Parker, CO - The $30,000 Front Range Kubota Grand Prix was the highlight of the day in the Kathy and Brad Coors Family Grand Prix Arena during Week IV of Summer in the Rockies at the Colorado Horse Park. A crowd gathered on the grass to watch great show jumping action. The course was designed by one of the sport's best, Olympic veteran Buddy Brown of Livermore, CA.
"I'm hoping for six to eight clear," said Brown about the course. "It's more challenging, it's more technical with tighter turns and a tighter time allowed. It's going to be tough to be clean. I am forcing them to do some riding. I gave them a little more room to get to the jumps. It's bigger, but the bigger jumps are easier to get to. I stuffed the jumps into the corners to make them ride the tracks a little straighter."
Thirty horse and rider combinations tried heir hand at Brown's course. The second rider on course, Christian Heineking who hails from Fort Worth, TX by way of Germany and NKH Quanto produced the first clear round.
"The distances between the jumps were really fair and good but he (Brown) put them very far in the corners with tight turns," Heineking said.
Seven rounds later, Kristen Bloomstrom from Southlake, TX and Farfetched Farms' Zeros were fault-free. Then, Justin Resnik of Glendale, CA and Carismo Z, owned by AMA Marketing and Management left all the rails in the cups for a third clean round.
After a water and drag break, Christian Heineking rode his second horse, October Hill's Cluny to a second clear effort, also advancing to the jump-off round, followed by a flawless round from Armando Hassey from Parker, CO and Taggert Enterprise's Eminem.
Last to go, Brandon Howard from Flower Mound, TX and MTM Balvino completed the jump-off bound group, making it an even six. Brown had achieved his goal.
"It was very difficult to get your horse's eye on the jump," said Howard. "I had a little trouble to 7A, I got a little long to it and my horse landed shallow and kind of sucked back, I actually had to touch him with the crop out of the oxer (7B), then he kind of shied in the line and freaked out and threw his head and jumped left. "I had to pull him back in to jump the Animo jump. It kind of worked out well for me because he has such a big step and it kind of made it ride a little easier."
The jump-off round required the horses and riders to land from jump 2, the Upper Echelon Academy Jump and do a roll-back right to a huge, gray oxer.
"The first horse is a very young horse. He is still a little bit inexperienced over the big jumps," said Heineking of NKH Quanto. 'I slipped a bit after the yellow one (fence 2) and didn't find the best distance to the third jump, then the seven stride got a little away from me. That's why I had that little complication there."
Heineking and NKH Quanto accummulated 16 faults, landing the duo in fifth place. Bloomstrom and Zeros had two rails, placing them in third.
When Heineking returned for his second jump-off round with October Hill's Cluny, they delivered what would stand as the only double clear round of the event, earning the pair the victory gallop.
"On the second horse, I just wanted to make sure that I went clean," said Heineking. "This is a pretty new horse for me. I have only had him for six to eight weeks. So we're still trying to figure each other out."
Resnik and Carizmo Z had an unfortunate refusal and a fall at the last fence. Hassey and Eminem had two rails placing the pair in fourth.
Howard and MTM Balvino returned for the short track leaving all but one up, earning the 17 year-old second place honors.
"I landed after fence 2 and kept my leg on because I know he slows down in the corners a little bit," Howard said. "I squeezed my spur and got him a little energized and luckily when I got around the corner I saw a nice ride up to it. I was able to canter down in the seven and even slow down in the seven. I ended up having a rail there- it was somewhat rider error and somewhat horse error. He's only 7 and a half."
Howard, who trains with Matt Cyphert has had "Vinnie" for about a year and a half.
"We bought him from Mike McCormack in Texas," he said. I fell in love with him. But he was a baby and needed help turning. Matt has helped me a lot."
Heineking and Erin Davis Heineking were married last year and are expecting a baby in 10 weeks. They are integral staff along with Wendy Davis Gerrish at October Hill Farm in Hudson Oaks, TX.
The $30,000 Grand Prix sponsor Front Range Kubota was thrilled with the outcome of their sponsorship.
"It exceeded our expectations," said Steve Schulte, Kubota Regional Sales Manager. "I didn't know that we'd get this much exposure. I hadn't anticipated that. It's going to be a good thing for us it gives us a lot of visibility and we'll get some business out of it. We'll be back next year."
- October Hill's Cluny, October Hill Hunters and Jumpers, Christian Heineking
- MTM Balvino, Brandon Howard, Brandon Howard
- Zeros, Farfetched Farm, Kristen Blomstrom
- Eminem, Taggert Enterprises LLC, Armando Hassey
- Nkh Quanto, NKH LLC, Christian Heineking
- Carismo Z, AMA Marketing & Mgmt Inc, Justin Resnik
- Chianto, Forest View Farm, John Pearce
- Yolo, Hays Investment Corp., Hunter Holloway
- Johnny B Good, Forest View Farm, John Pearce
- Ziedento, St. Bride's Farm, Susan Hutchison
- Lochinvar, Matt Cyphert, Matt Cyphert
- Any Given Sunday, Hays Investment Corp., Brandie Holloway