San Juan Capistrano, CA - On a pretty Southern California afternoon, thirty-eight entries rode the track set by FEI course designer Anderson Lima in the $25,000 Markel Insurance 1.40m Grand Prix. With nine clean, fourth to go in the jump-off, Chris Pratt aboard Epic Group LLC's Concorde, couldn't be beat.
Lima (BRA) had two goals with the 1.40m track he set today - one to challenge the open riders in the class and the second to test the Young Riders vying for valuable points in the NAJYRC Trials. This included an open water, which proved a trouble spot for several entries. The vertical at fence 1 came down a surprising four times, the oxer at fence 6, coming into the water at 7, caused four faults for eight entries and the rail on top of the vertical at fence 10 came out of the cups ten times as horses would get in too deep.
Lima coined the challenges on course perfectly when he said, "It is more delicate than strong."
Returning first in the nine horse jump-off was Sophia Mossman on Carre, who had two down for eight faults. Eight was also the score for next in Michelle Parker riding Cross Creek Farm's Socrates de Midos. Often clean and fast, Susie Hutchison and Brisbane had a disappointing rail towards the end of the jump-off for four faults.
Fourth to go and first to ride double clean were Pratt and Concorde. The big-strided and scopey chestnut galloped a tidy track, leaving out strides where they could, stopping the clock in 39.21.
With five rides left to compete, none could top Pratt and Concorde's effort. Two more finished double clean, Harley Brown and Apex (Emma Reichow, owner) had time of 41.56 with no faults, ultimately second. And last to go, Young Rider Hannah Heidegger on Monarch International's Rodster D'Amaury, were double clean in 45.85 for a third place finish.
Pratt explained his strategy for the nine-year-old Dutch gelding, "I pushed him to go forward, he's going to need to do that to be competitive in the bigger classes."
With plans to compete in the grand prix classes this week and next at Blenheim June Classic I and II, the team heads to Spruce Meadows for two weeks before coming home to compete at Showpark in July and August.
"I'm just getting organized at my new facility in Rancho Santa Fe, so that will keep me close to home for the fall." Pratt recently moved his Epic Stables down south to the beautifully renovated Edal Ranch, which he feels will be one of the nicest training facilities around once complete in the next few months.
The host of showcase events continue during the first week of the June Series. Tomorrow thirty top hunters will compete in the WCHR West Coast Hunter Spectacular on the Oaks International Grand Prix Field. SmartPak Grand Champions and High Score Awards will be presented to wrap up Blenheim's final World Champion Hunter Rider week on Sunday.
The jumper highlights include an Interactive Mortgage Futurity qualifier tomorrow, the final NAJYRC trials, the $30,000 June Classic I Grand Prix, presented by SmartPak, plus a special induction Show Jumping Hall of Fame ceremony for Susan Hutchison all happening on Sunday, June 12th.
$25,000 Markel Insurance 1.40M Grand Prix
1. 641 - Concorde - Chris Pratt - Epic Group, LLC - 0/0/39.21
2. 137 - Apex - Harley Brown - Emma Reichow - 0/0/41.56
3. 469 - Rodster D'Amaury - Hannah Heidegger - Monarch International - 0/0/45.85
4. 209 - Brisbane - Susan Hutchison - Barbara Phillips - 0/4/38.39
5. 314 - Clockwise of Greenhill Z - Uma O'Neill - Uma O'Neill - 0/4/42.43
6. 169 - Wolf S - Sydney Callaway - Callaway Stables, LLC - 0/4/43.10
7. 262 - Socrates De Midos - Michelle Parker - Cross Creek Farms, Inc. - 0/8/39.47
8. 726 - Lorenzo-T - Carly Ramsey - Carly Ramsey - 0/8/40.30
9. 571 - Carre - Sophia Mossman - Sophia Mossman - 0/8/44.12
10. 545 - Chantico - John Pearce - Karen Ball - 4/82.98
11. 513 - Carinjon - Lane Clarke - Georgy Maskrey-Segesman - 4/86.02
12. 375 - Classe VDL - Peter Petschenig - World Class Show Jumpers, LLC - 4/86.22