The Palm Beach Masters

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One of America’s most talked about show-jumping events is held at Deeridge Farms, a 300-acre oasis of calm and beauty set in the heart of the winter equestrian capital of the world, Wellington, Florida.
Catie Staszak is a grand-prix commentator for ShowNet, leading broadcasts from top horse shows across the country. She is also a SportsCenter anchor on ESPN West Palm and has worked with FEI TV, Carr-Hughes Productions, and the NBC Sports Network, among other media companies. Staszak spends as much time in the saddle as she can and is grateful to be able to combine her passions into a career she loves.

Charlie Jacobs rode through the in-gate and onto the expansive grass jumping field at the Palm Beach Masters and blocked out the dozens of items spinning around in his mind. Aboard his 11-year-old Dutch sport horse mare, Cassinja S, he was about to tackle
a challenging course of ve-foot tall fences and had an important task ahead: to qualify for the $216,000 Longines FEI World Cup Jumping–Wellington, a quali er in itself for the 2017 Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Finals in Omaha, Nebraska, in two months time. “Sometimes, you just have to block it out and go ride, but it’s a challenge some days,” Jacobs said.

While Jacobs, 45, is the 11th-ranked rider in the North American Eastern sub- league of the world cup standings and a participant in two of the last three world cup nals, a career in show jumping is a far cry from the Boston native’s only job. Jacobs and his brother, Louis, are the masterminds behind the Palm Beach Masters event, a four-day boutique com- petition in Wellington. In fact, it’s even held in their family’s own backyard.

“When the [United States Equestrian Federation] issued the request for proposals three years ago to host the world cup quali er, we raised our hand and said we would love to do that,” Charlie said.

Wellington is the winter equestrian capital of the world, and thousands of horses and riders alike migrate to the village to compete in international competitions between the months of December and April. The main competi- tion grounds have been the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC), but a sponsorship con ict prevented championship-caliber competitions from being held in the area. Rolex is the sponsor of the 12-week Winter Equestrian Festival at the PBIEC, but competitor Longines sponsors the International Federation for Equestrian Sports’ World Cup and all of its qualifying events.
The Jacobs family, who has owned its 300-acre Deeridge Farms in Wellington since 1980, did not want their area to lose such competitions after they had been held in the area for the previous 10 years, and after submitting a bid, they were granted three years of hosting a world cup qualifier in Wellington.

“We were losing things such as the Nations Cup and FEI World Cup qualifiers, and they’re important classes with championship-level jumping that we really felt belonged here,” Charlie said. “As longtime residents, we really felt that we were missing this.”

Read the whole story here: Palm Beach Masters

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