The most talked about event of the four day long Longines Masters in Los Angeles is undoubtedly the Pro-Am Style and Competition for Charity.
In this equally heart-racing and hilarious event, professional and celebrity riders pair up in support of a charity of their choosing. The dynamic duos don theme costumes in which they each jump a height-appropriate portion of a challenging course while their theme music blares in the background. You’ve never seen anything like this before!
Prizes are award for the fastest time over the course, as well as for best style. A celebrity jury composed of James Bond girl Denise Richards, actress Perrey Reeves from Entourage, and KTLA anchor Sam Rubin decided the team with the best style this year. This was no easy task as you will soon see.
1. Jack Towell (Olympe de Brecey) and Jennifer Gates (Cadence) for Thrive Animal Rescue
Professional Jack Towell and Jennifer Gates, daughter of Bill and Melinda Gates who were on hand for the frivolity, were first to take the course as Dorothy and the Scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz. Despite their fantastic costumes, they both blazed through the course, showing off their costumes in the most fantastic light!
Towell and Gates rode for Thrive Animal Rescue. Their mission is to save abandoned dogs from the loneliness of shelter life and place them into loving families and forever homes.
2. Hillary Ridland (Zilliam Rose) and Mary Frances Looke (Labors Wonderboy) for Park Place Foundation
Superheros were next on the scene. Hillary Ridland sold here Lone Ranger costume with a thrilling performance during which she saved herself from a near fall. Meanwhile, Mary France Looke, as Wonder Woman, and her mount Labors Wonderboy lived up to their names and preformed wonderfully!
The duo rode for Park Place Foundation. Park Place Foundation strives to make changes in how we perceive and treat addiction and mental illness through education, increased awareness and sharing the personal stories of children and teens who have fallen victim to this disease.
3. Eduardo Menezes (Caruschka 2) and Jean Christophe Meily (Joel) for Wolf Connection
The team of Eduardo Menezes and Jean Christophe Meily were an incredible crowd pleaser. They were preceded in the ring by a herd of children wearing Little Red Riding Hood capes, and carrying bribes of food and wine for the judges. When the Big Bad Wolf entered, the track “Li’l Red Riding Hood” by Sam The Sham & The Pharaohs blared through the arena speakers on cue. Their perfect 10 style score seemed impossible to beat.
The performance theme was perfectly paired with this teams charity of choice, Wolf Connection. Wolf Connection is the only youth education and empowerment program in the nation that rescues and trains wolfdogs to become therapy animals for at-risk youth, presenting the most innovative and comprehensive approach to the deep exploration of the Human-Animal connection.
4. Jane Richard Philips (Zekina Z) and Hannah Selleck (Callway Do Cabo) for Just World International
If there was an award for the cutest costumes, it would certain go to professional Jane Richard Philips and Hannah Selleck, daughter of acclaimed actor Tom Selleck. The two wore adorable wigs and mini dresses to transform themselves in to Alice and the Red Queen from Alice In Wonderland.
Both riders appeared for JustWorld International. This organizations works through the international equestrian community and its extensive networks, to breaking the cycle of poverty by funding local partners around the world helping children thrive.
5. Kent Farrington (Basic) and Alexandra Crown (Charley) for Autism Speaks
Kent Farrington and Alexandra Crown went home with the fastest time of the evening. They also deserve an award for the most obscure costume. This pair rode as gummy bears like you’ve probably never seen them before. They were not the chewy candy from your childhood or the classic cartoon characters. They were these Gummy Bears, and this was their theme song:
Farrington and Crown took home the top time for Autism Speaks, the world’s leading autism science and advocacy organization. The organization is dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism; increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders; and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families.
6. Kristin Hardin (Firestone S) and Nicolette Hirt (Cascall) for Compton Junior Posse
On Sesame street Elmo and Cookie Monster certainly get into a world of trouble, but have you ever seen them fly of fences? Thanks to Kristin Hardin and Nicolette Hirt now you have! Prior to taking to the course, the team was joined by members of the charity they represented, the Compton Jr. Posse, and got down to classic tracks like “Lose Yourself” by Eminem and “Brass Monkey” by the Beastie Boys. A good time was had by all!
Compton Jr. Posse was created 27 years ago for inner-city youth to provide a year round after school program using equestrian activities to inspire youth to reach their personal, academic and career goals – a powerful alternative to the equally powerful lure of gang and drug lifestyles.
7. Edwina Tops-Alexander (Summertyme) and Sophie St. Claire (Lady Mecklenburg) for Amade
For this observer, Edwina Tops-Alexander’s costume left me speechless. She and her partner Sophie St. Clair dressed and rode to the theme of Bohemian Rhapsody. But far from wearing the rags of a counter-culture lifestyle, the Gucci sponsored rider wore an outfit seen just prior on the racks of the upscale Gucci pop up store at the Masters. Imagine buying that outfit and thinking, “Yup, that’s perfect barn clothes!”
This pairs did go all out for the music theme however. Local Los Angeles artist, Jessie Payo, and friends performed a wonderful live performance of a mash up of Britney Spears’ “Toxic” and The Beatles’ “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” before the riders raced around the course.
This performance was in support of Amade. Amade’s mission is to protect the most vulnerable children from violence, exploitation and abuse; to promote blossoming of children by contributing to access to education and health; and to accompany changes through plea initiatives.
8. Tracey Wade (Estano) and Kaley Cuoco (Bionetty) for Ride On
Last, but in no way least, was the team of Tracey Wade and Kaley Cuoco, star of CBS’s “Big Bang Theory.” Cuoco cleverly choose a theme that would leave her fans nothing to complain about. The star dressed as Luke Skywalker and her teammate was his nemesis and (spoiler alert) father, Darth Vader. An elaborate lightsaber fight preceded their ride, and ultimately clinched the style award with a score of two perfect 10s and an 11 from Denise Richards.
As best style winners, Wade and Cuoco provided an additional $25,000 for their charity, Ride On. Ride On teaches adaptive horseback riding to children and adults with physical and cognitive disabilities and we provide physical, occupational and speech therapy specializing in using the movement of the horse to improve specific medical conditions.
In the end, everyone in the audience was wishing Saturday nights could always be filled with horses, costumes, music, and professional and celebrity riders. Perhaps they should!