Conversations With Equestrians: Ali Nilforushan

We all know Ali Nilforushan – he’s been a part of the California equestrian scene for some years and can be a formidable force when defending his views. I caught up with this International rider earlier this year to find out more about his history as well as what’s on the horizon for this professional and his clients.

Dreaming of Horses
Ali has dual US-Iranian citizenship. Born in Tabriz, Iran, he started his riding career at the age of seven. After moving to the US at the age of 12, Ali continued his riding. “All I dreamed about was riding – no, I literally had dreams about horses – I’d close my eyes at night and imagine that I was on a horse galloping, and I knew, it was all I wanted to do.” After playing football and baseball (he excelled in both), Ali knew his passion would always be in equestrian sport.

Later, Ali moved to Holland to train for three years. During his time in Holland, he qualified for the 2000 Olympics in Sydney as the first and only equestrian competitor for Iran. “That was quite an achievement” Ali explained, “I rode a horse that I got for nothing and people had written him off. We qualified for Sydney and made the Finals, which was incredible. Unfortunately, he couldn’t pass the second vet check and was unfit to compete. Even so, it was a thrill first to make the Olympics and then make it to the Finals. It was a huge accomplishment for my career.” Ali completed his pre-Olympic training in France and then spent one season post-Sydney prior to returning to the states to compete in the West Coast League.

Talk About Formidable
There’s a new horse in Ali’s life – his new prospect Formidable (barn name “Able”). After selling both his grand prix horses, Ali purchased the approved 6-year-old, Holsteiner stallion in December 2010 (Sire is For Pleasure, with Cartago on his Dam’s side). Rebecca Lewis of Lewis Circle of Horses, LLC also owns a percentage. As a four-year-old, Able was Champion of Verband in Germany. “He’s the best horse I’ve ever been around, talent-wise. I never imagined I would have a horse this nice,” said Ali of his well-bred prospect.

Able has competed in over 35 classes this year – of those, he’s had a total of three rails. Incredibly wise beyond his years, Able is just learning how to control his big body. “The biggest thing with him is that I have to take my time and let him grow,” Ali explained.

Standing at 17h, his bravery, his jump, and apparently his personality, are all as big as he is. “When you’re walking around, he’s like a trail horse. During warm-up I have to kick him, and the minute you get into the show ring, his barrel doubles in size and you have to sit dead quiet because he becomes a machine!”

Humbled by his Formidable partner, Ali continues. “He’s the real deal. The only thing you have to do is make sure he doesn’t jump you off. He thinks it’s the coolest thing ever to launch you into the air – he really likes to jump hard.”

Politics 
Steeped in California culture, it is easy to forget that Ali is from another country, speaks three languages – Farsi, Turkish and English – and has family who live in a place that the United States is at times politically at odds with. Settled in San Diego and realizing his equestrian dreams, Ali stays clear of politics. “It’s very important to respect all cultures – I respect all cultures. I’m proud to be Persian – proud of my heritage, but I also respect who and what I’m around now. I leave the politics for politicians – if you’re a good person, it doesn’t really matter where you’re from.”

Plans 
Short term plans for Able include the 2011 Wild Turkey Farm Young Horse Championships. His long term plan: the 2016 Olympics in Brazil.

I inquired about Ali’s plans for his show jumping students. “We have a very good group of riders at the moment. It would be really exciting to see Francie [Snedegar] and Katie [Harris] get on a Nations Cup Team. I would love to get them on a developing riding tour to experience the international scene.” For these two “hungry and talented” competitors, Ali believes their experience in the international arena will refine them as riders and take them to the next level.

He continued explaining how riding and competing in Europe is a completely different experience. “The exciting part about competing internationally is that when you go over [to Europe] and swim in deep waters, you go to a whole different level.” Getting to that next level is every rider’s goal, and seeing progress (big or small) is Ali’s favorite part about this sport. “Watching the horse and rider progress and reach for the next training level,” said Ali, “I’m a believer that results come by a product of good work. I constantly push myself, my riders, and my horses because I was told a long time ago that it isn’t practice that makes perfect, it’s perfect practice that makes perfect.”

With a formidable attitude and a Formidable ride, the future looks phenomenal.

Blenheim Spring Series Highlights

Blenheim Spring Classic III

Congratulations go to Michelle Parker and Socrates on their win in the $35,000 Spring Classic III Grand Prix, the only pair to prevail over the Olaf Petersen Jr. (GER) indoor course on Friday, April 10th. The team maneuvered their way through what turned out to be a crash course for many a horse and rider. Challenging elements included but were not limited to jump two, a large EquiFit, inc. plank oxer at an angle towards the audience, the triple combination mid-way through the course, number nine the plank vertical that came up quickly and was placed right by the gate as well as a wide oxer at fence eleven.

The almost clean four-faulters were among the top ribbons, fastest was Ali Nilforushan on his new mount Green Sleeps Vioco who took second, followed by Suncal’s King and Joie Gatlin. Kasey Ament rode well on Siendifie ending up with four and fourth. And so on, with the tenth place Santika and sixteen year old Samantha Harrison having twelve faults. Simply getting around the course was a feat, as six of twenty-one entries did not make it through to the final jump.

One rider had a fall with only the last line left to go. Her horse decided he hadn’t jumped enough, so he schooled himself, galloping around and gleefully leaping over not just one vertical, but over some rather tall bushes, back over the vertical, and around to the two-stride combination, tossing his head at those who attempted to catch him and avoiding those who wisely tried to keep him from jumping out of the show arena.

A real crowd-pleaser, as all who watched in amazement laughed out loud at the antics. Several minutes later all was well, the rider was unharmed, her horse was well-schooled and the show went on. Photos © Flying Horse Photography.

Blenheim World Cup Warm-Up

This week in Las Vegas four West Coast riders along with a California-based Australian will compete alongside forty or more top ranked international equestrians for the world title and some big time prize money. Recognizing these individuals for achieving the honor of qualifying, as well as horse/rider combinations who have earned more than 25 World Cup points in the U.S. West Coast League during the 2008/2009 season, each rider has the chance to practice over a non-judged, simulated course in front of a live audience before they head to the Finals.

Prior to the start of the $35,000 Spring Classic III Grand Prix, the riders were given three minutes to jump, and re-jump if they so choose, all or part of the indoor course set at a “soft height” (1.50m). Four horses and three riders participated in the exhibition – Ashlee Bond rode both Chivas Z and Cadett 7, Ali Nilforushan took Warco Van De Holhoeve and young New Zealand rider Anna Trent, in the US to compete at the World Cup Final, tested her indoor skills on Levitation. Few rails fell, so it appeared to be a positive school for these four horses as they head to Las Vegas. Best of luck!

Blenheim Spring Classic II: No Such Thing as Can’t for Cantano!

 Flashback to the 2008 show season where a beautiful bay stallion ridden by a veteran show jumping great made an outstanding debut in the Grand Prix field. Win after win this pair proved their prowess throughout the season. Welcome back to the winners circle Susie Hutchison and Cantano, owned by El Dorado 29, who were picture perfect in the $35,000 Spring Classic II Grand Prix on Saturday, April 4th.

Ninth in the ring and first to go clean, Susie and Cantano set the stage for a five horse jump-off. The track proved to be just tough enough for numerous four-fault rides, including a tricky triple combination line that resulted in a bit more than a rail for some riders in a class of twenty-five.

As with the first round, so it was with the jump-off – Susie and Cantano took the lead going clean in 41.15. Next in Chris Pratt aboard Indigo Farms G5 took a shot at the lead, clean in 42.68, which ultimately was good enough for third place. Erin Duffy had a great time on Cavalier Knight, owned by Wendy Wilkinson, but also had one rail down, landing them in fifth overall. Max Dolger rode his own Vulkan Du Martalet CH neat and clean in 48.86, leaving just Eddie Macken and Tedechine Sept, owned by Robinson-Ballantine. Out for the win, the pair came very close, crossing the timers in 41.34, just under two-tenths of a second slower than the winning time. Photo © Flying Horse Photography.

Blenheim Spring Tournament: San Diego Heading to Las Vegas…

Kicking-off the 2009 Blenheim EquiSports horse show season, the $50,000 Orange County Register Grand Prix on Saturday, March 28th was the final of eleven World Cup qualifying classes held on the West Coast. Out of fifteen entries, three riders finished fault-free. Mandy Porter rode San Diego, owned by Danielle Korsh, to the win in an exciting race-to-the-finish jump-off. Tough to beat, Canadian rider John Pearce aboard Chianto went fast and clean in 37.59. Although also fast, 37.91, Richard Spooner and his mount Cristallo had a rail down for four faults. Porter atop San Diego beat the boys cruising around clean and fastest of all in 35.51. The victory confirmed Porter’s top position on the World Cup rider list.

When asked about the difficulty of the Grand Prix course created by Canadian Peter Holmes, Porter said, “The course gave us good prep for the World Cup Finals in Las Vegas. I think it sends us [riders] away on a positive note.” Photo © Flying Horse Photography.

Four Riders and an Australian

As many of you know, based on points earned over the 2008/2009 World Cup qualifying season, the top three riders (not horse/rider combinations) are invited to compete at the 2009 Rolex FEI World Cup Finals, held in Las Vegas, NV. The results of a truly exciting season placed three fabulous US riders in those spots, Mandy Porter, Ashlee Bond and Richard Spooner. Two international veterans and one rising star make up a very viable threesome representing the West Coast. Mandy will ride San Diego whom she has taken from the junior jumper arena into the indoor World Cup arena with grace and beauty. To be commended, as the pair just started together as the season began last fall. Ashlee will be aboard her relatively new mount, Cadett 7. The team did well last summer in outdoor venues such as the international field at Spruce Meadows, but were unproven indoors. Two wins and many solid placings later, they earned a well-deserved spot on the list. With a solid string to choose from, Richard is planning to take Cristallo and Ace and determine which will be his World Cup mount once in Las Vegas.

Next in line to compete would be the fourth in the point standings, and if they decline, the fifth, and potentially the sixth if the fifth in line choses not to compete. Unprecedented events occurred this year, as Gold Medal Olympian Will Simpson (ranked 4th) and previous World Cup competitor Jill Humphrey (ranked 5th) voluntarily stepped aside to allow Rich Fellers (ranked 6th) to be the fourth rider from the West Coast. Truly sportsmanlike as this is not a team competition, hats off to Will and Jill. And what a coup for the West Coast as the 2008 World Cup Final second place finisher, Rich on the phenomenal Flexible step up to participate in 2009.

Lest we forget our foreign riders who make California their home away from home, Harley Brown piloted the talented Cassiato to wins and top ribbons throughout the season, resulting in enough points to represent Australia in Las Vegas this World Cup.

More on all these riders in our World Cup Preview in this edition – click here.

Equitation & Hunter Highlights

Special events earlier in the Blenheim Spring Series included other disciplines – on Friday night of the Blenheim Spring Tournament professional Marla Amormino riding Guns ‘N Roses, owned by Oscany Inc., won the Open Equitation Classic A class for professionals, juniors and amateurs. A variety of talented riders competed including trainers Peter Lombardo and Hap Hansen as well as junior riders Taylor Harris and Theo Boris.

Five teams rode in triplicate during the Blenheim Spring Classic II in the first Hunt Teams class on the west coast in many years. Erin Duffy’s team of three went home with the blue. Never dull, we hope this class comes back next year!

The west coast’s third $10,000 ASG Software Solutions USHJA International Hunter Derby of 2009 illustrated yet again that when challenged our hunters can rise above. With each Derby our riders and horses are faced with new questions. If they have trouble ‘answering’ them, you can be certain this class offers some great schooling at the least.

The main trouble spot on the Scott Starnes course turned out to be the natural verticals set between the grand prix field and the hunter field. Not something these 24 show horses are asked, or trained, to do – jump out of the arena! And with another vertical in sight two or three strides away. Caught many a horse and rider off guard. A handful of hunters answered the questions asked with style and came back in Round 2 with more pizzazz. With plenty of room to gallop boldly and show handiness over a trot jump and a natural vertical-to-vertical bounce, a few moved up with measurable bonus points awarded for their handy efforts. As always a great class to watch and we take our hard hats off to those who hunted around in true derby fashion. Photo © Flying Horse Photography.

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.