Highlights From Summer 2011 Blenheim Series

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

See Junior Hunter Finals Full Press Release…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Full Press Release, photos and results…

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

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

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

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

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

Full Press Release, photos and results…

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

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

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

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

Full Press Release, photos and results…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Full Press Release, photos and results…

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

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

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

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

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

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

Full Press Release, photos and results…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For full results, see Results and Press Sections…

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

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

For full results, see Results and Press Sections…

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

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

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

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

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

For full results, see Results and Press Sections…

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

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

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

Full Press Release, photos and results…

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

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

Conversations With Equestrians: Rich Fellers

By Jackie McFarland

The chance to compete in two internationally acclaimed events in the same year doesn’t come often. Not to mention the even slimmer chance that one horse and rider team could potentially earn their way to BOTH the World Cup and the World Equestrian Games (WEG). However Rich Fellers and Flexible are on that powerful path.

Setting the standards high, Rich started off the World Cup qualifying season in the fall of 2009 with three wins. Well on his way to earning an invite to Geneva for the 2010 FEI World Cup Finals, Rich and the mighty Flexible traveled south from their home in Oregon to Thermal and then east to Wellington to solidify their position not only for the World Cup Finals but for the WEG as well. Leading the North American West Coast League in World Cup Points with one qualifier remaining, Rich and Flexible are Geneva bound in April. Since these two also showed they had what it takes in Wellington, the dynamic duo will also be traveling on one of the three European tours this summer as a potential WEG team candidate. We had a chance to sit down with Rich in Wellington.

EqSol: The decision and plan to qualify for both the World Cup and the WEG?

RF: Originally last summer the main objective for big championship events for the future was the World Cup Finals. We wanted to redeem ourselves after Las Vegas* plus Harry and Mollie Chapman (owners of Flexible) really enjoy the travel, so we set our sights on Geneva and started in with qualifying last fall. Things went well, we ended up with some really good scores. Then in early December George Morris came out for his annual clinic at the farm in Oregon – we had dinner and discussed the possibility of the WEG. He was very positive and supportive of us giving it a go. He felt that the dates of the two events were far enough apart – April for World Cup and October for WEG – that it wasn’t too much for the horse.

So then we just started looking at different options for Florida for the winter. Do we do just the trials or the full circuit? Do we take all the horses or just a couple? Luckily it turned out that almost all of our customers wanted to go to Wellington. We started in Thermal to try and earn some good World Cup scores. The qualifying rules changed this year, a rider can keep up to eight scores, which is more than previous years. We went into the winter season with 72 points and although we had one rail in each qualifier we earned some good points. We were ready to make the trip to WEF for a few weeks. 

*In 2008, Rich was second in the World Cup Finals. In 2009 he went into the final round in the 6th position and ended up with an unfortunate 30 faults, dropping him to 18th.

EqSol: Wellington trials and tribulations. Tell us about the WEG qualifiers from your perspective.

RF: The courses were super. Guilherme did a great job. He tested the horses and the riders equally, both in scope and technical questions asked.

Trial # 1: Thursday, February 25th, 7pm: Clean
Flexible started out great in the first trial on Thursday night by going clear. I thought it was really big, the rest of the riders agreed. It asked quite a few questions – a double oxer combination early in the course as a scope test. You had to be careful at the end of course with a vertical-oxer-vertical triple followed by a steady eight to a Liverpool oxer– big with tight distances, wide oxers and delicate verticals all towards home. That’s Flexible strong point, he’s very careful. We were all surprised that 13 were clear; it’s a testament to the preparation and quality of the horses and riders.

Trial # 2: Saturday, February 27th, 7pm: 16 faults
Saturday night was also a $75,000 Grand Prix. The course was more technical plus the jumps were, again, big and wide. It was an unfortunate night for me. The ONE stride in all five courses that I lost connection with Flexible was three and half strides away from a large triple combination. As we approached it from a left bend I went to make an adjustment to get my distance to A of the triple. He spooked and dodged off to the right. It happened so fast there was no chance for recovery, so I kicked and tried to get through. In the next eight seconds, I accumulated 16 faults. In hindsight I should’ve circled. It was a fluke occurrence, not something I anticipate with him.

Trial # 3: Wednesday, March 3rd, 3pm: Clean
Wednesday on the grass was the most difficult.* To walk into a new venue, jump the 1.60m Grand Prix as your first and only class is both physically and mentally challenging. The strong wind was a distracting factor – the way it makes things move that are usually still, the decorations, palm trees and it adds noise which excites a horse. It’s actually a great test for horse and rider focus. The best horses are very focused on the top rails of the fence and are not easily distracted. I remember walking the course and feeling the pressure of the challenge plus wanting to make a comeback after our 16 fault fluke. It was a very tough course but Flexible was a star. He cantered around like it was easy, very relaxed, and very rideable.

*The trial on Wednesday, March 3rd was held off property on a large grass field called ‘The Stadium’. The wind on that day was quite strong and the air cold. The other four trials were held in the International Arena.

Trial # 4: Friday, March 5th, 2pm: 4 faults
On Friday we were back in the International Arena for the $30,000 1.60m Classic. I actually thought it was the only breather, although not much of one. It required careful rides with a lot of tall verticals – not as hard on the horse as wide oxers but easy to rub. We had a rub on one of those tall verticals.

Trials # 5: Sunday, March 7th, 1pm: 4 faults
I predicted ahead of time and told my wife Shelley that the only scope test left was an oxer-oxer-vertical triple away from home. Sure enough Guilherme built that very test into the tough course for the $150,000 CN Grand Prix. That scope test is always a concern, especially for smaller horses like Flexible. After walking the course a couple of times, I made my plan and told Shelley I had to trust the horse. He was again amazing and skipped through the triple like nothing, not losing an ounce of momentum. I actually thought we were clean, but then didn’t hear a cheer from the crowd. Then I wondered, ‘What came down or was I over the time?’ I thought my pace was good… Turns out he didn’t clear the water, he has always been good about the water, usually stretches out well so it didn’t cross my mind. But that’s the breaks – I was still really happy.

Results after 5 WEG Trials: 24 faults
Overall Position: 12th
Qualified for next step of WEG Team Selection: Yes!

EqSol: Winter Circuits and qualifying complete, now the plan is…
RF: The next phase to the plan is rest, refresh and prepare for World Cup Finals. We’ve been home since mid March and leave a few weeks later for Geneva. The barn isn’t planning to show again until May and then go to Spruce this summer for a few weeks. My son graduates from high school during the National, so we’ll be home for his graduation. As for Flexible, the World Cup Finals is a strenuous championship event plus travel. After that he’ll rest and show a few classes at Spruce Meadows, then head to Europe for the July-August USEF European tour, the CSIO’s in Falsterbo (SWEDEN), Hickstead (ENGLAND) and Dublin (IRELAND). We’ll see how that goes and whether or not we’ll be preparing for the WEG in October.

EqSol: What other horses will go to Europe? 
RF: Hopefully McGuiness. He had an injury that we’ve finally diagnosed and we hope to start him back soon. Or possibly a horse will have to step up like Flexible did when McGuiness and Gyro were both injured. My wonderful wife Shelley told me the other day that she would let me take her fabulous young horse, Revenge, on the tour. He is probably one of the nicest horses we’ve ever owned. Shelley turned pro eighteen months ago when we started the business and shows him in the 1.40m division. She’s really good.

EqSol: Tell us about your barn and the Chapman’s, great supporters of the sport…
RF: We made a transition from being privately sponsored to opening the doors of our business in October of 2008. The Chapman’s, who had both owned the barn and sponsored the horses, decided they wanted to be clients and not barn owners anymore. So they sold the facility in the fall of 2008. Now instead of employing us, the Chapman’s are clients of ours and we run a small show jumping and sales barn.

Everything went very smoothly, although the ownership changed hands we were able to stay at the facility and start our business. It can be a challenging balance – our schedule is different than a lot of the big stables. We pick nice quality shows and rarely do an entire circuit. It was a big decision and expense to come to Wellington. But once the barn decided to come, we didn’t look back.

Harry Chapman was a very good rider, invited by the USET to go east and train with the team. He chose to stay in Oregon for school and a career. The Chapmans, as owners, are like the best horse you’ve ever had. They have stood up to the test of time. Their enthusiasm and support is undying – even when things don’t go well, they always believe.

We are grateful for Rich’s time and tales. We congratulate Flexible, Rich, Shelley, The Chapman’s and wish all the very best of luck on foreign soil – Switzerland, Canada, Sweden, England, Ireland and hopefully back to the US in Lexington.

Guilherme Jorge: Conversations With Course Designers

Watching the horses and riders at the top of our sport master big technical courses is certainly impressive. The course designer plays an integral role in how those classes unfold. Guilherme Jorge masterminded five very different and difficult courses that determined the group of riders heading to Europe on three separate tours. This elite group of fifteen riders is one step closer to representing the US at the 2010 Alltech World Equestrian Games.

EqSol: How did you become a course designer? What is your horse history?
I started riding when I was 10 in my hometown Campinas (Brazil). I competed up to the 1.40m level, but stopped to focus on vet school. I was always interested in course design. By age 17 I started designing at local shows in Brazil. In 1992 I was first invited to design at a small two-day show in my hometown and then in San Paulo. I realized that course designing was a good way to be a part of the sport, so I jumped at the opportunity to work with every course designer that came to Brazil, which at the time was Leopoldo Palacios and Linda Allen.

I finished vet school and practiced from 1992-1998, and designed courses whenever I had the chance. My invitations to course design as well as my interest grew so I decided to focus on it full-time.

EqSol: Your course design mentors?
I was lucky to start quite young and work with a lot of my mentors – Olaf Petersen Sr., Dr. Arno Gego (Aachen School of Course Design), Frank Rothenberger (Aachen), Aki Ylänne (Finland), Leopoldo Palacios (Venezuela) and Linda Allen (US) – on multiple occasions – up to four times with top ones. I was able to take a little bit from each and create my own style.

I worked as an assistant for a lot of great designers – in 1995 I assisted Leopoldo in Argentina at the Pan American Games and then with Linda in Monterrey (Mexico) that same year. I had the honor of assisting Linda again at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. That really opened a lot of doors for me. I met a lot of experienced course designers, which helped me get more opportunities as an assistant, and furthered my career.

Eqsol: Challenges we don’t think about, like your first course design experience in North America…
In 1998 I designed my first CSI-W in North America in Bromont, Quebec. When the plane landed in Montreal I thought to myself, ‘What I’m doing here?’ I knew the metric system. I had no idea about inches. I looked at prize list and saw a class called ‘Modified Jumpers’ and again I was perplexed – Modified from what?

Due to the measuring system differences, setting the jumps was also challenging. The jump holes were set three inches apart and there were pins for the jump cups. These days the European, Latin American and North American systems are much more universal. They follow the FEI rules, use metrics for setting heights and the jump holes are .05m or 5cm (1.96 inches) apart. Makes the playing field at lot more level for all involved.

EqSol: How do you determine difficulty for the field?
To me there are two types of competition – ones that follow a technical standard like a World Cup Qualifier or a WEG trial. In these classes it is not about how many clean, or how exciting your jump off can be. My specific goal as the course designer is to prepare riders for their goal – making it to and being prepared for the finals. The other type of class is one where you can really adapt by height or difficulty according to your field. Then I try to watch the riders through the week and adapt accordingly. The conditions also play a big part, the footing, the jumps – especially the footing.

EqSol: Setting a variety of courses – from a World Cup Qualifier in Los Angeles last fall to WEG trials in Wellington this year…

On setting the WCQ:
GJ:Leopoldo had built most of the World Cup Qualifiers early in the season. He sent me the course from the qualifier in Sacramento, so I knew the riders and that it needed to be tough. The indoor arena at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center is large, but the arena in Geneva where the finals are in April 2010 is also a good size, so that helps. I went on the strong side of the specs and expected three or four to go clean. It is clear that the quality is improving on the west coast, I was pleasantly surprised to have six clean.

Analyzing the WCQ track…
My first goal is safety and to ask exactly what needs to be asked of the horses. They have a busy calendar, so I don’t want to build a course that is too demanding, which means a course that is nice enough to get around but not easy to jump clear. I like to connect one jump to another – even if it isn’t a straight line – in an indoor that makes all distances related. Riders at this level ride a track, not jump to jump. For me it is a good result when the faults are spread around the course, not just at one or two jumps.

Time allowed as a factor…
I don’t always go with super tight time allowed. I think the horses jump better when they have the time. I try to make other elements create a challenge. This is always a debate with Leopoldo, who has been my technical delegate in the past. I try to be open also to the riders’ opinions, they are the ones being tested.

On designing all five of the WEG trials:
I was very honored to design for the US WEG trials. For me I compare it to being invited for something very important for my own country – like being invited to be part of the soccer team for Brazil. It was a big responsibility to set five courses to test essentially the same group of riders over a two-week period.

Analyzing the tracks…
We could go into a lot of detail here, as Jorge set some fabulous courses that tested scope, rideability, distance, adaptability and connection over five very different yet challenging tracks. Each trial asked solid questions, with the toughest and biggest questions coming at the end.

Canadian course designer Dave Ballard analyzed each and every track on PhelpsSports.com. If you are a member, search for “Course Discourse – Sunday’s $150,000 CN US Open and USEF WEG Selection Trial #5.” All five trials are discoursed, from the bottom up, including fabulous jump photos and course descriptions. If you are not a member, these among other pieces are well worth the investment.

George Morris sat with Guilherme at his ‘office’ inside the International Club several times throughout the two weeks. And what did George have to say? ‘A+ job’ followed by a big thumbs up motion. Now that is a seal of approval!

EqSol: And your future?
This year I will be at Spruce Meadows for the North American CSI 5* and a few other shows. More shows here in the US, including Blenheim in the spring and fall, Saugerties and Horse Shows by the Bay in the summer and the Hampton Classic. Also I have the honor of being Conrad Homfeld’s assistant at the WEG. Then London for the CSI 5* at the Olympia Horse Show in December 2010.

In the big picture I am starting to manage horse shows close to home. There is a beautiful international-class facility called Helvetia Riding Center under construction in the city of Indaiatuba, which is about 30 minutes from home and 50 minutes from São Paulo. The idea is to make horse show management a part of my business, so I reduce my travel to maybe 17 weeks per year as opposed to my current 30 weeks. Then I will be able to spend time more time at home with my daughter Marina, who is six-years-old now. I love my job and love the shows but the travel is really hard.

Of course one of my biggest career goals now is to be chosen to design for the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

I have to say I love the horses and the riders, and I am addicted to the sport. When I was invited to be the Course Designer for the World Cup Finals in 2005, I told Robert Ridland that this opportunity was beyond my wildest dreams, I was so honored. To be at the top of a sport that I love is fascinating. It never ceases to amaze me to be a part of these top quality events.

As always we find it fascinating to talk with the people behind the course designs. Thank you so much Guilherme, we look forward to seeing you down the road, and hope to interview you from Rio in 2016!

EquestriSol News: July 31, 2008

Congratulations to our west coast riders on their victories abroad – performing well on the Super League Tour, Will Simpson and El Campeon’s Carlsson Vom Dach are gearing up for the Olympic Games; winning in Monaco on Cristallo and Pako, Richard Spooner and his horses are going strong on the Global Champions Tour; after a fabulous World Cup this spring, Rich Fellers and Flexible were the only clear in the $60,000 Investors Cup at Spruce. Joie Gatlin & Morley Abey have opened up a second location in Calgary.

With Medal Finals and World Cup Qualifiers around the corner, we’ll have plenty going on here at home and will keep an eye out for our west coast medal final contenders on the east coast…

We are proud to announce the launch of the new Pegasus Show Stable website:


Look for the launch of up to ten more websites currently in development, as well as a host of ads in your favorite equestrian publications.

We are having fun developing new ad campaigns for Freelance Show JumpingCam & Becky Smith, Blenheim EquiSports and Blue Ribbon Law.

Meanwhile, Chloe is almost 18 months old. Where does the time go?