Sunday, March 20, 2011

Hunters: Wellington: WEF: Van Gogh and Victoria Leiweke Make a Lasting Impression in the Coldwell Banker Children's Hunter 15-17; Katherine Strauss and Debonaire Shine in the THIS National Children's Medal 14 & Under

Photo Credit: Victoria Leiweke and Van Gogh are the Coldwell Banker Children's Hunter 15-17 champions during the tenth week of the 2011 FTI Winter Equestrian Festival. Katherine Strauss and Debonaire are the winners of the THIS National Children's Medal 14 & Under. Photo © Sportfot, Official Sport Photographer of the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival,

For Immediate Release
Brooke Bidgood for Equestrian Sport Productions

Wellington, FL - March 20, 2011 - Week 10 of the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival, which runs through April 3, is a wrap today with the last of the championships and blue ribbons awarded. The show was packed as spectators and competitors came to watch and compete. The Coldwell Banker Children's Hunters 15-17 were among the many divisions that awarded a championship to close the competition for the week.

Victoria Leiweke, from Tampa, FL, was the champion in the older section of Children's Hunters presented by Coldwell Banker. Leiweke was aboard her own horse, Van Gogh, a nine-year-old Royal Dutch Warmblood by Jetset-D.

Leiweke only recently purchased Van Gogh, making this weekend's results all the more rewarding. "I just got him a couple months ago. This is basically his first real year showing, because the previous owner didn't show him very often," Leiweke explained. "I'm really happy to have him!"

While the competition was close, the winning combination of Leiweke and Van Gogh secured the championship with one win, a second, two thirds, and a fourth in the division's five classes.

Leiweke explained that she hopes to qualify for the THIS National Children's Medal Finals. The finals will be held at the Capital Challenge Horse Show in Maryland in the fall, giving Leiweke and Van Gogh plenty of time to reach a goal they are well on their way to accomplishing.

In the mean time, Leiweke will enjoy riding her new mount, as she plans to continue showing through the summer months. "He's amazing, and he is like a couch. He has the best canter; you just have to sit there and he does the rest!" she said.

The reserve champion in the Coldwell Banker Children's Hunters 15-17 was awarded to Emily Dupont, from Wilmington, DE. Dupont was aboard her own mount, Coeur De Lis, a seven-year-old Bavarian Warmblood. The duo secured the reserve championship by winning an over fences class and the under saddle. They also received a fourth place ribbon in one of the division's remaining over fences classes.

The FTI WEF hosted a slew of younger children's riders on Saturday morning. With a whopping forty-two entries in the THIS National Children's Medal 14 & Under, Ring 8 was packed full of competitive young riders. However, Katherine Strauss and her mount Debonaire, owned by Gustavo Mirabal, managed to win the blue ribbon and take home the top honor.

Add captKatherine Strauss and Debonaireion

Round one of the class, a jumping format comprised of eight to ten jumps, took the better part of the morning with so many entries to compete. From the forty-two entries, only four were called back to participate in the test. The test was rather difficult and left no room for error. Riders were asked to line up on the edge of the ring and demonstrate the test in reverse order, fourth through first. They were asked to hand-gallop directly to a single oxer, canter into the outside line, halt, and then continue to canter out of the same line and return to the line-up at the sitting trot.

The winner of the THIS National Children's Medal 14 & Under, Strauss, was called back to test on top, and managed to hold her lead through the test. Debonaire is a relatively new ride for Strauss. She explained, "We got him from G & C Farm during the WEF 3 show. One of the older girls from our barn, Victoria Birdsall, started doing him in the junior equitation classes because we thought he might be good at that."

"I had been looking for an equitation horse for a while. I tried him and I loved him, so it worked out really well!" beamed Strauss.

While there were so many entries in the THIS National Children's Medal 14 & Under, the top four riders all gave their best, making the final pinning a close one. Liana Cohen came in second with her mount Allura, owned by Robert Russel. In third place was Cyara New riding her own horse, Julianna. The fourth place rider was Ashton Clancy on the Deeridge Farm entry Jouet.

Week 11 of the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival will begin Wednesday, March 23, 2011 here at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. Stay tuned for more hunter results and championships as action picks back up next week.

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