Twenty seven horse and rider teams tackled Sunday's $35,000 Budweiser Grand Prix course, designed by Manuel Esparza of Mexico City, Mexico in front of delighted crowds. Esparza is a top international course designer whose resume includes his position as an Assistant Designer for the Olympic Games in Atlanta in 1996, Sydney 2000, Athens 2004 and Beijing in 2008.
Andy Kocher of Lake St. Louis, Missouri and his own Heliante were second to go in the class and the first to go clear in a time of 79.627 seconds which was within the time allowed of 80 seconds. Julie Cleveland Beam from Argyle, Texas and Hollow Creek Farm's Reve Du Paradis followed Kocher and turned in a clean first round, but their time of 83.506 would incur four time faults which would see the pair finish in twelfth place overall.
Horse and rider team after another would take the rail down at fence 10. "That skinny was a real killer for all," said Kocher. "The only way to jump it was add, add, add and then go left, then right and surprise them with the jump," he said.
The next to go clean would be Daniel Bedoya of Magnolia, Texas and his own Quattro in a time of 77.351 seconds. With only six remaining in the class, the crowd was insured a jump-off!
The five rides following Bedoya all emerged with jump faults. Matt Cyphert of Northlake, Texas, in the irons of his own Lochinvar, was the last to go clean in the class posting a time of 74.380 seconds.
Esparza set the jump off time to beat at 57 seconds. Kocher and Heliante were the first to go and the pair turned in a clean round in a time of 44.878 seconds, setting the new time to beat.
Bedoya and Quattro followed Kocher, but emerged with twelve jump faults in a time of 42.128 seconds which would see them finish in third place overall.
Cyphert and Lochinvar were last to go and all eyes were on them as they entered the ring. The pair flew through the course but dropped a rail at fence 10 incurring four jump faults in a time of 42.703 seconds, putting them in second place overall, leaving Kocher the victor.
Fourth place was awarded to the fastest four faulter, Holly Shepherd of Grand Bay, Alabama and Loretta Patterson's Triompf. The pair had four faults at fence ten and finished in a time of 73.038 seconds.
Fifth place was awarded to Kocher and Michael Rosenberg's Crown Joker. They incurred four jump faults at fence ten and finished in a time of 75.031 seconds.
Scott Lenkart of Argyle, Texas in the irons of Fleur De Lis Farms' Ziezo finished in sixth place after turning in a four fault round in 76.487 seconds.
Tiffany Cambria of Middleburg, Virginia and Amanda Hood's Vavoom finished in seventh place with four faults and a time of 76.740 seconds.
Eighth place was awarded to Laura Linback of Long Grove, Illinois and Woodrun's HH Dauphin after they posted a first round effort with four faults in 76.759 seconds.
Bon Giorno, owned by Showcase 81 LLC and ridden by Bryn Sadler of Santa Fe, New Mexico placed ninth after turning in a first round effort in 76.792 seconds with four jump faults.
Linback returned for tenth place with Woodrun's Whittaker Mynz. The pair had four jump faults in a time of 77.063 seconds. Eleventh place was awarded to Vinney Boy, owned by Sarah Percy MacMillan and ridden by Lincoln Russell of Columbus, North Carolina.
"It wasn't an easy course, it took me five tries to get it," Kocher commented. Kocher has his sights set on next week's $77,700 Governor's Cup Grand Prix, presented by Beau Rivage. "I sold Tiny Tim the other day and he was my best bullet for the $77,700 Grand Prix next week, so now I am going to practice on the others to see who feels the best and go with 3 or 4 of them," he said. "They will be sharp for sure, so I hope the other riders will be ready!" he laughed.
Holly Shepherd received the Kastel Denmark Jumper Style of Riding Award as the fastest four-faulter in the class.
Budweiser is the Official Beer of the Gulf Coast Winter Classic and a long time sponsor. Budweiser® is an American-style premium lager with a golden color. The King of Beers® has subtle aroma notes of malt and noble hops, along with a trace citrus and fruity notes gives it a crisp, clean taste with a wonderful finish. Anheuser-Busch Wholesalers, together with 12 breweries and a vast network of shippers, provide the most extensive and effective beer distribution system in the brewing industry.
Kastel Denmark is the Official Jacket of the Gulf Coast Winter Classic. Kastel Denmark's new line of soft shell jackets can be seen being worn by Classic Company staff at the in gates. The quality, cut and style of the jackets compliments all body types and is the perfect addition to your riding wardrobe. High quality, functional fashion that performs under saddle and outside the ring.