Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Driving: Mechelen: FOURTH-IN-A-ROW WIN FOR BOYD EXELL by Cindy Timmer


Mechelen (BEL), 31 December 2011

Boyd Exell proved to be of a different class again in the sixth leg of the FEI World Cup™ Driving in Mechelen, Belgium. Exell remained untouched throughout the competition and stayed far ahead of his rivals Tomas Eriksson (SWE) and IJsbrand Chardon (NED). Mechelen is Boyd’s fourth consecutive win of the season after his victories at Stockholm, Budapest and Geneva. With only the Final in Bordeaux left for the triple FEI World Cup winner, Boyd can relax and enjoy his well-deserved holiday in his home country Australia for the next few weeks.

Exciting until the last moment
It was one of the best FEI World Cup™ Driving competitions ever in the Nekkerhal, which remained exciting until the very last moment. No less than eight drivers battled for a place on the podium. Second starter Georg von Stein drove a fast clear round, which more experienced indoor drivers like Koos de Ronde and Jozsef Dobrovitz were unable to beat. Tomas Eriksson was the first to beat Von Stein’s time and secured his place for the winning round. IJsbrand Chardon caused even more excitement by knocking a ball off the first obstacle, but finished only 0.48 seconds behind Eriksson and also qualified for the winning round. Boyd Exell finished the job without any hesitation and took the lead.
Winning Round
In the winning round, Chardon gave Eriksson some more air by knocking three balls down. The Swedish top driver however knocked two balls down himself but was a little quicker and took over the lead. Last starter Exell drove his team of horses without any faults through the much-praised course, designed by Dutch O-course designer Johan Jacobs and secured his fourth consecutive win of this season.
Bill is back
Boyd used ‘good old’ Bill in the Nekkerhal for the first time this season in the right lead position again. The 19-year-old gelding was part of Boyd’s winning team at the FEI World Cup Finals in 2009, 2010 and 2011. Exell spared his best horse in order to be able to use him for the Final in Bordeaux and he used Mechelen as a ‘warm up’ competition to get Bill back into his rhythm. “I had to concentrate to keep up with Bill,” said Boyd. “Bill is very instinctive and he feels where I want to go. He allows me to gather speed easily without a lot of risk.
Fighting for a place in the Final
The goal of Tomas Eriksson, who won the FEI World Cup™ Driving event in Mechelen in 2007, was to gain as many points as possible to secure his starting ticket for the Final. Tomas is currently in fifth position in the standings after Mechelen. The double World Champion has to put down another top performance in Leipzig in three weeks to be able to compete at the Final in Bordeaux, which is open to the top six drivers in the standings after Leipzig.
Unusual knockdowns
IJsbrand Chardon had an unlucky knock down in the first round. The four-time World Champion then gave everything he had in the second round, but went too fast and knocked three balls down, which is unusual for IJsbrand.
Tips and tricks
Georg von Stein had received some tips and tricks from Exell and Eriksson the night before the World Cup competition, which paid off when he drove an excellent clear round and secured fourth place. Jozsef Dobrovitz and wild card driver Koos de Ronde did not get into their usual speedy rhythm and finished fifth and sixth.
In the footsteps of his grandfather
Twenty-two year old wild card competitor Glenn Geerts followed in the footsteps of his grandfather, former international Belgian four-in-hand driver Achille Snoeys and competed in the Nekkerhal for the first time with his team of Dutch warm blood geldings. Snoeys received the wild card in 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005. Ten times Belgian Champion Gert Schrijvers competed in the FEI World Cup Driving™ competition in Mechelen for the tenth time this year but a lack of indoor routine made the third wild card driver end the competition in eighth place.
Boyd Exell (AUS):
“Boyd Exell (AUS): “In the winning round we said we would go clean and clear and when the rhythm was good, we would let them fly. We took the first obstacle very tight and fast, my navigator Michelle told me in the second obstacle that we did not need to go that fast, so I steadied up a little bit.” “The course was good for the public, they were sitting very close to the arena which allowed them to feel the horses. And when the spectators started to make noise with their feet, I could feel the horses go from V8 to V12.”
Tomas Eriksson (SWE): “This was the best course in Mechelen that I have seen for years. Johan Jacobs has done a very good job. My goal was to make it to the winning round so I am happy that I made it. I still have to go for it in Leipzig as I am not certain of a place for the Final.”
IJsbrand Chardon (NED): “I went all or nothing in the winning round but I made too many mistakes. I am happy though that I have tried it. The horses went fast and turned well and I am pleased that I finished in the top three.”
Results CAI-W Mechelen 2011:
  1. Boyd Exell (AUS) 194,51
  2. Tomas Eriksson (SWE) 211,13
  3. IJsbrand Chardon (NED) 215,03
  4. Georg von Stein (GER) 106,02
  5. Jozsef Dobrovitz (HUN) 108,97
  6. Koos de Ronde (NED) 116,47 wild card
  7. Glenn Geerts (BEL) 127,33 wild card
  8. Gert Schrijvers (BEL) 136,93 wild card

Standings after 6 of 7 events:
1      Boyd EXELL                       AUS         30
2      IJsbrand CHARDON           NED         24
        Koos DE RONDE                NED         24
4      Jozsef DOBROVITZ            HUN        15
5      Tomas ERIKSSON              SWE        12
6      Zoltan LÁZÁR                     HUN        11
7      Theo TIMMERMAN             NED         7
8      Werner ULRICH                SUI         6
        Georg VON STEIN              GER         6
10    Rainer DUEN                     GER         5
The 2011/2012 FEI World Cup™ Driving series now moves on to Leipzig, Germany on Sunday, 22 January. For information on the next leg go to or contact Press Officer Andreas Kerstan,, +49 4307 827970.


Lausanne (SUI), 10 January 2012
The FEI has today given final sign-off on the footing that will be used for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Equestrian Events at Greenwich Park.

The London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) conducted footing tests at a site near Preston in the north of England on 20 and 21 December 2011. The mix for the footing is now composed of non-waxed sand, felt and fibre.

Testing of the new footing concluded on 21 December when international riders Geoff Billington (Jumping) and Richard Davison (Dressage) rode on the surface, which had been laid on the platform structure that will be used at Greenwich Park next year.

Leopoldo Palacios, technical advisor to LOCOG, FEI Technical Delegate Frank Rothenberger, footing expert Bart Poels and FEI Director Jumping John Roche attended the test on 21 December. The technical experts produced detailed reports that were submitted to the FEI Executive Board for further evaluation prior to sign-off.

The test was also attended by International Jumping Riders Club (IJRC) representative John Whitaker, Jumping riders Peter Murphy and David McPherson, who attended as observers, two representatives from the Union Internationale de Pentathlon Moderne (UIPM) and Peter Hart, LOCOG Modern Pentathlon Competition Manager.

“The riders gave some very positive feedback on the footing and this was backed up by the technical reports we received from the officials that attended the test in December”, FEI Secretary General Ingmar de Vos said. “The FEI Executive Board has now signed off on the footing and, together with LOCOG, we are delighted that the process is now in place to deliver the best possible footing for the 2012 Games. We are looking forward to excellent Olympic and Paralympic sport at the wonderful Greenwich Park venue next summer.”

WEF: Wellington: 2012 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival Hosts Opening Press Conference

For Immediate Release
Lauren Fisher for Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.

Wellington, FL - January 10, 2012 - The 2012 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) hosted its opening press conference on Tuesday afternoon at the White Horse Tavern in Wellington, FL. A large crowd of local, national, and international media were in attendance to hear the latest news on the 12-week competition, which begins tomorrow. The FTI WEF will host thousands of the world's best horses and riders on January 11-April 1 at the beautiful Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in what has become the world's largest and longest running horse show.
Local, national, and international media attended the opening press conference 

This afternoon's press conference was hosted by Equestrian Sport Productions' (ESP) CEO Mark Bellissimo and President Michael Stone, with additional commentary from top hunter rider and trainer Louise Serio, Pan American Games Show Jumping Individual and U.S. Team Gold Medalist Christine McCrea, Wellington Equestrian Partner Hunter Harrison, and Olympic Show Jumping Gold Medalist Rodrigo Pessoa.


Highlighted topics included the continuous growth of the show, the addition of many new sponsors, the upcoming USEF Olympic Selection Trials for the U.S. Show Jumping Team, and the broader expansion of the FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival to reach horse lovers of all disciplines.

Equestrian Sport Productions President Michael Stone began the press conference by welcoming everyone and expressing his excitement for the season to come. Stone emphasized the progress of the show grounds, the increased prize money, and the increased caliber of classes that will be held during this year's competition.

"Over the years we have been talking a lot about construction and development, and for the first time the show grounds are ready to go," Stone stated. "Prize money is up significantly. The last six events will have five ROLEX FEI world ranking classes, which make it by far the biggest international horse show in the United States. For the first time the Olympic Trials will be in line with the USEF National Championships. We have moved on to such an extent now, that people are realizing that this is the place to come. Many foreign riders are coming to use this as Olympic preparation and we are expecting huge numbers from California, Central and South America and from Europe."

ESP CEO Mark Bellissimo spoke next, commenting on the transformation of the horse show. "We are very excited about this year," Bellissimo smiled. "This is going to be by far our biggest year. If you look across every element of our revenue base, from stabling to entries to sponsorship to hospitality, we are up at least 10 to 15% in every one of those categories in a very difficult time. I think that is a testament to a tremendous investment by our partnership. We have a group of people who are not only committed to this festival, which has increased in both size and stature, but are very committed to this community and really trying to make it the centerpiece of the world for winter equestrian competition." 

Bellissimo explained that his goal is to develop an "equestrian lifestyle destination", unifying the many equestrian disciplines and bringing horse lovers of all kinds together.

"The unifying theme here is the horse, not hunter, jumper, polo, or anything else. For people who love the horse, we want to make it accessible everyone - to the Olympic caliber riders, to someone who just got his first western horse, and to people who just want to be a part of the lifestyle. I think that we are going to see a tremendous amount of growth in that area and I think that we are going to see a much broader group in Wellington in the future."
The panel at the opening press conference, held at the White Horse Tavern 
"We are hopeful that this will be our greatest year in terms of spectatorship," Bellissimo continued. "We believe that the next transition for the sport is to get it even more spectator friendly and family friendly."

Also speaking during the press conference, Hunter Harrison represented Wellington Equestrian Partners. Harrison spoke about the growth of the show and the importance of sponsors.

"It is very pleasing for me, having been here for about 15 years now, to see the progress that this venue has made in all aspects in a relatively short period of time," Harrison said. "We owe a great deal of thanks to Mark Bellissimo for the leadership that he has shown and some of the battles that he has fought to see that this show is a success and meets the standards that we have set for ourselves, which are pretty high. As a former large sponsor of the show, I know that you cannot run a horse show of this magnitude without sponsors. There is an exciting list of new sponsors this year and some that have been with us for years and years that we could not do without."

Questions for Christine McCrea followed with a conversation about what it means for the U.S Show Jumping Team to have their Olympic Selection Trials at the FTI WEF this year. The winner of the selection trials will be named the national champion, as winner of the U.S. National Show Jumping Championship. McCrea stated, "It is really exciting as an American jumper rider. We are so fortunate to come down here and show and to have everything wrapped into one, especially in one week, is going to be really cool. I thank Mark for putting that all together and working with our federation to make that happen. Everybody is excited; it is at the front of everybody's mind."

Louise Serio, the winner of last year's $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby, spoke about the exciting opportunities for hunters at this year's WEF. Serio noted, "The hunters are looking forward to going back on Saturday night during week six. That is our big week when we get to go in the International Arena and have a Saturday night class. We hope everybody will come and watch. It is really quite exciting for all of the riders. The professionals, juniors and amateurs all show against each other. Then the derby is the last week down here, the $50,000 class, which is our biggest money derby all year (outside of the Finals). Everybody is excited; there are a lot of people with a lot of horses, so we are looking forward to a good year."

Finally, Rodrigo Pessoa spoke from the point of view of the international show jumper, noting the advantages of competing in Wellington during the winter.

"I think that, competition wise, this is as hard as anywhere in the world because America is obviously a very strong country with a lot of good horses and riders," Pessoa said. "It is tough to win here; the competition is very hard. It is a privilege to be here for so many weeks at a great facility like this one. With the weather like this, it makes you enjoy your time very much. Of course the management has been working really hard to make this facility look world-class and it is really getting there. The changes the last couple of years have been incredible and the prize money is great thanks to all of the sponsors."

Michael Stone, Mark Bellissimo, Louise Serio, Christine McCrea, Rodrigo Pessoa, and Hunter Harrison 
Equestrian Sport Productions looks forward to a fantastic season as the 2012 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival kicks off on Wednesday, January 11. For more information and for a full schedule of events, please visit

Photo credit: The panel of Michael Stone, Mark Bellissimo, Louise Serio, Christine McCrea, Rodrigo Pessoa and Hunter Harrison spoke about the 2012 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival at the opening press conference. Photo © ManciniPhotos. These photos may only be used in relation to this press release.

About the FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival
The 2012 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival has 12 weeks of top competition running from January 11 through April 1. The FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival 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 $6 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 23 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 $1.4 billion in revenues during fiscal year 2010. More information can be found at        

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

Hunter/Jumper: USEF: 2012 George H. Morris Horsemastership Training Session Concludes After Five Informative Days

Riders from the 2012 George H. Morris Horsemastership Training Session. (Photo Courtesy of Stacey Nedrow-Wigmore)

January 10, 2012

From the USEF Communications Department

Wellington, FL- The sixth annual 
George H. Morris Horsemastership Training Session presented by the United States Hunter Jumper Association (USHJA) and Adequan concluded Saturday at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center in Wellington, FL. Held January 3-7, participants honed their riding skills and learned valuable lessons in overall horsemanship.

Due to a severe cold, Morris, the legendary horseman and U.S. Show Jumping Chef d'Equipe, was unable to teach the training session sponsored by The Dutta Corporation, Farnam, Practical Horseman, and Equestrian Sport Productions. However, Morris' protégés Anne Kursinski, Kent Farrington, McLain Ward and Beezie Madden stepped in to conduct the morning mounted sessions. 
The culmination of the training session was Saturday's mock Nations Cup. It was a unique opportunity for riders to practice jumping in the Nations Cup format, and the group was split into four different teams. The Gold medal-winning team from the 2011 Pan American Games (Farrington, Madden, Ward and Christine McCrea) served as Chefs d'Equipe as riders jumped two rounds over Anthony D'Ambrosio's challenging course. 

"I think we're working with a great group of riders," said Farrington. "Being a clinic, if you're able to walk away with anything, even if it's just one thing new that you learned, it's more than worth its while." 

In the afternoons, riders and auditors attended informative sessions on an array of topics including veterinary and farrier care, horse selection, the importance of fundamentals in horse management and course design. On Friday evening a forum was held for participants and the public to learn more about the Artisan Farms Young Rider Under -25 Series, the 2012 European Junior and Young Rider Tour, FEI Medication Rules as well as Mr. Morris' legendary Principles, Policies and Procedures for International riders presented by John Madden.

Jacob Pope jumps Anthony D'Ambriosio's course. Photo from Amy Serridge/USEF Archive
Jacob Pope took part in the Training Session for the first time and was sorry that Morris was unable to teach but nonetheless learned valuable lessons in horsemastership.

"It was disappointing and too bad that Mr. Morris wasn't able to train us, but USEF staff, Lizzy (Chesson) and Amy (Serridge), managed to put together a fantastic set of clinicians - Anne, Kent, McLain and Beezie were great!" said Pope. "Where else could you get all that at once, as well as great clinics from a vet and farrier, and advice from Katie (Prudent) on how to select a horse, Adequan on joint care, and Pancho Lopez on horse care and barn management?  And all of this with a group of top notch riders from across the nation; the personal connections will hopefully last a lifetime. The knowledge and wisdom that was shared with us was priceless."

On the final day, the USET Foundation hosted a luncheon.  Bonnie Jenkins, Executive Director of the USET Foundation congratulated all of the riders on a successful week.  "The USET Foundation is proud to be part of this week and continuing our mission of supporting athletes, promoting international excellence and building for the future."

The George H. Morris Horsemastership Training Session would not have been possible without the generosity of the clinicians who donated their time: Anthony D'Ambrosio, Kent Farrington, Anne Kursinski, Pancho Lopez, Beezie and John Madden, Allyn Mann, Christine McCrea, Dr. Tim Ober, Dean Pearson, Katie Prudent and McLain Ward.

The presented by Smartpak hosted wall-to-wall coverage over the five days of the training session. Video on demand is available for all the morning riding sessions and many of the educational afternoon sessions. All video, photos from the week and information about the participants and clinicians can be found at