Highlights From HITS Desert Circuit Highlights

WHAT’S HOT

This weekend marked the second to last World Cup qualifier for the 2009 season.  As expected, the winners of the last four qualifiers at the HITS Desert Circuit created a shift in the rankings, so this weekend’s class played a role in determining who will be heading to the final qualifier at the end of March as well as who might be competing in Vegas at the 2009 Rolex FEI World Cup Finals.

This is how the $50,000 FEI World Cup Qualifier, presented by Adequan, unfolded on Saturday night…

Initially the Guilherme Jorge (BRAZIL) course looked tough as the first two riders, including the west coast league leader Harley Brown (AUS), both circled before the final bending line. Next in the ring Week V’s outdoor $25,000 HITS Grand Prix winner John McConnell on Carolina went clean well within the time allowed. Four fault free rides followed, including this week’s indoor $25,000 HITS Grand Prix winner Rich Fellers on the fabulous Flexible, Katherine Bardis riding Mademoiselle, the unbeatable Ashlee Bond and Cadett 7, Helen McNaught aboard Caballo, all in a row sixth through ninth in the order. Fence seven, the liverpool across the diagonal, caused a four fault distraction for quite a few. However, Richard Spooner piloted his new mount Lou Bega beautifully around the course, Mandy Porter and San Diego were flawless and Lane Clarke rode Kiss the Sky to a clean round, resulting in an ideal eight of 28 starters heading to the jump off.

McConnell set the pace clean in 39.03. In Flexible fashion, Fellers, also clean, shaved more than four seconds off that time stopping the clock at 34.89. Unbeatable? Bardis tried but had a rail in 36.26.  In gallops Bond.  Clean in 34.78 – .11 seconds faster than Fellers. The crowd went crazy, unbelievable!

McNaught and Spooner gave it a go, both clean but not fast enough in 36.94 and 35.09, finishing fifth and third. Porter was blazing fast in 33.55, with an unfortunate two rails dropping her to eighth. Clarke gave it a good shot, ending up fourth, clean in 35.12. A fantastic class.

Place Horse Rider Owner
1 Cadett 7 Ashlee Bond Little Valley Farm
2 Flexible Rich Fellers Harry & Mollie Chapman
3 Lou Bega Richard Spooner Leone Equestrians, Inc.
4 Kiss The Sky Lane Clarke Horsemanship Unlimited
5 Caballo Helen McNaught Helen McNaught
6 Carolina John McConnell Klein Ranch
7 Mademoiselle Katherine Bardis C & S Partnership LLC
8 San Diego Mandy Porter Danielle Korsh
9 Ace Richard Spooner S & B, LLC
10 Black Ice Jill Henselwood Juniper Farms
11 Archie Bunker Will Simpson Linda I. Smith
12 Kaskaya Jill Humphrey Leone Equestrians, Inc.

The $50,000 Orange County Register CSI-W Grand Prix (final 2009 FEI World Cup Qualifier) in San Juan Capistrano will be a very important class to those who still wish to shake up the top of that order.

LATE BREAKING NEWS: SPECIAL INVITATIONAL GRAND PRIX

During the upcoming series of spring shows hosted by Blenheim EquiSports there will be two important indoor Grand Prix opportunities. One is of course the final World Cup Qualifier on Saturday, March 28th and the other is the $35,000 Spring Classic III Grand Prix on Friday, April 10th.

For this Grand Prix, the Blenheim management team would like to offer an invitation to all riders who have qualified to compete at either the 2009 World Cup Finals or the 2009 Las Vegas Grand Prix to ride in the indoor arena Friday night for free. Not only would Blenheim like to recognize these individuals for achieving the honor of qualifying for Vegas this April, but they would also like to give them a chance to practice over a simulated course in front of a live audience before they head to the Finals. The riders will be allowed to jump all or part of the indoor course set at a “soft height” (1.40m – 1.45m) just prior to the start of the actual class. This will be a non-judged exhibition performance that will be limited to horse/rider combinations having earned more than 25 World Cup points in the U.S. West Coast League during the 2008/2009 season. For more information contact Show Manager Stephanie Wheeler at (949) 443-1841 or showpark@aol.com.

WHAT’S HAPPENED: DC WEEKS IV & V 

Ashlee Bond was the rising starlet of the week – winning both the $25,000 HITS Grand Prix AND the $50,000 FEI World Cup Qualifying Grand Prix presented by Adequan against some of the best in the west over courses designed by European Aki Ylanne (Finland). The win on Saturday catapulted her above Gold Medalist Will Simpson and the 2008 World Cup 2nd place finisher Rich Fellers. Ashlee is hot, hot, hot!

There were plenty of important activities off the horse during Week IV, from a National Horse Show forum to a USEF Riders Meeting, culminating with a USEF Dinner & Fundraiser.

East Coasters Leo Conroy, John Madden and Mason Phelps came out to offer their appreciation to the west coast along with getting feedback from our professionals about the National Horse Show. Ideas for both hunters and jumpers were discussed and recommendations made. Another show jumping forum, hosted by the USEF, encouraged discussion on numerous important topics including new committees, 2010 WEG selection and choosing a successor for George Morris, US Show Jumping Coach. The indoor arena was host to yet another grand evening: during the Six Bar Open Jumper Class and Modified Jr/Am Jumper Classic, the USEF hosted wine and dinner, a live auction of exclusive USET memorabilia and a Calcutta for Saturday’s World Cup Qualifying Grand Prix. The evening’s events raised upwards of $30,000 for US Show Jumping High Performance Programs.

During Week V the show jumpers were back out on the Grand Prix field for what proved to be challenging courses from designer Florencio Hernandez (Mexico). Colorado equestrian John McConnell on Klein Ranch’s Carolina had the only clean round of 49 entries in the $25,000 HITS Grand Prix on Friday. Apparently the course was more difficult than it appeared, with three plank jumps, some big square oxers and the skinny jump as the trouble spots mixed with a tight time allowed.

Canadian Olympic rider Jill Henselwood on Juniper Farm’s Special Ed rode for the win in the $75,000 HITS Grand Prix on Sunday. Eleven went clean, four double-clear, with Henselwood’s 48.06 emerging as the fastest time. Fellow fast Canadian John Pearce as well as the master

of faster, Richard Spooner, tried but couldn’t beat Henselwood’s time, finishing second and third respectively.

Off the horse happenings included the Volleyball Tournament hosted by Joie Gatlin – Morley Abey Show Jumping and the WCAR Party. The weather was ideal for the inaugural beach volleyball event where a dozen teams played in the grand prix field. This year’s WCAR party was a casual affair, with dinner and dancing at the date plantation, Tierra del Fuego.

And the always-anticipated Tack Room Awards were presented last Sunday, with generous prizes donated by Home Depot, Antares Saddles, Der Dau Boots & Shoes and Flying Horse Photography. A panel of five judges awarded first through third in two categories: permanent and portable barns. In the permanent barns the winner was Waldenbrook, and the top honor in the portable stalls went to Sovereign Place. Congratulations!

EQSOL NEWS: WHAT’S IN THIS ISSUE

In this issue John French enlightens us in unexpected ways in Conversations with Equestrians. Eq Specs Excerpts presents a detailed description of the AHJF’s World Championship Hunter Rider Program. Erna Adelson speaks with Tamara Petersen of Showjumping Unplugged!TV and USHJA provides an update about their new and exciting program for Emerging Athletes from all levels.

WE’RE BACK WEEK VIII 

With the $150,000 Grand Prix of the Desert, the Ronnie W. Mutch Equitation Classic and another $10,000 USHJA Hunter Derby, the final week of the 2009 HITS Desert Circuit offers a high-end class for each discipline. A not-to-be-missed weekend for exhibitors and spectators alike.

 

Highlights From 2009 HITS Desert Circuit Highlights

Hunter Derby

Hunters had the spotlight in the Grand Prix field on a cool Saturday afternoon as the $10,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby commenced. A solid rain had fallen the night before, however the footing held up well and twenty-nine horses competed over what turned out to be quite a challenging course.

Competing in front of an audience of 200 plus, many a lovely (and usually brave) hunter spooked on course. The spooky spot – gray rocks along the side of the outside line – was reminiscent of the West Coast Junior Hunter Finals last summer. Approximately half the entries balked, stopped or refused to get near the rocks or jumps nearby. However a handful of horses didn’t take note and went on to jump magnificently.

Jenny Karazissis hunted around both rounds on two of Tonia Cook-Looker’s horses, Forbes and Aragon, riding each with style and ending up second and third respectively. John French rode Mountain Home Stable’s new mount Rumba to fourth in the first round, and then returned in the second round with a gorgeous handy course to take the win in both the round as well as overall. As always, the class was fabulous to watch and appears equally fun to ride.

Place Horse Rider  Owner
1 Rumba John French Mountain Home Stable
2 Forbes Jenny Karazissis Tonia Cook-Looker
3 Aragon Jenny Karazissis Tonia Cook-Looker
4 Quicksilver Sharon Duff Jaclyn Duff
5 Y2K Natalie Rae Medlock Hap Hansen
6 On Top Nicoletta Von Heidegger Laurel Ridge Sport Horses LLC
7 Paladijn Jenny Karazissis Maria Bruggere
8 Belle Fleur Avery Hellman Avery Hellman
9 Piper Zoie Nagelhout Sylvia Ausweger-O’Conner
10 Beckham Holly Dickinson HMG Farms
11 Toska Gail Ross Pacifica Riding Club
12 Aspen Extreme Liz Schmidt Teton View Farm

World Cup Qualifier
The indoor arena was the place to be on Saturday night for the $50,000 Purina Mills FEI World Cup Qualifier, presented by Adequan. With a line out the door, the bleachers and VIP seating area were packed with spectators hoping to see some great World Cup level show jumping from the twenty-nine starters in the posted order. The course and horses did not disappoint, the class was phenomenal all the way to the last jump off round.

Bernardo Cabral of Portugal built a tall and tough route, using every bit of the intimate indoor space. First to go, east coast equestrian and Olympic Gold Medalist McLain Ward made it look easy riding Sagamore Farm’s Phillipa without a fault. We did not see another clean round until Jill Henselwood on Black Ice, Ashlee Bond aboard Cadett 7 and Helen McNaught all rode fault-free going thirteenth, fourteenth and sixteenth in the order. Two more men rounded out the six returning for the jump off – Harley Brown piloting Cassiato and our west coast Olympic Gold Medalist, Will Simpson on Archie Bunker. The four faulters took the remaining ribbons, among them some of our top World Cup contenders including Richard Spooner, Mandy Porter and Rich Fellers.

The top six had a lengthy jump off with a combination of long gallops and tight turns to master. McLain and Phillipa set the pace, going neat and clean in 42.51. Both Jill and Black Ice and Ashlee on Cadett 7 went for the win, each finishing with fast times, but one rail down. Harley rode Cassiato strategically to a clean round, knowing he would end up second or third. Leave it to Will for the finale – he cruised around the jumps in a fast and clean 40.24 for the win.

Place Horse Rider Owner
1 Archie Bunker Will Simpson Linda I. Smith
2 Phillipa McLain Ward Sagamore Farm
3 Cassiato Harley Brown Oak Park Group LLC
4 Black Ice Jill Henselwood Juniper Farms
5 Cadett 7 Ashlee Bond Little Valley Farm
6 Caballo Helen McNaught Helen McNaught
7 Ace Richard Spooner S & B, LLC
8 San Diego Mandy Porter Danielle Korsh
9 Flexible Rich Fellers Harry & Mollie Chapman
10 Kiss The Sky Lane Clarke Horsemanship Unlimited
11 Cristallo Richard Spooner Show Jumping Syndications Int’l
12 Chianto John Pearce Forest View Farm & Gerald Moore

Desert Circuit Weeks I-II Highlights
No stranger to the winner circles, our congratulations go out to the 2009 HITS Desert Circuit Weeks I & II Grand Prix winners, Richard Spooner and Mandy Porter. These two riders ruled on different turfs – Richard outdoors and Mandy indoors:

In the Grand Prix Field:
1/23: $25,000 HITS Grand Prix, Desert Circuit I: Richard Spooner & Quirino 3
1/25: $50,000 EMO Grand Prix: Richard Spooner & Quirino 3

In the Indoor Arena:
1/29: $25,000 HITS Grand Prix, Desert Circuit II: Mandy Porter & San Diego
1/31: $50,000 Strongid® C 2X FEI World Cup Qualifier, presented by Adequan: Mandy Porter & San Diego

Desert Circuit Week II
HITS celebrated the horse as art in many ways on the eve of the final day of January 2009. Exhibitors and spectators alike enjoyed the displays presented by artists from California, Colorado and Oregon. Plus a unique installation by Embarr Tack Room Design, specialists in tack room design and construction.

Hung with care throughout the arena spectator entrance, equine paintings and prints created a stylish start to the upcoming artistic performances on horseback in the $50,000 Strongid® C 2X FEI World Cup Qualifier, presented by Adequan.

The indoor arena was literally filled to the rafters in anticipation of the evening’s special events, including the once-in-a-lifetime experience of seeing and listening to John French sing the National Anthem. His voice not only boomed but he rocked the house! The cheers were heard all the way back at the barns.

Mr. French set the stage for a fabulous night of show jumping. Thirty-one horse and rider combinations negotiated the Bob Ellis course. Difficult but not deadly, twenty-three of those who attempted had a rail or more, including Olympians McLain Ward on Phillipa, and Will Simpson on Archie Bunker. However eight went without fault and advanced to the jump-off.

Ashlee Bond set the stage on Cadett 7. She was flying high – literally – as she made the sharp rollback turn from fence 6b to 3b. Almost separated from her horse, she quickly recovered to finish with four faults in a fast 33.88. Katherine Bardis riding Mademoiselle made the turn but lost the pace heading to 3b, resulting in a refusal. Quick indeed, she still managed to make a dash for cash, and even with the stop, stayed within the time allowed for four faults.

In galloped McLain Ward on Goldrika 559, who had a fabulous time with eight faults. Next to attempt a clean and fast ride was Lionel with Erin Duffy aboard. She went for clean not speed, but had four faults as well. Halfway into the jump-off with no one clean, Mandy Porter and San Diego entered the arena. Consistent since the start of World Cup qualifying season back in the fall, and after winning the Thursday $25,000 Grand Prix, they once again set the time to beat – clean in 32.93. Lane Clarke riding Kiss the Sky made a gallant effort but had two rails. With two left to go, Mandy held the lead. Richard Spooner maneuvered Ace to a beautiful clean ride, in 32.94. One one-hundredth of a second off the leading time – the definition of a close second. Black Ice with Jill Henselwood took the final shot at the win, finishing with four and settling for third best.