Conyers, GA - The summer season arrived early with plenty of sunshine and blue skies to kick off two weeks of heated competition at the Georgia International Horse Park. “This has been some start up week-great weather, exciting competition, and new class debuts!” Bob Bell, president of the Classic Company said.
Week one was designated a WCHR (World Championship Hunter Rider) event and as such hosted both the USHJA National Classic Hunter Derby and the $10,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby on Friday. With a morning start time of 10 o’clock the National Classic began a day of premium hunters, showcasing 35 entries before a panel of esteemed judges that included Sue Ashe, Chris Wayne, Scott Fitton and Linda Kanatazar. Triple Creek Farm’s Snowday ridden by Lindsey Chestnut trotted away with top honors.
Friday evening spotlighted the $10,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby presented by The Classic Company. A cheering crowd lined the former Olympic arena to support their favorite among the 23 entered for the initial round. Allen Rheinheimer and Joe Carnicom teamed up to create a visually stunning and equally challenging course.
Bob Bell commented of the course, “It’s a great layout. Their positioning of the jumps to utilize the bank, the choice of options throughout the vast arena could not have been more perfect.” Two panels of judges consisting of Sue Ashe, Scott Fitton, Linda Kanatazar, and Chris Wayne, were tasked with selecting only 12 to return for the deciding round. Competitors chose to compete on the 3’6” or 4’ heights and had optional fence choices to select for bonus points. Bonus points could also be awarded for a pair’s handiness on course.
16 year-old Hasbrouck Donovan of Florida set the tone in round one with Donald Stewart’s entry Wagner scoring a 180 to claim the early lead. Camden, SC resident Elizabeth Boyd and Brunello, the 12 year-old Hanoverian gelding owned by Boyd and Janet Peterson, picked up bonus points with their uphill canter to the top of the bank for a flawless execution over the two tall vertical fences and back into a smooth transition down hill, giving them a 177 round one score. This tight race continued into the second round, but the night would belong to Elizabeth “Liza” Boyd and both her winning mounts Brunello and second place finisher Castello, the 12 year-old Holsteiner gelding owned by Roger Smith. “They [Rheinheimer and Carnicom] made us work! It was hard, both rounds were hard.” Boyd added a light humored confession, “They [Brunello and Castello] were good the first round, but we weren’t quite in sync, but they came back in the second round and I woke up-they woke up and we all got together to pull it off. But those kids make you work, Hasbrouck [Donovan] and Chase [Boggio] with their equitation and tight turns!”
The final round for the 12 top horses was geared towards being handy. “The Handy was a bit of a risk, that option across the bank was a really big solid Birch vertical with not much ground line up that hump and then to come down it. It ended up being 8 strides, but it got a little long, it was a case of stay behind him and hope for the best. It was a little bit of a risk, but to go around [the bank] I thought was a little boring and I felt they were really looking for you to take the shot.” Boyd said. Hoping that the 4’ options would aid the duo, Boyd waited in the wings for 10 others to precede them and knowing that young Hasbrouck Donovan would follow her. Both her partners rose to the challenge to seal Boyd’s victory in the top spots with second round scores of 199 for Castello and 202 for Brunello.
Official results for the $10,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby:
- 1st Brunello with Elizabeth Boyd for owners Janet Peterson & Liza Boyd
- 2nd Castello with Elizabeth Boyd for owner Roger Smith
- 3rd Wagner with Hasbrouck Donovan for owner Donald Stewart
- 4th Alamo with Chasen Boggio for owner Alexa Boggio
- 5th North C with owner-rider Jamie Steinhaus
- 6th Figaro with owner-rider Catherine Billings
- 7th Water Music with Lauren Kissel for owner Janet Salem
- 8th O.C. with Kaitlin Porath for owner Meadow Hill Stables
- 9th Reveille with Molly Sewell for owner Porter Allen
- 10th High Class with Megan Edrick for owner Ri Arm Farm
- 11th Hanover on the Rocks with Kelli Sherrill for owner Heather Ray
- 12th One Way Ticket with Ashton Belcher for owner Amanda Bartling
Also featured this week in the hunter arena was the Atlanta Cup Pony Equitation Championship. Last year’s winner Paige Parker had the honor of presenting the 2010 Silver Cup to Quinn Larimer partnered with her medium pony Brownland’s Miss Sissy.
Debuting at the Atlanta Summer Classics were two new events for the Children’s and Adult, and Junior Amateur Owner Jumpers. Both events are modeled on the World Cup format with a modified three class section transpiring over the course of the weekend. The American Cup (Junior/Amateur Owners) was won by Mackenzie Ryan aboard Gun Du Desfi. The Classic Cup (Children’s Adult) winner was Lynn Seithel and partner Rapunzel. “These modified formats give our riders a real taste of what riding in an FEI event is like. Providing them with more challenge and a new level of competition.” Bob Bell said.
And capping off a week of exciting action in the rings was Saturday evening’s Brookledge $25,000 Grand Prix showcasing the best of show jumping talents. Starting the evening were 21 horses eager to take on the Michel Vaillancourt layout. When the dust settled at the end of the night it was owner-rider David Jennings of Shaker Heights, OH and his 11 year-old Dutch Warmblood, Marcus Aurelius who would celebrate victory.
Veteran rider Ian Silitch of Ocala, FL was the first clear ride aboard the Spencer Ranch entry Rivano with a time of 81.005, two horses later it was fellow Floridian Derek Petersen aboard Eli who assured a second round with a clean time of 79.829. The dynamic duo of Jennings and Marcus went 8th in the order, but easily beat the 84-second allowance in the first curvy 16 obstacle round with a clear time of 82.639. “He [Marcus] was very good. It’s his second grand prix back. He’s had about three months off, I gave him some time off after HITS Ocala. He jumped really well there -I was leading East Coast rider and we qualified for the upcoming million dollar class.” a very happy Jennings added, “He’s always been in steady work even when he had a little vacation time before he started back. He’s a great adapter and felt great out there. Coming back after the first round he still felt like he had plenty of jump and plenty of breath for the jump off.” Asked his thoughts on the course Jennings said, “It was a great course. I love jumping Michel’s courses, he doesn’t make it too complicated, he makes it a very inviting class for everybody from the young horses to the young riders.”
Only 5 other horses joined Marcus Aurelius in the final 50 second limited round. “It was nice, though it did make people turn a bit. It’s nice to have a course designer make a long run to the last jump to get the crowd into it, because this is a spectator sport! And we’d like to have more courses like that.” a smiling Jennings said and then confirmed the pair will return next week in the hopes of a repeat performance.
Top Five final results for the $25,000 Brookledge Prix were:
- 1st Marcus Aurelius with rider-owner David Jennings
- 2nd Rivano with rider Ian Silitch for owner Spencer Ranch
- 3rd Lazaro with rider-owner Angel Jordan Coyne
- 4th Eli with rider-owner Derek Petersen
- 5th Hennessey with rider-owner Chasen Boggio
The Atlanta Summer Classics continue through June 27th with showing taking place Wednesday through Sunday. Classes begin daily at 8am until approximately 4:30pm and the public is invited. Admission is free and this Saturday evening will host the debut of the Musical Open Freestyle Equitation Classic and on Sunday afternoon at 2PM the exciting $25,000 Outback Steakhouse Grand Prix jumper classic at 6pm. For more information or results on the Summer Classics visit www.classiccompany.com or call the show office at 770-602-2510.
Photos: Liza Boyd & Brunello; David Jennings & Marcus Aurelius ©Flashpoint Photography