Riders taking part in the Great Charity Challenge at the Winter Equestrian Festival took fancy dress to the next level in Florida last week (6 February), celebrating the heroes of the pandemic.
The Great Charity Challenge (GCC) is an exciting annual showjumping event which has distributed nearly $16million over the past 12 years, with teams of three consisting of junior and amateur riders competing alongside top professionals, including Olympians, for top honours.
But what is usually the biggest night of the 12-week WEF was scaled back this year to a mix of in-person competition for riders and virtual celebration for charities and supporters, who cheered on the teams representing local non-profit organisations for a share of more than $1million in prize-money.
“While this year’s event looked very different than our usual full stands, our focus remained the same: to ensure that local non-profit heroes receive a financial ‘leg up’ during these challenging times,” said Great Charity Challenge co-founder Paige Bellissimo. “We are so grateful for the support and generosity of the event sponsors and donors who make this possible.”
We have picked out just some of the amazing costumes adorned by riders and horses alike, paying recognition to the heroes who stepped up during the pandemic as well as those who “inspired us to push beyond our own limits and driven us to dream bigger”.
1. All about the camouflage
The winning team of Lindsey Tomeu (Bonapart), Ashley Vogel (Lucy In The Sky) and Shane Sweetnam (Heart On Fire) sponsored by Spy Coast and Preston and Diamante Dressage, came in the ring donned in fatigues to represent the U.S. Army as their heroes, finishing in a time of 91.66sec. Their assigned charity was YWCA of Palm Beach County, earning them the top prize of $100,000.
“Every year it’s a great event and it’s a great cause for the community, especially this year,” said GCC team veteran Shane Sweetnam. “I know it probably wasn’t easy to organize, but these charities need it more than ever this year. It’s great that we could do our part and have something to cheer for and give back to our community.”
2. Wonder woman whizzes past
Competing for Team Welles on behalf of the Palm Beach County Food Bank were Taylor Landstrom, Teddi Pritzker and Andrew Welles.
3. Go green
Rock Ridge Farms team (Gigi Moynihan, Andrea Towriss and Simon McCarthy) took fifth place, representing Coalition for Independent Living Options, Inc.
4. Signed, sealed, delivered
Team Southern Arches represented the ones who kept the world moving: UPS , FedEx and US Postal Service. The team’s beneficiary was Morningday Community Solutions and the riders lining up were Angela Swanson, Natalie Jayne and Callie Schott.
5. It’s Morphin time with the Power Rangers
Team Rodriguez Equestrian (Lenir Perez, Ana Sofia Perez and Juan Andres Rodriguez Silva) are ready for the action! They competed on behalf of the Equestrian Aid Foundation.
6. Into the blue with the Powderpuff Girls
Team Peacock Ridge’s Zayna Rizvi (Chaplin W) lined up with Olivia Markman (Zanta Fee Van T Hofterrijckel) and Keira Foster (Ash Ville Rock) for the Center For Family Services of Palm Beach County to finish third and win $80,000 with a time of 92.75sec.
7. All about the vaccine
Little Creek Equestrian’s Isabel Coke, Niko Keshtk and Max Manzardo raised funds for the Hanley Foundation by staying safe dressed as a Covid-19 vaccine.
Representing the Dammerman, Domencich and Little Memorial Team, riding for The Housing Leadership Council of Palm Beach County, Inc, were Riley McKesson, Emma Pell and Schuyler Riley.
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9. Straight out of the White House
Molly Ashe Cawley dresses up for Louisburg Farm as President Joe Biden, with her daughter Taylor Cawley dressing up as the Vice President and Tony Sormanns as Dr Anthony Fauci.
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