Breeding Masters

By Erin Gilmore

What defines a successful breeder? Patience, skill, careful management and a wealth of knowledge are a given, but combining all those factors into a winning formula is an art.

We talked to two West Coast breeders who made it a point to prove that some of the very best sporthorses don’t have to fly over from Europe. Certainly not backyard operations, these ladies built names for themselves and their horses on the backs of their successful breeding programs.

Allowing for the fact that tastes vary – from fashion to wine and well-bred horses – Tish Quirk and Barbara Ellison may skew in slightly different directions, however they both possess an uncanny mix of the finesse, patience, know-how and planning that “breeds” success.

Four Sensational Generations: Lucky Lines 
When Tish and John Quirk imported the Dutch stallion Octrooi (Lucky Boy x Ilonka) and gave him the name Best of Luck over 30 years ago, she never could have predicted the world this fabulous horse would create for her.

“Everyone who saw him wanted to buy him,” remembers Tish. “Every time we imported a horse by Lucky Boy, Best of Luck’s sire, it sold immediately. They were exactly the right horses for our market, and it just made sense to continue the bloodline right here.”

Best of Luck, who passed away in 2000 at the age of 28, became an indelible foundation stallion. Throughout his career, he was a phenomenon in the show ring, and he passed his most dominant traits on to his sons, Just The Best and More Than Luck. Tish is now showing the third generation offspring. Best of Luck sired FEI dressage horses, international grand prix jumping stars, excellent hunters and top-level eventers. And in this age of rapidly advancing science, Tish has more than Google searches to back up her knowledge. She began her education as a child in the family ranching, farming and livestock breeding business and continued to learn while she was buying horses in Europe. She learned to study “the whole horse and what made him what he was,” she explains. “Bloodlines are interesting but are not the end all of the horse. What’s more important for me is to know the horses.”

Working with top breeders in Europe who knew the bloodlines for four generations back, Tish learned that “what’s on paper, results and such, is deeply affected by who owns the horse and how much they compete,” she continues. “The heart of horses is not the papers, and it’s not on the Internet.”

Along that vein, for the last 30 years Tish has spent seven days of the week out in the barn, putting her hands on the Best of Luck progeny, knowing each horse from her daily interactions. Tish not only runs her own breeding operation but also oversees the mares when they foal. As the time of birth draws near, she stays in the barn bedroom and watches the mare’s every move on the monitoring system. She is at the mare’s side when labor begins, assists in the delivery and introduces the new foal to life outside of the womb. And she is available anytime to the breeders across the country who are part of her breeding family.

With accomplishments too long to list including champions at every national show in the country, from Devon to Del Mar, Tish’s breeding program has certainly illustrated that the proof is in the progeny.

Dreams Come True: Wild Turkeys Can Jump
In just 15 years, Barbara Ellison’s Wild Turkey Farm’s Holsteiner stallions have made an unmistakable mark on the sporthorse scene.

As an amateur rider in Northern California’s Woodside, Barbara juggled horses and raising children throughout the ‘90s. But as she collected a stable of stallions and her kids grew up, her goals began to shift. After purchasing her first stallion, Wizard, in 1995, then-trainers Butch and Lu Thomas sent her a tape of Holsteiner stallion Liocalyon and things started to pick up speed. The stallions Admiral Z and Lavita quickly followed, and one day she thought, “I should start breeding these boys!” Six years later, she officially began marketing Wild Turkey Farms with a bold ad campaign that has since become a trademark.

Top notch rider Mandy Porter put the Wild Turkey jumpers on the map, most notably with the (recently retired) mare Summer, a two-time World Cup Finals competitor and 2006 Pacific Coast Horse Association Horse of the Year. She continues to campaign Wild Turkey stallions on the West Coast grand prix circuit, winning two events this summer, the Sonoma Horse Park $30,000 Grand Meadows Grand Prix and the Blenheim EquiSports’ $30,000 Copa De Amistad Grand Prix with LaMarque.

Barb also had a hand in the breeding of New Zealand rider Guy Thomas’ powerhouse stallion Peterbilt (Liocalyon x Jeribos). As the World Equestrian Games approach it is impressive to note that both Peterbilt and fellow Kiwi rider Katie McVean’s mount Dunstan Delphi are both by Liocalyon – and both horses will represent New Zealand in show jumping at WEG.

The success of her jumpers is one goal realized, and now Barbara is on the precipice of another. Ten years ago, she set in motion the dream of owning a horse farm. A native of Portland, Oregon, she’s always wanted to return to her hometown, and as her involvement with breeding deepened, she made plans to build her dream facility on 200 acres outside Portland. The new Wild Turkey Farm is now complete, and Barbara plans to be fully moved in by early next year. Among its many benefits, the new facility will have space – lots of it. Barbara looks forward to completing the move and having all of her horses in one facility, where she’ll have more time to be hands on every day.

She counts her mentors as the fellow breeders that she has built working relationships with: Hilda Baisel, DVM, Anke Magnussen at Royal Oaks and Matt Davis at Crooked Willow.

“I really believe that we can breed good horses in this country. We have the quality right here,” Barbara says. “In Europe people can go to a concentrated area and look at tons of horses. I’m hoping that as I get going, people will see that we have a lot of very nice horses, and they’ll shop on the West Coast.”

The Beat of Breeding Continues
By combining the elements of patience, skill, a good eye and extensive knowledge with a true love of horses, Tish and Barbara can rightly be upheld as examples of sporthorse breeding programs gone right. Whether active for 30 years, or half that long, these West Coast women are masters at breeding superb sporthorses.

Thank you Tish and Barb! See more at and

Conversations With Equestrians: Guy Thomas

By Jackie McFarland

West Coast Rider Guy Thomas
An unforgettable equestrian event has come to Kentucky. Although many riders will be otherwise engaged as the show world continues with Capital Challenge and numerous other competitions, we will all have some way to watch the action at the Alltech World Equestrian Games. Whether following through friends, TV coverage, web channels, e-news or with your own eyes in Lexington, multitudes of horse aficionados will be tuning in.

Northern California rider Guy Thomas is here. He has earned the honor of competing on a team, representing New Zealand. He will also be riding a homebred horse, Peterbilt, who he has developed from inception, along with his parents Butch and Lu Thomas. We had a chance to sit down with the man from Northern California with New Zealand roots and I have to say, he’s quite a guy.

EqSol: Your parents are both in the business so you rode from an early age. Tell us a bit about the early years.
 I started when I was put front of the saddle with mom and dad at age two or even younger. I rode for a couple of years without a saddle – I wore chaps and paddock boots and a jockey’s helmet with a pretty disgusting hat cover that was green with orange polka dots and a bareback pad. I didn’t like any of the ‘gear’, so rode bareback everywhere I went. I always was very fortunate that mom and dad had me on great ponies and horses.

I competed a couple of times that way. I rode in this welsh pony class, there were three of us – one kid stopped and one kid fell off and I was good but didn’t have a saddle and I didn’t get a ribbon. Dad said I picked up my grooming box and claimed that I didn’t want to ride anymore.

Sometime later someone convinced me to try a saddle and I don’t think I could ride bareback these days! [laugh]

EqSol: Your junior years once you were in the saddle?
 I rode in the Pony Hunters and Junior Hunters. I also competed in the Onondarka Medal nine times and was 2nd all nine times. Second didn’t qualify you back then, so that was it from my equitation career.

I remember riding in the Pony Jumpers at Spruce. I went in the Pony Grand Prix at Spruce on the International Field when I was 11 or 12, I don’t think they have that class anymore. That year they used the built-in liverpool as the open water for the ponies. I thought it looked like the Pacific Ocean and I was terrified. Luckily I had a great pony from New Zealand that I did everything up to the Juniors on – Caruba Gold – and we won.

EqSol: And years later deciding to turn pro…
I showed in the amateurs for a year or two and then started running my parents barn in Woodside – training, riding, whatever it entailed. For me it was either turn pro in this sport or in rodeo. I’ve always been a rodeo freak. But after considering it, riding a bucking horse or bull didn’t look that appealing. I would end up with far more broken bones than paychecks. I rode steers one year in New Zealand for a few weeks and I figured out that the only way to get off was to fall off; not fun.

EqSol: Speaking of paychecks, how about your Triple Crown win?
*A series of shows in Northern California offered a $70,000 bonus to any horse and rider combination who could win all three Grand Prix events consecutively
GT: It was awesome. To have that kind of money available for the winning at all is quite impressive. Rudy Leone and Adrian Ward have done an am amazing thing for grand prix riders everywhere, but especially for Northern California.

Last year I won the second two legs. So this year I definitely had a plan. When we got to the first class I did everything in my power to win because then I had a chance. And Peterbilt was so consistent. Three grand prix classes in the same field, same jumps, he was just amazing. Each class was 1.45-1.50m; they were really good courses, not soft.

Six or seven were clean in the first prix, I was the only clear ride in the second one and in the final class there were seven clean. I had four rides in that class and Peterbilt was the last of my rides. I had rails on the other three, and when I was on Peterbilt I could feel my hands gripping on to the reins a bit tighter halfway around the course. I had to tell myself, ‘Hey, it’s just another bunch of sticks – you can’t over think it.’

Luckily I was last to go in the jump off. There were some really good combos like [Peter] Breakwell on Lucas, Duncan [McFarlane] on Mr. Whoopy, Helen [McNaught] on Caballo – plenty of loaded guns in the field. Note that Breakwell is a fantastic rider, he’s sneaky fast. I could tell he was quick, but his time was even faster than it looked. Watching him I knew I could nip at his heels, and Peterbilt was ready. I didn’t know I could actually beat him by two seconds…

I donated $20,000 back to the horse show organizing committee to support what they’ve done for the riders. I was the first one to ever win it and I want others to have that chance, or even for me to have that chance again! If I could help make that happen, I was happy to do it.

EqSol: Some of the names you mention above are from New Zealand. Tell us more about your parents and the business they’ve built here in the US.
 Over the years, several kiwis came over to work for my parents and went out on their own – Duncan McFarlane, Peter Breakwell and Rachel Yorke (now Fields).

My parents, Butch & Lu Thomas, head the whole organization. When not at shows, they spend most of their time at our private barn in Burson, CA. We now own over ninety acres – it started nineteen years ago with twenty acres and slowly we’ve purchased more property. We keep a mix of my show horses, dad’s racehorses, our young horses and our bucking bulls there. That’s where my show horses go to relax.

That’s also where we breed and raise the babies. We’ve been dabbling in breeding for quite some time but here in the last couple of years with Karl Cook’s stallions and Mom’s stallion we’ve developed some nice young stock. Dad handles all the breeding, he enjoys it and has a great eye.

All the client horses are at our barn at the Woodside Horse Park. We’ve been there three years now – it’s a great facility with tons of open space and plenty of rings. When we aren’t on the road, Butch and Lu come over on Saturday and teach a big group lesson.

EqSol: Bucking bulls?
 Bulls are my hobby. Dad has the racehorses and breeding, so I decided since I love rodeo that I was going have bucking bulls. This is the third year I’ve been involved with the ABBI (American Bucking Bull, Inc – It’s not lucrative yet – we now have twelve bulls between ages of 2-4. I don’t like bucking the two year olds, they can get hurt. I have two right now, one could be an absolute superstar – he’s electric. The other one is good but he can go too hard, too fast and then falls down, but he’s only two. To train them you use a dummy box with a remote. The box sits on their back. When you practice if they buck like you want, you hit the button and the gear falls off. It’s a reward system.

I just had four of the older ones go to a futurity. I would like to see them win and go to the PBR (Professional Bull Riders, Inc. – The prize money is pretty good if you win the Futurity Finals – the last two years the owners of the winning bull have taken home a check for $250,000. Dad has a fabulous four-year-old bull, Ghostrider. In 10 times out he’s only been ridden once, the other nine times he bucked the cowboy off in under two seconds.

EqSol: Let’s talk WEG…
 The WEG was part of the plan to this year. I earned my certificate of capability on Carino and Peterbilt last year at Spruce. Once it was more of a realistic option we tried to pick and choose the classes what would best suit to get us ready for something like the level of the WEG.

The biggest class we did was the Queen Elizabeth Cup this year at Spruce. Peterbilt felt great. I caused the rail in the first round; I was too long at one oxer and had the back rail. We could’ve been in the jump-off with Hickstead and Lamaze but ended up 7th. The nice thing with Peterbilt right now is that as the jumps get bigger and spookier, he rises to the occasion.

I do feel ready. I’m excited nervous, but not so much worried nervous. You never know what can happen at a competition like this. If the cards fall right maybe I can scare a lot of people.

It’s a big field trip – my girlfriend Kristin and lots of family are all heading to Kentucky.

Thank you Guy – from babies to bulls, it was an interesting interview. We wish the best of luck to the WEG New Zealand Team: Guy Thomas / Peterbilt, Samantha McIntosh / Loxley, Katie McVean / Delphi (half-sister to Peterbilt) and Maurice Beatson / Apollo.

EquestriSol News: September 30, 2010

If I had a million dollars…
With two $1 Million Grand Prix events taking place in September, equestrians from across the country were vying for their piece of the pie. As part of HITS-On-the-Hudson in Saugerties, NY, the coveted top prize in the first ever Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix was awarded to McLain Ward and his stellar mare Sapphire (McLain Ward & Blue Chip Bloodstock, owners). Ward and Sapphire rode double-clear after second place duo, Charlie Jayne and Athena, the other clear team from the first round, pulled a rail in the jump-off. Fresh off his $250,000 FTI Grand Prix win at the Hampton Classic, this event was Ward and Sapphire’s last competition together before making the trip to Kentucky to compete in the WEG.

Representing the West Coast, Duncan McFarlane piloted the eight-year-old Mr. Whoopy to an impressive eighth place finish, dropping just one rail on course, and Helen McNaught rode Caballo to the thirteenth position with an eight fault score.

The Spruce Meadows Masters Tournament also boasted a $1 Million event this past Sunday with Venezuela’s Leopoldo Palacios designing the CN International Grand Prix. Three West Coast riders earned spots among the top ten finishers. Second place was none other than California’s own Richard Spooner and his 12-year-old partner Cristallo (Show Jumping Syndication Int’l, owner). Rich Fellers aboard Flexible (Harry & Mollie Chapman, owners) finished seventh and the young Karl Cook of Woodside aboard Uno De Laubry (Signe Ostby, owner) brought home the eighth place ribbon.

The WEG is here!
The long awaited World Equestrian Games are well underway in Lexington, Kentucky. We are not only pleased to be here but were honored to attend the Opening Ceremonies. There was plenty of exceptional talent, but the Friesian team of ten was simply magnificent. Watching ten jet black steeds all dressed in white polos prance in perfect sync and perform a dressage drill without a hitch while their manes flowed freely was a joy. We also took a few iPhone photos that show some of the fun. We will of course be back with bells on for the week of show jumping and look forward to some shopping time. Can hardly wait for the Final Four on Saturday, October 9th. Should be a sight to see!

We enjoyed interviewing Guy Thomas. He’s a multi-faceted individual and we wish him the best of luck next week. Even though he is representing New Zealand, he also represents California. And of course, it goes without saying – GO USA!

Here’s a video of the Friesians during the opening ceremony from “DreamGait”.

West Coast Congrats
West Coast Win – Nations’ Cup News
Congratulations to the United States team of Rich Fellers/Flexible, Ashlee Bond/Cadett 7, Richard Spooner/Cristallo, and Beezie Madden/Coral Reef Via Volo, for clinching the win in the 2010 Nations’ Cup during the Masters Tournament at Spruce Meadows. Coached by George Morris, the team edged out Ireland and Canada who finished second and third respectfully. Considering Fellers, Bond, Spooner all call the West Coast home and Madden’s mount, Coral Reef Via Volo, is owned by Coral Reef Ranch and Gwendolyn Meyer, the team certainly represented the region well.

West Coast USEF Talent Search
Preparing our high-level equitation riders for the jumper arena, the USEF Talent Search tests flatwork skills, how a rider handles gymnastic exercises and their mastering of a jumper type course on the field, including an open water element. One of the most challenging medal finals, the top four are required to each ride one another’s horse to determine the top placings. Riding under the tutelage of Karen Healey, east coast equestrian Taylor Ann Adams bested the field for the win. With scores well into the 80’s on each of the final four horses she competed on, her consistency and style paid off. Second went to Jocelyn Neff, another Healey student. Rounding out the top four were Jennifer Parker, trained by Benson Carroll and Caroline Ingalls, who rides with Hap Hansen.

Highlights From August 2010 Spruce Meadows

By Jennifer Wood

North American Tournament
American riders always put in a strong showing at Spruce Meadows, and this year’s North American Tournament was no different. Of the 10 FEI ranking classes held that week, Americans won five. In the biggest class of the week, Saturday’s $200,000 ATCO Power Queen Elizabeth II Cup, Americans finished second, third, and fourth. Course Designer Guilherme Jorge (BRA) put riders to the test in the International Ring.

Victory Gallops Led by Bond, Lamaze, Jayne, Cook and Little-Meredith
As the week opened, Californian Ashlee Bond won the $31,000 AON Risk Services Cup 1.50m class on Chivas Z, an 11-year-old Zangersheide gelding by Cumano x Lord Gothard (Little Valley Farm, owner). After sixty-four entries, she was the fastest clear in a jump-off of six competitors. Stopping the clock in 40.635, Bond was seconds faster than Henri Kovacs of Hungary on The Real Deal, owned by Rachel Cline. Brianne Goutal of New York was third on Nice De Prissey, owned by Cloverleaf Farms.

This was Bond’s first major win with Chivas Z. “I’ve won some 1.40m classes, but I’ve never won a big class on him,” the young yet accomplished rider acknowledged. She explained it’s been a long, but satisfying, road with her talented horse. “I’ve had him three years. He was really green and jumped super high and hard. I wanted to give up,” she remembered. “I thought I couldn’t ride him. My dad said to stick it out. Richard Spooner really helped me with him, and it got better and came together from there. It’s been a process. He’s still a bit green at times, but he’s become consistent. I’m so proud of him. The win is so exciting because of him.”

On Thursday, it was Canadian Eric Lamaze’s time to take charge. He and his Olympic partner Hickstead raced to the win in the $35,000 D-Line Construction Cup,1.60m class. Hickstead, a 14-year-old Dutch stallion by Hamlet x Ekstein, is owned by Lamaze’s Torrey Pines Stables and Ashland Stables. The Ontario-based rider beat Katie Monahan-Prudent (FRA) aboard Sassicaia II who finished second, Californian Keri Potter on Rockford I third, Mario Deslauriers (now riding as an American) with Urico were fourth and Californian Guy Thomas (NZL) rode Peterbilt to fifth.

Friday’s $50,000 Lafarge Cup – 1.50m had an exciting jump-off between eight riders. Charlie Jayne of Elgin, IL, won his first International Ring class in his first year competing at Spruce Meadows as a professional. He and Urbanis, a 13-year-old Belgian gelding by Heartbreaker x Ramiro stopped the clock in 32.416 seconds, just half a second ahead of Lamaze on Coriana Van Klapscheut and Goutal again on Nice De Prissey.

Another first time FEI class winner at Spruce Meadows led the victory gallop on Saturday in the $75,000 TD Cup – 1.50m. Karl Cook of Woodside, CA, rode his 15-year-old Dutch gelding, Notories Utopia, to the speed win over Henri Kovacs and The Real Deal and Guy Thomas (NZL) on Carino. Cook won his first class in the major ring during the first week in the ATCO Power Double Slalom. Cook has been showing at Spruce Meadows since 2004, and is only 19 years old.

“It’s amazing to win here,” Cook said. “I love having crowds yelling as you’re going around the ring. You’re competing against amazing riders, so it makes you ride better. It’s a great place to show.”

Cook said of his horse, whom he’s ridden for seven years, “We got him to do the Children’s Jumpers, (but) we just kept moving up and up. He’s a very good teacher. If you do one he doesn’t like, he’ll throw you off or stop. If you do it again right, he’ll jump. He doesn’t hold a grudge.”

Lamaze also returned to the winner’s circle for the biggest win of the week in Saturday’s $200,000 ATCO Power Queen Elizabeth II Cup. He finished just 3/10ths of second faster in the jump-off over Brianne Goutal on Onira and Deslauriers with Urico. Ashlee Bond and Chivas Z were fourth and Rodrigo Pessoa guided HH Rebozo to fifth place.

Marilyn Little-Meredith was the winner of two major classes at the tournament. She and Blue Curacao, a nine-year-old Belgian mare by Mr. Blue x Dark D’Amour, scored an opening day win in the $31,000 Enerflex Cup – 1.60m class over Lamaze and Hickstead and Deslauriers on Urico. Then, they scored their biggest win to date in the $175,000 Mercedes-Benz Classic Derby – 1.60m. Again, Lamaze finished second, this time with Atlete van T Heike, Leslie Howard and Lennox Lewis 2 were third, Champ 163 with Rodrigo Pessoa fourth while Black Cherry piloted by Will Simpson was fifth.

Little-Meredith, who is from Frederick, MD, was also showing for the first time at Spruce Meadows. She was incredibly pleased with her talented mare. “Blue is owned by Paul and Mary Loeber, and she has come along so quickly. She did her first grand prix in January and has been holding that level since then,” she described. “She has an incredible heart and is the most brave horse. She never backs off and she’s never scared. She always comes out every day and tries so hard. It makes you want to come out 100% every day too.”

She said of her wins, “I’m not going to lie, it’s huge. It’s amazing to win in such a field of great, seasoned horses and competitors.”

Little-Meredith was one of many riders who walked the course while the spectators were treated to the “Name the Foal” contest. The mares were led around the ring while foals trotted close behind, oftentimes in the path of walking riders. Little-Meredith smiled, “I’ve started breeding some myself, so it’s nice. It’s such a high stress thing for me walking the courses and then the foals were running around and it was such a pleasant distraction – it’s definitely a unique feature of Spruce Meadows!”

FEI Classes Saved by G&C Farm
Many of their FEI World Ranking classes at Spruce Meadows this year were in danger of losing their FEI status. Luckily G&C Farm of Wellington, FL, owned by Gustavo and Carolina Mirabal, stepped up to sponsor these classes.

Through their sponsorship, the prize money was raised from $25,000 to $31,000 in 10 classes during the Spruce Meadows Tournaments. By increasing the prize money, the classes now qualify monetarily since the FEI changed the exchange rate against the Swiss Franc instead of Euros last December. Otherwise, the $25,000 classes would have been disqualified from the ROLEX rankings because the original prize money offered would have been too low.

G&C Farm also created the $50,000 G&C Farm Rider’s Cup, which awarded points to riders who placed in the 29 of the eligible FEI events this summer through the North American Tournament. Lamaze’s consistency earned him the $25,000 first prize, while Pablo Barrios (VEN) won $15,000 for second. Rodrigo Pessoa (BRA) was third, taking home $10,000.

Lamaze Lame but Recovering
Canadian Eric Lamaze rose to the top of the ROLEX World Rankings once again. He not only dominated the $200,000 ATCO Power Queen Elizabeth II Cup with Hickstead but the pair galloped away with the win in the Rolex Grand Prix of Aachen. While competing in the first round of this last event, Lamaze heard a crack and felt pain as he landed off the triple combination. Although the sound was his foot breaking, he continued for two more rounds fault-free and the win.

Lamaze talked about the importance of Rolex ranking classes and being number one in the world. “The ranking is really important because it allows you to go to many competitions around the world that normally you couldn’t go to,” he pointed out. “When you get the best spot, you feel like you can almost relax a bit because for sure you’ve worked hard to get there. If these FEI classes weren’t all here, it would have been impossible for me to move to number one.”

Highlights From The 2009 Blenhiem June Classic

June Classic II Grand Prix

With long galloping distances, no water jump and the last line set towards home, Jack Robson designed what appeared to be a very inviting course for the $30,000 June Classic Grand Prix, presented by EquiFit, inc.  However, after seventeen horses entered the ring, only two went clean, three had just one time fault, four had just one rail and many others had time faults along with rails.

Jill Humphrey, who was first on course with Kaskaya (Leone Equestrians Inc., owner) rode beautifully but accrued a single time fault, exceeding the allotted time of 90 seconds by .46. Second to attempt the course and first pair to go clean were Janet Hischer and Kenitra (Twisted Tree Farm Inc., owners). Eighth to go was Humprhey aboard Corralino (Katie Harris, owner) whom, having learned her lesson from the first ride, jumped the course fault free.

Clearly not as inviting of a course as it appeared, those nasty time faults proved to be a problem for half of the class.  Refusals and rails occurred at fence one, two and at each of the three elements of the triple combination.

Hischer and Kenitra were first pair to gallop around the shortened course for the jump-off where they laid down their second clean round of the day in a time of 42.12.  Humphrey attempted a tricky approach to fence three, resulting in a rail.  She then retired, handing the win to Hischer.

The three horse and rider combinaitons that ran into trouble with the clock, leaving them fractions away from the jump-off, were awarded third through fifth.  Alicia Jonsson Foster and her mount Don Francisco were just over the time allowed with 90.23, Humphrey finished fourth with Kaskaya, and Missy Froley aboard Bay Rose’s Oberon 48 took home fifth as the last of the one-faulters with a time of 90.78.  Joie Gatlin and her young mount Twindoline took down a rail at fence seven but proved to be the best of the four fault rides finishing sixth, Harley Brown and Cassiatio (Oak Park Group LLC, owners) clipped the fourth jump on course for seventh, taking home another portion of the prize money was Gatlin aboard her dependable SunCal’s King for eighth, and Erin Duffy rode Kir Royal to a ninth place finish, rounding out the four-fault trips.

Weather was perfect on this glorious SoCal Sunday.  After dining on delicious Argentinean fare atop the hill, many of the VIP guests stayed long after the event.  From pony rides to bounce houses, Kids’ Day was also a popular place for the younger crowd (and their parents).

Stay tuned for upcoming newsletters – from the Zone 10 Pony Finals to Spruce, Young Rider and Euro reports, Grand Prix action and more. The next newsletter will be in your inbox in less than two weeks and a special online edition coming in July.

June Classic I Grand Prix

The course for the $30,000 Blenheim Classic Grand Prix, designed by Linda Allen, was clearly a challenging 16- obstacle track. Out of the 23 horses that galloped onto the grass field, only three left all the rails up. Fourth in, Guy Thomas and Peterbilt (Peterbilt, LLC owners) were the first pair to go clean followed by Susan Hutchison and Muscadet de la Saveniere (Veronica Tracy, owner) riding eighth. Not until the seventeenth in the order did we see another fault free ride, New Zealander Anna Trent aboard Muskateer NZPH (Warwick Hansen, owner).

Trouble spots were seen throughout the course, including the second fence, an oxer on a bend, which lost its top rail a number of times, as did the next fence, a skinny vertical. The second element of the triple, 10B, also caught a few toes for four faults. Another course culprit was the water jump, set as a vertical, which proved spooky and resulted in a few run outs.

Thomas was the first to take a shot at the jump-off course finishing with a rail at 5B and a time of 38.97. Hutchison and Muscadet de la Saveniere were up next. They laid down their second clean, smooth trip with a hard to beat time of 38.33. Last to go, Trent tried to answer Hutchison’s call. Over the first three obstacles with ease, she then dropped two rails – one at fence four as well as one jumping out of the combination – solidifying the win for Hutchison.

Six horses were one rail away from a clean round, including Thomas on his second mount, Carino, fastest of the four-faulters for a fourth place finish, Gaby Salick and her young, talented mount Centuria Z had only 10B down for fifth, Joie Gatlin aboard the consistent SunCal’s King barely clipped the skinny to take home sixth, Lane Clarke and the crafty Kiss the Sky finished seventh, Hutchison on her second mount, Cantano had a heartbreak rail at the second to last jump, and Harley Brown on Cassiato rounded out the four-fault rides for ninth.

Team Send-off Celebration

Sunday was also selection day, as the Young Riders from Zone 10 competed in a challenging final two-round trial. After their multi-medal success at NAJYRC in 2007 and 2008, Zone 10 is certainly the team to beat in Kentucky July 22-26. Read more about it in this week’s Conversations with Young Riders below.

The Young Rider ‘A’ and ‘B’ Teams and the WCAR Spruce Teams, who will be competing at the Skyliner Tournament June 16-21, gathered in the hilltop VIP Tent for a well-deserved celebration during the Grand Prix.

Congratulations and good luck to all!