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    WELLINGTON, Fla. — A year ago, Cantano was coming off his PCHA Horse of the Year honor and seemed poised for a breakout year on the Southern California circuit with his legendary rider, Susie Hutchison. Now, the 12-year-old Holsteiner stallion is in Florida, where he competed March 29 under his rider, Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum of Germany with similar results — his second victory of a circuit.

    In remarkable performance, Micheals-Beerbaum won the Challenge Cup Round 12 at the FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival aboard Cantano and also finished second riding Checkmate 4. Both horses are owned by Octavia Farms LLC.
    Michaels-Beerbaum was last to go with her second mount, Cantano, and she beat her own time in 47.34 seconds to take the lead once more.

    “This is the first time I won with a really fast jump-off with him,” said Michaels-Beerbaum, who in a previous Wellington event had won with Cantano with the clear round at 1.50m. “I am really excited about this.”

    Michaels-Beerbaum and Cantano were united last fall after the August sale of the athletic jumper to Nancy Clark, the owner of Michaels-Beerbaum’s legendary international jumper, Shutterfly, who was retired in November 2010 in Aachen at age 18.

    Michaels-Beerbaum was surprised that she was able to beat the time in the jump-off she had set with Checkmate 4.

    “I went fast in a couple of classes early on in the circuit, and he was third in one grand prix and fourth in another WEF, but I kind of thought that I would try for second place to be honest,” she said. “I didn’t really think that I would be so much faster on him. I didn’t know his speed, and he really was on it. When I looked up at the timers, I was even a little bit surprised. It was hard to measure exactly how fast I was going or how fast that horse is.”

    “I think Cantano has a lot of ground speed,” she added. “Checkmate is really difficult on right hand turns, and the jump-off had quite a few right hand turns, so I couldn’t risk too much on those. That is maybe where he caught Checkmate a little bit.”

    On getting to know Cantano better this winter, Michaels-Beerbaum acknowledged, “He has scope and heart and everything.”

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