“Batman” Wins Dressage Under the Stars Finale

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Jim "Batman" Kofford preparing Bruce Wayne style to pursue justice or, in this case, $2,500 in cash as winner of Dressage Under the Stars finale. © 2011 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Jim "Batman" Kofford preparing Bruce Wayne style to pursue justice or, in this case, $2,500 in cash as winner of Dressage Under the Stars finale. © 2011 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

WELLINGTON, Florida, Mar. 23–Jim Kofford riding as “Batman” on his Grand Prix horse, Rhett, was victorious in pursuing justice and the $2,500 cash top prize in the finale Tuesday night of the Dressage Under the Stars 2011 series, the third year of the weekly event at the Players Club during the Palm Beach winter circuit.

Jim, of Raleigh, North Carolina, a former event rider focused fulltime on dressage for the past decade, snared the winner-take-all costume freestyle in a first-ever ride-off with 1976 (that’s right, 35 years ago in Montreal) U.S. Olympic team bronze medalist Dottie Morkis. She vamped it up in a crowd-wowing pink boa that judge Todd Flettrich said might have garnered him more points if he had ridden with it at last year’s World Equestrian Games in Kentucky.

Dottie Morkis. © 2011 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

The not-so-typical dressage crowd hooted and hollered encouragement during the performances under floodlights–and fueled by beverages somewhat more flavorful than bottled water–and let the judges know in no uncertain terms when they disagreed with their decisions. Todd Flettrich earned the “Simon” moniker for his grumpy judging similar to that of Simon Cowell on American Idol, while Canadian Olympian Ashley Holzer and Kelly Klein saw the sunny side and rewarded accordingly with higher scores.

The event was sponsored by Carol Cohen’s Two Swans Farm, the Dutta Corp. and Phelps Media Group. Producer Steve Williams pointed out the $2,500 cash and gifts was more prize money than is available at most dressage competitions in Palm Beach.

The finale also included winners from previous weeks of the competition: Chris Von Martels, Marcia Kulak and Emily Kannenstine.

Perhaps the most elaborate freestyle was by Canada’s Chris von Martels who rode to music accompanying a trio of break dancers. Their arena-side antics scared his horse so much it made a serious attempt to leave the competition long before the performance ran its course.

Break dancing ringside surprised Chris von Martels' horse who took the antics as a signal to try to leave the arena. © 2011 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com