Highlights From Summer 2011 Blenheim Series

July was superb from the intimate setting of our inaugural Surf & Turf Classic at Blenheim Farms to the series of July shows at Showpark in Del Mar. We eased into August by wrapping up at Showpark and heading north to the Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park in San Juan Capistrano for two weeks, where we welcomed the USEF Junior Hunter Finals, West Coast and more. The grass field was all dressed up for the occasion and we congratulate all who had the opportunity to participate in this prestigious event.

See Junior Hunter Finals Full Press Release…

The much anticipated indoor and medal finals season is passing quickly. We opened it with the CPHA hosting their first equitation final for juniors and amateurs in the Blenheim Covered Arena. Kicking off a slew of medal finals throughout northern and southern California, including the CPHA Foundation Finals for three age groups down in Del Mar and the ASPCA Regional Finals back at the Blenheim Covered Arena, we offer ample opportunity for year-end goals as well as preparation for those heading east for Indoors.

Speaking of indoors, World Cup Qualifiers are in full swing. We are pleased to host three $50,000 CSI-W events in three locations, Del Mar, San Juan Capistrano and Las Vegas.

We look forward to seeing show jumpers, hunters and medal finalists in Las Vegas this November. The schedule includes the inaugural North American League Finals (NAL) for five divisions, the PCHA Adult Equitation Medal Finals and FEI classes on Thursday and Saturday as well as a $20,000 1.35M Speed Classic on Wednesday and a $10,000 Winning Round class also on Saturday.

The flavor of the season was certainly in good taste, not just with the competition but socially as well. From Mardi Gras to Casino Nights to Elegant Evenings, the mix of good sport and good fun was prevalent this year. Look for the Socially Speaking details below.

Starting with a weekend of jumper classes at Blenheim Farms and ending with the $25,000 Blenheim Summer Classic I Grand Prix, we hosted some hot as well as some cool competition.

Show Jumping Fun For Everyone
Pleased with the turnout we had for our inaugural weekend show at Blenheim Farms, Course designer Robert Ridland set some great tracks – the show jumping was super. Virgo with Eduardo Sanchez Navarro aboard won the highlight $15,000 1.45M Jumper Classic but we would like to thank and congratulate all who participated in the Surf & Turf Classic.

Showpark Series Week One: Classic Classics
From low to high, hunter and jumpers, the Showpark Summer Festival classics were competitive. The highlight $20,000 1.40M Jumper Classic welcomed thirty-five entries. With fourteen in the jump-off, the second round was a race to the finish. Nine of the fourteen were split amongst three riders. Michelle Parker returned on all four of her mounts – Socrates De Midos, Reina, Soloman’s Pride and Xei Ha – Jaime Azcarraga also qualified each of his three mounts – Zalerno, Gangster and Matador, plus John Perez came back on two – Utopia and Arezzo. Five went double clean, Perez and Utopia held the lead at 31.01 until close to the end when Azcarraga on Matador slipped in at 30.74 for the win.

Showpark Series Week Two: An Azcarraga Extravaganza!
An impressive 1.50M track set by Canadian Michel Vallaincourt tested thirty-four horse and rider combinations representing six countries in the $30,000 Racing Festival Grand Prix, presented by Royal Champion. Eleven pairs answered the questions asked on course and qualified for the jump-off. Of the eleven, four were in the Azcarraga family, including once again every entry Jaime Azcarraga entered – Gangster, Matador and Celsius – and son Gonzalo Azcarraga on Richard Cimble.

Vallaincourt’s course was a solid 1.50M, with scope and distance tests. Knowing he had varying levels of experience in the lineup, the designer was careful to set elements that would challenge but not overwhelm the group. He remarked, “When I set a course I try to have a good balance by not asking the same questions. I knew I had top horses, so I stayed quite stout, but everything is approachable.”

With five double clean performances, it was young Gonzalo Azcarraga and his bay mount Richard Cimble who mastered the fastest time. When asked if he had ever beaten his father before, the twenty-year-old equestrian stated, “Not in a grand prix.”

Proud of his prodigy, Jaime Azcarraga commented, “Eleven riders tried to do it but he went fastest.” Picking up second, third and ninth, plus keeping the win in the family, it was an Azcarraga extravaganza.

Full Press Release, photos and results…

High Performing Hunters
On a Hunter Derby note, Davlyn Farm’s Come Monday with Christa Endicott piloting won the $10,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby. Simply lovely to watch, the talented mare handled all the course challenges for a well-deserved win in a field of twenty-nine competitors. Showing her skill, junior rider Ashley Pryde on Truly took second.

Showpark Series Week Three: Can’t Catch Cantano!
Twenty-eight couples took the test set by Catalina ‘Catsy’ Cruz of Monterrey, Mexico in the $30,000 August Festival Grand Prix, presented by EquiFit, inc. Right from the start she combined turns with forward distances, then halfway through riders had to collect to the triple combination, the cause of quite a few rails on course. Her first time designing in coastal California, Cruz commented with a smile “The field is good with good footing. I would like to return, for certain. I hope they want me back.”

With four to ride, Californian Kirsten Coe qualified three of Ilan Ferder’s horses for the jump-off, Baronez, Tristan and Vernon G. Mexican Jaime Azcarraga’s Gangster and Celsius were clean in round one. Add Californians Rusty Stewart on Bristol (owned by Grey Fox Farm), Susan Hutchison aboard Cantano (owner at time, El Dorado 29) and Michelle Parker with Tula Pinnella’s Xei Ha to the five qualified by Coe and Azcarraga for eight to return in the jump-off.

The race was on for the win. First and last to return, Coe and Baronez had four faults and eight faults on Vernon G. Choosing not to jump-off on Tristan, he automatically ended eighth. Next Azcarraga on Gangster posted the first double clear in 39.031, taking the lead for a short while. Stewart and Bristol had a miscommunication at the second to last fence and crashed through, but galloped on to complete the round with just four faults. Known for speed, Hutchison piloted Cantano to a fault free and fast 36.43, securing the number one spot. Parker put in a gallant effort on Xei Ha, stopping the clock in 39.032, just .001 seconds slower than Azcarraga with Gangster, which ultimately placed Gangster third and Parker fourth. Determined to catch Cantano, Azcarraga returned on Celsius. Double clear in 36.59, a mere .14 seconds behind Hutchison, Azcarraga settled for second place.

With post victory exuberance, Hutchison spoke proudly of her sponsors. “My most prized possession is my beautiful new Allon huntcoat, it even has my name in it. I have on my Der Dau boots. Cantano wore his Fleeceworks pad and his EquiFit boots, which he loves. I truly appreciate and send all a big thanks to all the sponsors.”

Full Press Release, photos and results…

Blenheim Summer Classic I: A Lark For Clarke
The $25,000 Blenheim Summer Classic I Grand Prix welcomed a small but mighty group onto the International Field at the Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park. Course designer Jack Robson built a straightforward track with just enough questions to challenge the field, narrowing down the jump-off round to four couples. Of those four, 25-year-old Australian Lane Clarke piloted three. The young Aussie rode all three mounts double clear and took home the top prize by delivering the fastest double clean round of the day aboard the nine-year-old chestnut mare Semira De Saulieu, owned by Charlotte Gadbois.

The jump-off just got better and better with each ride. Clarke returned first on Mickey Hayden’s McLord’s First John, with a neat and efficient ride in 42.82. The only other rider to join Clarke in the second round was Jenni Martin McAllister aboard Glados (owned by Marnco). Galloping in next, she shaved just over a second off Clarke’s time, double clean in 41.64. Shortly after, Clarke was ready to give it a go on Granville’s Casseur De Prix. Stopping the clock at 40.80, he not only beat his own time by two seconds, he also topped Martin-McAllister. Now the winner for certain, Clarke entered on his final mount relaxed and was able to master the jump-off track once again in a nimble 39.99 for the win.

Clarke spoke to us as he signed autographs for adoring fans. “I wanted to be efficient and clean to put pressure on Jenni. Obviously not enough pressure, because she answered back with an even faster round. So I remembered the track I took and essentially left out strides wherever I could,” the winner remarked.

Always appreciative, Clarke recognized a list of people who made this victorious day possible. “Thank you to everyone at Blenheim EquiSports and my sponsors and owners, Mickey Hayden, the Spicers, Charlotte Gadbois and Antares. And a big thanks to all my clients, family, friends and girlfriend for coming out to support me.”

Full Press Release, photos and results…

Blenheim Summer Sizzles – Brazilians Blaze
The Brazilians were blazing on this superb summer day, with representing riders taking the top two spots in the $35,000 Summer Classic II Grand Prix, presented by EquiFit, inc.

Course Designer Guilherme Jorge, also Brazilian, set a straightforward course that jumped well. Ten horse and rider couples mastered the track, resulting in an exhilarating jump-off.

“Many horses came in today that hadn’t shown all week,” commented Jorge. “Since I didn’t know each horse, I didn’t want the track to be too difficult for the field. Although ten was more than I had planned, the class worked out to be a great one.”

Then the Brazilians blazed the way – winner Eduardo Menezes on his Reflection Mercedes Benz stopped the timers clean in a quick 42.07, melting more than two seconds off Parker’s time. Josephina Nor-Lantzman on her Chello Z came close, fault free in 42.95, finishing second in the class, pushing Michelle Parker on Cross Creek Farm’s Socrates De Midos Parker to the third spot, who lead in 44.52. Rusty Stewart rode Grey Fox Farm’s Bristol efficiently in 46.21, picking up fourth for their efforts

With the San Juan Summer Festival and Kids Day, the crowd was pleased with the equestrian entertainment. Per usual the weather was idyllic. Menezes, who is based in Mexico but chose to live in California this year, is pleased with his decision. “They really take care of us. Grass field, good designers, I love it here.”

When asked about his win and his plan, Menezes explained with a smile, “The wife and the groom are happy, so I’m happy.” About Reflection he noted, “I bought the mare in January of this year. She’ll go to Showpark next week and also the World Cup Qualifiers. The goal is to prep for the Olympics.”

CPHA Kicks Off Medal Finals Season
The competition didn’t end in the grass field however. Down in the Blenheim Farms Covered Arena the CPHA Medal Finals third round for the Amateurs and the Juniors were beginning as the Grand Prix was ending. After two rounds over two days, the top ten returned for a final performance.

Sitting separately each of the three judges, Leo Conroy, Anne Braswell and William Sparks, gave the winners well-deserved high scores. Topping the Amateurs was Sophie Verges riding Salerno, scoring an 86, 90, 90 in the final round, finishing 7.5 points ahead of the second place rider, Julia Nagler. Verges trains with Leslie Steele. With fifty competitors battling it out in the junior ranks, Demi Stiegler stole the show with third round scores of 93, 90, 90, almost thirty points ahead of second place finisher Hannah Von Heidegger. Stiegler rode Vigo to the win. She trains with Archie Cox as well as her mother Robyn Stiegler.

Full Press Release, photos and results…

Showpark Summer: Jumpin’ Josephina
The International Grand Prix Field in Del Mar was on fire as ten horse and rider couples raced for the win in the $40,000 Showpark Summer Classic Grand Prix, presented by California Horsetrader. Of twenty-three entries, ten managed to master the track clean and ten others ended the day with just one rail down.

The top six finishers were double clean. First to return in the second round was Josephina Nor-Lantzman on Chello Z. Setting a slick pace without rubbing a rail, the pair stopped the clock clean in 36.27. New Zealand’s Guy Thomas gave it a go on Lavito (owned by Signe Ostby) also clean but a touch slower in 37.18, ultimately finishing third. Australian Harley Brown aboard Oak Park Group’s Cassiato galloped in next, also double clean in 38.59, picking up fifth for the day. Veteran Rusty Stewart on Grey Fox Farm’s brilliant Bristol picked up fourth, clean in 38.37. David Vainer of Mexico aboard Vario was careful and clear in 42.39, earning the sixth place spot. The young yet fearless Karl Cook riding Uno De Laubry (owned by Signe Ostby) came close, stopping the clock clean in 36.98, just .71 seconds behind the leader for second place.

Although the pair has earned several top placings since stepping up to the grand prix level less than a year ago, including second last week, this was Nor-Lantzman and Chello Z’s first major win. The talented Zangersheide has blossomed under Nor-Lantzman’s guidance. With her father Fabio Nor as her coach for the last decade, all is proceeding as planned. “We bought him as a five year old with the intention of doing this,” Nor-Lantzman explained. When asked about the day, the young pro proclaimed, “I thought the course was technical and big enough, yet not too much. Going first in the jump-off I tried to put the pressure on with tidy turns and taking advantage of his big stride in the long gallop. It worked out well, he was clean and uncatchable!”

Coming out of a very successful Amateur career, Nor-Lantzman turned pro just this year.

Foundation Flair: CPHA Foundation Equitation Champions Shine
The CPHA crowned three champions during the Showpark Summer Classic: Conor Perrin in the 21 & under section, Alicyn Roy in the 22 & over section and Pilar Flournoy in the 14 & under section. Perrin trains with Nick Haness and Richard Slocum of Hunterbrook, Roy with Mary Gatti and Patrick Spanton of Rainbow Canyon and Flournoy with Mark Bone and Jamie Taylor of Huntover.

In a two round and required work-off format, the equitation riders not only had halts, trot jumps and more built-in to the courses, the top scoring riders competed in a final work-off. The first section to test was the 22 & over, where five competitors returned for further testing. Roy, who came in on top and tested last, executed a slightly different variation of the questions asked. Impressing the judges, she scored an 84 and earned the win. Five riders also worked off in the 14 & under section – the top three were all tied with an average of 85. Flournoy tested third and laid down a flawless ride. Pearl Theodosakis also rode well and finished in the Reserve Champion spot. Over in the grass field the competitive 21 & under section ended up with seven in the work-off. Perrin won both the first and second rounds with averages of 87 and 90.5 respectively, so he was a solid leader going in. Combined with his work-off score of 87.5, Perrin’s overall performance put him on top.

Full Press Release, photos and results…

The competition is hotter than ever as we jump into more FEI classes and Regional Medal Finals. The first of the three World Cup Qualifiers in our season, the $50,000 Grand Prix of Showpark, was September 3rd, on the International Grass Grand Prix Field. A little less than two weeks later, we went Indoors for the $50,000 Blenheim World Cup Qualifying Grand Prix in the Blenheim Covered Arena on Friday night, September 16th.

Showpark Simmers
The $31,000 Showpark Jumper Classic, a one round competition against the clock, presented by Summit General Insurance Agency had thirty entries. Anthony D’Ambrosio’s design had quite a few technical challenges as well as some scope tests.

Michelle Parker rode Tula Pinnella’s Xei Ha in slick style, finishing clean in 73.57 for the win. First in the ring, Parker not only set the pace, she illustrated that the course could be jumped without fault. Only one other competitor was able to match that clean ride, eighteen-year-old Alec Lawler aboard Glen Devon.

Brown Brings Home The Blues
Australian Harley Brown and his 18.2 hand mate Cassiato earned the blue sash, the top prize money and valuable World Cup points for a job well done in the $50,000 Grand Prix of Showpark, presented by The Grand Del Mar. Of the twenty entries in the World Cup qualifying class, this pair was the only match to master Anthony D’Ambrosio’s course without fault.

After watching the first two horses complete the track in less than 75 seconds, D’Ambrosio shortened his time allowed from 80 to 76 seconds. Two horses later, Ilan Ferder’s Combina with Kirsten Coe, was fault free over the jumps but stopped the clock in 78.51, scoring one time fault. Thirteen entries later Uwwalon and Michelle Spadone were gorgeous around the course. But with a time of 78.47 they too scored one time fault.

When asked after the class about the time allowed decision, the veteran course designer D’Ambrosio said “I thought the decision was perfect when the first few horses had times in the low seventies. I think if you asked the riders they would agree that those with time faults rode careful and clear, not as conscious of the time.” Knowing the riders want to be challenged with these World Cup Qualifers in order to be prepared to compete at a World Cup level, D’Ambrosio set a course that did just that. He continued “It was a good result over a tough course – I believe they got what they wanted.”

Brown planned for the tight time in his ride. “Cassiato is a big and slow type, I’ve had time faults before. I always go in thinking the time is going to be tight.”

Sitting with his six-year-old daughter Zoe at the autograph table, Brown was beaming after a fantastic day. In his fifth season with Cassiato, Brown’s bringing along several more horses. Earlier that morning his five-year-old horse Cash finished first with three clean rounds in the Young Jumper Championships.

For full results, see Results and Press Sections…

Evening Attire is Equestrian
Every evening is a busy one during the Blenheim Fall Tournament. On Wednesday we welcomed thirty-three entries into the $31,000 Blenheim Jumper Classic, presented by Summit General Insurance Agency. Coming south directly after designing for the Masters in Spruce Meadows, Leopoldo Palacios set a super course and the riders rose to the occasion. Thirty-one horse and rider combinations competed in a one round competition against the clock tonight in the $31,000 Blenheim Jumper Classic, presented by Summit General Insurance Agency. Karl Cook and his partner Uno De Laubry (Signe Ostby owner) set a fast time early in the class, clean in 64.57, and held the lead throughout.

With option lines as well as inside turn options, rollbacks, jumps on both ends off short turns and two combinations, Palacios tested the group. “I think the class was good. They got a small taste tonight but the real deal will come on Friday.”

For full results, see Results and Press Sections…

Ladies Night! Coe Operates for a One-Two Victory
Twenty couples toured the track designed by Leopoldo Palacios in tonight’s $50,000 World Cup Qualifying Grand Prix, presented by Equ Lifestyle Magazine in the Blenheim Farms Covered Arena. Of those twenty we saw four fault free trips, all ridden by talented young women.

Palacios designed a track with a variety of tests, difficult to jump clean yet not difficult to get around. Each of the twelve numbered efforts came down with the exception of fence eight. The back rail of the final fence, a wide liverpool oxer in front of the in-gate, came out of the cups most often, catching about a third of the class.

Third in the order and first clean was nineteen-year-old Saer Coulter riding Corpernicus Stable’s Cash 51. Several tried, but none succeeded until Kirsten Coe galloped in on the high jumping Combina (Ilan Ferder, owner), who didn’t touch a single rail. Soon after another solid female show jumper, Michelle Spadone, rode Morgan Hill Partner’s Uwwalon without fault. Not another couple went clean until Coe returned on her second mount, Ilan Ferder’s Baronez, and then there were three fabulous females to return on four horses.

The jump-off was a true test of speed and accuracy, as the time allowed was tight and two of the four contenders ended up with time faults. First in, Coulter on Cash 51, had the time but lowered three jumps on course to finish fourth. Coe and Combina again did not touch a rail, but exceeded the time allowed for a score of two time faults, which ended up second. Spadone also went beyond the allotted time and hit the final jump for six total faults and third for the night. Determined to not have a time fault, Coe returned on Baronez and jumped double clean to clench the win.

The excitement didn’t end there. Throngs of fans lined up at the autograph table directly after the event. Meredith Michaels Beerbaum and her husband Markus Beerbaum joined the group of tonight’s top riders in penning their names on autograph sheets galore.

For full results, see Results and Press Sections…

Geller Gets Top Prize IN ASPCA Regionals
Thirty-six leading West Coast junior equitation riders competed in Blenheim Farm’s covered arena on the evening of September 17th in the ASPCA Maclay West Coast Regional Finals. With thirty returning for the flat phase and four for the work-off, it was Morgan Geller aboard Fabricio who finished on top. Geller and up to twenty more riders earned an invitation to compete in the 2011 ASPCA Maclay National Championship at the National Horse Show November 2nd – 6th in Lexington, KY.

Not new to the winners’ circle, Geller and Fabricio won the 2010 CPHA Medal Finals, a 2011 $10,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby and the 2011 USEF National Junior Hunter Championships, West Coast. The talented teenager explained, “The course was straight forward, more based on smooth turns and style. I was nervous all day about going first, but in the end it was better because I didn’t sit around and watch everyone and get even more nervous!” With a busy show schedule upcoming, Geller will compete in the USEF Talent Search Finals West Coast next week and head back east for the Capital Challenge, Harrisburg and the National Horse Show where she’s qualified in both the junior hunters and the medal finals.

Although winning is glorious, placing in the top sixty percent of the class possibly up to twenty-two riders will earn an invite to the prestigious finals in Lexington this November. Once the eight final regional competitions throughout the country are complete, the exact number of qualified riders per regional will be announced.

Full Press Release, photos and results…

Socially Speaking
What a social life our exhibitors have led this season. Back in the spring we hosted the Tango Party on the San Diego Polo Club grounds. The summer kicked off with the Great Train Robbery at the Vintage Steakhouse and a lovely Evening at Arden Cottage. July began with a catered lunch for all the riders on both days at the Surf & Turf Classic. The month ended with a marvelous Mardi Gras Celebration at Tres Palomas in Rancho Santa Fe. August opened with a Casino Night at the Dana Point Harbor, the following week a Softball Tournament and BBQ and we enjoyed a magnificent Evening of Art, including diamonds, Ferraris and sumptuous snacks from Vintage at Fairbanks Valley Ranch in Rancho Santa Fe.

Room for Grooms
Gorgeous horses presented by their grooms adorned the field for the Grooms Class, presented by Hill, Piibe & Villegas Immigration Attorneys, in Showpark as well as at Blenheim in August and September. With a $500 prize to the winner, the competition is intense. We look forward to the final class of the series at the Las Vegas National this November.

Sponsor Stories

By Jackie McFarland

Mary’s Tack & Feed – A True EstablishmentMary's Tack & Feed
Established on the corner of Via de Valle and El Camino Real, Mary’s Tack & Feed is literally a cornerstone of equestrian history. At 12,000 square feet, this tack superstore in Del Mar is their largest but not their only location. For the Orange County set there’s a satellite store in San Juan Capistrano at the Rancho Vista Equestrian Center. Those that are technically inclined can find the store online at MarysTack.com and get updates on Facebook.

“We are constantly updating the web site, but the store has 40,000 items in inventory, so if you can’t find it online come on in!” commented Mary’s Tack & Feed General Manager Dale Blasius.

Serving a wide variety of equestrian interests, Mary’s not only has a large inventory but is also very involved in the equestrian community including offering free seminars from bits to saddle fitting and more. Coming to Mary’s this Saturday, May 15th, is animal intuitive and artist Debra Saum. She is offering two free informative talks at 11am and 2pm on ‘Horse as Teacher’.

Throughout San Diego County and into Orange County, Mary’s reaches out to the equestrian community via sponsorships and donations as often as they can. Dale explained, “We like that groups feel comfortable contacting us. Occasionally a non-horse group has a need we can fill; recently we helped Make-A-Wish Foundation completely outfit a rider. We try to say yes to any legitimate group with a horse affiliation that approaches us.”

Price and Product
Mary’s carries top of the line products not necessarily at top prices. If a customer brings in a catalog with a product priced lower, Mary’s will do their best to match it.

Knowing that more and more people are online researching products, Mary’s continuously updates their online offerings. With a large email list and Facebook following, Mary’s keeps its loyal customers informed about specials, new products and upcoming seminars. The next phase of the MarysTack.com website will have educational ‘how-to’ video clips, including how to take care of your leather tack, differences between bits and other subjects that their customers have asked for. Dale notes that in general a customer knows more about products due to the wealth of information available on the Internet. He offers a word of caution about buying online: No matter how good the price is, you want to make sure it’s supported by good customer service. In business since 1963, Mary’s is there to back up purchases made through their web site and their store.

Since customer service is key at Mary’s, the staff is constantly kept up to date via ‘lunch and learn’ seminars given by vendors. Mary’s also does ‘product showdowns’ with their own staff competing about product knowledge. They individually study a product and present what they’ve learned to the staff on Saturday morning before the store opens.

Still Hiring
In a world where jobs are hard to come by, Mary’s recently hired two cashiers and a full-time sales person. They list new job openings on the web, but also welcome job seekers to fill out applications in the store. Those applications are kept on file for 90 days and referred to when a job opens up. Each job offers a career path; current buyers and sales managers started off as cashiers. Mary’s is also proud of their alumni who have moved into other positions in the horse industry after working in the store.

So look for a Mary’s representative coming down the barn aisle with cookies and coupons this week at the Showpark Ranch & Coast Tournament. Visit their booth at the show or for the big shopping spree take a short walk from the showgrounds to their superstore. Too busy? You can always visit MarysTack.com.

Conversations With Equestrians: John Quirk

By Jackie McFarland

As John Quirk himself often asks, “Where to begin?” Just start writing is his motto. Read on then for my stream of duly impressed consciousness.

I’ve known John and Tish Quirk since my college years (let’s say for a couple of decades), where I took several semesters off to fuel my passion for horses and competing. One of my adventures away from campus was a brief trip to catch the glorious crown jewel of the indoor circuit, The National Horse Show, at the time still alive and well in NYC. I was supposed to compete but had sold my qualified hunter weeks before. Yet I still wanted to go. Somehow I ended up gallivanting around with the Quirks, publishers of HORSES Magazine, and had a grand time. A fond memory of my youth.

Fast-forward to now. One goal of this e-newsletter was to highlight a few of the people behind the World Cup Finals – not just those fabulous riders that we flock to watch – but the team of people who commit countless hours to provide those horses and riders the perfect stage for their performance. There are many, and we hope to talk with more over the years. Since John Q is the reason the World Cup Finals came to Vegas, he was on the top of the list (not to mention that Robert Ridland spoke so highly of him).

He graciously agreed to have coffee even though the production deadline for the 2009 Rolex FEI World Cup Final Program, at almost 200 pages, loomed. He claimed to welcome the break. During the course of our conversation our coffees grew chilly, my fully charged computer battery died – and a story of five careers unfolded. Since John Q is a young eighty-eight years, he has this incredible depth of experience, vast knowledge and is a phenomenal storyteller.

Now I could go into his string of successes before he got involved in horses via his beautiful wife Tish. And I intend to at another time. John is truly fascinating and an inspiration to us all. But the topic at hand is World Cup and how it came to have five illustrious years of success in Sin City. It’s not often that a person of this caliber enters the sport as an adult, is not a rider, and has the vision to take it places.

Rewind twenty-two years, on a train to Versailles, when a light bulb went off in John’s head. After the success of the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, why not find a way to host a World Cup Final on the West Coast? From that illuminating moment forward he relentlessly pursued this passion. The light grew brighter as he later envisioned the ideal location for the show of shows – Las Vegas. A few years later, while running and writing for what he and Tish had built into one of the nation’s top equestrian publications, HORSES Magazine, and owning a string of successful show horses, John was working towards his illustrious West Coast World Cup goal when the chance to potentially host the event at the nearby Del Mar Fairgrounds came along. Not able to resist a World Cup occurring within 15 minutes of home, John put aside his Las Vegas dreams and pushed all the buttons to bring a World Cup Final to Del Mar. So just five years after the light bulb blinked, the 1992 Volvo FEI World Cup Final came to fruition on the West Coast. It was a success, however not to be repeated. Allowing a tented structure for this inaugural year, the FEI required a permanent roof, which Del Mar’s arena does not have.

Fast-forward again a couple of years as the light was once again blinking for Vegas. John Q networked his way into the offices of a couple of casino CEOs who embraced the concept and led him to Las Vegas Events. This was a tremendous turning point. The light transformed into an illumination, more masterminds were involved and Sin City planned on a bid for the 2000 World Cup Finals. In 1996 the FEI Board of Directors voted to accept the bid. No longer just a light in the mind of one man, the lights of Vegas, both literally and figuratively, would shine for the Volvo FEI World Cup Final.

John Q continued to play a major role as the illustrious team made of equestrian and event experts began to evolve. This was the beginning of a long-term relationship, a successful marriage of event and equine, culminating in setting a new standard for World Cup Finals.

Here’s where we mention a few of the many hurdles this collective group managed to jump in order to see this inaugural and ensuing events come to life.

Hurdle #1: In 1997, after twenty years of supporting the World Cup, Volvo opted not to renew their sponsorship. Some thought this might be the end of the World Cup Final. Not so. Not only did the Las Vegas Events commitment remain intact, Budweiser came along as the sponsor for 2000. And in later years, as we well know, Rolex took on the title sponsor role.

Reward: Due to the unwavering commitment by Las Vegas Events, they were awarded options to host the World Cup Final in 2003, 2005, 2007. Done.

Hurdle #2: A horse show or an event? That question needed to be answered Vegas style. John Q was on it. The logistics of running a horse show in one indoor arena were challenging enough, but what about the Vegas aspect? When would the entertainment fit in? The light bulb continued to burn brightly for John Q – have the horse show be just the World Cup Final, no other classes, add in the Vegas entertainment, of course some great shopping and then let the thousands of equestrian fans loose on Sin City. Brilliant. Done.

Now John Q would be quick to remind me that the tremendous success of the World Cup in Las Vegas was the work of many. And of course that is true and essential to pulling an event of this magnitude off smoothly. But this piece is about a man who single-handedly had a vision and made it come to life. We just witnessed this vision for the fifth time and hopefully not the last.

To top off this tribute, let it be known that one of John Q’s other careers was a published author. Six successful books in the late sixties. As an author, he pens much of the content in the Rolex FEI World Cup Official Program. Worth reading, his prose is both fun and forthright. This year he wrote ‘Show Jumping 101 – Jumps and Such’ an informational yet funny piece on the basics, the course designer and the thrills and spills of the sport. He along with Max Amman named their top ten. And John Q explained the intricate genius behind the World Cup scoring system. That’s not all – he authored his opinions on happenings in the sport up to this point, including the stories of how Rich Fellers got the wild card and what happened with Anky. Plus a sweet and simple goodbye from John Q and Tish. Although it isn’t really a goodbye, it’s just a so long for now until we come up with another fabulous idea or see you back in Vegas.

All of this, plus my intensive interview and he is eighty-eight years old. I haven’t even told a tenth of the story. Makes you think – what’s your vision? It’s never too late.

Thank you John Q!


Highlights 2008 ShowPark

Oaks Blenheim Red, White & Blue Grand Prix

Susie Hutch and El Dorado 29’s Cantano are hot, hot, hot! Topping the field in the $25,000 Red, White & Blue Grand Prix presented by St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort, the $25,000 July Theme Grand Prix and this past weekend’s $25,000 Showpark Racing Festival makes for four victories in five Grand Prix starts. Very impressive.

For the Red, White & Blue Grand Prix, Michel Vaillancourt designed a course that suited the field well – inviting with technical challenges resulting in four clean rounds. Susie and Cantano led the way, followed by Keri Potter riding her horse Rockford I, Kristin Russell aboard Ashtin’s Obsession and then Keri again on the Dotson’s Caretano B. Just off the mark with a single time fault was Young Rider Paige Dotson on her own Friponnier II. Riding the course with flair, Paige is definitely ready for the NAJYRC later this month where she will represent Zone X on the ‘A’ Team (see the interview with Paige in our June 13th issue online).

Susie set the pace with a clean ride in 40.37. Kristin made a gallant effort, having the last fence down in a respectable 42.43. Keri chose to come back on only one of her two, Caretano B, almost catching Susie in a time of 40.52. 

Showpark July Theme Grand Prix

Twenty-one horses entered the $25,000 July Theme Grand Prix. With a mix of youngsters and veterans, the questions asked by the Michael Roy Curtis designed course gave the horses and riders enough tests that only three of 21 went clean. Veronica Tracy on her Muscadet de la Saveniere was first clean and with a fast time but four faults in the jump off, she left it open for the next two. The second in, Eva Gonda, rode El Campeon’s Conteros with precision but also had an unfortunate rail. This left Susie Hutch and Cantano a chance to be clean for the win.

Once again the dynamic duo of Susie and her handsome mount took the spotlight. “It’s nice to have Cantano back in the winner’s circle. He is a fast and clever horse. This win is a team effort and I again celebrate this victory with the Iversons and Sandy.” Congratulations!

Showpark Racing Festival

On a beautiful July day in Del Mar, Guillermo Diaz set a straight-forward course and added to the time allowed after the third horse in the ring, resulting in ten clean rounds. So it was a race to the finish with yet again Susie Hutch and Cantano taking top honors.

She explained her strategy: “I only watched Erin Duffy before I went. She added where I had planned to leave out strides and went clean. So I took the gamble leaving the strides out and it paid off.”

Michael Endicott on the young Santiago went clean and fast enough for the 3rd spot and Erin’s conservative clean ride placed her in 4th on Lionell. Ali Nilfourshan tried to catch the leading time riding Kilgrew’s Attraction, but had trouble at the last fence and ended up 5th. Leslie Steele on AW Butterfly Hula put the heat on and ended up a very close second, just 2/10 of a second behind Susie.

Conversations With Equestrians: Paige Dotson

By Laura Ware

Ten riders are heading to Colorado in late July to represent Zone 10 at the North American Junior and Young Rider Championships. Congratulations to all who participated in the trials– successfully competing at 1.40 is a huge accomplishment. Young Rider Team Member Paige Dotson was generous enough to share her trials experience. Part of Zone 10’s Gold Medal winning ‘B’ Team last year in Virginia, Dotson, 17, is hoping to strike a repeat performance at Young Riders this year participating on the ‘A’ Team.

Laura: Please tell us a bit about your Young Rider horse.
Paige: I am taking Friponnier II CH (aka Flip) to the Young Riders championships. He is a 16 year old Swiss warmblood gelding, but he likes to pretend that he is still seven! Mandy Porter rode him as a young horse in Europe and brought him back with her when she returned to California. He has qualified for young riders at least three times – with me, Erica Buie, and once or twice with Kelly Fong. I cannot thank the Buies enough for selling him to me and my parents for buying him; he has done wonders for my riding! He moved me up from the low jumpers to the highs, to the opens, and I did my first (very small) Grand Prix on him in Del Mar last October. He’s a grumpy old man but he’s all bark and no bite. He will charge out of his stall ears pinned back, snarling, but all he really wants is for you to pay attention to him and play with him. And besides his strong dislike of Keri Potter’s dog, JJ, he’s a favorite at the Buie’s barn.

Laura: What did you like/dislike about the trials format?
Paige: I really like the trial format; it’s the reason I’m on the team. I was a little worried that it would be a lot of rounds for Flip but he almost bucked me off in the warm-up on the last day! Having experienced these trials and how they prepare you for the finals, I love them. It is nice to know what to expect when you get to the finals, and Linda Allen set the courses so that they are comparable to the finals, which allows us to know what we are going up against.

Laura: How much experience have you had competing at 1.45m?
Paige: I have been doing the 1.45m with Flippy since the end of last September. At HITS I competed in the Jimmy Williams future classes to get some more experience and have been doing the 1.45m at the previous trials this year.

Laura: Tell us about the trial rounds at Oaks Blenheim. How were the courses, difficulty factor, number of clean rounds, format…
Paige: The final trials were challenging and asked the riders to be consistent over a three day period:
Speed class: The first day faults were converted into time. There were some very tricky spots such as the double combination of verticals which were very tight. In order to be fast enough you had to do a forward eight to the jump, making the rails difficult to leave up. There also was a tall vertical that you had to jump on a very sharp angle. That one came down quite a bit. After a course that encouraged you to come very forward, a lot of horses got strong. Linda asked us to jump across the open water and go directly to a VERY tight one-stride. Many people had beautiful rounds until this point then had a rail at ‘B’ of this combination because they could not get their horses back after the beginning which was so forward, and then the forward water jump.
Day Two: The course was very technical, with a few wide oxers asking for scope. Once again, Linda asked if you could get across the water, this time going to it right after another jump, then get your horse back for a tall airy vertical. The last combination was a tight one stride where ‘B’ had black boxes underneath that scared some horses. The four Young Rider/horse combinations that were clean in the first round came back for a jump off. There was a very tight inside turn to the second jump that saved time, but was very risky and caused problems, as well as the last long gallop to a huge airy vertical. We had Saturday off, and then returned Sunday for a two round competition.
Final Day: The first course was very hard. The time was tight and encouraged riders to rush, causing them to have rails. The triple combination was early on and was a very quiet two to a longer one-stride at a rather wide oxer. Some people got the two done but had trouble getting across the oxer. The last line was the water jump, then a quiet seven to an airy vertical. Most of the class had a foot in the water, even while riding at it hard. After galloping hard to the water, they then had difficulty fitting in the quiet seven, in order to leave the last jump up. The second round was fairly straight-forward and much shorter, with many clean rounds. The time was tight and it seemed that the problem area on this course was the wide oxer that rocketed you into a tight two-stride of verticals. Then you had to protect your horse’s front end at the oxer that was seven strides away.

Laura: After last year, what do you expect and what do you hope for at NAYJRC?
Paige: Last year both the junior and young rider teams won gold, with Karl winning individual gold and Aurora winning bronze. It was the first time in a while that Zone 10 did that well. Our group was tightly knit and there was great team camaraderie. I expect the courses to be technical and the jumps to be big, but I think that our trials prepared us well. I’m sure that our teams this year will be just as close as last I hope that we can win some medals again – gold would be great! I hope to place in the top individually and maybe even get a medal.

Laura: Why did you choose to focus on the jumpers instead of the equitation or hunters?
Paige: I chose to concentrate on jumpers for several reasons. Ever since I was little, I have enjoyed going fast on things, whether it’s a roller coaster, a dirt bike, or a horse. After I competed in the short stirrup classes on my first horse, I got a pony jumper who was really fast and fun. From there on I did jumpers. Since I really enjoyed it and so did my parents, that’s where I ended up! A few years back, I got to watch the Olympic Trials held at Oaks Blenheim, while I was riding there in Children’s Jumpers. I got hooked on international competition and decided that I would really like to compete in the Olympic Trials someday.

Laura: What are your future riding goals?
Paige: Next year, I hope to start competing at the Grand Prix level regularly. When I graduate from high school I am going to go to college in California in order to continue riding and training with Keri Potter. Hopefully, after college I will turn professional. One day, also, if I have the horse, I would like to compete in international competitions such as the World Cup.

Thanks for your input, Paige, and good luck to you and both teams at the Championships!

Laura Listens is brought to you by Laura Ware. Winner of the 2007 LAHSA Junior Medal Finals and a recipient of the 2008 WCAR Jumper Rider Grant, Laura rides with First Field Farm and often trains with Archie Cox. She is very successful in the all three disciplines on her own mounts as well as catch riding other horses.

EquestriSol News: April 10, 2008

We heard there was room for some high jumpers in the $10,000 High Jump at the Night of the Horse, Saturday April 19th at 7pm in Del Mar. Limited to only 8 entries, no entry fee. Interested?

WCAR Spruce Team Trials are underway. Good luck to all trial participants! Congratulations to those 1.20m riders who were clean in their first trials.

Get ready for the party of all parties… The Endicotts want us to Party Like Rock Stars onFriday, May 9th during Ranch & Coast to benefit both WCAR and the Child Need Foundation, Inc. If you were there last year you know (if you weren’t, you heard about it), so don’t miss this bash.

We are pleased to announce the launch of a new e-newsletter for Dr. Jenny Johnson of Oakhill Shockwave.

Want to be a part of the EquestriSol newsletter? Now is the time – we are planning our next series and Tammy would love to hear how we can include you. Call 818.472.5930today!

EquestriSol News: August 31, 2007

Announcing two new ‘A’ rated shows well worth considering:

October 17 – 21: Del Mar Festival I
October 24 – 28: Del Mar Festival II

BOTH shows have:
– $25,000 Grand Prix (1.45m)
– $2,000 Jumper Classics (1.35-1.40m)
– $2,500 Young Jumper Classics presented by Mary’s Tack & Feed
– $3,500 Junior / Amateur Owner Jumper Classic (1.35m – 1.40m) ENTRIES CLOSE: September 28th

Visit www.jumpdelmar.com for more details.

Harley Brown Equestrian, located at Oak Park Equestrian Center in San Luis Obispo, to our list of clients. We will be developing a new campaign for Harley, so stay tuned! Congratulations to Harley and Cassiato, owned by the Oak Park Group, on winning the $30,000 Pebble Beach Grand Prix earlier this month.

The summer season is coming to a close with a fantastic West Coast Active Riders report – from Richard Spooner & Joie Gatlin traveling to and winning in Europe to our successful Spruce Meadow Teams as well as fabulous individual results at Spruce from a number of west coasters, AND hats off to Zone 10 for bringing home the GOLD in both the Team and Individual competitions at Young Riders! WOW, now that’s a GREAT SUMMER!

Congratulations to everyone – the west coast is so proud of how beautifully you have represented us and we hope to continue to expand in the ways WCAR can support your efforts. We envision a bright future.

Who will go to Göteborg, Sweden in April ’08? September means the start of the World Cup qualifying season, best of luck to everyone. All the World Cup Qualifier dates can be found at www.westcoastactiveriders.com.

Are you ready to develop a fabulous ad or design a web site? We are ready to create a look that perfectly fits your marketing goals. Contact us for more details.

DEL MAR INTERNATIONAL: September 26th – 30th, 2007
Prize list, vendor information and application available online at jumpdelmar.com. Entries closed August 31, 2007.

With ads and editorial from USHJA’s In Stride to California’s Hunter Jumper Magazine and also on the web, ShowMom.com is the new community for show moms (and dads) everywhere. Click here to take the survey and sign up for the free Savvy ShowMom e-newsletter.