MINDEN, NEVADA (July 1, 2001)-Ashlee Bond, 16, of Hidden Hills, California, made her Grand Prix debut today, and won the $50,000 Cosequin® Grand Prix with Lapaloupe, besting a field of 21 horses. Bond also placed second with Pablo. As the owner/rider of both horses, Bond took home $15,000 for first place and $11,000 for second place. Adding to the family's success today, Steve Bond, Ashlee's father, placed sixth on his Fabius, earning $2,500. "The horse Pablo has done the Grand Prix classes before, but never with me," said Ashlee. "I've only been riding him for three months. He was my dad's horse-he gave him to me. The other one, Lapaloupe, is 14, and I've had him for about three years. We never thought he could do the Grand Prix, but I always told my dad that he could. So finally we [said] okay, and he won it. So it feels really good." Doug Russell of Wellington, Florida, was the course designer.
For Round One, Russell set a 13-jump course that included an oxer-vertical double at Fence No. 4 and an oxer-vertical-oxer triple combination at Fence No. 10. Time Allowed was set at 108 seconds. One horse was eliminated on course. Seven horses had clear rounds and qualified for the jump-off. Jenni Martin, who won the $15,000 Open Jumper Prix on Friday, had three horses in the class, Alcatraz 34, Careful, and Da Vinci, but had four faults with each and did not qualify for the Jump-Off. Ashlee was the only rider to go clear with more than one horse. She said she planned a definite strategy when she walked the course with her father and she stuck to it. "Usually it works out great if you follow [your plan]. You're usually clean. There were some places where it was hard to follow the plan exactly, but it worked."
In Round One the triple at 10 tumbled the most, eliminating nine riders from the Jump-Off, but Ashlee said the toughest part of the course for her was going from Fence No. 3 to No. 4. "That was a really tight five [strides] so I was worried. I tried to get in a little easier to the vertical instead of making a big move at the vertical and having 4 down. My horses are pretty good with the triples. They have a lot of scope so I'm not too worried about the oxers coming out of a triple."
Russell's seven-obstacle Jump-Off course asked riders to re-jump Fences 1, 7, 8, 9, 10BC and 13. Time Allowed was set at 51 seconds. The first three riders on course all had clear rounds, each besting the previous rider's time. Carol Wright of Elk Grove, California, was first to go on Ken Williamson's Valkyrie setting the pace with her clear in 44.671, which proved to be good enough for fourth place. Next in the order, Sarah Ballou of Grass Valley, California, on her Spanish Parade shaved seconds off the lead time with her clear in 41.775, for a third place finish. Ashlee was next to go and took the lead with her first trip on Pablo in 41.357.
The next three riders all had faults in the tiebreaker chasing Ashlee's time. Jennifer Rossire of Morgan Hill, California, on John Ducharme's Landaris had four faults in 42.224 for fifth. Ashlee's father, Steve Bond, on Fabius had the unfortunate last rail down in the jump-off, finishing in 45.107 seconds for sixth. Kiera Steele, who won the $5,000 Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Low Classic on Kaptain Hook in this same ring earlier today, lowered two fences on her Kilcullen Diamond for eight faults in 42.955 taking seventh. Last to go was Ashlee again on Lapaloupe who galloped easily around the course clear in 40.621 besting her own time for the win. "I've competed against my dad before and I'm rooting for him. If he wins that's great too," said Ashlee, then laughingly added. "But I guess I was kind of relieved when he had the last rail down because I [thought] 'I have a chance of winning it now'."
Ashlee is a junior in high school and currently trains with Rusty Stewart. Stewart doesn't arrive at HITS Tahoe until next weekend, so Ashlee says she relied on her dad for help today. Steve is a former polo player and trainer. "I've been riding since I was six months old," said Ashlee. "I've been showing since I was about two or three." A few years ago, Ashlee was named Best Child Rider at the Indio Desert Circuit in California six weeks in a row with a different panel of judges each time. She trained with Kost and Jen Karazissis at the time. She said that though this was her first Grand Prix, she wasn't nervous. "I was actually pretty calm. On the first horse my goal was just to go clear and put in a good round for my horse. In the Jump off I just wanted to go around clear. I thought if I win, that's great, but I just wanted to get around clear in my first Grand Prix, just be double clear."
Ashlee has her future planned through 2004-she has her sights set on the Olympic Games. "Right now I'm qualified for Young Riders, so I'm going to finish up the year doing the High Juniors and then next year I'm going to start as a Rookie. I'm looking forward to doing the Grand Prix at Indio next year. My goal is the Olympics and I'm certainly going for the goal. I think Pablo would be an Olympic horse. We're actually working together very well." After high school, Ashlee plans to attend college as a Communications Major, but may not go directly after graduation in 2003. "I might take a year off if the whole Olympic thing works out, but I'm definitely going to college."
Course Designer Doug Russell reviewed today's winner. "She has two very remarkable horses. They happen to be fast-fast across the ground, so I had her pegged to be the winner after seeing who made the jump-off. My second favorite was the Irish horse Miss Ballou rides (Spanish Parade who placed third). He's in the same mode. I wasn't too surprised on the outcome. There are two things that a rider has to be-gutsy and able to go all out for it. Ashlee definitely has both qualities. She might have gone a little too all out for it on Friday (she qualified both horses for the $15,000 Open Jumper Prix jump-off, but had the last rail down with both in the jump-off). But today it paid off. As long as you have those qualities your percentage goes way up."
Regarding the 10ABC Fence that took its toll on the field, Russell said, "The combination was an oxer-vertical-oxer and that is a little bit of a power test. They have to be able to jump a high oxer that's quite wide and land, and be able to get themselves back up for a vertical-which is a bit harder to jump because they have to do a bit more vertical angle to it and then come back out and try the oxer again. A lot of horses tend to land on their forehand which then becomes a problem."
Russell uses the initials "PC" when talking about courses-which stands for Perfect Course-and explained his meaning. "For me a perfect course is when everybody has a very good round. I don't like to see horses scared, and I don't like to see people fall off. My ideal course today would be to have the seven clean but also have no more than eight faults-we had one rider with 12-so we were close. I enjoy seeing horses jump well and not get scared. All in all, I was very, very happy with the course today."
$50,000 Cosequin® Grand Prix, July 1, 2001
HITS Tahoe, Minden, Nevada
Course Designer: Doug Russell
Pl#/Horse/Rider/Owner/Prize Money/Rd 1 Faults/J-O Faults -Time
1/Lapaloupe/Ashlee Bond/Ashlee Bond/$15,000/0/0-40.621
2/Pablo/Ashlee Bond/Ashlee Bond/$11,000/0/0-41.357
3/Spanish Parade/Sarah Ballou/Sarah Ballou/$6,500/0/0-41.775
4/Valkyrie/Carol Wright/Ken Williamson/$4,000/0/0-44.671
5/Landaris/Jennifer Rossire/John Ducharme/0/4-42.224
6/Fabius/Steve Bond/Steve Bond/$2,500/0/4-45.107
7/Kilcullen Diamond/Kiera Steele/Kiera Steele/$2,000/0/8/42.955
8/Da Vinci/Jenni Martin/Jan Handtmann & Holani Farm/4/NA
9/Pirol/Beate Kuska-Shart/Malibu Equestrian Estates Inc/$1,500/4/NA
10/Careless/Jenni Martin/Augustin Walch/$1,000/4/NA
11/Alcatraz 34/Jenni Martin/Augustin Walch/$1,000/4/NA
12/Cassandro/Patrick Seaton/Betty Meyer/$1,000/4/NA
Number of horses who competed in this class: 21
Class Prize Money: $50,000