WELLINGTON, FL – February 16, 2010 - Equestrians from all disciplines gathered on Friday, February 12, 2010, to enjoy the Equestrian Idol Musical Talent Show where the top prize of the evening was awarded to Brian Lookabill. Eight talented performers vied for the crown, but Lookabill’s amazing performance won over the judges and earned him the 2010 title. As the winner of this year’s top prize, Lookabill will sing the National Anthem at an upcoming polo match at the International Polo Club. He will also have the opportunity to sing during an upcoming Cavalia performance. The event sponsored by Foundation Farm, held in the Grand Marquee Tent at the International Polo Club Palm Beach in Wellington, Florida, raised over $135,000 for The EQUUS Foundation.
The EQUUS Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charitable foundation that seeks to educate the public on the significant impact of horses in our everyday lives and award grants to charities that use the horse for the benefit of the public, promote horse welfare, and advance the equestrian sport. The polo club tent was filled to capacity as guests enjoyed the open bar and hors d'oeuvres, while bidding on silent auction items, donated by generous individuals, national and local retailers, and vendors from the Winter Equestrian Festival. A delicious buffet dinner, catered by Aaron’s Catering of Wellington, followed and the entertainment began.
For the second year in a row, Mason Phelps, Jr. kicked off the evening by thanking everyone for attending and acknowledging the many wonderful sponsors. In addition to Title Sponsor Foundation Farm & Visse Wedell, Bobbie & Derek Braun & Split Rock Farm, Mary & Mike Carpenter, Gray & Jerry Fadden, Diane & Regis Lippert, and Clea Newman attended as Gold Medal Sponsors; Burr Associates and Jenny Belknap Kees & Timmy Kees, generously supported the Foundation as Silver Medal Sponsors. Bronze Medal Sponsors included Patricia Adikes-Hill & The Adikes Family Foundation, Eleanor Bright & Mr. & Mrs. Charles Jacobs, Lawrence D’Addario, Patricia Keenan & Ann T. D’Addario Family Foundation, East Wind LLC & SCNC Investments Inc., Louisburg Farm, Quiet Corner Farm, Ivan Rakowsky & Margie Goldstein-Engle, Sandcastle Farm, Richard Schechter & Bainbridge Farm, Sleepy P Ranch, Steeple Chase Farm Foundation, The Strauss Family, and Mimi Tashjian.
“On behalf of the EQUUS Foundation Board, we would like to thank the Equestrian Community once again for their support of Equestrian Idol,” said Jenny Belknap-Kees, Chairman of the Board for The EQUUS Foundation, Inc. “It is the performers, judges and fans that make Equestrian Idol a success. Without their enthusiasm, we would not be able to achieve our mission of helping horses and the people who love and care for them."
The 2008 Equestrian Idol winner, Ki-Juan Minors opened the show with an impressive performance singing Stevie Wonder’s “For Once in My Life”. Jen White Kane, the 2009 Equestrian Idol was next on stage to sing “If I Ain’t Got You” by Alicia Keys. Following their performances, the esteemed panel of judges was introduced.
The evening’s judges included renowned equestrians Frank Madden, Margie Goldstein-Engle, Leslie Howard and Bradley Grill of Cavalia. For the second year in a row a spot for an additional judge was auctioned off to the highest bidder. For an impressive $3,100, Gretchen Holtz won the opportunity to join the judges and throw in her critiques.
This year’s Equestrian Idol hopefuls included newcomers Jordan LaPlaca, Colton Mason, and Rick Rockefeller-Silvia and returning performers Heather Caristo, Hillary Dobbs, Casey Hodges, Brian Lookabill, and Dianna Bricker.
Four contestants were called back to sing a second song for the judges after the first round of performances came to a close. This year’s finalists included Heather Caristo, Hillary Dobbs, Brian Lookabill, and Jordan LaPlaca. It was Brian Lookabill’s rendition of Bon Jovi’s “Wanted: Dead or Alive” that had the crowd on their feet and stole the show.
Leslie Howard expressed, “That was great entertainment!” Frank Madden added, “You were so comfortable with that song, it really fit you. You had the crowd going and you did a great job!”
Brian Lookabill was named the 2010 Equestrian Idol as the sellout crowd celebrated.
“I feel great,” smiled Lookabill after his win. “This is a good cause, The EQUUS Foundation helps quite a few different charities and organizations, and I think they’ve done a good job of keeping this event exciting each year. I’ve been a part of it every year since year one and there has been some unbelievable talent come through, and I’m excited to finally make it to the top. The second song was just a song that I love to sing, I love John Bon Jovi, and I really enjoy getting loud with that song, and I knew it was one that the crowd would get into. I thought it might be a winner.”
Lookabill has been involved with the equestrian industry for over 18 years, and is currently a horse show announcer at the some of the top competitions throughout the country.
This year’s winner earned the opportunity to sing during an upcoming Cavalia performance. Cavalia is a multimedia extravaganza that features more than 100 two- and four-legged artists, including beautiful horses of 12 breeds, riders, acrobats, aerialists, dancers and live musicians.
“There has always been a great prize here,” noted Lookabill. “They really ramped it up this year by giving you the opportunity as a musician to go to an internationally recognized event and perform in front of a major crowd. I’m really excited, but I also know it’s going to take a lot of work.”
Auction and Gift Sponsors for this year’s event included Aaron's Catering, Adequan, Beval Saddlery Ltd., bluhorse clothing, Bobbie Braun, Cavalia, Cavalleria Toscana, Equine Artistry by Barbara, Equalign Chiropractic Systems, Euro-American Saddlery, Floor Specialists Inc., Gracie Street Interior Design, Inc. Studio & Boutique, Hampton Classic Horse Show, Sharon Packer & Horse Sports Photography, LLC, HorseTV, Hunt Ltd., Just Horse Videos Worldwide, International Polo Club Palm Beach, KIDS on the beach & Rumor Has It, Philip Levine & Companion Dogs Ltd., Olympic Performance Massage Therapy & Bodywork, Origins Natural Resources, Parlanti, Mason Phelps, Jr., Pilates Rocks, Pink Sands Resort, Harbour Island, Bahamas, Polo Gear/Pologirl, Rick Raphael & Leslie Fuller of Raphael Photography, Frank Roccanova, RV Sales of Broward, Robin & Phil Schonberger, SmartPak, Tiffany & Co. in Palm Beach Gardens, Turner & Co., Wellington-WEF.com, LLC and Windsor Manor.
The EQUUS Foundation has awarded over $1.3 million in grants since 2003 to charities that help horses and help horses help people. This has been accomplished almost entirely from event attendance.
The Foundation is governed by a Board of Directors representing a cross-section of the equestrian community, including supporters, participants, and professionals. The Board includes: Jenny Belknap Kees, Chairman, Catherine Herman, Vice Chairman, David T. Goodwin, Secretary/Treasurer, Lynn Coakley, President, David Distler, Gray Fadden, Richard Mitchell DVM, Clea Newman Soderlund, and Visse Wedell.
For additional information on The EQUUS Foundation, Inc., visit www.equusfoundation.org, or contact The EQUUS Foundation, Inc., 168 Long Lots Road, Westport, CT 06880
Telephone (203) 259-1550
Photo Credit: Brian Lookabill was named the winner of the 2010 Equestrian Idol Musical Talent Show. Photo by: Jessica Nemzoff/Phelps Media Group. Photograph may be used only in relation to this PMG press release.