Another win for Skelton in Florida

January 21, 2012

Nick Skelton garnered another win at the FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival on Thursday in the $32,000 WEF Challenge Cup 2, this time taking the top prize with Carlo 273.


Nick Skelton and Carlo 273. © Sportfot
Irish riders took the next two places, with Richie Moloney on Slieveanorra, a 10-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding by Voltaire x Flagmount Diamond, just behind in 39.16 seconds, and Cian O'Connor on Blue Loyd 12, a 12-year-old Oldenburg gelding by Landor S x Hadj Ax, had a time of 39.76 seconds to finish third

Fourth place in the class went to Ben Maher Tackeray, who finished in 39.87 seconds, while Ireland's Andrew Bourns and Roundthorn Madios were fifth in 40.40 seconds.

Skelton also won a $6000 bonus from SSG Riding Gloves for his win, while wearing SSG 'Digital' riding gloves.

Now in its second year, the SSG Riding Gloves 'Go Clean for the Green' promotion offers a bonus of $3000 each week to the winner of the WEF Challenge Series if they compete wearing SSG 'Digital' riding gloves. As last week's winner, McLain Ward, was not wearing the gloves, the bonus money doubled to $6000 for the second week of competition.

Taking home the bonus money was not an easy task for Skelton, however. From a starting line=up of 59 entries, the British show jumping legend faced 17 challengers in the jump-off. As the sixth rider back for the jump-off, Skelton and Carlo 273, an 11-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Contender x Cascavelle) posted a clear round in a time of 38.39 seconds that could not be beat. In addition to winning his share of the prize money, Skelton also collected the $6000 bonus from SSG Riding Gloves.

"I've been wearing them a long time, all last season, and I didn't win anything, but it's finally paid off," said Skelton. "I actually really like the gloves, they have a good grip, especially when it's raining or the horse is sweating."

In the second year of its sponsorship promotion, SSG Riding Gloves is offering a $3000 bonus each week of the WEF Challenge Cup Series. For the weekly Junior Jumper High Classic and the weekly Amateur-Owner Jumper High Classic, a bonus of $1000 is offered. In the event that bonus money is not awarded, it carries forward to the next week. To claim the bonus, riders must wear SSG 'Digital' Riding Gloves in the first round of competition and any subsequent jump-off.

This week's course designer in the International Arena is Luc Musette of Belgium. Skelton said: "Luc is one of the best course builders. He's very underestimated and he's one of the best course builders in the world for me. For the amount of people in it today, it was a good course and a good jump-off. It wasn't crazy big. You don't have to go in there every time and jump massive courses. The horses will last longer doing what we're doing instead of keep testing them every day to the maximum."

Skelton has a solid string of winners with Unique, who won last week's Suncast 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic, and Big Star, a multiple winner at last year's FTI WEF. "I still have Big Star to come out," Skelton said. "He gets out of quarantine in two weeks. Then he can start jumping."

Skelton, who won the individual and team bronze medals at last year's European Championships with Carlo, is part of a British contingent at the FTI WEF training for this summer's Olympic Games in London.


Nick Skelton claimed the $6000 SSG Riding Gloves bonus from Lynda James of SSG (left) and Jennifer Ward of Starting Gate Communications (right) after winning the $32,000 WEF Challenge Cup Round II at the Winter Equestrian Festival. © Sportfot

When asked his thoughts on the British team, he said, "We've come here because there's not a lot on at home, and they can't all go to the indoor shows. The indoor shows, you don't get the same build up as being outside. Here, the weather's always good, the rings are always good, the courses are good. You can try and put a team together."

Skelton will likely be a part of the British squad at the $75,000 FEI Nations Cup presented by G&C Farm on March 2.


Ken Berkley and Prestige. © Sportfot
• Ken Berkley and Gina Day's six-year-old Zangersheide gelding Prestige took home a championship tricolor and Horseware Ireland cooler in the Sanctuary First Year Green Working Hunters for week two of the FTI WEF.

Prestige and Berkley won two classes over fences on Thursday and earned two fourth place ribbons on Wednesday. Scott Stewart rode his own Caldwell to the reserve championship, finishing first over the earlier handy course and second under saddle, and placing sixth in Thursday's stake class.

Prestige was circuit champion in the Pre-Green 3' Hunters during last year's FTI WEF and this was his first time showing in the First Year division.

"Prestige is just a baby; he just turned six years old," Berkley said.

"He was four and then turned five when we started him last year. He is so simple that we gave him the summer off. He has not shown since Kentucky last spring in May and this is his first week doing the First Years."

Berkley is full of praise for Prestige. "He is bomb proof; he doesn't look at a thing left or right. The spookier the fence, the higher he jumps. He has a big stride and he lands on every lead. I never had to do a flying change in two days over four courses."