The Artisan Farms Young Rider Grand Prix Series returns for a third year at the FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, Florida, opening with the $15,000 Artisan Farms Young Rider Grand Prix on Sunday, February 10, in the International Arena.
A mandatory riders meeting will be held on Friday, February 8, at 4 p.m. in The Wellington Club.
Comprised of four events, the Artisan Farms Young Rider Grand Prix Series includes the $15,000 Artisan Farms Young Rider Grand Prix on Sunday, February 10, at 8 a.m.; the $15,000 Artisan Farms Young Rider Grand Prix held under the lights in the International Arena on Friday, February 15, at 7 p.m.; a two-round $20,000 Artisan Farms Young Rider Grand Prix Team event on Thursday, March 7, tentatively beginning at 3 p.m.; and the $15,000 Artisan Farms Young Rider Grand Prix Final held on the grass derby field at The Stadium on Sunday, March 24, at 9 a.m.
Riders under the age of 25, regardless of nationality, are eligible to participate in the Artisan Farms Young Rider Grand Prix Series, which provides a valuable stepping stone from the junior and amateur ranks to the grand prix level. Featuring fences set at 1.45m, the Artisan Farms Young Rider Grand Prix Series is an opportunity for developing grand prix riders to not only gain experience jumping in a team format, but also competing on grass and under the lights at night, all important elements that competitors will face as their careers progress.
“We recognized that the sport of show jumping needed a division for young riders that are capable of competing at the grand prix level,” said Carlene Ziegler who, with her husband Andy, owns Artisan Farms. “Our program provides a bridge from the junior and amateur divisions to the grand prix level. The Series offers great variety with two classes at night and one on the derby field, as well as the team competition run in a Nations’ Cup format, which is one of the few opportunities that young riders have to gain experience riding as a team member. We hope this concept of the Young Rider Grand Prix catches on at more competitions in North America.”
Nayel Nassar of Egypt was the overall winner of last year’s Artisan Farms Young Rider Grand Prix Series, emerging victorious over a large starting field of 56 participants. Impressively, Nassar now leads the North American West Coast World Cup League standings, thanks in part to the experience he gained competing in the Artisan Farms Young Rider Grand Prix Series.
“The Young Rider Grand Prix Series does a great job of transitioning riders into the grand prix environment,” said Nassar, 22. “There is more prize money than what we usually compete for, and the fact that it’s an accumulated series puts pressure on the riders to stay consistent throughout. The level is obviously high, with courses often featuring the big water, but it’s not as tough as the FEI classes. I think it’s an ideal stepping stone, where young riders can get good mileage before attacking actual grand prix events.”
Speaking of the variety of challenges posed throughout the Series, Nassar commented, “I think the change is always good. Jumping a team competition is a great experience as riders feel the pressure of others relying on them, and moving out to the grass stadium asks riders and horses to adapt to a new environment. It adds some versatility to the Series, and I think it just makes it that much more interesting.”
Nassar rode a young mount, Lordan, in the 2012 Artisan Farms Young Rider Grand Prix Series, and felt the experience benefitted his horse as well.
“My horse was eight at the time and had just stepped up onto the international scene,” explained the senior at Stanford University in California. “It was a perfect series for us to get to know each other a little more, and for him to gain some valuable experience. I have had him since he was six and by the end of the Series, he was ready to move up to 1.50m classes. By the end of the year, we competed in some World Cup qualifiers together here on the West Coast. The Series was perfect for us to gain confidence in each other and turned out to be the start of a real grand prix partnership.”
Following his success in the Artisan Farms Young Rider Grand Prix Series last year, Nassar went on to compete in major international grand prix events, including at such prestigious venues as Canada’s Spruce Meadows where he won the $35,000 Progress Energy Cup during the CSI5* “North American” Tournament and saw the Egyptian flag fly over the International Ring for the first time. A win in the World Cup Qualifier at the LA International put Nassar at the top of the West Coast World Cup standings as of February 7, and he hopes a trip to the 2013 World Cup Final in April is in his future.
Another element of top show jumping sport that young riders will be exposed to is media training. Riders will receive guidance on how to conduct themselves with the media, and interviews with all winners will be filmed and included in the official FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival press releases. In addition, the top three riders in the overall Artisan Farms Young Riders Grand Prix Series will attend a press conference following the final event.
The winner of the 2013 Artisan Farms Young Rider Grand Prix Series will receive a custom saddle valued at $6,000 from Bruno Delgrange. The highest placed U.S. rider under the age of 21 will earn a place on the USEF Young Rider European Tour, with transport generously provided by Dutta Corp. in association with Guido Klatte. Riders are ranked based on the number of clear rounds they produce throughout the Series, which encourages, promotes and rewards consistency.
Leading by example, Artisan Farms is committed to the continued improvement and promotion of competitive show jumping. Based in Wellington, FL, and Vrasene, Belgium, Artisan Farms is home to young rider Caitlin Ziegler, 2008 Olympic Champion Eric Lamaze, and Olympian Tiffany Foster.