Highlights From The 2010 Blenheim Fall Tournament

This fall horse show was chocked-full of evening excitement. To kick the week off, Wednesday night Blenheim Farm’s Covered Arena was host to the $30,000 Blenheim Jumper Classic, presented by Royal Champion. Jumping into Friday, with another competitive evening, the $50,000 CSI-W Grand Prix, presented by Cavalor, riders were vying for prize money and points on the World Cup leader board. In addition to the show jumpers, qualified Big Eq riders also competed under the lights on Saturday in the 2010 ASPCA Maclay Regional Finals.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010: $30,000 Blenheim Jumper Classic
Course designer Guilherme Jorge built a 1.50 meter class for the 40 entrants, which served as a solid speed course. Topping the class was Keri Potter and her own Rockford I who sailed around the track clean in 73.10 seconds. Second place honors went to the fabulously consistent couple of Bristol (Grey Fox Farms, owner) and Rusty Stewart. Posting a clear round on her other mount Coco (Redfield Farm, owner), Spadone crossed the timers in 76.23 seconds to take home the third place prize.

Friday, September 17, 2010: $50,000 CSI-W Grand Prix
The Guilherme Jorge designed course welcomed twenty-eight horse and rider couples into Blenheim Farm’s covered arena for the $50,000 Blenheim Fall CSI-W Grand Prix, presented by Cavalor, on the evening of September 17th. Four jumped clean in the first round to earn a spot in the jump-off, but it was the East Coast pair of Michelle Spadone and her talented mare Melisimo who presented spectators with the only double-clear ride of the night for the win.

In order to use the indoor space well and test the riders appropriately, Jorge presented sixteen challenging efforts that demanded a well thought-out, accurate ride. “Since the ring is not too small, I was able to build a real World Cup qualifying course,” the Brazilian designer explained. “The triple was an oxer-oxer-vertical combination so it was a scope test and the double with the liverpool [under the first fence] was at the end of the course so it was more of a technical challenge.”

As the sixth pair to take on the first round course, Spadone and her 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood, Melisimo, (Morgan Hill Partners, owner) were the second duo to cross the timers clean and advance to the jump-off, following the first to do so, Richard Spooner aboard Ace (S&B LLC, owner). Soon afterwards the young and talented firecracker, Ashlee Bond, rode her chestnut horse Cadett 7 to a clear round. Also fault free was the tried and true team of Australian Harley Brown and Cassiato (Oak Park Group, owner) who were sixteenth to go.

As the second rider to step up to the second round challenge, Spadone knew she had to be both quick and clean. “I had to worry about two of the fastest riders (Bond and Spooner) so in the jump-off, the main thing was to be fast,” Spadone noted.

After her winning ride, the victorious Spadone said of her five-year equine partner, “[Melisimo] is great and I am lucky to have her. She really likes the atmosphere of indoors best.”

The young equestrian star has already competed in two World Cup Finals and now seeks to be on the list heading for Liepzig, Germany, the location of the 2011 FEI World Cup Finals. For a nice change of scenery and the chance to ride with a keen training couple from San Juan Capistrano, Spadone will continue to compete on the West Coast.

 “I decided to come to California because of Joie Gatlin and Morley Abey; they are amazing people,” said Spadone. “I love Joie because she is so competitive and she really makes you want to win for her.”

Riding in the second position for the victory gallop was Bond and her superstar mount Cadett 7. The duo pulled an unfortunate rail mid-way through the second round course but set a blazing time of 39.79. Spooner and the gorgeous bay stallion Ace went first in the jump-off and had a super ride until the gallop to the last fence. The crowd groaned as the rail fell for four faults in a time of 40.97, which placed him third. Last to tackle the jump-off track, Brown and Cassiato had two rails part way through. Knowing he wouldn’t beat the other three, the rider voluntarily withdrew for a fourth place finish.

“The jump-off was difficult,” reflected Jorge. “It is up to how hard the horses and riders try. I think it was good jumping; the four who qualified proved they are up to the level of World Cup competition.”

First to enter the ring, Tani Zeidler of Canada and her mount Ranville (Zeidler Farm Canada Inc., owner) negotiated Jorge’s track without a rail but incurred one time fault, exceeding the time allowed by less than one second for fifth place. El Dorado 29’s Cantano and Susan Hutchison rounded out the top six by laying down the fastest of the four fault rides. After pulling a rail on the second element in the triple combination, Spooner picked up seventh place for his ride aboard Pariska 2 (C&S Partnership LLC, owner).