combination to master the course. They were followed two horses later by
Georgina Bloomberg of New York City, who produced the second clear go
aboard Lancelot, owned by the Gotham Enterpirzes. Three horses later,
Olympic Team Gold Medalist Beezie Madden qualified Play On, owned by
Allan Shore Jr. for the tiebreaker.
It was not until thirty nine additional competitors had gone that the
final piece to the jump-off puzzle was added. Youp and Leslie Howard,
winners of the Thursday's $25,000 WEF Challenge Series Round One, riding
out of the fifty-ninth spot on the roster, produced the fourth and final
In the tiebreaker against the clock, Megan Lamaze returned first and was
unfortunately eliminated after coming unseated over the third fence in
Bloomberg and Lancelot returned next. They pulled two rails in the speed
phase, coming home with eight faults and clocking in at 43.13 seconds.
Madden and Play On also had two knockdowns, but posted a quicker time
than Bloomberg, taking over the top spot with only Howard left to go.
Howard not only produced a second clean effort of the day, but she did
it in the fastest time as well, a handy 38.01 seconds for the win.
Howard, following her second win of the week, explained that she really
would have preferred more pressure. "I said at the in gate as I was
walking in, 'I hate this. This is a nightmare for me,' because I really
like to go out and have to beat somebody's time," she explained. "I
really hate having to jump just a clear round. When you go for the slow
clear and then you end up with a late jump down, you end up third or
something. So I just prefer to go for it. I really have a careful horse
and I know he's fast, so my plan was to be ahead of everybody by a just
a little bit on the time. As it turned out," she revealed, "I thought I
had a rail at the double, so in my mind I knew that no matter how fast I
went to the last jump, even if I had it down, I could beat their times,
but if I tried to hold it together and went slow to the last fence and
had it down, I was dead."
"I thought it was a very fair course," Howard went on to say. "Michel
(Vaillancourt) is very limited, in this first grand prix of the season,
in the height of the jumps. Usually you can go up to 1.60m, but today,
the biggest jump out there was probably 1.50m. It's an easy solution
just to make the jumps bigger, but he didn't have that option. So he had
to build a very, very, very technical course. And that's exactly what it
was. Outside of the first line, there wasn't a place where he couldn't
catch you," she said. "I thought when I walked it there would be eight
clear, so yes, I was a bit surprised."
Howard, now a three time winner of the Grand Prix of Palm Beach, said
that Youp has been a work in progress. "I got him as a five year old,
and he's eleven now," she said. "I always thought he had the scope to do
this, but he was a late bloomer. It wasn't until July or August of last
year that he grew into the horse that I hoped he could be and this year,
obviously, he's come out gangbusters."
Howard was asked about the new FTI Rider Challenge, a new bonus program
rewarding riders with the most points over the course of the festival,
"I think it's highly unlikely that I'll win that," she laughed. "But I
guess if he (Youp) could win every Thursday we could win the overall
bonus. So, it's not impossible." And she added, "I certainly have a good
start don't I?"
And what about momentum, does that play a part in a rider's success?
"I'd like to say yes it does, However, I think it's more overrated than
you would think. I knew last year I wasn't going to win anything because
you have to have one very important thing to win, and that's a great
horse, and I didn't," she explained. "So you just have to be very
honest with yourself and at the same time, not let down. The main thing
for me is just sticking to your plan, staying focused, and when you are
having a bad year, not letting it bother you." But then she added, "On
the other hand, yes, there is such a thing as momentum. If you get on a
roll with a horse, then you do things you might not normally do. You
take extra risks. You know the horse is with you, the horse has his
confidence, the two of you are thinking alike, so you can ask a little
more and get away with a little more, especially in the jump-offs," she
Second place finisher Madden agreed with Howard's assessment of today's
course. "I thought it was tricky," she admitted. "He (Vaillancourt) did
a beautiful job today and all week really. Today, it was a rider's
"My plan was to go fast enough to make Leslie go a little fast to beat
me," said Madden. "My horse is a young horse. Today was only his second
grand prix. He's a bit of a hot horse, so if I go real fast, he'll lose
his mind a little bit. I wanted to go smooth and fast so Leslie would
have to take a bit of a risk. It didn't work out today, but he tried
hard, and he'll learn from that experience."
Week two of the 2006 Winter Equestrian Festival, the Gold Coast Jumper
Classic, presented by Carlisle, kicks off this Wednesday. Thursday is
the Round Two of the $25,000 WEF Challenge Cup Series and next Sunday's
main event is the $60,000 Wellington Cup, presented by Carlisle.
Results of Class 100 $50,000 Farr XTN Grand Prix of Palm Beach CSI** -
Nutrena/Western Hay Wellington Classic CSI**- 1/29/06
1 2388 LESLIE HOWARD USA YOUP 0.00 77.22 0.00 38.01 $15000
2 2498 BEEZIE MADDEN USA PLAY ON 0.00 80.18 8.00 42.49 $11000
ALLAN SHORE JR.
3 867 GEORGINA BLOOMBERG USA LANCELOT 0.00 80.75 8.00 43.13 $6500
4 529 MEGAN LAMAZE USA OLLANDAISE 0.00 78.41 elim. $4000
5 1269 MCLAIN WARD USA SAPPHIRE 1.00 82.84 $3000
DOUBLE H FARM
6 2702 LAURA CHAPOT USA LITTLE BIG MAN 4.00 74.62 $2500
7 2757 TODD MINIKUS USA VIKTOR 4.00 77.11 $2000
HARRY R. GILL
8 2021 IAN MILLAR CAN PROMISE ME 4.00 77.63 $1500
THE BAKER'S DOZEN
9 3295 CONOR SWAIL IRL PONCHO 4.00 78.09 $1500
10 2350 PABLO BARRIOS VEN WILDCAT F4F 4.00 79.05 $1000
JUAN MANUEL CARMONA
11 2286 MARIO DESLAURIERS CAN GRAF LANDO 4.00 79.17 $1000
12 1716 BRIAN WALKER USA MARIO 4.00 79.31 $1000
DECEMBER DREAMS LL
13 2181 ANDRES RODRIGUEZ VEN INDIEN D'ADRIERS 4.00 79.67
14 1187 CAYCE HARRISON USA COEUR 4.00 80.12
DOUBLE H FARM
15 482 CHRISTINE MCCREA USA LADDIDOR 4.00 80.23
16 1871 SCHUYLER RILEY USA NOTTINGHAM 4.00 80.84
SOUTH BEACH STABLE