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Margaret Duprey Instills Importance Of Education Through Philanthropy

Margaret Duprey Instills Importance Of Education Through Philanthropy

By Annan Hepner

For lifelong horsewoman Margaret Duprey, supporting charitable programs that align with her passion for education inspires her involvement not only in the equestrian industry, but in many international philanthropies.

Growing up just outside of Philadelphia, Duprey was immersed in the horse world from a young age. “I come from a family that owned racehorses throughout my childhood — horses are in my blood,” she explained.

Duprey, a Grand Prix dressage rider, owns and operates Cherry Knoll Farm, with locations in Wellington and West Grove, Pa. In addition to it being a haven for retired horses, the Pennsylvania location breeds Black Angus cattle that are nationally competitive and sought-after. Operated with the philosophy of “quality over quantity,” the farm is recognized in the market for its attention to premier genetics in the Black Angus it produces.

Since moving to Wellington 11 years ago from the west coast of Florida, Duprey has come to treasure the unique atmosphere of the world’s winter equestrian capital.

“I love that the winters are warm and Wellington has so much to offer,” she explained. “Wellington is an area where people from all over the world come to enjoy the best of horse sport. It has the ability to house all of these talented horses from different disciplines. It is always nice to watch the best riders train and show, and I enjoy watching great jumping.”

Besides her personal dressage endeavors, Duprey is involved at all levels of the sport, from importing high-quality young horses to train up through the levels to owning high-performance horses. She owns Beijing Olympic gold medalist Cedric and decorated grand prix show jumper Constable, both competed by Laura Kraut, as well as Rio Paralympic mount Schroeter’s Romani, ridden by Rebecca Hart. She is also a partner in a syndication for top international show jumper Andretti S.

“Watching my horses progress into Olympic athletes is a joy and a profoundly rewarding experience,” Duprey said. “It is every rider’s childhood dream to go to the Olympics. The only way you can go to the Olympics is to have horses of that caliber, so that was my goal. There was a point in my life when I realized I personally could not compete; however, I could help sponsor someone who could go to the Olympics and still be a part of the team.”

In addition to owning world-class equines, she has a deep passion for horses and the people involved with them. Duprey is an active board member for numerous organizations in the equine realm, as well as philanthropies with education initiatives.

In 2015, Duprey became Brooke USA’s first ambassador with the goal of taking international animal welfare to a new level and educating owners and laborers to take better care of their animals. Brooke USA is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the betterment of the lives of working animals all over the world.

“It is a great organization that educates people for the benefit of the animals — how to take care of them and educating people in the community,” she explained. “It’s being able to make a difference. By working directly with animal-owning communities and providing practical education, it comes full circle. Brooke USA is a charity that helps the animals and the people. No matter how well-educated, where you come from or how old you are, change is always hard. There is always going to be that resistance. Brooke USA approaches this challenge with strategy, education and proven techniques, which help those individuals build their own understanding. In turn, they have developed a sustainable program that is effective.”

Duprey has also given unwavering support to JustWorld International, a nonprofit based in Wellington, as well as the Caridad Center. As a graduate of Cabrini University in Radnor, Pa., she served on its board of trustees for numerous years, and now serves as a trustee for the United States Equestrian Team Foundation.

In addition to her contributions to various nonprofit organizations, she recently gifted Wilson College in Chambersburg, Pa., a donation to enhance its veterinary medical technology (VMT) program. The new Equi-Assist program trains VMT students to provide horses the best veterinary care possible while they remain in their home to ease stress and make the recovery process more efficient.

“The program was launched last year and creates a team approach between the veterinarian, the vet tech, the owner and the groom to ensure that the horse receives the best care while recovering at home,” Duprey said. “It is something that is being well-received in all aspects of the equine industry.”

She plans to continue these efforts to help the horse community.

“When I choose philanthropies to support or design initiatives myself, I like to think outside of the box,” Duprey said. “I often select programs that are educational for the children or young adults because they are the ones who are the future of the sport and the community. They are the ones who are going to follow in our footsteps, and education at the lower level is important.”

To learn more about Margaret Duprey, visit www.cherryknollfarminc.com.

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Wellington-Based Tota Comfort System A Leap Forward In Headgear For Horses

Wellington-Based Tota Comfort System A Leap Forward In Headgear For Horses

By Deborah Welky

Word is spreading quickly between barns, behind the scenes and along the sidelines at Wellington’s equestrian venues about the Tota Comfort System for horses. In less than a year, the nosebands and bridles designed by Charles Tota of the Dressage Connection have revolutionized tack that has been in use for thousands of years.

A rider himself, Tota grew up alongside a father, who was a master carpenter and “Italian perfectionist,” and he has been intrigued by design ever since he was a boy.

“Everything my father did had to be perfect, and that’s the way I look at things, too,” said Tota, already well-known in equestrian circles for his expertise with saddles. “No matter what it is, I want it to be better. I see so many products on the market that weren’t completed properly, where the stitching is not right, where I can see the shortcuts they’ve taken.”

In his Wellington shop, Tota carries only the highest quality products imported from Europe; saddles he designed, then commissioned from German craftsmen, and other equipment that he would put on his own horse.

Tota’s strong reputation is what prompted one frustrated Olympic rider to call him with a problem. The Olympian’s horse had developed such an aversion to its headgear that the mount could not be ridden.

“They were having tremendous issues with the pull and TMJ in the horse to the point where it resisted having its bridle put on. It had become tremendously sensitive,” Tota recalled. “I worked with the veterinarian, who showed me the medical diagram and explained what needed to be done regarding the facial nerves.”

He learned which parts of the horse’s face to stay away from.

“Now, we redesign bridles all the time, but this one took about a month and a half of different prototypes,” Tota said. “We kept fine-tuning it and modifying it and, over the course of the next six months, we came up with this whole new system.”

Necessity had, once again, become the mother of invention.

“Initially, we started out with just the noseband, trying to make the horse comfortable using the client’s existing bridle, but the functionality wasn’t working,” Tota explained. “That’s how we ended up designing an entire bridle line — the noseband, the bridle, the whole package. We submitted it to the FEI, and it was approved in under two weeks. They saw the medical background — it wasn’t a training gimmick or a wacko invention with a high-profile rider to sponsor it — it had medical guidance and approval.”

The Tota Comfort System works because its unique, contouring cheek piece relieves pressure along the poll and facial nerves of the horse. When traditional bridles put pressure on the poll and temporomandibular joint (TMJ), the natural connection between the horse’s mouth and the rider’s hands is hampered. The cheek piece, browband, crownpiece and throat latch all converge over the TMJ, and all of the equine facial nerves run parallel to the cheek pieces that connect the crown and browband to the noseband.

The Tota Comfort System noseband reduces poll pressure by eliminating the forward angle of traditional nosebands along the cheekbone, freeing the TMJ and facial nerves.

Inspired by the success of his new design, Tota began fitting and experimenting with the nosebands on horses around Wellington. The results were happier, more engaged athletes and major performance boosts for the horse-and-rider team.

While the noseband was intended to help relieve poll and facial pressure, it became clear that the curved cheek pieces and overall design simply provided a more comfortable bridle. In the past year, a number of top professionals and world-renowned trainers have embraced the Tota Comfort System. It has been called a “game-changer” by industry experts. Tota also noted that the testimonials on his web site were not solicited. He’s proud that he never gave any bridles away in exchange for an endorsement.

“I’m very proud that it was used in the Olympics. It stands on its own merits. It actually works,” Tota said. “And the horse’s size doesn’t matter, or whether it’s jumping or eventing. Riders of all disciplines are using the system with positive results… Considering last year was our first full year — for a product to come out and be in the Olympics and everywhere — it’s just exploding.”

The Dressage Connection, home of the Tota Comfort System, is located at 3500 Fairlane Farms Road, Suite 10, in Wellington. For more information, call (561) 790-7858 or visit www.thedressageconnection.com or www.totacomfortsystem.com.

 

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Car Lover Scott Levinsohn’s Dream Is Driven To A Reality Of Success

Car Lover Scott Levinsohn’s Dream Is Driven To A Reality Of Success

Scott Levinsohn took a circuitous route to his career in the automobile industry. He and his father shared a passion for cars. Levinsohn’s love of cars developed as he watched his father collect them. He grew up around cars and always felt that he would eventually work in the automobile industry.

Scott Levinsohn took a circuitous route to his career in the automobile industry. He and his father shared a passion for cars. Levinsohn’s love of cars developed as he watched his father collect them. He grew up around cars and always felt that he would eventually work in the automobile industry.

“I always wanted to do something with cars, but I never knew what,” said Levinsohn, managing director of The Finest Automobile Auctions.

As the reality of life set in, Levinsohn put his passion aside to pursue a more grounded and financially secure path. After graduating from Hofstra University, Levinsohn worked as a financial adviser and wealth manager. However, a void was not being filled.

After six years, Levinsohn left the corporate financial industry and drove down an alternative career path in event-based marketing. While transitioning between a few different positions, Levinsohn concentrated mainly on luxury goods and specialized in the cross-branding of products and services using event-driven marketing. Levinsohn focused on partnerships, tie-ins and bringing products to the market.

Working in luxury goods led Levinsohn to the Wellington community, the equestrian capital of the world, which was unfamiliar territory for him. He had never been a part of a tight-knit community like Wellington.

“I loved doing events in Wellington because the community welcomed us and appreciated the quality of events we were producing,” he said. “We were selective in order to maintain the integrity of our brand. We were always very cognizant of how other brands are represented in accordance with ours because we worked together to achieve an experience.”

When in Wellington, Levinsohn and his team worked closely with and became familiar with the International Polo Club Palm Beach as they orchestrated Sunday polo VIP parties and sponsored a polo team each season.

“We organized many events in conjunction with IPC,” Levinsohn said. “While working and coordinating these events in Wellington, I learned a lot about the luxury space.  Most importantly, I learned how to put events together, produce them properly, showcase the products and the selection of sponsors.”

He developed an appreciation for the community. Its passion for horses reminded him of his passion for cars. The more time he spent in Wellington, the more Levinsohn saw similarities between the automotive and equestrian communities.

“They are all pursuits of passion,” he said. “We try to stress the importance of automobiles in people’s lives in a different capacity than just transportation. We want to convey the experience of owning them much as participating in polo is an experience and riding a horse is an experience… so there are correlations between them.”

After changing lanes and driving full-speed straight into the automobile industry, Levinsohn was brought onto The Finest’s team to pursue his passion as managing director, where he is responsible for overseeing all daily operations and event productions.

“How can I take a love of cars and turn it into a business?” he asked, just as he queried of himself. “I always loved cars but never knew what the end product would be. I knew it was going to be something with automotive events. The opportunity to work with cars wasn’t necessarily a dream but something really fun. Thankfully it turned into a successful, growing business.”

The Finest Automobile Auctions is a new auction house that focuses on delivering the finest experience for collector car enthusiasts and offers customized buying opportunities for onsite and online buyers.

“We believe that it is important to work together to achieve an experience, as this is seen through our live auctions,” Levinsohn explained. “We want to promote it as an experience for people, one that is enjoyable and unique, which sets us apart from other companies.”

The Finest will conduct quarterly online auctions. At this point in time, it is the only automotive auction house to engage collectors in this way. The company found an opening in the industry that it is well equipped to fill. “I have been very fortunate to work with a lot of very accomplished and intelligent people,” Levinsohn said. “No one person makes a successful event or company; it’s everyone you work with. I’m very humble in business, and I believe that we learn from everyone we come into contact with. I attribute the intelligence of the people around me to assisting us in becoming successful.”

Due to Levinsohn’s Wellington ties, a week before the Feb. 11 auction in Boca Raton, The Finest staged a preview event at The Patio at Polo. Levinsohn enjoyed the time he spent in Wellington so much that a few years ago, he purchased a house in the community.

For more information about the auction company, visit www.thefinest.com.

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Xcelerate Wellington 2.0 Awards Grants To Coffee Roaster And Menswear Store

Xcelerate Wellington 2.0 Awards Grants To Coffee Roaster And Menswear Store

Story and Photos by Julie Unger

Amy and Scott Angelo of Oceana Coffee wowed a four-judge panel at Xcelerate Wellington 2.0, a special entrepreneurship event hosted by the Young Professionals of Wellington on Jan. 25 at the Wanderers Club.

Oceana Coffee edged out runner-up Aquaco Farms and finalists AllerCheck and Direct Dispatch.

After presenting their company, winning the grant was a milestone accomplishment for the Oceana Coffee owners. “We were surprised and kind of overwhelmed, but it definitely makes you feel validated in what you’re doing and that you’re on the right track with your business. It’s an amazing achievement,” Amy said. “We’re super passionate about the product and where it comes from. We’re all about the coffee.”

Judges Tre Zimmerman of Ubicquia and Wellington Regional Medical Center CEO Robbin Lee were impressed with the company. Lee felt that the owners showed entrepreneurial drive and epitomized the American spirit. Zimmerman looked for scalability and sustainability with the business model and where the $10,000 grant would have the greatest impact.

“We weren’t looking at it as awarding a prize,” Zimmerman said. “Where would we put our money? That was where we all agreed. If we were going to place our own personal capital into funding and growing a business, it was going to be the coffee business.”

Working with groups such as the Young Professionals also helps them refine their pitch, Scott said, which, as the company grows, will help them when approaching larger investors.

The grant will help toward opening at kiosk at 189 Bradley Place on Palm Beach and is also helping with a new cold-brew program. “We have our ready-to-drink cold brew in cans, and also in bottles coming,” Amy said.

Growing the company and reaching as many people as they can, as well as opening the new location, is what Amy is looking forward to in the coming months. They already have two locations in Tequesta — one with a roasting facility and a café, and the other with a café and a rentable conference room, in addition to approximately 60 wholesale clients in Palm Beach, Martin and Broward counties.

Roasting and grinding their own coffee, the company hopes to change the way people enjoy and drink coffee.

“It was a selfish necessity,” said Scott, who is from Australia. “I couldn’t find any coffee here that was good enough for me to drink, or that I really enjoyed.”

Scott realized that creating specialty coffee was a passion that would change his future. “The whole landscape of coffee is changing quite dramatically. Florida is probably a long way behind the rest of the country,” he said. “For me, it’s like a fine red wine. There’s wines you can just go and drink for the sake of drinking, or there are wines that you can certainly really enjoy.”

Each coffee that they roast, they know the farmer and the best way to roast the beans.

“People are learning and catching up to the fact that coffee’s not just a brown liquid — it’s something to enjoy and to find our own flavor,” he said.

Oceana Coffee is available for order online and ships around the world. Wholesale partners, such as local bakers, candy makers, chocolatiers and other vendors, are welcome to contact the company for more information.

“We’re always bringing in new products. Everything that we have is made locally,” Amy said. “It is a higher-end product. It is luxurious, but it’s not out of reach. It’s something that anybody can experience.”

Learn more about the company at http://oceanacoffee.com.

Also winning at Xcelerate Wellington 2.0 was Wellington businessman Henry Mosley of HNM Menswear.

Mosley’s pitch to the audience, including that HNM offers a uniquely large necktie collection, won him the “Homegrown” People’s Choice Award, a $2,000 grant. Other candidates were the Med Writers and Rich Oak Vineyards.

“It was a great opportunity,” Mosley said. “I was very excited.”

HNM Menswear epitomizes the evolution of fashion, working to style men — including those wearing big and tall sizes — for a night on the town, polo, special events, an anniversary or casual everyday wear.

The grant will allow Mosley to continue growing his business, increase his inventory to keep styles up-to-date and increase his marketing and advertising to let men in the community know that HNM Menswear is here and ready to help.

Mosley’s personal touch, rather than a major retailer, makes a huge difference.

“When guys come to me, they get my personal service. I pay attention to the details,” he said. “I look at things such as what colors light them up… I pay attention to the colors that they like, the styles that they like. With me, every time you come, you’ll see the same guy.”

He also tracks what is purchased, allowing customers to avoid unintentionally buying duplicates and making it easier to add complementary items.

“You have to put the right colors together that complement their skin tone, their height, their size and their weight,” Mosely explained.

Lee was impressed with how Mosley offers both a service as well as a product. HNM Menswear is a local, growth-stimulating company with entrepreneurial spirit, and that is what impressed Zimmerman most.

For more information, visit www.hnmmenswear.com.

Xcelerate 2.0 presenting sponsor the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center made both the event and the $10,000 grant possible, while the “Homegrown” award, presented by TD Bank and CBIZ, included a $2,000 grant and business assistance from Anidea Engineering, CRGO Law, RM5 Design and Peter Marcus Coaching. Learn more about the Young Professionals at www.ypwellington.com.

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FACES OF WEF

FACES OF WEF

It’s jumper season in Wellington! From January through April, top show horses and their riders come from around the world to take part in the 12-week Winter Equestrian Festival at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. Horse and rider pairs will soar over fences, navigating complicated sequences and making hairpin turns — all to the delight of the crowds. Riders known around the world will join up-and-comers, youngsters and adult amateurs in the ring to take part in a horse show series that offers something for every age and skill level. Just a handful of these great riders are featured here, in our special 2017 edition of Faces of WEF.

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Venezuelan Show Jumping Star Emanuel Andrade Feels At Home In Show Ring

Venezuelan Show Jumping Star Emanuel Andrade Feels At Home In Show Ring

Back in Wellington for the 2017 Winter Equestrian Festival, Venezuelan show jumper Emanuel Andrade has an impressive list of accomplishments for any rider. But when you factor in his age — he’s only 20 — his success in just a few short years is astounding. Just in 2016, Andrade racked up almost 100 top-10 finishes.

His love for horses, and show jumping, started at a young age.

“I was 5 years old, and I was always into the horses. I started in my country, Venezuela, with ponies, how everyone starts. I just kept going until now. It has been a long time,” Andrade said.

A few years after he began riding, his sister, Maria, took to the saddle. The rest of his family quickly followed suit.

“Everyone is into horses now,” Andrade said. “It wasn’t something from my family — it started with me.”

The 20-year-old has won enough ribbons and classes to put him in the same category as more seasoned, experienced riders — he qualified, and competed, at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

“It was a great experience,” he said. “I had already jumped everything, and I was only 19. I didn’t even realize it. I didn’t even think about it.”

Competing with the best riders and horses in the world, a moment that elite equestrians long for, was a dream come true. “It was very, very nice. It was an amazing experience for me. The place was beautiful,” he recalled. “It is different; it’s not like a normal game.”

While Andrade didn’t finish near the top of the show jumping field in Rio, he was the youngest jumper competing, and he still considers it a high honor. “No matter what your score is going to be, you just want to be there,” he said.

Andrade earned his spot in Rio by placing sixth at the Pan American Games in 2015.

“It was amazing,” he said, of qualifying. “I didn’t get a medal. I jumped off for a medal, and I got sixth place. That’s what got me the pass to go to the Olympics. The Pan Ams were probably more important for me, because if I didn’t do good there, I wouldn’t have gone to the Olympics.”

Andrade is humble about his Olympic experience, noting that he feels lucky to be able to be called an Olympian — a title no one can ever take away.

“Some people think it’s easy, and it’s just because I have a lot of horses that I got into the Olympics. But I feel that, you can give all of my horses to a lot of people, and the results won’t be the same,” he said. “It’s a lot about intuition… It’s not about just the horses, it’s about how hard you work. Be there every day and jump, jump, jump. I don’t have a kid’s life. I don’t have a 20-year-old’s life. I work really hard for what I want with my horses, which is good, because it’s paying back, and I’m happy.”

His hard work, dedication and tireless attitude got him to the Olympics, and his future goal is to return and do better. “I want to do it better next time, and next time better, and I want to go again,” he said. “I feel like that’s the goal — always try to do better.”

One of the secrets to his success, he said, is always competing. While he hopes to continue his education, for now, Andrade is focusing on his riding. He’s working hard and preparing for the future.

Andrade is looking forward to competing in the Great Charity Challenge at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center, as well as the Winter Equestrian Festival itself.

Since competing at WEF, Andrade has enjoyed taking part in the Great Charity Challenge, presented by Fidelity Investments. He also enjoys working with the Step by Step Foundation and its founder, Liliane Stransky.

“I started riding here seven years ago,” he said. “When I got here, I met the lady who is the founder of the organization, and she’s Venezuelan. She asked me to jump for her.”

Andrade donated his prize money to purchase toys for kids and has been doing it ever since. He helps purchase and deliver the toys, too. “It’s great. It’s super-special,” he said.

Many of the toys go to children at the Kids Cancer Foundation, as well as children benefiting from other foundations through the Great Charity Challenge. “I love that show,” he said.

At WEF last year, Andrade ran into a few difficulties and didn’t do as well as he had hoped. This year, he is going to do the best he can and enjoy the experience. “I’m not looking for anything specific,” he said. “I really want to have a nice time and enjoy the moment… I want to try to do the best I can. If I win, good. If not, I enjoy the moment, which is good.”

Working with the show’s organizers and his father, Andrade helped to have Hollow Creek Farm, his home base, sponsor WEF’s Under 25 Grand Prix Series, which takes place throughout the 12-week festival.

“I realize the vision that is also very important for young riders like me. First of all, WEF is very hard, competing against the best riders in the world,” he said. “These classes are kind of the same, for young people, and I feel like that is very important to get ready for the future.”

For young riders, being able to compete with one another gives them both the chance to go up against with their peers and also prepare to compete against those with more experience, he explained.

“Everyone is very good. It’s an amazing group of horses and an amazing group of riders,” Andrade said.

Riders are coming from all over the world to compete at WEF, and the Under 25 Grand Prix Series is open to riders of all nationalities. The classes have been sanctioned as CSI-U25 events by the International Equestrian Federation (FEI). The competition allows up-and-coming riders a chance at the spotlight that they might not otherwise have when competing against more seasoned riders.

On his journey toward becoming a seasoned rider, Andrade competes often, and every chance he gets.

“I feel like every time I go into the ring, no matter what, how difficult it has been going, it’s just very exciting for me. I love it. I love the feeling. It’s always the same,” he said.

Whether he is showing his horses, or showing for his first trainer, Andrea King, Andrade is focused on improvement.

“I’m always riding. I think that’s something that helps,” Andrade said. “This sport is really difficult, so you have to be there every day and try and try and try.”

Consistency, and practicing with different horses, keeps him on his toes and ready to tackle any class, he said.

In 2017, none of the major championships — the World Equestrian Games, the Pan American Games or the Olympics — are on the schedule, which means Andrade and other riders will be concentrating on enjoying what they do and preparing for the future.

Come 2018, the Tryon International Equestrian Center in North Carolina will be hosting the 2018 World Equestrian Games, and he has already rented a house nearby. He spent his summer traveling and competing, whether in Tryon, Kentucky or Calgary. But for now, he’s back in Wellington, competing at WEF.

“I can’t believe we’re here again,” he said.

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The GREAT CHARITY CHALLENGE, Presented By Fidelity Investments, Highlights Season For Area Charities

The GREAT CHARITY CHALLENGE, Presented By Fidelity Investments, Highlights Season For Area Charities

What if you didn’t have to remain a child to dream of miracles? Once again, the Great Charity Challenge, presented by Fidelity Investments, will aim to raise more than $1.5 million, which will bring the event’s fundraising and distribution total to more than $10 million over eight years.

Heading into its eighth annual event, the Great Charity Challenge returns to Wellington during the 2017 Winter Equestrian Festival circuit on Saturday, Feb. 4. With fun and creative themes over the years ranging from Super Heroes to Fairy Tales, the event has brought thousands of people to the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center in Wellington to celebrate those who have dared to imagine a better community: the sponsors of the Great Charity Challenge, the riders donating their time and horses, and all those involved with the charitable organizations.

To date, the event has distributed more than $9.2 million to more than 200 nonprofits in Palm Beach County. This year, the event has a goal of raising a minimum of $1.5 million to add to this incredible fundraising amount, thereby surpassing the $10 million milestone.

Founded in 2010 by Equestrian Sport Productions CEO Mark Bellissimo and his daughter Paige, the Great Charity Challenge has seen the equestrian community take charitable giving to a new level through the love of equestrian sport. The event has impacted thousands of lives through its unique equestrian competition, with 100 percent of its proceeds donated directly to Palm Beach County charities. Equestrian Sport Productions, the managing organization of the Winter Equestrian Festival, the Adequan Global Dressage Festival and the International Polo Club Palm Beach, cover all costs associated with the Great Charity Challenge to ensure that all donations go straight to work.

“We are very excited to also welcome all the public schools in Wellington that evening,” Paige Bellissimo said. “Not only are their PTA/PTOs the only automatic entry in the event, their art departments will showcase their talents in the Animation Ringside Chalk Art Festival. Pairing young talent and philanthropy seemed like the perfect fit for this magical evening.”

With more than 300 applications received for the chance to participate in the 2017 event, 33 lucky charities have been drawn to date, and two wildcard spots will be randomly selected on the night of the event itself. Additional grants will be awarded that evening as well.

While most organizations are supported and funded via the community, the Great Charity Challenge fills a true need to cover operating expenses — expenses that many donors shy away from supporting.

With the initial plans of how the money won will affect these lucky organizations, it is safe to say that the 2017 Great Charity Challenge will have a lasting impact in Palm Beach County.

Grandma’s Place, an organization that provides shelter and loving care to children who have suffered abuse and/or neglect and have been removed from their homes by the Florida Department of Children & Families, is one of them. With growing needs, they are looking to expand support programs for children at the shelter and are also in the process of moving. Funding will assist the nonprofit in serving more children than in the past.

The Light House Café Ministries of the Glades served 54,000 meals last year. Money received from the Great Charity Challenge will assist the nonprofit with general funding and operating costs to ensure that it can continue serving its clients.

“This eighth year is a milestone for the GCC,” Bellissimo said. “As of Feb. 4, 2017, we will have officially surpassed the $10 million donation mark. Our theme of Animated Characters is a perfect fit to acknowledge those who imagine a better community. This event is truly the legacy of the Winter Equestrian Festival and the sponsors involved.”

This year’s event is sure to inspire adults and children alike, with riders dressed as their favorite animated characters, bringing beloved movies to the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. Costume awards will determine a bonus for the lucky charities.

Equestrian Sport Productions looks forward to a wonderful 2017 event. The competition will offer free general admission, free parking at 13500 South Shore Blvd. in Wellington and will be held Saturday, Feb. 4 at 6 p.m.

For the latest Great Charity Challenge event information, the full list of charities that have benefited from the event since its debut in 2010, and sponsorship opportunities, visit www.greatcharitychallenge.com and follow on Facebook at www.facebook.com/greatcharitychallenge.

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Jordan Naftal Brings Years Of Restaurant Expertise To Wellington National Golf Club

Jordan Naftal Brings Years Of Restaurant Expertise To Wellington National Golf Club

Story and Photos by Lenore Phillips

Wellington National Golf Club recently announced that well-known Wellington chef and businessman Jordan Naftal has signed on as director of food and beverage services at the club.

Naftal, formally of the acclaimed Jordan’s Bistro, has ambitious plans for Wellington National, including dynamic cuisine, plus putting the final touches on the Champions Bistro, which is scheduled to open over the next few months.

“I am thrilled and honored to be taking on the food and beverage operations of Wellington National. I am confident that we will do amazing things here,” Naftal said. “The potential for this striking space is limitless, and I am excited about continuing to serve many of our guests we know from past years at Jordan’s.”

Naftal made his way to Wellington with his family in 2013, where he opened an upscale steak house, Jordan’s Bistro, known for Florida-grown steaks and unique wines. The Naftals were a consistent presence at the front of their restaurant and developed a warm reputation in the community. After years of working independently, the Naftals decided it was time for a new venture and began exploring their options.

“Wellington is a seasonal town, which presents challenges to local businesses. We would go through 8 months of trying to break even, and then winter would come and we would catch up, and then start all over. That was a tortuous cycle,” Naftal explained. “We are passionate about what we do, and I think we did a great job, yet there just wasn’t enough support. When Doug Marty approached us about partnering with Wellington National, the timing was perfect.”

With the help of his team, including Executive Chef David Guilford and Sous Chef Enrique Noble, Naftal will manage the food and beverage operations at Wellington National, including operating both the Wine Bar and the Champions Bistro.

“The plan is to take the menu we currently offer in the Wine Bar and transfer that to the Champions Bistro,” Naftal said. “The Champions Bistro is going to be such a great experience, with its open kitchen floor plan and beautiful long bar overlooking the magnificent 18th hole. The atmosphere is going to be unlike anything else Wellington currently has to offer.”

Members who dine at Wellington National can look forward to an outstanding menu that will change frequently to ensure a varied and enjoyable eating experience. Naftal also uses locally sourced, fresh ingredients that contribute to the seasonal flavorings of his cuisine. In addition to the steaks Naftal is known for, the Champions Bistro menu will offer daily lunch specials and seasonal dinner entrées. As director of beverage services, Naftal will review and enhance the wine lists and add his own unique infused liquors.

“Among other things, we make our own vanilla and pineapple liquors to make drinks like a Hawaiian martini, which is a delicious cocktail,” he explained. “I also love to make a true Old Fashioned made from scratch.”

Wellington National will also offer full-service catering for member and non-member events on site. The open architectural design of the club is perfect for hosting medium to large charity fundraisers, weddings and events, as well as serving the country club members daily.

“Hosting events keeps it exciting. Each event is different, and it challenges our team to think creatively,” Naftal said. “Ideally, the events we host will help expose Wellington National to new people who are unfamiliar with the great amenities we offer. I am looking forward to doing everything from weddings to charity events to wine tastings or even a cigar tasting.”

Chip Smith and Doug Marty, the club’s founding partners, are excited that Naftal decided to joined the team.

“We are thrilled to be able to announce that Chef Jordan and his team have come on board at Wellington National,” they said. “He brings with him an unmatched reputation of excellence and professionalism, and we think he will establish our restaurants as stand-out dining venues in the Wellington community.”

Naftal isn’t wasting any time settling into his new position. “I see a lot of people who were regulars at Jordan’s, plus I am meeting new people here,” he said. “I have had an incredibly warm welcome here, and I am looking forward to continuing to do what I am passionate about, in this great space.”

Wellington National Golf Club is located at 400 Binks Forest Drive in Wellington. To learn more about membership opportunities, or about hosting an event, call (561) 333- 5731 or visit www.wellingtonnationalgolf club.com.

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Winter In Wellington With Old Salem Farm

Winter In Wellington With Old Salem Farm

Story by Lindsay Brock • Photos by Jump Media

When snow flies in the Northeast, many show jumping barns begin a pilgrimage south. One of those barns, Old Salem Farm based in North Salem, N.Y., leaves winter behind each year and moves to the ideal training and competition conditions found in Wellington.

Led by top trainer Frank Madden and assistant trainer Stella Manship, Old Salem Farm brings riders of varying levels to Wellington each year to compete in the Winter Equestrian Festival and to enjoy a “winter in Wellington.”

While sunshine and palm trees are better for riding than a New York winter, and make for ideal working conditions for Madden, Old Salem Farm riders also view Wellington as a land of opportunity.

“WEF offers so much, from leadline all the way up to five-star grand prix and everything in between,” Madden said. “I feel that you can get six to nine months’ worth of training for horses and riders in a three-month span of time. When we are done, we come home with much more seasoned horses and riders.”

The Old Salem Farm team will be made up of riders competing in a broad span of divisions, including junior jumpers, equitation, adult jumpers and hunters, and high amateur jumpers, according to Madden.

“This year we have some new horse-and-rider combinations, and I am most looking forward to seeing how those work out,” said Madden, who also puts his judging expertise to use at WEF during the season.

One rider who will be piloting two new mounts, 16-year-old Klee Hellerman, will also be making her first-ever winter trip to the horse haven that is Wellington after having previously competed for the past two years in Ocala.

Hailing from New Haven, Conn., Hellerman has been riding at Old Salem Farm for nearly two years and splits her time in the saddle with her responsibilities as a junior at Cheshire Academy in Cheshire, Conn.

Catching a Wednesday afternoon flight each week with her textbooks and assignments in tow, Hellerman has devised a plan to stay on top of her studies while seeking success in the show ring. “It’s all about being organized and having constant contact with your teachers,” she said.

While this winter marks her first season in Wellington, Hellerman is looking forward to traveling with her fellow Old Salem Farm riders and trainers. “I love the organization and the community at Old Salem Farm,” she said. “I am excited about having one week of shows right after the other for three months. Both my horses are new, so it is an opportunity to get to know them and start being competitive with them in the equitation and junior jumper divisions.”

As Hellerman dips her toes into the Wellington community, Old Salem Farm rider Tegan Treacy, 20, of Needham, Mass., is returning to familiar territory. She joined Old Salem Farm while competing at WEF in 2013 and has called Wellington her winter home since her early teens as a junior rider. Treacy is a sophomore at Duke University in Durham, N.C., and has “winter in Wellington” down to a science.

“I try to be in Wellington for eight or nine weeks during the winter and fly down after my classes on Thursday, and return on Sunday afternoon or Monday morning,” she said. “One year I stayed at school for four weeks straight, and it was actually more difficult to be out of my travel routine. That schedule makes it easier for me to focus on school while I am in Durham and focus on the horses when I am in Wellington.”

Treacy is a regular top finisher in high and low amateur-owner jumper competition, but hopes to use the 2017 WEF season to move into the Under 25 ranks. The Hollow Creek Farm Under 25 Grand Prix Series was developed as a bridge to the international level of grand prix competition, allowing up-and-coming riders the opportunity to gain experience competing against their peers. “There are so many opportunities to show in Wellington,” Treacy said. “The circuit runs for 12 consecutive weeks and is very competitive with large classes, good footing and beautiful show grounds.”

At home just one hour north of New York City, Old Salem Farm is the site of its own renowned training program, as well as 26 weeks of horse shows from local and regional events to the highest level of international show jumping competition. But for three months, riders like Hellerman and Treacy, under the tutelage of trainers such as Madden and Manship, make up a small piece of Wellington’s booming horse show community that draws from all corners of North America and beyond during the winter months.

“There’s no better environment for competition or training, and we consider ourselves lucky to be able to call Wellington home during the winter,” Madden said. “Myself and my riders love our facilities at Old Salem Farm in New York, but if you have to escape the weather, Wellington is the place to be.”

Old Salem Farm is one of the top equestrian competition venues in North America, as rated by the North American Riders Group. Host of the FEI 2* and 3* Old Salem Farm Spring Horse Shows, the prestigious American Gold Cup CSI-W 4* and year-round competitions, the facility offers a state-of-the-art turf grand prix field, indoor riding arena and two all-weather footing rings.

For more information about Old Salem Farm, visit www.oldsalemfarm.net or call (914) 669-5610.

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Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital Expands Surgical And Diagnostic Offerings In Wellington

Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital Expands Surgical And Diagnostic Offerings In Wellington

By Sarah Harper

South Florida horse owners now have a new, innovative veterinary option right around the corner with the enhanced veterinary services offered by Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital in Wellington.

Rood & Riddle, founded in Lexington, Ky., is a world-renowned equine hospital known for highly advanced diagnostics and skilled veterinary experts who provide exceptional treatment for world-class show and race horses. The company recently expanded its veterinary services into Wellington by purchasing an equine hospital and adjacent property on South Shore Blvd.

Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital’s primary focus will be to offer referral support to local veterinarians. However, clients also have the opportunity to schedule elective surgeries, a wide range of diagnostic imaging services, as well as internal medicine, neurology and podiatry consultations.

The expertise provided by Rood & Riddle specialists, combined with cutting-edge diagnostic technology, will offer horse owners and veterinarians the ability to provide the highest level of health care for their equine patients.

“Rood & Riddle is pleased to expand its local practice and dedicated hospital presence in Florida. The world knows that the Village of Wellington is a major center for sport horse activities in North America,” Rood & Riddle CEO Bill Rood said. “Our mission has always been to provide the best care for our clients and patients wherever they are. The addition of this property allows our practice to better serve our many clients who compete in Florida every year, both in sport-horse activities and racing.”

In recent years, Florida has experienced an unmatched increase in the sport-horse disciplines while continuing to maintain a strong racehorse community. This growth trend solidified Rood & Riddle’s decision to establish a permanent Florida presence.

In addition to year-round surgical services, Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital also will provide a team of veterinarians offering expertise in areas such as sport horse health care, neurology and podiatry to provide outstanding service for its clients.

Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital is working to update and upgrade the facility with a newly expanded surgical center, which includes an additional surgery suite, induction and recovery stall, transfer area, client viewing area and a treatment room. All the amenities of the new facility, including stalls, will be climate-controlled and continuously staffed. The new facility is on target to be completed during the early months of 2017. This renovation will provide an advanced level of diagnostic and surgical options for the South Florida equine community.

Veterinarian Dr. Jose Bras will lead the surgical team. Bras, originally from San Juan, Puerto Rico, completed his veterinary training at the Ohio State University School of Veterinary Medicine, followed by an in-hospital internship at Rood & Riddle and then the completion of a surgical residency and master’s degree in biomedical science at Kansas State University. He joined the Rood & Riddle team as an associate in 2015, working in both the ambulatory and surgery departments.

“We are excited to debut the new hospital, which shows our commitment to the health, safety and welfare of horses in Florida,” Bras said. “I am looking forward to living in Wellington and becoming a part of the local community.”

Veterinarian Dr. Scott Pierce, a shareholder and 30-year veteran of Rood & Riddle, will oversee the Wellington facility, supported by not only Bras but also veterinary surgeon Dr. Jennifer Jordan, veterinarian Dr. Ashley Embly and his son, Dr. Riley Pierce, also a veterinarian. “We are thrilled to expand our services in Wellington on a year-round basis,” Pierce said. “Working with our global clients competing in Florida ensures our ability to keep their equine athletes at peak condition and is a win-win for everyone.”

Clients will also be able to schedule internal medicine and neurology consultations with Dr. Steve Reed, one of the foremost experts on equine neurology in the United States. He has authored or co-authored more than 150 peer-reviewed publications, and in 2008 was chosen to deliver the Frank J. Milne lecture at the annual meeting of the American Association of Equine Practitioners, a singular honor given to a leader in equine veterinary medicine.

Scheduled specialty services will also be available from veterinary podiatrists Dr. Scott Morrison and Dr. Raul Bras. Additionally, surgeon Dr. Rolf Embertson will occasionally visit to perform surgical procedures jointly with Bras. The entire experienced team of veterinarians and technicians are eager to bring Rood & Riddle’s world-class, reputable veterinary care to the competitive equestrian and racing communities in South Florida.

Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital is located at 5320 South Shore Blvd. in Wellington. For more information, call (561) 383-5437 or visit www.roodandriddle.com.

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