Teams Set for PBIEC’s First Battle of the Sexes Saturday Night Showdown

Anne Kursinski and Champ
Women’s team captain Anne Kursinski rides Champ at the Samsung Super League. Photo: Kit Houghton/FEI.

Twenty top jumper riders — 10 men and 10 women — join in a $55,000 Battle of the Sexes family fun night under the lights at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center Saturday, Jan. 24.
The two teams that include the world’s top Olympians will go head to head in three contests — a speed derby over a wide variety of jumps, a match race in which a male and a female rider will gallop their horses side by side over identical jumper courses and a finale over a series of jumps called a 6-bar course that is likely to be well over six feet in height.
Part of the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival, the Braman Motorcars sponsored event is the first in an annual highlight planned by Equestrian Sport Productions, manager of the horse shows at PBIEC. Braman Motorcars is presenting a collection of the latest exciting models from Audi, BMW, Porsche and Mini Cooper.
Equestrian Sport Productions had two goals  in mind when creating “Battle of the Sexes”, according to ESP Chief Executive Officer Mark Bellissimo.

“The first was to begin a process where there is a greater promotion of the individual athletes and personalities within the sport,” he said. “We are going to be doing short bios and profiles of the athletes. We will continue the promotion of the athletes throughout WEF. Second was to create a fun spectator friendly format which will allow us to introduce the sport to new groups of spectators.”
This year’s event includes many Olympians as well as other top riders including Eric Lamaze of Canada, 2008 Olympic individual gold and team silver medalist, the USA’s double Olympic team gold medalist Beezie Madden and Laura Kraut of the 2008 Olympic gold medal team. Other female riders include Georgina Bloomberg, Candice King, Leslie Howard, Debbie Stephens, Lubov Kotchetova of Russia, Hillary Dobbs, Danielle Torano, Christine McCrea amd Casey Hodges.

The men’s team includes, Kent Farrington, Ali Nilforushan, Charlie Jayne, Todd Minikus, Jimmy Torano, Mario Deslauriers of Canada,  Peter Charles of Great Britain, Shane Sweetnam, Darragh Kerins and Jonathan McCrea of Ireland. Team captains will be Ian Millar, a nine-time Olympian and member of Canada’s 2008 silver medal squad, and Anne Kursinski, a three-time USA Olympian and reserve for the 2008 team.
The 2009 WEF Exhibitor welcome party will also take place during the event. Among the attractions are pony rides, petting zoo, bounce house, street performers, balloons and face painting starting at 6 p.m. Saturday.

The night’s activities will kick off with a $25,000 Gambler’s Choice appropriately sponsored by Isle Casino Pompano Park. Each jump on the course is given a point value and the horse and rider that accumulates the most points in a pre-determined time is the winner.
Battle of the Sexes promises even more fun for spectators and riders with $50,000 going to the winning team and $5,000 to the runner up.
The riders will wear specially designed numbered jerseys. Neon light sticks in pink and blue will be for sale to spectators to flaunt their preferences. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the light sticks will go to the Equestrian Aid Foundation, a charity aimed at assisting injured and ill equestrians in time of need.
Exhibitor parties and autograph sessions with some of the riders will be held before the competition. The location of the autograph sessions will be announced.
The Tiki Bar, newly built and distinctive for its palm thatched roof, will be open for the first time. The public bar is on the second floor and has a commanding view of the show grounds.

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