Highlights From The 53rd Washington International Horse Show: October 25-30, 2011

Nick Skelton and Carlo 273

The well-known event in Washington DC gained a huge audience online this year – over 130,000 people tuned into the new live webcast from the Verizon Center. The largest online and in-person crowd was for the $100,000 President’s Cup Grand Prix, a World Cup qualifier. Nick Skelton of Great Britain rode Beverley Widdowson’s Carlo 273 to victory.

Skelton and Carlo 273, a 10-year-old Holsteiner gelding by Contender, were the last to go clear in the opening round of 24 entries over a course designed by Michel Vaillancourt of Aiken, SC. Brianne Goutal and Nice de Prissey were second, while California phenom Lucy Davis rode Nemo 119 to third. Margie Engle and Indigo were fourth to round out the jump-off.

Sarah Tredennick of Denver, CO, rode Vigaro to the win in the $31,000 International Open Jumper Jump-off class. Stanford student Saer Coulter went as a character from the movieAvatar in the $20,000 International Open Jumper Gambler’s Choice Costume class. Although she looked blue, she earned second place behind top rider Todd Minikus dressed as Uncle Sam. Holding her own among the best, Saer earned several more respectable ribbons in the open jumper division.

Saer Coulter as a Na’vi from Avatar

John French won the inaugural High Point West Coast Rider Trophy, and won the Regular Conformation Hunter Stake aboard Laura Wasserman’s Overseas. Wasserman won an Amateur/Owner class on Overseas.

Continuing her indoors hunter dominance, the Small Junior Hunter 16-17 division awarded championship honors to Olivia Esse and Oscany Inc.’s Clooney.

Highlights From The Capital Challenge Horse Show October 2011

It’s a long trip east for those who set their sights on competing indoors in the fall. Each season the riders from the left coast have a chance to shine in this competitive setting. Of course many top horses and riders share the glory, but the west coast is not second to the east and often steps into the limelight as illustrated below.

The Capital Challenge Horse Show: October 1-9, 2011

On the opening Equitation Weekend presented by Bigeq.com, Morgan Geller and Fabricio topped the North American Flat Equitation Championship, were champions in the 16-year-old Equitation, and second in the North American Equitation Championship. Geller trains with Katie Gardner and Jim Hagman of Elvenstar. Conor Perrin was fourth, Alicia Gasser fifth, Olivia Esse sixth and Demi Stiegler ninth in the North American Equitation Championships. Alison Fithian and Julia Nagler both earned wins in their respective equitation divisions.

Pilar Flournoy, 14, from Topanga, CA, made her first trip east a worthwhile one, as she laid down two solid rounds to win the Taylor Harris Insurance Services National Children’s Medal Finals. Flournoy, who trains with Huntover, has that keen ability to stay focused under pressure. She also won the CPHA Foundation Eq Championships earlier this year. Destry Spielberg finished fourth and Alexandra Ladove seventh.

Kristi Siam

Yet another Californian to dominate the Show Place Arena was Adrienne Dixon. Dixon, of Hillsborough, California, piloted Conor Perrin’s Nat King Cole to top honors in the North American Amateur Equitation Championships. Solid in the irons for many years, Dixon now rides with Hunterbrook.

Third time at Capital Challenge was a charm for Kristi Siam of Chatsworth, CA and her horse Krosus. She was third in the North American Amateur Equitation Championships. And after a three-round battle with Mahala Rummel, Siam came away with the win in the ARIAT National Adult Medal Finals. She trains with Karen Healey Stables.

On the Hunt to Win
Heidi Kane of Newport Beach, CA, rode Sin City to the championship in the Amateur-Owner 36 & Over Hunter 3’3” division. She trains with her daughter Nicole Kane. Jenny Karazissis competed on Sin City in the $15,000 WCHR Professional Challenge earning eighth. With the hopes of just simply having a good round, Chelsea Samuels traveled from her home in La Canada, CA with trainer Archie Cox to compete in the 18-35 Adult Amateur Hunter division. She had several ‘good’ rounds on her 11-year-old Brandenburg gelding Brooklyn, taking the championship.

In her final junior year, Olivia Esse of Pasadena, CA, swept the championships in the Junior Hunter 16-17 divisions. Training with Makoto Farm, she rode Clooney, a seven-year-old Holsteiner gelding by Carpaccio, for Oscany Inc. to the championship in the Small Junior 16-17 Hunters. On Small Affair, owned by Iwasaki & Reilly, she was champion in the Large Junior 16-17 Hunters and earned the EMO Junior Trip of the Show. They were also named the High Point Junior Hunter 16-17 sponsored by The Clothes Horse.

Heidi Kane and Sin City (left); Olivia Esse and Small Affair

Proficient Pros 
Canadian-born now Rancho Santa Fe, CA resident Christa Endicott rode Come Monday, an eight-year-old Holsteiner mare owned by Davlyn Farms, to the tri-color in the First Year Green Hunters Section B. The pair was also fifth in the $15,000 WCHR Professional Challenge class.

Another Canadian-born California resident Tara Metzner won the $5,000 WCHR Emerging Pro Challenge. She had the enviable task of competing on Destry Spielberg’s Rumba, the winner of the inaugural USHJA International Hunter Derby Finals. Also champion in the 3’6” Performance Hunter Division, this was Metzner’s inaugural year competing at the Capital Challenge. Actually west coast emerging pros picked up second through fourth as well as sixth in the WCHR Emerging Pro Challenge. Jamie Taylor rode Erin Bland’s Weatherly to second, Hope Glynn picked up fourth on Helen McEvoy’s Chance of Flurries and Teddi Jo Mellancamp was sixth on Woodvale Inc’s Brooklyn.

Patricia Griffith and Tara Metzner (left); John French

No stranger to winning on either coast, John French picked up the championship in the Future Hunter 6 & over division on Gail Morey’s new hunter, Safe Haven and on Iwasaki & Reilly’s Small Celebration in the Future Hunter, Mare Division. He went on to claim the $15,000 WCHR Professional Challenge class for the second year in a row on Iwasaki & Reilly’s Small Affair. The win was bittersweet for French who choked up when he admitted that the ride might be his last on this talented hunter. Continuing his winning rides, French was the picture of consistency in the WCHR Professional Finals and again took the top prize. Jenny Karazissis was sixth in this prestigious class.

Interview: John French after the WCHR Pro Challenge
Interview: John French after the WCHR Professional Finals win

Jenny Karazissis, Scott Stewart, John French, Liza Boyd, Kelley Farmer and Hunt Tosh

Was HITS a Hit?

Stories from Horse Shows in the Sun
Through my work with EquestriSol I had the privilege of interviewing a number of riders, sponsors and vendors during the 2011 HITS Desert Winter Circuit. Most would agree that with all the improvements, the world-class competition, the hunter prix classes and the World Cup qualifiers, the 20th anniversary year in the desert was definitely one for the books.

Horse show grounds and facilities can be vastly different; however, ask any rider/trainer and they’ll tell you that there are a few key elements that truly make a good horse show.

For riders like Hap Hansen who has competed at HITS Horse Shows since the circuit’s inception, the shows close proximity to his southern California home is one but not the only aspect that draws him and his clients out to the desert. A man of few words, when he spoke, I listened. ‘Why Thermal?’ was one of my questions.

“There’s lots of room and great footing. I’ve noticed improvements but there is also a more international feel this year. It’s fun to have Meredith here.”

He sums it up by saying, “They (HITS Show Management) know how to put on a horse show.”

A key element riders and trainers consider when attending a horse show, is the course designer. Hap rated them as “up and down.” One week in the $25,000 Grand Prix Hap, John Perez and John Pearce all had spills at the same jump. Certainly a surprising turn of events.

If you’ve read EquestriSol’s series “Conversation with Course Designers”, all of them seek to challenge while being careful to not overwhelm horse or rider. That said the course designers had their work cut out for them – often the class had 50 or more horses with a wide span of experience. It was not uncommon to have the group narrowed down to eight riders or less in a jump off.

For Brazil’s Eduardo Menezes, who jokingly disclosed his mantra for life, while sitting next to Olaf Peterson, as being “Live everyday like it’s the most important or the last because who knows what course designer will be there to kill you.” Kidding aside, Eduardo agreed that the facilities, amenities and most importantly, the footing were all excellent.

With big money classes, a tough course is always on the menu. And like any menu, what tastes great to some is not so delicious for others. Eighteen year old Lucy Davis and her two mounts Hannah and Nemo 119 got their fill of goodies, conquering two weeks worth of course designers’ challenges with four grand prix wins.

I caught up with Lucy after her second victory of four, the $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix on Hannah during Week V of the circuit. Lucy excelled in field of 57 riders, including topping trainer and well-known international rider Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum,. “I was confident about my ride, but was still in disbelief from last night [winning the $50,000 Strongid CSI-W Grand Prix aboard Nemo 119]! Today was the cherry on top!”

Davis proved her ability to achieve the ultimate, winning two more grand prix classes, including the $200,000 Lamborghini Grand Prix of the Desert again on Nemo 119. Qualified for the Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix scheduled for September 11 in Saugerties, NY, will the young star be in attendance?

Crossing over to the hunter ring, seems the newly added hunter prix classes, qualifiers for the Diamond Mills $500,000 Hunter Prix Final in Saugerties, NY in September, drew both competitors and crowds alike, week after week.

Some would question if a 3’3″ hunter competition with a $500,000 finals is good for the sport. With the response and anticipation of the upcoming HITS weekend this fall, the Diamond Mills Hunter Prix combined with the Pfizer Million, it appears the answer is yes. The competition arena is clothed in many ways, and ultimately the best in the sport will prevail.

John French certainly knows a good horse show, having won all over the world in both the hunter and jumper arenas, both indoors and outdoor. French, who owns Waldenbrook Farm, surmised, “HITS has done a great job on improvements. The footing is good, nice job on maintenance and keeping the ground soft. We’ve had excellent weather this year and more people are coming back.” Waldenbrook clients were happy and staying longer than they initially planned.

As explained in this issue’s “Conversation with Equestrians”, for trainers Hope and Ned Glynn of Sonoma Valley Stables (SVS), the circuit proved to be a hit. Hope landed two blue ribbons in the 3’3″ Hunter Prix classes.

“I am thrilled to have an opportunity to compete for the biggest purse of prize money in hunter history. We have all really enjoyed the hunter prix classes at Thermal,” added Hope.

Top hunter riders, professional, amateur and junior alike, have the opportunity to attend several special shows with a focus on hunters this year. The first is the USHJA International Hunter Derby Finals, now in its third year, at the Kentucky Horse Park in August. Continuing the trek east, the Hampton Classic is an excellent choice for exhibiting and enjoying the east coast. Next to HITS Saugerties for the Diamond Mills Hunter Prix Final in upstate New York, which not only includes a big grand prix but a Temptations concert. And then the indoor season begins, the Capital Challenge in Washington, DC offers a list of prestigious hunter classes, the fall continues with Harrisburg, Washington and this year Lexington. But that’s another story.

Pleasing your public is essential when running a business. Was HITS a hit? The answer is in the desert oasis. 

Pfizer Million Preview

West coast riders come east for Pfizer Million Weekend; HITS bids to bring Olympic Trials to HITS Desert Horse Park
As the summer show season nears its end, the excitement and anticipation for this year’s Pfizer Million Weekend is gaining momentum. Exhibitors are clamoring to get their qualifying classes in and add to their winnings to ensure their place in the Rider Rankings for both the Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix and the Diamond Mills $500,000 Hunter Prix Final. After the Desert Circuit it was clear that riders from the west coast were serious about ensuring they’d make the cut for these two monumental events. And with the grand finale weekend just about a month away, west coast riders are making their plans to come east for their chance at show jumping history – the opportunity to compete for $1.5 million in prize money!

The group of High-Performance riders coming east includes a mix of both returning and first time qualifiers with John Pearce, Helen McNaught, Duncan McFarlane, and Saer Coulter, while young phenom Lucy Davis, who took the Desert Circuit by storm when she won the last four Grand Prix at the Thermal including the $200,000 Lamborghini Grand Prix, presented by Lamborghini of Newport Beach, is making her first trip to Saugerties.

The crop of Hunter riders making their plans to show in Saugerties is equally as impressive with top professional riders John French, Hope Glynn, Nick Haness and Jenny Karazissis each committed to show in the Diamond Mills Hunter Prix Final. Amateur riders Erin Bland and Avery Hellman, who both train with Ned and Hope Glynn, will also be on the scene, as will Archie Cox with a group of his students.

“I am very excited to be coming to compete in the [Diamond Mills] $500,000 Hunter Prix,” said Cox. “Cruise, owned by Jessica Singer, has already proven himself from coast to coast and I am anxious to add a top placing to his resume.”

Jerry Dougherty of Bokeelia, Florida will set the courses for the Hunter Prix and Olympic Course Designer Steve Stephens of Palmetto, Florida will set the track for the Pfizer Million. Olympic Course Decorator Flora Baptiston of Brazil will bring her magic touch to the courses.

There’s quite a buzz about the weekend throughout both the equestrian and local communities, as VIP tables are selling quickly and ticket sales for Motown legends The Temptations are picking up momentum. Adding to the ceremony of the day will be an appearance by the West Point Equestrian Team and a special 9/11 commemoration ceremony with members from the local fire, police and emergency service workers. Plans are also in the works for a special head-set rental program for round-by-round commentary for both the Hunter Prix and the Pfizer Million.

More exciting news pertaining to live-webcasting and TV coverage along with other plans will be announced soon, so stay tuned. For more information about VIP or general ticket information, please visit HitsShows.com.

HITS bids to bring Olympic Trials to HITS Desert Horse Park
For the second time in two years, HITS put in a bid to host a USEF selection trial competition at the HITS Desert Horse Park in Thermal, California. In the summer of 2009, HITS bid to host the USEF Show Jumping Selection Trials for the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games (WEG). The proposal included unprecedented prize money, $775,000 to be exact, and a commitment to waive the entry fees for all Selection Trials classes for horses competing in every leg of the Trials. This time around, HITS submitted another extraordinary bid proposal to host the USEF Selection Trials for the 2012 Olympic Games and National Championship.

The highlights from the Olympic Trials bid included $200,000 in prize money to be divided among the winners, waived entry fees and complementary accommodations for all exhibitors participating in the trials. News came in early August that the selection committees had met and voted to award the bid to another management company, despite the innovative package prepared by HITS.

When news of the decision came, HITS President and CEO Tom Struzzieri offered his insights on the vote. “If there’s a bright side to this, we’ve got our bid packet fine tuned! Perhaps more importantly, these Trials will not take place during the Thermal Circuit, so customers can enjoy their regular circuit schedule with us in the Desert and still have the opportunity to travel for the chance to compete on the Olympic Team in Florida at the end of March.”

Struzzieri was pleased to have the opportunity to submit a bid and was pragmatic about the outcome. “I can’t say that I disagree with the decision of the committees, geography has to play a big role in this type of decision. We will continue to stay in this process and hopefully we will be awarded this type of event in the near future.”

In the end, Struzzieri believes, “Our bid had an impact in raising the stakes for the competition. As it turned out the other bid was modified to match what we had offered and include free entries for the riders, so that’s another positive outcome for the exhibitors. Having just completed hosting the East Coast Junior Hunter Finals here in Saugerties, I feel strongly that HITS has a product to offer that will ultimately be the right one for trials of this nature and we’ll keep going after it… for us, our customers and the sport.”

Photos by Flying Horse Photography.

Highlights From June 2011 Blenheim Series Wrap up

By Jackie McFarland

We’re now in the middle of the summer season, with plenty o’horse showing remaining and a fabulous fall ahead. June was chock full of fantastic competition from north to south and overseas. See below for a wrap-up of the Blenheim June Series. With an international feel on the International field the show jumping was super. Hunters were hot, with high scores and impressive handy rounds.

Finishing up four weeks right before the 4th of July gave riders, owners trainers, grooms and families a chance to celebrate independence day after four fantastic weeks in San Juan Capistrano. With over $150,000 in prize money including a $30,000 Grand Prix each weekend, Zone 10 Young Rider Selection Trials, a USHJA Hunter Derby, Zone 10 Pony Hunter Finals, Open Jumper Classics, Children’s Pony Hunter Divisions and Green Rider Equitation, the range of classes offered something for every rider, plus Hilltop VIP, Medal Club, Kids Days and two excellent exhibitor parties.

The competition is hot and the weather cool…

NAJYRC Teams Named

After several successful years at the North American Junior and Young Rider Championships (NAJYRC) that played a role in producing a stellar group of young Grand Prix riders, including Karl Cook, Lucy Davis and Ricky Neal, the 2011 Zone 10 Teams consist of the west coast’s next group of solid show jumpers.

Beginning the final qualifying rounds for NAJRYC on Friday and culminating on Sunday morning, points earned were tallied from this and previous shows for the naming of the Zone 10 NAJYRC Young Rider and Junior Teams. Taking on the challenges of Linda Allen’s courses this weekend, the ten top point earners got a taste of the tracks to come later this summer at the beautiful Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington.

Zone 10 Young Rider Team 
Faustino – Cayla Richards | Esperanto – Kendall Skreden | San Diego – Danielle Korsh
Hot Pants – Sage Flynn | ALT: Gaja 20 – Jocelyn Neff

Zone 10 Junior Team
Canasucre – Hannah Warde | Corralino – Madison Bradshaw | Ashtin’s Obsession – Killian McGrath
Union Jack – Brittany Albrecq | ALT: Pomme D’Api – Viva Hallinan

Hail the King of Hunters and His Trusty Steed
John French aboard the Holsteiner stallion Crown Affair (owned by Yellow Dog Farm) not only won one of the last qualifiers of the 2010/2011 High Performance Hunter Challenge season during May’s Ranch & Coast Classic but had a repeat performance at one of the first qualifiers for the 2011/2012 season. Thirty couples came to play on the large grass field. The challenging course built by Joe Lombardo meant high scores were few and far between but by the end, eleven of twelve pairs earned scores in the eighties and returned for the Handy Round.

The second round asked riders to pilot their hunters smoothly through an s-shaped line from fences three through five, a hand gallop towards home at fence ten directly to a trot jump at the in-gate. As often seen in the Handy Round, positions shifted as rails and riders fell. The top two horses, the aforementioned Crown Affair and Symon (owned by Alison Baileys) both ridden by one of our nation’s best John French, handled the Handy Round with style and held their positions finishing first and second.

A mix of professionals, amateurs and juniors claimed third through twelfth: Melissa Doddridge was third on Bentley and seventh aboard Delux, Hope Glynn rode Sabrina Hellman’s Woodstock to fourth, Glynn’s client Erin Bland rode her own Weatherly to fifth, Gabbi Langston was sixth on Azlan, unexpected rails down caused Jenny Karazissis and Forbes as well as Devon Gibson with Copperfield to bump down to eight and ninth, Tiffany Sullivan was tenth on her five-year-old Easy Company, a crash through a jump late in the course dropped Gretchen Lof and Shine on Me down to eleventh and Nick Haness was poised to garner a top prize on Catwalk after a gorgeous ride, when a surprise stop at the final trot jump caused a fall and the pair finished twelfth.

It’s a First First for Lane Clarke and Granville’s Casseur De Prix

As expected, course designer Linda Allen built a demanding track for the $30,000 Blenheim Classic Grand Prix presented by the Orange County Register. At the end of the round one, nine entries managed to jump without fault.

Although many seasoned equestrians were part of the mix, it was 25-year-old Australian Lane Clarke aboard Granville’s Casseur de Prix who took home the top prize by delivering the only double clear of the day.

“This is only the fourth grand prix [Granville’s Casseur de Prix] and I have done together so to come out with a win this early in our partnership is pretty amazing,” smiled Clarke. Although he navigated both the first and second round courses without fault, Clarke still recognized many difficulties posed by Allen’s design.

“Linda Allen always builds difficult and unique courses,” commented Clarke. “Track-wise, it was beautiful to look at and made a lot of sense, but it was not easy to ride clean.”

As the second duo of nine to take on the shortened track, Clarke felt the pressure of the seven entrants that were still to follow and chose an alternative path to the final fence on course, a daringly tight inside turn that resulted in a time of 48.07 and the win.

The second place team took a more conservative route. Jumping clean but going just over the 50 second jump-off time allowed, Rusty Stewart aboard the precocious seven-year-old Bristol masterfully negotiated the track but stopped the clock at 50.22 to add one time fault to their otherwise pristine performance.

Finishing third, Francie Steinwedell-Carvin and Taunus were the first to negotiate the shortened track but had a rail midway through the course ending with four faults in a time of 48.67. Steinwedell-Carvin also went clean on Twistar, but the pair struggled in the second round with a run-out, rails and then an unfortunate fall and elimination from the round, placing them ninth.

Late in the jump-off order, the master hunter rider mentioned above, John French, aboard Chawi De Laubry (owned by Mountain Home Stables) was clean as he approached the final fence on course. Riding for the win, French followed the lead of some of his fellow competitors and opted for the inside turn. The crowd groaned as the pair had a disappointing run-out, followed by a rail on the second attempt for an eighth place finish

Ups and Downs

The Blenheim EquiSports June Classics I & II were memorable for multiple reasons. With the usual ups and downs, rising hunter star Samantha Sommers, who was Champion Week I on Iwasaki & Reilly’s Small Kiss, took an unfortunate tumble in the jumper ring last week sending her shoulder into disrepair for a period. Look for an interview with Sam in an upcoming issue. We hear that Joie Gatlin, who also had an unusual dismount in the jumper ring and did a number on her knee, is doing well and will be visiting the show this week. We wish them both a speedy recovery.  On a high note, Iwasaki & Reilly’s Small Affair earned a pair of 95s in the junior hunter ring with Olivia Esse aboard. Olivia wrote a great piece about the Devon Horse Show in the June Series Week One issue.

Internationally Inspired Show Jumping
It was superb to see several countries represented in both the first round and the jump-off of the $30,000 June Classic II Grand Prix – Puerto Rico, Australia, Brazil, the United States and predominantly Mexico. Of the forty horse and rider combinations who came to play, seventeen qualified for the jump-off.

Course Designer Scott Starnes set a track to suit the range of experience in the class, which was a mix of young horses and riders to Olympic level riders. With two combinations, a few scope tests and a tight time allowed, the collective group rose to the occasion. Six couples rode without lowering the height of a jump, but incurred time faults, including American Molly Talla who stopped the clock a mere .008 seconds over the time allowed aboard Camaron Hills Quick Dollar.

“Ideally I want ten to go clean,” commented Starnes before the class commenced. “I didn’t want to over face the young ones yet still challenge the field. I’d rather more go clean than to have the course be too difficult.”

With a large and aggressive group competing in the jump-off, the top ten finishers were all double clean. First to return in the second round was Jaime Azcarraga of Mexico aboard his own Celsius. He set the pace, going clear in 43.98 and held the lead until hometown heroes Susan Hutchison and El Dorado 29’s Cantano galloped in eight entries later with a blazingly fast, clean ride over the shortened track in 41.91. Azcarraga returned on his second mount, Gangster, trying to catch Cantano and steal back the leading spot. With a time of 42.41, he beat his first horse but not Hutchison’s ending the day third and fifth. American Rusty Stewart rode Grey Fox Farm’s Bristol efficiently in 43.75, picking up fourth for their efforts. Then along came Agustin Aguayo aboard his own Pro Star de la Nutrin who delivered a clean performance in 41.33 for the win, bumping Hutchison to second.

Through an interpreter, Aguayo explained that he bought Pro Star de la Nutrin when he was a three-year-old. Now competing as an eight-year-old, this was only their second grand prix; the first was in Jalapa (Mexico). Competing here at Blenheim for the next two weeks, the team will return to Mexico for the Pan Am Trials later this summer.

The thrills and spills kept spectators engaged from beginning to end. Salvador Onate lost both his stirrups halfway through the course and impressively still managed to ride without fault, qualifying for the jump-off on Paldatus. While Francois Esteves was almost jumped off by ET 14 Mercedes Benz in round one, Luis Alejandro Plasencia did part ways with Dante at the final fence of the jump-off.

Internationally speaking, the final placings included two Mexican riders and two American riders in the top four, with Australians Harley Brown and Lane Clarke as well as Puerto Rico representative Mark Watring, who all compete actively in California, in the top twelve. Overall ten of the top twelve ribbons went to international riders.

Another International Heyday
An impressive field of thirty-eight horse and rider combinations representing five countries ventured onto the Blenheim International Field for the $30,000 June Classic III Grand Prix, presented by the St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort. Course designer Pierre Jolicoeur set a fair but challenging track, posing questions that kept riders on their toes (and in their heels). After a tough first round, only eight duos managed to ride without fault and earn a ticket to the jump-off. While the second round had several solid attempts, the well-seasoned Olympian Antonio Maurer of Mexico masterfully navigated the shortened track to secure the win aboard Francisco Del Rio’s Callao.

“In the jump-off I was fast, but not crazy fast,” said Maurer following his victory gallop. “I’m working my horse back up and this is only his second grand prix after being off for a year. He was double clear in last week’s grand prix and he won today; I couldn’t be happier.”

In addition to being pleased with his mount, Maurer complimented Jolicouer’s course.

“Pierre built a fair track,” noted Maurer. “There were technical questions and elements of rideability but it was designed very fair and very smart. The time was a bit of a factor for some but the field was actually very balanced.”

As the first to jump clean in round one, Brazilian Francois Esteves christened the shortened track aboard his own E.T. 14 Mercedes Benz, setting the stage for his fellow competitors with a clean ride in a time of 38.11 seconds, ultimately finishing fifth. Maurer galloped onto the grass next and shaved 1.37 seconds off, stopping the clock clean in 36.74, taking the lead. Continuing the double clear rounds, Australian Harley Brown and his talented World Cup horse Cassiato (owned by Oak Park Group, LLC) earned third place honors for their neat and clean 37.42 effort. Salvador Onate of Mexico aboard Paldatus was close to catching Maurer, stopping the clock in 36.94, just two tenths of a second shy of taking over the top spot, and finished in the second position. Jaime Azcarraga and Celsius picked up an unfortunate four faults at the second fence in the second round, finishing seventh.

Next in the order of go was nineteen-year-old Tina DiLandri and Avargo. The only American to advance to the second round, DiLandri laid down a stellar performance, leaving all the rails untouched in 37.55 seconds to earn fourth place in a difficult field.

Although eight riders managed to navigate Jolicoeur’s first round course without fault, many more racked up faults by exceeding the 81-second time allowed, dislodging rails or both. “I tried to build the course so it catered to the rider and was safe for the horse,” said Jolicoeur. “The jumps were not huge but some of the elements were technical and presented decisions. There were many areas on the course where riders could pick up the pace and it was left up to them to do it.”

International Fireworks on the Field

Perfect weather during the start of the Fourth of July weekend greeted the thirty-four horse and rider pairs at the Blenheim International Field for the $30,000 Red, White & Blue Grand Prix. Course designer Anderson Lima of Brazil set a technical track with sixteen efforts as well as a tight time allowed. Six pairs successfully rode without fault in the first round, four going double clear. Mexican rider Salvador Onate aboard Charro balanced speed and precision to secure the victory.

Going twenty-ninth in the order, Onate had the advantage of seeing the track. “When I was walking the course, I thought it would be a difficult run to make a clear round,” Onate said. “I had to focus on the strides, because there were many options. I had the opportunity of watching a couple of riders do it, and then I took my options.”

The second pair to attempt the course, last week’s grand prix winners Antonio Maurer and Callao (owned by Francisco del Rio) were the first fault-free pair, and remained the only clean until Susan Hutchison and El Dorado 29’s Cantano blazed through the course without fault at almost ten seconds under the time allowed. The crowd roared, animated by her tempo and the guarantee of a jump-off.

Lane Clarke and Granville’s Casseur de Prix (owned by Granville Equine), winners of the first grand prix in the Blenheim June Series, received a hearty welcome from the crowd. Though they had no jumping faults and appeared to have a good pace, the pair finished with a heartbreaking time fault when they stopped the clock just three-tenths of a second over the time allowed.

The tight turn to the CardFlex jump, fence six of the first round, was a trouble spot for many of the riders. Fences 11b and 11c of the second combination on the course also caused multiple jumping faults. Regarding Lima’s design, his first in California, Onate commented, “I liked the course a lot. Lima designed a great course, and I hope he comes back next year.”

With a smile Onate added, “This is my first year here and hopefully I can come back, too.”

Antonio Maurer returned on his second of three mounts, Francisco del Rio’s As Hyo Hugo, and turned in a beautiful clean round. Immediately following Maurer, Duncan McFarlane on Simone Coxe’s Mr. Whoopy navigated the course without fault to join the jump-off group.

A dozen entries, beset with refusals, eliminations and jumping faults, went before up-and-coming grand prix rider Tina DiLandri aboard Avargo finished the first round clean. It was DiLandri’s second mount, and they were the twenty-seventh pair to gallop on the field. There were now five duos to return. Salvador Onate and Charro entered the ring as DiLandri exited, turning in a fantastic clear round just under the time allowed and then there were six coming back.

Maurer and Callao returned to the ring and finished with a double clear round in a quick 39.012. Hutchison and Cantano raced around the course, and even managed to kick it up a notch during the long gallop to the final jump. Though they appeared to jump it clear, a rail fell as they landed and the pair ended with four jumping faults.

Duncan McFarlane and Mr. Whoopy attempted the course next, and though they seemed to have the speed to challenge Maurer, they dropped a rail at the penultimate obstacle and finished with four faults.

Maurer piloting As Hyo Hugo followed McFarlane and turned in another double clear performance, but Maurer’s more conservative approach to the track ended with a time of 40.575. Tina DiLandri and Avargo also turned in a double clear round in 40.220 and were sitting in second place as the final couple of Salvador Onate and Charro entered the ring.

The crowd grew silent as Onate and Charro cleared each obstacle, and when the time of 38.774 was announced, the stands erupted – the duo had won the grand prix by less than one second.

Exhibitor Evenings

Blenheim EquiSports and Equ Lifestyle Magazine hosted not-to-be-missed social occasions. Guests enjoyed food and fun while searching for hidden ‘treasures’ at San Juan Capistrano’s Vintage Steakhouse at the Great Train Robbery party. The following week competitors enjoyed an evening at the lovely Arden Cottage at Blenheim Farms. Located only a short stroll or golf cart ride away, it was truly an ideal location for unwinding, appetizing and socializing. The social calendar continues in late July through August with an innovative mix of events from Mardi Gras to Casino Nights and more.

BBQ & Go Horseless
Kids of all sizes had a fun and competitive day During Blenheim June III. On Saturday everyone enjoyed a post Zone 10 Pony Finals BBQ in the afternoon as well as a JustWorld International Horseless Horse Show. What could be better than supporting a great cause while having a great time?

Conversations With Equestrians: John French

By Selena Frederick

A Top Rider Mantra
 Do we ride to win or are we winners because we have the chance to ride? There is more to the A-Circuit show life than training and competition. Losing sight of what’s important often affects performance in the ring as well as in life. We all enjoy winning; it is how we define it that is key.

With show season in full swing, I, on behalf of EquestriSol, wanted to take a moment to reflect, and get insight on the importance of attitude and perspective – not only during show season, but also in life. As many equestrian enthusiasts understand, training and competing on the A-Circuit has its challenges, but deciding whether to learn or become frustrated from those challenges is up to the individual.

One of the most successful hunter (and jumper when he decides to give it a go) riders in the sport, behind John French’s long list of accomplishments are his share of mistakes, bad days and not perfect results. Pictured below is one such moment when his mount Clooney almost jumped him off during the Handy Round of the Hunter Derby this past April. He recovered, smiling, and finished the round. Not even certain he was going to go east in May this year, French recently returned from the 2011 Devon Horse Show, where he rode Davlyn Farm’s Come Monday to the First Year Green Championship.

EquestriSol first spoke with John at HITS Thermal in March, where he was per usual dominating the hunter arena. And holding his own in Grand Prix ring, ribboning in several classes aboard River Bird last year and Mountain Home Stables Chawi Du Laubry in Thermal. The desert was buzzing when one day French not only flipped between highlight events – Hunter Derby and Grand Prix – he excelled. Jumping off his Derby horse, he stepped up his game to complete the jump-off for a top prize.

“I believe a lot in this horse; he’s not scared at all,” said French of Chawi. During the winter, he competed Chawi de Laubry in the several grand prix events while his owner, Taylor Siebel, was studying at Stanford University. French took 4th in $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix (week V) and 9th in the $200,000 Lamborghini Grand Prix (week VI).

Finding French wasn’t difficult; it was waiting until he was on the ground and not on a back of a horse that was the challenge. Of course like many accomplished trainers, he has a number of clients and students that keep him on his toes when not in the saddle at horse shows. However, when I did have the chance to speak with John French, I found it to be a very calming, positive experience.

With all the success of his horses, as well as his students, one can’t help but wonder how this master maintains his happiness and sanity while trying to manage an incredibly busy show schedule, his daily training plans, and the never ending “to-do list” required for the proper care of his horses. When the nerves come in the warm up ring, how does he cope? What’s his philosophy or mantra for life that gets him through?

“Have an attitude of gratitude,” he answered with a smile, “Whenever I get nervous, I remind myself that it doesn’t help to be nervous about something I can’t control – a ride happening in the future – so I let go and focus on what I can control which is being in the present during the ride. I start to think about how lucky we are to do what we’re doing – winning is the main goal, but it’s not the most important thing.”

This relaxed and focused philosophy has brought him success with his horses as well as his riders in all arenas. His perspective in the midst of heavy competition is a positive example. “I don’t go out thinking that I am going to win – or that I need to beat somebody else. (I) just do the best I can – ride better than the last time.” Applying this approach to more than the show ring is undoubtedly something to consider.

Reflecting on why we choose to be equestrians, why we compete and how we handle the ups and downs of the ‘ride’, literally and figuratively, it would serve us well to think in the French frame of mind.

“Pick up the pace right away – don’t doubt yourself. To have a winning ride, you can’t think ‘am I going to find the distance’ you have to let that go. When you are tentative it interrupts the flow. Let the doubts go out of your mind – that’s when you ride the best. Take risks – believe in the ride.”

As we ride through life, it’s good to remember to go for it, believe in yourself and try to always maintain an attitude of gratitude. This makes you a winner.


Rider: Hunt Tosh (Hunters) and Beezie Madden (Jumpers) MovieRequiem for a Dream Book: Inner Revolution, by Robert Thurman (Uma Thurman’s father)Profession (if he weren’t an equestrian): A professional singer and/or work with the elderly in some capacity

Photos By Cheval Photos

Highlights From 2011 HITS Desert Circuit

By Selena Frederick and Jackie McFarland

In what seemed a newfound rhythm for the HITS Desert Circuit, the winter circuit sailed relatively smoothly for six straight weeks. With increased entries and a positive response from many of the competitors we approached, we asked what was the formula for success this year? Challenging course designers, well maintained footing, improvements and additions to the VIP areas, big money classes, and of course the grand prix highlights from fantastic afternoons to fabulous evening events.

Beautiful sunsets and cool breezes welcomed the four World Cup Qualifiers in the intimate indoor arena. Actually for a majority of the six weeks the California desert weather was pretty perfect. To top it off, during the final week the facility sparkled with Lamborghinis, Rolls Royces and even a pristine private jet parked on site.

John French and Chawi de Laubry

The west coast circuit drew a slew of legendary grand prix riders from near and far, including Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum, Hap Hansen, Eduardo Menezes, John Pearce, Rich Fellers, Jill Henselwood, Charlie Jayne, John French, Susan Hutchison, John Perez, Gabriella Salick, Kate Levy…

And that is just a short list. Stars of the circuit Rich Fellers and Lucy Davis each earned four grand prix wins, simply amazing. These two athletes and their horse mates, mind you they each won on different mounts, were fast, clean and cool as ice.

The hunter rings were bustling as well. West coast greats such as John French, Hope Glynn, Nick Haness, Chance Arakelian, Jenny Karazissis and John Bragg were vying for the various championships and derby wins. The ever-versatile John French, who won his usual lion’s share in this arena, also suited up for several outdoor grand prix events. French was seen ‘speaking’ both hunter and jumper on the same day, literally running from the jump off to the hunter derby, garnering top ribbons if not wins in both places. The calm, cool and collected French commented, “It’s an adrenaline rush with the jumpers and everything is so fast; I’m not used to being so hyper.”

Hansen and Michaels-Beerbaum
discuss the course

Quite a few competitors, sponsors and spectators noted the family-friendly aspect of the area. Lamborghini of Newport Beach’s Director Donny Gath brought his entire family. As is often seen when outside sponsorship comes on board, Gath’s company became a sponsor after his 9-year-old daughter Kendal started competing at HITS two years ago, so it is both business and pleasure. Grand prix princess and high-school senior Lucy Davis mentioned that her family can easily come out from Los Angeles and watch her compete as well as enjoy the desert treasures. “My dad can golf in the morning, and then come and watch me ride in the evenings.” Internationally acclaimed rider Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum, also Davis’ trainer, expressed how nice it was for her to spend time in a family friendly environment. She explained, “In Europe the cold indoor circuits typically have late class times making it not very baby or family friendly. It’s also good to be back in California, and see people I haven’t seen in years.” Baby Brianna Beerbaum celebrated her first birthday in California with Mom (Meredith) and mount Lancaster winning the $25,000 HITS Grand Prix. Great day to celebrate.

Of course there were ups and downs. One particular grand prix Sunday took its toll on some top riders. Beginning the circuit with wins, Canadian John Pearce, as well as riding legend Hap Hansen, and the daring John Perez all took a spill at the same fence (#7). Unfortunately Pearce went on the injured list for the remainder of the circuit, whereas Hansen and Perez were able to walk away.

The close to the circuit $200,000 Lamborghini Grand Prix of the Desert was nothing short of poetic. After 53 riders attempted Olaf Peterson’s technical and big and wide course of jumps, five riders remained in the running for the $200,000 in prize money. The 90-degree southern California sun apparently didn’t faze the riders or the Sunday afternoon crowd. Cheers were rampant at the end of Lucy Davis and Nemo 119’s clear

Lucy Davis and Nemo 119

jump off round, on a streak after winning three grand prix events in a row, as she crossed the timers in the lead.

The class was far from over with two riders left. next in the ring was speed demon Rich Fellers, aboard the amazing Flexible. And following that pair was Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum aboard the talented Kismet 50. The crowd gasped in disbelief as Rich and Flexible took the inside turn to the wide oxer heading down the last line and a rail fell. When the final pair of Beerbaum and Kismet 50 heading towards the first tall pink and white vertical – down went the top rail and Davis had clinched the win. It was a day to remember for competitor and spectator alike.

As Davis said in her interview with HITS after her victory, “I could never believe this in a million years. I was so happy to just win one Grand Prix and I kept thinking that there was no way that this could ever happen. Some of the best riders in the world were competing here today and to come out on top is just surreal.” (Read more in the HITS press release)

International riders, sizeable prize money, classy cars, big jumps, fans galore and increased attendance makes for sporty splendor indeed. Congratulations to all and good luck at HITS Saugerties in their fall finales for both hunters and jumpers.

Photos by Cheval Photos

Highlights From Winter Circuit East and West

From all reports, all is well at winter circuits both east and west. Horses are happy in Wellington and Thermal, and prominent names are appearing in both places. Both WEF and the HITS Desert Circuit have welcomed riders hailing from the north, south, east and west including but certainly not limited to Canada, South America, Mexico, Europe, Texas, New York and California. Families flew in and settled for the winter – the Bonds and Simpsons flew south to Florida, whereas the Beerbaums, Fellers and Charlie Jayne headed to the California desert.

Seemingly everywhere, Kenneth Vinther was spotted in Wellington and is now in Thermal promoting his new company. Yes Kenneth has flown the CWD coop and has spread his wings as a distributor of exciting new products from Europe. Now you can “Koompeet with Kenneth“.

We are pleased to report from here that several exciting projects are in the works, plus many of our clients jumped into the new year with marketing on their minds, so we are juggling but jazzed. Our team continues to expand. We’ve added a new Account Manager Selena Frederick who hit the ground running in Thermal. Thank you Erin Gilmore for the solid recommendation. Erin also flew south for the winter and is thoroughly enjoying Wellington as seen in her blog. She wrote a piece called “Use Your Head – Wear A Helmet” after attending the Helmet Symposium and interviewing Beezie Madden on our behalf.

Active with the North American Riders Group, our friend Will Simpson participated in the dynamic annual meeting. Proud to be a part of it by producing the NARG Top 25 booklet, we were also in attendance. Read “The Chronicles of NARG Continued” in this issue.

Wishes from Wellington continue as we feature the FTI Great Charity Challenge coming up next week. The EquestriSol family will fly south as well to not only witness this event but some top-notch hunter (and a bit of jumper) action. We know John French is switching coasts for a couple of weeks and hope to see him in the WEF winner’s circle.

Speaking of Wellington, Santana Stables is seeking an “A” level show jumping rider, with American citizenship and fluent in Portuguese, to join their team. To learn more, visit the Santana site and click News.

January came and went like a flash, and we are well into February. Read up, as come March we will be back in your Inbox with more. Selena, who also happens to be a professional photographer, will provide prose from the Desert and we will be enjoying the beaches and the showgrounds in the Sunshine state.

Peeking back into 2010, the Inside Indoors article in our fall issue failed to mention Whitney Downs and her fabulous Coffee Talk – they were Champions in the Small Jr. Hunters 15 & under, plus won Grand Hunter Champion at Capital Challenge. We may miss other shining stars and welcome emails telling us so.

On a final soulful note, occasionally we are reminded of why we tirelessly entrench ourselves in this world of equestrian sport. Certainly the excitement of competition, the plethora of interesting people, the cherished relationships all play a role. But where would any of us be without the horse? As our daughter is days away from her 4th birthday, we succumbed to the purchase of a giant pink unicorn. Tidbits of a recent NPR story on girls, horses and unicorns were both touching and amusing.

Highlights From The August 28, 2010 Blenheim EquiSports Show

With September right around the corner and school starting again for many competitors, it came time to say goodbye to summer and welcome the new fall season. The outdoor grand prix events came to a close in late August at the Showpark Summer Classic as a large group of show jumpers took to the field in the $40,000 Grand Prix of Showpark, presented by California Horsetrader. Medal finals continued with the CPHA Foundation competitors going for the year-end title. The young horses took the outdoor stage as Blenheim EquiSports proudly hosted the Sallie B. Wheeler/USEF National Hunter Breeding Championships, International Hunter Futurity Classes and the $45,000 Wild Turkey Farm Young Jumper Championships.

September started off with some exciting indoor competition at the Showpark All Seasons Summer Tournament. The 2011 FEI World Cup hopefuls and more competed on Thursday in the $30,000 Showpark Jumper Classic, presented by Royal Champion, On Saturday evening the $50,000 Grand Prix of Showpark, presented by EquiFit, inc. was once again a competitive indoor World Cup qualifying class.

Saturday, August 28th, 2010: $40,000 Showpark Summer Classic Grand Prix
Sixty horse and rider couples were eager to gallop onto the grass for the $40,000 Showpark Summer Classic Grand Prix, presented by California Horsetrader. A diverse group of fourteen duos returned for the jump-off and the top six ribbon winners jumped double clean. The speedy pair of Jaime Azcarraga and Celsius bested the rest of the field for the win.

German course designer, Olaf Peterson Jr. created a challenging track consisting of sixteen efforts. With a large field of rookies and veterans alike, Peterson Jr. wanted to design an inviting course to suit the variety of entrants. “It was a difficult field to set for,” he noted. “There were young horses, young riders, and also experienced couples; they all had to be considered.”

Marking the halfway point in the lineup of sixty horses, Azcarraga and Celsius were the thirtieth to attempt the course, and the ninth team to advance to the jump-off round. “This course by Olaf was nice but also difficult,” the triumphant Azcarraga said. “I think the 14 clean says something about the quality of competitors coming to this show. [Showpark] is a beautiful place to bring the horses and compete.”

Fault-free in both rounds and crossing the timers in 37.00 in the jump-off was the gifted eight-year-old horse Bristol (Grey Fox Farm, owner) and his pilot Rusty Stewart for fifth place. Seventeen-year-old Lucy Davis qualified two mounts for the second round but was eliminated on her first ride, Nemo 911. The young hot shot from Los Angeles redeemed herself and finished fourth by turning in a double clear ride aboard Old Oak Farm’s Hannah. Rounding out the top three was the super scopey Chello Z with his partner Josephina Nor-Lantzman. Less than a second away from the winner’s circle was Joie Gatlin who piloted Camaron Hills Quick Dollar (Camaron Hills Farm, owner) to a second place finish.

While there were many vying for the top position, it was the 10-year-old German bred Celsius and Azcarraga’s well thought out plan that secured the win. “With 14 in the jump-off, I really had to go for it,” Azcarraga said. “I took the five strides to the combination and I think that paid off.”

Designer Peterson Jr. had a feeling Azcarraga would give his competitors a run for their money and was happy with the winning ride. “The jump-off was difficult because of the turns, but Jaime was the best and his horse was super careful,” he remarked. “This is a newer horse for Jaime. It was nice to see him win.”

August 28-29, 2010: CPHA Foundation Finals
During the Showpark Summer Classic, equitation riders in three divisions – 22 & over, 21 & under and 14 & under – vied for the CPHA Foundation Championship title.

Kristi Siam riding her own Krosus topped the adult group. Placing third in the first round of the final and first in the second round, Siam’s stellar trips earned her the top prize. Siam trains with Karen Healey.

In the 21 & under division, the talented Cayla Richards, trained by Archie Cox, blew the competition out of the water by winning all phases of the event aboard Presidio. Last week’s CPHA Adult Medal Final winner Adrienne Dixon rode Julie Nagler’s Vincenzo to a second place finish.

In the youngest age division, Alexandra Ladove topped the class of 24 in the tack of her partner Littlewood, clinching the win in each phase of the competition under the direction of her trainer, John French.

Highlights From June 2010 Bleneim Show Series

With a Grand Prix event each weekend, Zone 10 Young Rider Selection Trials, a USHJA Hunter Derby, Zone 10 Pony Hunter Finals, Open Jumper Classics and Children’s Pony Hunter Divisions, Blenheim EquiSports hosted four weeks of superb summer horse shows in San Juan Capistrano. Why go anywhere else?

Thank you to all the trainers, owners, riders, grooms, moms, dads, sisters, brothers and friends who came to visit during the last four weeks. From the young riders and horses who entered new arenas for the first time to the seasoned veterans who enjoyed great weather and footing we’ve had a fabulous series and congratulate all competitors.

Saturday, June 12: Derby Day – Forty-one Competitors Take A Turn Around the Derby Course
Blenheim once again set the stage for a fabulous USHJA Hunter Derby. As popular with spectators as it is with competitors, this high performance two-round event is now known as a well-respected and challenging class for the top hunter. Some of the entrants will also be competing in the second annual Derby Finals in Kentucky this August. For those who can’t make it to Kentucky for this prestigious event it will be available live online through EquestrianLife.com.

The first round included eleven efforts, with four 4′ options. The course flowed smoothly, not too many trouble spots, although quite a few rails fell literally knocking several top horses out of the running for a ribbon.

Since this was a 2010/2011 Derby qualifying class, new rules were in effect. Each 4′ option jumped is automatically awarded one point, so up to four points were added to both sets of judges scores.Hunter Derby - June 2010

Young amateur Melissa Doddridge, who had three entries in the class, went early on Best Man and scored a total of 179 and the lead until reigning champion’s Crown Affair (Yellow Dog Farms LLC, owner) with John French in the irons came along twelfth in the order, scoring a total of 181. Several horses tied in points, Forbes (Tonia Cook Looker, owner), a top Derby mount piloted by Jenny Karizissis tied with Doddridge and Best Man at 179. Bentley, also ridden by Doddridge, and Two Goals Farm’s On Top with Keri Kampsen both earned 178. Then came Martel (Star Lane Farms, owner). Trotting in thirty-second in the order the handsome chestnut ridden by Jenny K wowed the crowd and the judges with his style. With scores of 96 and 95, the pair totaled an impressive 191, ten full points above the leader. John French also rode his First Year Green Hunter Truman (Mary Sweeney, owner) beautifully for the second highest score, a total of 184.

The handy round included a trot jump, four 4′ options, a hand gallop to an oxer option and a bounce at the end by the in-gate. Fourteen horses returned, since the twelfth spot was shared by three horses with a 166 score. Of the fourteen horses, junior riders Gabbi Langston, Ashlyn Matheus and Audrey Coulter piloted three and amateur Melissa Doddridge rode two.Jenny Karazissis and Martel
Shadows on the jumps and the long gallop to the oxer caused some surprising rails and refusals in this round. Although certainly talented hunters, Forbes, Best Man, Bentley and Catani moved down in placing due to challenges on course. However the top three remained strong and their scores reflected the solid rides the king of the Hunter Derby, John French was third on Crown Affair with a total of 369 and second on Truman with 371. Certainly if he’s the king, Jenny K is the queen of the Hunter Derby and she earned her crown on Martel, topping the class with a grand total of 397.

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

Sunday, June 13: $30,000 Blenheim Classic Grand Prix at June Classic I
Sunday turned out to be a picture perfect day for competitor and spectator alike. Zone 10 Teams for the NAJYRC were determined and awarded, based on the results from this week. Nineteen horse and rider teams negotiated the Linda Allen designed course for the $30,000 Blenheim Classic Grand Prix presented by Royal Champion.

The course had multiple challenges; most riders met their match on fences 8-13, which included an airy gate at fence 8, a combination at 9ab with a solid black wall in to a square oxer out and the Cavalor wall in line with the open water as fences 11 and 12. In total, this group of jumps caused 21 rails.
Michael Endicott and S.F. Shakira
Eighth to go, Susan Hutchison and her stable partner, El Dorado 29’s Cantano performed their usual clean and quick ride. After garnering 4 faults on Nicolas Nierenberg’s Santiago earlier in class, returning tenth in the order, Michael Endicott and David Robinson’s big white mare, S.F. Shakira, were the second pair to lay down a fault-free trip in the first round. It appeared as if the jump off would only consist of these two horses when the second to last entry, New Zealander, Maurice Beatson and his own, Apollo Van Evendael, jumped clean to make it three.

First to maneuver the shortened track were Hutchison and Cantano. The well-matched pair strategically zipped around the course and turned in a blazing time of 40.323, well under the 48 seconds allowed for the second round. Unfortunately the light top rail of the airy gate came down midway through to give the team four faults. Knowing the door was open just enough, Endicott conservatively rode S.F. Shakira over the seven efforts fault free in a time of 47.506 just half a second under the time allowed. Last to play in the jump off, Maurice Beatson and Apollo Van Evendael strove to surpass Endicott and S.F. Shakira, but fell short by pulling a rail at fence 9a. The error forced the duo into third place with a final time of 46.379. Michael Endicott and S.F. Shakira’s double clean performance earned them the win.

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

Sunday, June 13: NAJYRC Celebration
After the points were tallied and the teams determined, both the 2010 ‘A’ and ‘B’ Teams were honored during the opening ceremonies of the $30,000 Blenheim Classic Grand Prix, presented by Royal Champion.

The 2010 Adequan FEI North American Junior and Young Rider Championships (NAJYRC), presented by Gotham North, will once again be at the Kentucky Horse Park July 28th – August 1st, 2010. This idyllic location in Lexington will host the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games (WEG) this fall, so qualified Young Riders will be competing in the same superb setting as the 2010 WEG competitors.

IN 2010:
We have high hopes for our fabulous Zone 10 Teams. Congratulations to each team member and best of luck in Lexington.2010 NAJYRC Teams

IN 2009:
The ‘B’ Junior Rider Team of Samantha Harrison, Taylor Siebel, Alec Lawler and Ricky Neal earned TEAM GOLD. The ‘A’ Young Rider Team earned Bronze. Zone 10 Individuals, Lucy Davis and Samantha Harrison were Silver Medalists in the NAYRC & NAJRC Individual competitions.

IN 2007 & 2008:
The ‘A’ Young Rider and the ‘B’ Junior Rider Teams won TEAM GOLD both years! In 2008 Lucy Davis won the Individual GOLD and in 2007 Karl Cook earned the top honor.

Sunday, June 20: $30,000 June Classic Grand Prix at June Classic II
Susie Hutchison and El Dorado 29’s Cantano add yet another win to their list, the $30,000 June Classic Grand Prix, made possible by Merrill Lynch Wealth Management. A rather impressive list, this mighty match of horse and rider has led the victory gallop on the Blenheim International Field eight times since April of 2008.
Susan Hutchison and Cantano
Course designer Javier Fernandez’s goal was to have five horses in the jump-off, and then to have one or two jump double clean. The twisty course demanded a careful ride and sixteen of twenty competitors incurred jumping faults. Nearly every horse with a rail down ran into problems at the triple combination, fences 5a, 5b, 5c, as well as at fence 11a, the first of a purple double combination, a vertical off of a sharp right-hand turn.

As the fifteenth pair to enter the ring, Hutchison and Cantano were the last to negotiate the first round course without a fault and the fourth to advance to the jump-off. The duo joined the company of fifth to go, Australian Harley Brown and Cassiato (Oak Park Group LLC, owner), Joie Gatlin and Camaron Hills Quick Dollar (Camaron Hills Farm, owner), and Lane Clarke aboard McLord’s First John (Mickey Hayden, owner).

Brown and Cassiato were the first to take to the shortened track. The veteran pair looked as though they were going to go double clean but the long gallop to the last jump, the Merrill Lynch planks, caused an unfortunate four faults. Stopping the clock in 43.514 the duo ended up second. San Juan Capistrano’s own, Gatlin and Camaron Hills Quick Dollar, were the next to gallop onto the grass for round two. Gatlin zipped around the course stopping the clock in a speedy time of 39.433 but halfway through the ride the horse pulled a shoe, possibly the reason behind the uncharacteristic three rails, resulting in a third place finish. Third to tackle the jump-off was twenty-four-year-old Clarke and McLord’s First John. In addition to accruing twelve jumping faults, the duo also added three time faults to their second round score, exceeding the time allowed of 47 seconds and clocking in at 49.699 for fourth place. Lucky last to go, Hutchison and Cantano expertly, but cautiously, negotiated the course.

Leaving all of the rails in their cups, the winning team stopped the clock in a time of 47.085, exceeding the time allowed by a fraction of a second and consequently, adding one time fault to their otherwise flawless score.

Course designer Fernandez clearly made his second round more technical. As seen by the results, not only did rails fall but two of the four horses exceeded the time allowed in the jump-off where time wasn’t a factor in round one.

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

Sunday, June 27: $30,000 Copa De Amistad Grand Prix at June Classic III
Sunday afternoon turned out to be a day for the ladies in the $30,000 Copa de Amistad Grand Prix presented by EquiFit, inc. The event welcomed twenty-four horse and rider teams onto the Peter Holmes designed course with seven riders, six of them women, earning spots in the jump-off. With two of the seven spots, it was Mandy Porter aboard Wild Turkey Farm’s LaMarque who led the victory gallop.Mandy Porter and LaMarque

Porter also qualified Wild Turkey Farm’s Chesapeake to join Susie Hutchison and El Dorado 29’s Cantano, Leslie Steele and Oh My Goodness (OMG!), Joie Gatlin aboard Camaron Hills Quick Dollar (Camaron Hills Farm, owner), and Lauren Hester riding Cracky Z (Hester Equestrian Inc., owner) in the jump-off. Porter also left all the fences up with LaMarque followed by the only male to go clear, Mike Endicott and Fred Bauer’s Zico 13.

First to negotiate the shortened track were Hutchison and Cantano. The excellently matched pair, winners of the previous week’s $30,000 June Classic Grand Prix, had an uncharacteristic run-out at the second fence. Otherwise neat and clean, the duo clocked in at 53.831, accruing no time faults and ending up fifth. Next in the ring was Porter on her first mount, Chesapeake, who brought down two rails in a time of 38.243 to round out the top six finishers. Oh My Goodness and Steele sailed around the second round course in a time of 42.664 but unfortunately lowered the height of three fences along the way for twelve faults, finishing seventh. The duo of Gatlin and Camaron Hills Quick Dollar turned in a great time of 39.985 but regrettably brushed the top rail of the second to last fence for four faults and a solid third place finish. Twenty-two-year-old Hester and her mount, Cracky Z, finished fourth, lowering one jump in a time of 45.738.

With only two teams left to play in the jump-off, spectators watching from atop the hill and in the Medal Club were hoping to witness a clean trip. LaMarque and Porter delivered. The pair conservatively galloped around the shortened course in a time of 42.153, putting the pressure on the final pair, Endicott and Zico 13. Knowing he had to be fast and clean, Endicott executed a ride without error but came up short of Porter’s time by just two-tenths of a second, ending up with second place honors.

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

Saturday, June 26 – Sunday, June 27: Zone 10 Pony Hunter Finals
On Saturday afternoon, small, medium, and large four-legged competitors twenty-eight in all marched onto the West Grass Field to strut their stuff. Showing began with the conformation portion and was later followed by the handlers tacking up their mounts to earn scores under saddle.
Mitchell Endicott and Strawberry Swirl
Winning in both the small model and under saddle with high scores of 90 in each class was Mitchell Endicott and his mount, Strawberry Swirl (Annalise Gabler, owner). In the medium division, Skylar Nelson and Wild Sky Farm’s Macy Grey also ended up with blue ribbons in the model and under saddle, scoring and 89 and 91 respectively. Wrapping up competition on Saturday, the larges took to the grass with McKenna Skelton and her own Bestseller winning on the line and placing second under saddle for a total first day score of 171. Large pony rider, Grady Lyman and her mount, A Hoof and A Prayer, were not too far behind, going into the second day of competition with a score of 170, the product of a second place finish in the model and a blue in the under saddle phase.

Bright and early Sunday morning all the ponies were invited back onto the grass for the over fences phase. The thirteen entrants in the small division started the day off. Ella Frey and Just Darlun (Diane Sommers, owner), scored the highest in the class, an 83, to take home the blue. Scoring an 82 over fences, Abigail Beck and Telynau Ballerina not only earned second place in the class but Reserve Champion honors. Endicott and Strawberry Swirl scored a 74.5, which placed third in the class and brought an already impressive first day total to 342, securing the pair Champion honors in the division.

The medium ponies were next to show. Seventh to go in the order, long-time pair, Nelson and Macy Grey, earned an 83 over fences, earning a blue in the class but also the tri-color in the division. Adding to his winning morning, Endicott rode the young, Swingtown (Pegasus Show Stable Inc., owner), to a score of 74.5 over fences making the pair’s grand total, 326 for the Reserve Championship. Both second and third place ribbons were awarded to Grady Lyman, the red for her ride aboard Blue Print, and the yellow to her other mount, Steppin’ Out.

The large ponies wrapped up Sunday morning’s competition. Earning 82 for their work over fences, Skelton and Bestseller not only won the over fences portion, but also were named Large Pony Hunter Champions. Coming up only a few points short, Lyman and A Hoof and A Prayer were Reserve Champions. Skylar Nelson and Macy Grey

Once all of the scores were in, sweeping their division with first place finishes in all three classes and a total score of 346, Medium Pony Champions, Nelson and Macy Grey, earned Grand Pony Hunter Champion honors. Having finished Reserve Grand Champion in Zone 10 in 2009, Nelson commented,”I feel accomplished because this was my last year in the ponies. I’ll pass Macy onto my sister Wylie and move onto the jumpers next year.”

Also finishing with a notable total, Endicott and his chestnut mount, Strawberry Swirl, took home Grand Reserve Champion honors. “I don’t get to ride [Strawberry Swirl] much so I think I accomplished a lot today,” noted Endicott. In addition to being proud of his Grand Reserve honors, Endicott was also pleased with the performances of another one of his mounts. “I’m really happy with my green pony, Swingtown, who is only six-years-old.” The young pony ended up Reserve Champion in the medium division.

Cheers to a job well done by all competitors, ponies, trainers and parents!

Saturday, June 26: Softball & BBQ
Great sport didn’t end when the final horse trotted off the course last Saturday. Soon after, three softball games commenced on the East Grass Field. One kids-only game, one pick-up game and the main attraction was the face-off between Team EquiFit, inc. and the Team Huntington Equestrian. Competition was hot and the crowd rowdy – you couldn’t tell that almost every player and fan had already spent a long day at the horse show. After nine innings were complete, Team Huntington Equestrian pulled through for the win and garnered the giant trophy.

To add to the festivities, Bad to the Bone served up delicious barbeque with something for everyone, including cold drinks and tasty desserts.

See some softball photos in the Flying Horse Photo Gallery in this issue, and get ready to get your game on next year…

Saturday, July 3: $25,000 Red, White & Blue Grand Prix culminates week four of June Series 
The $25,000 Red, White & Blue Grand Prix presented by the St. Regis Monarch Beach, invited 19 horse-and-rider duos onto the Michel Vaillancourt designed course at the Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park.
Michelle Parker and Socrates de Midos
Vaillancourt remarked, “I think today’s course dimensions are very worthy of this class. It is definitely a solid 1.50m course. We will have a jump off but not certain how many.”

Two riders maneuvered their mounts to double-clean performances but the win was ultimately decided by fractions of a second, with top honors awarded to Michelle Parker and Socrates de Midos (Cross Creek Farms, Inc., owner).

Parker was the first of the two qualifiers to step back onto the grass to negotiate the jump-off track. Seventh to enter the ring in round one, Josephina Nor-Lantzman and her gelding, Chello Z also went clean in round one and advanced to the jump-off. With 50 seconds allotted for the second round, Parker and her mount went for the clean and conservative ride initially and then picked up the pace at the end in a solid time of 40.947 and clean, presenting Nor-Lantzman with a difficult task. As spectators on all sides of the International Field looked on, it appeared as though Nor-Lantzman was going to answer the call. Despite a fault-free performance, the pair stopped the clock just over Parker’s time in 41.227, forcing them into a well-earned second-place.

“After four weeks of showing the condition of the footing is still good,” commented Vaillancourt. ” The jump material here is great and the condition of the field is wonderful.”

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