Highlights From 2011 Summer Shows at Showpark

Welcome to August in Del Mar and San Juan Capistrano. Over the summer season into early fall (June 9 – Sept. 19) Blenheim EquiSports presents twelve grand prix events, numerous young jumper classes, three medal finals – CPHA, CPHA Foundation and ASPCA Regionals – Zone 10 Pony Hunter Finals, the West Coast Junior Hunter Championships, the Western League Young Jumper Championships, International Hunter Futurity Classes, Hunter Breeding Championships and two USHJA International Hunter Derbies. Plus a full schedule of rated divisions in every discipline. Summer has seen some super classes in So Cal. Read on…

The $10,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby

Saturday afternoon boasted blue skies and perfect weather in the 70s, making the grass grand prix field an ideal setting for the thirty-one high performance hunters.

During the first round of competition, entrants tried their hand at the eleven efforts, with four 4’ option fences. Described by course designer Joe Lombardo as a “horseman’s course,” the track was flowing with long lines that didn’t ask too much in the way of stride count but allowed the rider to show off the horse. Given the 2010/2011 qualifying season’s new scoring, each of the 4’ options jumped was automatically awarded one point, so up to four points were added to both sets of judges’ scores.

Top west coast rider in the overall Derby standings, Jenny Karazissis was the first to negotiate the course aboard the one of her four mounts, CR Franz Marc (Hannah Stabler, owner). Jumping three of the four option fences, the pair earned a first round score of 166, which led the class until ninth in the order Jamie Taylor aboard CR Masterpiece (Lisa Levine, owner) galloped in. The pair jumped each of the four option fences and earned a total of 169, taking over the lead and securing a spot in the handy round. Fifteenth to trot onto the grass was Nick Haness and Gelato (Conor Perrin, owner) who impressed the judges and left the ring with two scores of 88 for a total of 176. Next to wow both the crowd and the judges was junior rider Morgan Geller and her mount, Fabricio (Katie Kelso, owner). The pair presented the ride that would lead going into the handy round, earning scores of 90 from both sets of judges including four bonus points after beautifully negotiating each 4’ option. Two trips later, Karazissis was back in the ring aboard her fabulous Derby partner Forbes (Tonia Cook Looker, owner). The duo carried over a total score of 175 to the second round. 

The handy course included a rollback to a large oxer from fence one to fence two, which caused a few bobbles, rails and stops. Next up the hill to a trot jump as fence three, then down the hill to a three-part snake fence where jumps four, five and six included rollbacks to each of the three sides of the snake. The light natural rails that made up the snake jump fell easily and came down a few times. There were again four 4’ options as well as a hand gallop to an oxer. Ranked fifth after the first round, Teddi Mellencamp aboard Artisan Farm’s Relentless rallied with a great trip. The duo earned a high score of 192 for their handy efforts bringing their total to 359.5 and moving them into third place overall. Second place honors went to Karazissis and Forbes who earned handy scores of 97 and 102 respectively, bringing their overall total to 374. Sitting third after the first round, Haness and Gelato managed the trot fence, snake jumps and hand gallop with ease, earning the highest handy total of 202.

“I like to go all out in the Handy Round,” explained Haness. “I know Gelato and I knew he would do the snake jump well. And we both like to gallop to the jumps, so the hand gallop jump was truly a gallop! I think I got the nine bonus points because we did all that was asked.”

Going in last, Geller had an unfortunate rail on the handy course that bumped her to seventh position with a score of 239 overall. With all of the scores in, it was Gelato’s impressive trip that brought the duo’s total to 378 overall, four points above Forbes, for the win.

Congratulations to Nick Haness, Gelato and owner Conor Perrin.

For the press release and results, visit Blenheim’s Facebook page.

Double the Glory in the $25,000 Racing Festival Grand Prix
The $25,000 Racing Festival Grand Prix on the first of August welcomed forty-six horse and rider couples from six different countries onto the grass field. With seven clean rides representing four countries in the jump-off, Canada’s Chris Pratt claimed two of those spots. Going double clean aboard both horses, Pratt clinched the win on G5 (Indigo Farms LLC, owner) as well as second on Cruise (Indigo Farms LLC, owner). 

“What a great day for Indigo Farms! That was Cruise’s first grand prix. For him to jump double clear was amazing. He has a bright future. I’m fortunate to have owners such as Indigo Farms to support me with horses like G5 & Cruise,” remarked a pleased Pratt.

With several technical lines, Guillermo Diaz designed a 16-effort course in a tight time allowed of 72 seconds. Over half of the entrants had time faults, including the first two on course.

However, third to go Pratt on G5 set the stage for his fellow competitors. Proving that riding within the time allowed was possible, and without fault at that, the pair went clean in just over 69 seconds. Iran’s Ali Nilforushan and his own Pegasus as well as California’s brilliant pair Susan Hutchison and Cantano (El Dorado 29, owner) matched Pratt’s clean efforts. On his second of three mounts, Pratt once again jumped clean, this time aboard Cruise. Two from Mexico joined the jump off group: Octavio Penedo riding Don Arturo EquiSearch and John Perez aboard Utopia. Seventh clear was local Del Mar star rider Josephina Nor-Lantzman on Chello Z in their third grand prix outing together. 

Pratt and G5 were first to negotiate the shortened track of eight fences. Clearly in to win, the well-matched pair had an unbeatable performance, crossing the timers clean in 33.03. Next in the ring, Nilforushan and Pegasus had the third to the last fence down in a time of 33.60 for four faults and third place. Always a force to be reckoned with, Hutchison and Cantano knew they had to be quick but pulled an uncharacteristic two rails at the last two fences on course for eight and a seventh place finish. Penedo in the tack of Don Arturo EquiSearch dislodged the third jump-off fence in a time of 34.26 for fourth place honors. Pratt returned to the ring next aboard Cruise and the pair sailed to second place with a double-clean performance in a time of 42.16. Perez went next on Utopia incurring a rail halfway through the course and stopping the clock in 37.84 for sixth. Last to give it a go was twenty-six-year-old Nor-Lantzman and Chello Z. The gutsy pair maneuvered the course in a time of 36.861 but just clipped the second fence for four faults and the fifth place award.

For the press release and full results, visit Blenheim’s Facebook page.

The $25,000 August Festival Grand Prix

Forty horse and rider combinations came to play on the grass field at the Del Mar Horse Park Saturday afternoon August 7th in the $25,000 August Festival Grand Prix. The sixteenth pair on course, Jaime Azcarraga of Mexico City on Selcius, was the first clean and the only double clear performance for the win.

“[The course] didn’t look very difficult but as it turned out, it was,” noted Azcarraga. “The turn to 4A-B caused a lot of problems. All of the jumps fell down; it did ask a lot of questions.”

California-based course designer Scott Starnes said he wanted an even track with consistent challenges, and since faults occurred on almost every fence on course that is exactly what happened. One challenge that proved difficult to achieve was to ride all 16 efforts clean and within the 83-second time allowed. “Having not seen a lot of the [Mexican] horses jump, my objective was to get most around but challenge them,” commented Starnes. “There was a nice mixture between local and Mexican talent. Azcarraga is a master and he rode really well.”

Second to jump clean went twenty-first in the order, Ali Nilforushan aboard Pegasus, who advanced to the jump off last week as well. Then it was four to return when another resident of Mexico, Charlotte Van Breemen riding Chepepe La Escondida (Guillermo Zambrano, owner) and local Michelle Parker with her own Clever both rode clean within the time. Galloping onto the grass twenty-eighth in the order, Nicholas Pizarro aboard his mount Crossing Jordan Mercedes Benz, were the final team to advance to the second round.

Azcarraga and Selcius were the first to negotiate the shortened track of eight fences. “I tried to go as fast as I could to put the pressure on the rest of the riders,” commented Azcarraga. “I was lucky.”

  Pressure ensued indeed. The pair zipped around in a time of 42.39, leaving all of the fences up, apparently not an easy act to follow. Next in the ring, Nilforushan and Pegasus had a quicker time of 42.04, but knocked the last two fences down for eight faults and fifth place. Even faster than the trips before her, Van Breemen and Chepepe La Escondida had a great time of 39.86 but also incurred eight faults, ending up fourth. Parker and Clever looked as though they were going to take over the lead but lowered the height of the second to last fence in a time of 41.69 for second. Pizarro in the tack of Crossing Jordan Mercedes Benz also dislodged a rail early in the jump off in a time of 42.60 for four faults and third place overall.

Two entries were clean over the fences in the first round but stopped the clock just over the time allowed. Last week’s one-two winner, Chris Pratt was second to go on Union (The Union Group, owner). Clean over the sixteen efforts the duo crossed the timers two-tenths of a second over the time allowed, accruing one fault for sixth. Rusty Stewart and his exceedingly consistent eight-year-old Bristol (Grey Fox Farms, owner) also jumped clean but stopped the clock just over a second too slow, ending up with two time faults for a seventh place finish.

Visit Blenheim’s Facebook page for the press release and results.

Discipline: Hunter

Some of the best of the west in the Junior Hunter arena have the spotlight in San Juan Capistrano at the two-day USEF National Junior Hunter Championships – West Coast this week. Within a few days after that competition is the $100,000 The Chronicle of the Horse/USHJA International Hunter Derby Finals at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington. Note that this year the finals will be held in the indoor facility, which will highlight another type of talent. Just as there are high performance jumpers who are better indoors than out or vice versa, we will see the same with the hunters. Watch it live online at EquestrianLife.com.

Discipline: Equitation
Medal riders are beginning to prepare themselves and their mounts for the high pressure of finals season. Practicing all the potential tests that may be asked is one way to be ready; another is to focus on the mental aspect. As hot shot junior rider Reed Kessler expressed in her interview, medal finals prepared her to be a better rider in the jumper ring, teaching her how to handle difficult and technical courses in an intensely competitive situation. From CPHA to ASPCA and all in-between, we wish the best of luck and nerves of steel to all the competitors from amateur to junior, east to west. We will bring you the highlights and stories as they unfold.

Exclusively for EquestriSol
Plenty of the worlds top show jumpers flocked to Spruce Meadows for the summer. Read about the keen competition in the Spruce Report by Jennifer Wood of Jennifer Wood Media. On to Aachen Accolades, world-traveler Jennifer Wood reports on the happenings at this world-class venue as well.