The evening started off with the jumpers and an event I haven’t had the opportunity to announce before, The Gamblers Choice. I found this event very exciting as it necessitated that I not only announce, but call out the scores as the jumpers made their way around.
This particular event was a series of 6 jumps that allowed riders to choose their own line and each could be jumped twice, unless knocked down by the rider. Each jump had as different point value with the Joker being worth the most at 200. Diego Muyshondt and Andres Soto of Team Parker Seley of Merrill Lynch came in 3rd place with 910 points. Sean Casady and Spencer Smith were up in the irons for Team Purina in 2nd place with 1020 points. However, Javier Berganza and Juan Lander rocked Team Show Chic for 1st place with 1360 points.
Next came the Dressage event. The 1st exhibition presented by John and Leslie Malone was the Pas De Deux that featured Michael Klimke and Christoph Koschel. Michael was riding Fineliner 2 and Christoph riding Rostropowitsch NRW. This dynamic duo rode to the classic Blues Brothers. I had the opportunity to speak to Michael and he told me that they had never ridden the rest prior to the event. Their performance was proof of the extraordinary talent these gentlemen bring to U.S. dressage.
The 2nd exhibition presented by Deloitte, was the Pas De Trois and featured “Dapper Dan” Jim Koford and his vixens Ali Brock and Kati Dagge. They performed to several tunes that included “Call Me” and “Big Spender, and their performance got the hearts pumping of many in attendance. Ali also participates in “Rides4life” in an effort to raise awareness in helping to find a cure for this disease.
As the sun began to set, the field was bathed in deep shades of pink and orange. That’s when the lights came on to spotlight the main event, The Quadrilles. FEI 5* judge Linda Zang, FEI 4* judge Lois Yukins and Canadian Olympian judge David Marcus made up panel for this exciting event.
Presented by Michele & Doug Hundt, owners of Show Chic, was Team Show Chic. Placing 3rd Team Show Chic’s performance and song choice were a fantastic tribute to women entertainers who have bravely battled breast cancer in past years. Sheryl Crow, Melissa Etheridge, and Shirley Temple (Black) were their inspiration for the creation of this performance. The fight for the cure is what brought us to the show and I believe they honored them well. They took to the field with a large group of ladies carrying a banner and a very talented young lady named Kayden Muller-Janssen twirling two batons ala Shirley Temple that had everyone in hysterics. This amazing team comprised of Mary-Cameron Rollins, Hannah Michael, Jessica Rhinelander, Ariana Chia, Klendy Muller and Annie Peavy. A note of interest here on this rider, to the best of my knowledge, Annie was the only Para rider of the evening.
Team Parker Seley of Merrill Lynch came in 2nd with a performance the judges stated were technically difficult and felt were the best in show. They especially enjoyed the “Breast in Show” spelled out with the letters on the riders shirts once lined up. The riders for this team were Marco Bernal, Marco Bernal Jr, Patrick Burssens, Nancy Later, Susanne Hamilton and Louisa-Marcella Eadie..
However, taking 1st place was Team Purina. They did a super job with the music, had great harmony and good crowd appeal. Included in their performance were such song selections as “Uptown Funk” and “on the Floor” to name a few. The technical difficulty of the performance was a near perfect score. The new member to this team this year was JJ Tate whose mother is a 15yr breast cancer survivor. She stated “For me, it hit home how important breast cancer research is. This is a way to give back and be part of something bigger than yourself, something that’s incredibly important to many women as well as men.” Team Purina riders were Betsy Steiner, Pamela Goodrich, Jim Koford, Bent Jensen, John Zopatti and J. J. Tate.
After the performances ended, the evening continued with the Challenge Gala. The IPC pavilion was beautifully decorated in shades of pink and hosted a wonderful dinner and a dance floor that kept the crowds moving.
A silent auction during dinner helped to raise additional funds for breast cancer awareness and featured a wide variety of items including jewelry, fine art, horse lessons and much more. The live auction drew a lot in interest as it offered guests the opportunity to bid on Brook Ledge Horse Transportation and their offer to ship a horse from Wellington to Kentucky. The second offering was the chance to be a character in bestselling author Tami Hoag’s next book “The Bitter Season.
A big thanks to Play for P.I.N.K. and BCRF for all they do, as they work tirelessly to find a cure for breast cancer. I would also like to thank Mary Ross for the opportunity to announce this year’s Challenge of the Americas and look forward to next years event.