Highlights From The Sept 2,3 2010 Blenheim EquiSports Show

September 2, 2010: First Indoor Class of the California Season

On Thursday evening of the Showpark All Seasons Summer Classic Blenheim EquiSports hosted the $30,000 Showpark Jumper Classic, presented by Royal Champion. With 42 entries, the event served as a warm-up for Saturday’s World Cup Qualifier as well as an opportunity to ride in the first indoor class of the California season. Scored as a speed class, eight pairs went clean, but fastest of the night were the new match of Jill Humphrey and Tao Tao 3 (Alicia Jonsson Foster, owner). Second place went to Richard Spooner and his partner Ace (S&B LLC, owner) with Keri Potter and Rockford I rounding out the top three.

September 4, 2010: First World Cup Qualifier of the California Season
Twenty-nine horse and rider combinations were all business as they competed under the lights in the Del Mar Horse Park covered arena on Saturday night. With riders representing eight different countries vying for the top prize as well as points on the World Cup leader board in the $50,000 Grand Prix of Showpark CSI-W, presented by EquiFit, inc., course designer Anthony D’Ambrosio had the task of building a course that tested both the scope of the horse and eye of the rider. Four jumped clean in the first round to earn a spot in the jump-off, but it was the talented couple of Percynality Mercedes Benz and Eduardo Menezes who clinched the win by delivering the only double clear performance of the evening.

D’Ambrosio presented the competitors with sixteen efforts. With some ‘delicate’ fences, D’Ambrosio wanted to test the accuracy of the entrants without too many demanding fences in a row. “I had one wide oxer in the triple combination and one in the double, but I didn’t have another difficult fence immediately follow either,” the American designer explained. Some riders lowered the height of the triple bar on course while others found trouble at various areas in the triple and double combinations, as well as fence 11, a daunting vertical jumped on a slight angle towards the grand stands.

As the ninth pair to make their entrance in the first round, Brazilian Menezes and his own Percynality Mercedes Benz jumped clean and forced a jump-off with second in the order and first to go clean, East Coast rider Michelle Spadone and her mount Melisimo (Morgan Hill Partners, owner). Later in the order, Susan Hutchison and the bay stallion Cantano (El Dorado 29, owner) delivered a fault-free performance to earn a spot in the second round as did 18-year-old Karl Cook aboard his second mount, Uno de Laubry (Signe Ostby, owner).

As the second rider to step up to the jump off challenge, Menezes knew he had to give it his all. “I had to be fast because Susie [Hutchison] and Karl [Cook] were behind me and they are quick,” the winner said. Jumping around clean in 36.87, Menezes clearly delivered as neither Hutchison nor Cook were fault-free. After having finished second in his share of grand prix events this season, Menezes was particularly happy. “When I felt him in the warm-up ring, I knew he was feeling great,” Menezes said of his 13-year-old partner.

Finishing second was the California hotshot Cook and Uno de Laubry. The young rider completed the jump-off track with four faults, lowering the height of an early fence on the track, in a final time of 37.65. First to return to the shortened track, Spadone and Melisimo also had four faults in 38.77 for a third place finish. Picking up fourth place, Hutchison and Cantano had a great time of 36.78 but dislodged two rails for eight faults.

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).

Highlights From 2009 Ranch & Coast

Challenging on multiple levels, the $50,000 Grand Prix of California, presented by Mary’s Tack & Feed and designed by Leopoldo Palacios (VE), had a solid forty-five entrants resulting in a jump-off of just four. The track was tight and the combinations technical, causing both time faults, rails, refusals and involuntary dismounts for riders.

Palacios left no room for error, keeping riders on their toes from the first turn to the last line. Although the rollback turn from one to two seemed straight forward, it was the initial spot where time was wasted and often could not be made up later in the course. The last line paralleled the in-gate in a steady seven strides to a triple that rode long in one to a sizeable gate oxer to another long two stride followed by a turn away from the in-gate to a big square oxer. The first rider to negotiate the course without a rail went fifth in the line-up, Gretchen Lof aboard Zambezi (Kings Wood Farm, LLC). However she stopped the clock at 79.41 resulting in three time faults, and a fifth place finish. Following her round, one or more rails dropped and time faults accrued until the twenty-second pair, Will Simpson aboard Nadia (Gotham Enterprises, LLC), galloped through the timers completely clean. Shortly after, Jill Humphrey and Kaskaya (Leone Equestrians Inc.) did the same. Twenty-ninth in the ring, Guy Thomas and Urian (Vicki Juelsgaard), joined the jump-off participants and not until the thirty-ninth horse, Veronica Tracy on her mount Muscadet De La Saveniere, did we have the fourth clean ride.

Simpson had a surprising two refusals with Nadia in the jump-off, leaving the door wide open for the next three. Humphrey rode Kaskaya to a neat and clean 35.85. Thomas on Urian and Tracy on Muscadet De La Saveniere tried to top her, but both had one rail apiece and took third and second respectively.

Four-faulters placed sixth through twelfth; the top of that pack was Susie Hutchison on Cantano (El Dorado 29) who went lightning fast with just one rail. Third time in the ring was a charm for Guy Thomas when clean aboard Urian, having his share of ups and downs with four entries including a fall off Midnight Dance (Alec Lawler), one rail on Carino (Willow Tree Farm, Inc.), and just one rail on Peterbilt (Peterbilt, LLC). Although possibly a touch sore on Sunday, Saturday was still worth celebrating for Thomas and Willow Tree, finishing with three in the top twelve (see results below).

We had an awesome weekend; starting with a chance to interview Leopoldo during this great Grand Prix in Del Mar and ending with a chance to watch the final day of the USHJA Emerging Athletes Program (EAP) Level I Training Session at Hansen Dam Equestrian Center in Sylmar. Melanie Smith Taylor gave a great clinic, also challenging at multiple levels, keeping these potential grand prix riders on their toes. So keep an eye out for ‘Conversations with…’ Leopoldo and Melanie in upcoming newsletters!

Hope all mothers, of children and animals great and small, had an enjoyable Mothers Day.

Grand Prix of California photos © CapturedMomentPhoto.com.