Gulfport, Mississippi - Twenty two horse and rider teams tackled yesterday's $35,000 Cedar Street Advisors Grand Prix course, designed by Pan American Course Designer, Michel Vaillancort of Tryon, North Carolina to the delight of the crowd under beautiful sunny skies at the Harrison County Equestrian Center.
Only six of the competitors would go clean and return for the jump off. "I saw the horses go over the 1.40m earlier in the week and it gave me an opinion of what their strengths were. From my point of view, with six clear rounds out of a 22 starter, the course worked out really well," said Vaillancort.
Kyle Timm of Apex, North Carolina and Platinum, owned by Apex Equestrian Center was the first horse to go in the jump off. Vaillancort set the time to beat at 48 seconds. Although the pair would finish in 41.108 seconds, a heartbreak rail at the final fence would cost them four faults although the pair remained in the lead as the first to go and fastest four fault round.
Bryn Sandler of Santa Fe, New Mexico and Showcase 81, LLC's Bon Giorno were next to go. Sandler and Bon Giorno had a rail down at the second to last fence in a time of 41.657 seconds and took second position behind Timm and Platinum.
Laura Linback of Mundelein, Illinois followed Sandler with Woodrun's Whittaker Mynz. The team had a rail at the first fence of the jump off but would finish as the fastest four faulter at this stage in the game in a time of 38.495 seconds, taking the lead.
Brooke Kemper of Culpeper, Virginia and her own Classified were next to go and had a rail at the combination in a time of 39.946 seconds, which put them behind Linback with two more rides to go.
Timm returned, this time in the irons of Apex Equestrian Center's Calida 55. A rail at the third fence in a time of 40.257 seconds put them in the third place position, with one left to go.
All eyes were on Sandler when she galloped onto the Grand Prix field aboard Mullentine Imperial. "I just got this horse in November and this was the first grand prix that she and I have done together," commented Sandler, "so I was relatively nervous going in," she said. "We just started showing about six weeks ago and this was our first week on turf," she said.
Every rail stayed intact as Mullentine Imperial and Sandler cleared each obstacle. As they flew over the final Cedar Street Advisors oxer, the crowd cheered as she crossed the timers, no rails down in a time of 48.113 seconds with only one time fault, winning the class. Linback and Whittaker Mynz would finish second as the fastest four fault round while Kemper and Classified took third place overall. Timm and Calida 55 and Platinum finished in fourth and fifth places, respectively and Sadler returned for the sixth place ribbon on her second mount, Bon Giorno.
Seventh place went to Andrew Kocher of Lake St. Louis, Missouri in the irons of Michael Rosenburg's Crown Jewel after turning in a four fault first round with a time of 76.237 seconds. Eighth place was awarded to Penny Brennan of Ocala, Florida and her own Sun Tzu; the pair had four jump faults in a time of 77.647 seconds.
Holly Shepherd of Grand Bay, Alabama and Loretta Patterson's Triompf placed ninth, Scott Lenkart of Argyle, Texas and Fleur De Lis Farms's Ziezo finished tenth, Julie Cleveland Beam of Argyle, Texas and Hollow Creek Farm's Reve Du Paradis finished in the eleventh position and Jason Berry of Veron, Virginia in the irons of Oak Ledge Farm's Egano Van Kadal would wrap the class up with a twelfth place finish. For more results, click here.
Sadler commented, "The course was pretty difficult and there were a couple of places where you had to be patient in some spots and not rush through the jumps but in other spots, you had to make sure you covered the oxer and not have the back rail down," she said. "There really were no traps, and it wasn't a scary course but it was enough that people would have rails and enough would come back for the jump off," she added.
"Mia [Mullentine Imperial] has a huge heart and she is so trusting. If I tell her she can do it, she believes me. Anything I asked her to do, she was prepared to do it. And, it was just really such a pleasure to rider her and I am so glad we came here!" Sandler said.
"She [Mullentine Imperial] really stepped up today and she was really relaxed about it. The footing was phenomenal! We didn't slip, and we had plenty of power to push off. We've always really liked Gulfport because this field is so big and it's great for horses to move up on," she added. "We'll be here for the next few weeks," she added.
Vaillancort commented, "A lot of horses had only one fence down and that to me is good. I could still have had 6 clear with a lot of horses with 12 faults and that wouldn't be good. Every fence on the course came down, except for the first fence and that is very good. It means the course was well balanced and it tested the horses and riders in different areas, tested their weaknesses and strengths depending on how good they are at certain things and at the end, the whole scenario played out well," he said.