Christian Heineking (GER) heard the German national anthem for the second weekend in a row as he clinched another win aboard NKH Selena (NKH LLC, owner) in the fast and furious $50,000 LEGIS Grand Prix of Los Angeles (a World Cup Qualifier). “I definitely rode the momentum from last week’s grand prix win,” Christian commented. “It means the world to have back-to-back wins. It proves our consistency and shows that our whole training method is really working.”
Thirty-three horse and rider combinations attempted to go clean on Olaf Petersen Jr.’s (GER) demanding CSI-W standard course. The course certainly proved challenging for many of the riders, with rails falling often at Fence 4, which followed a massive triple bar, as well as in the difficult triple combination. Saer Coulter (USA) earned the first clear of the night on Springtime (Copernicus Stables LLC, owner) early in the order of go. Seven riders followed her lead and set the stage for a thrilling eight way jump off.
First to go in the jump off, Saer threw down the gauntlet and went clean and fast in 40.07 seconds, daring everyone else to catch her time. “I just went out there to do the best I could,” Saer recounted. “I don’t think I could have gone any faster, although that right turn was hard for us so maybe we could have been a little faster on the inside turn.”
She held the lead for three rounds until Christian and NKH Selena entered the ring. “Going into the jump off, obviously going clean was the first priority because of Saer’s round,” Christian recalled. “On top of that, I asked Selena to really go for it and she tried so incredibly hard. We’re a great team and she’s an amazing young horse. Everything worked out as well as it could have.”
Christian’s bold and aggressive riding allowed him to lay down a blazing time of 37.43 seconds. He and Selena flew through the course, taking every turn as tightly as possible, and the crowd roared as Christian galloped all out to the final oxer. It was a tough act to follow, but Alec Lawler (USA) (John Charlebois, trainer) rode his best aboard his Dauphin De Muze, going clean and earning the red ribbon with a time of 39.45 seconds. “I knew I couldn’t have gone any faster. It was Christian’s night and we all knew it. He just flew, and he got us,” Alec commented. “But I couldn’t be happier with my horse. He performed great and I was happy to get second place.”
Saer’s time was good for third, and she was happy to be a part of such an exciting jump off. “I had all the boys behind me, and they went even faster than I did. It was amazing! Alec is one of my best friends, so I’m happy for him,” Saer noted.
For Christian, the trip out from Texas has been more than worth it and he was grateful to have his team with him on the West Coast. “I have an entire team behind me that is so supportive of me, from the owners to the grooms to my family.” Christian mentioned. “I certainly couldn’t do this without them and I’m so grateful for their support.” Christian’s wife, Erin Davis-Heineking, also competed in the grand prix and placed ninth on Alamo (October Hill Hunters and Jumpers, owner).
Place Rider Horse Time Faults
1 Christian Heineking (GER) NKH Selena 37.43 0
2 Alec Lawler (USA) Dauphin de Muze 39.45 0
3 Saer Coulter (USA) Springtime 40.07 0
4 Andres Rodriguez (VEN) MCB Maya 38.30 4
5 Andres Rodriguez (VEN) Caballito 38.74 4
6 Duncan McFarlane (NZL) Mr. Whoopy 41.29 8
7 Nayel Nassar (EGY) Lordan 41.76 8
8 Karl Cook (USA) Jonkheer Z 43.16 8
9 Erin Davis-Heineking (USA) Alamo 82.96 1
10 Jennifer Goddard (USA) Lucky Lord 20 84.17 1
11 Hardin Towell (USA) Man In Black 76.34 4
12 Andrew Ramsey (USA) Adamo Van 'T Steenputje 78.74 4
Though the grand prix riders are usually all business in the ring, they had a chance to have some fun with the western theme of the evening. In the opening ceremonies, each grand prix rider got to gallop around the Equidome on a western horse or pony with western tack, which made for quite an exciting and unique entrance for each rider. Team Golden Girls, the winners of the team portion of the $12,000 West Coast Junior-Amateur Jumper Championship, also joined in the fun and do a victory gallop aboard their own horses.
Team Golden Girls earned their win earlier in the day in the Equidome. The team class of the $12,000 West Coast Junior-Amateur Jumper Championship was run in Nation’s Cup format, where each rider rode two rounds over the same course. The rider with the most faults is dropped from the score for each round, and the team with the least number of faults wins.
The two top teams were Team Golden Girls (Meredith Herman, Chef d’Equipe) and Texas Team McAllister (Steve McAllister, Chef d’Equipe). Though they were behind after the first round, several clears in the second round brought Team Golden Girls into the lead after the last rider of the day, Nicole Peterson (Christian Heineking, trainer), of Texas Team McAllister had an unlucky rail on Einstein (Jorden Appel, owner).
Team Golden Girls, comprising Simonne Berg (Meredith Herman, trainer), Alexandra Worthington (Archie Cox, trainer), Hannah Holik (Randy Henry, trainer), and Caroline Delahanty (Andrea Correll, trainer), were a diverse group that came together for the team competition. “Meredith picked good riders and brought us together,” Simonne explained. Alexandra added, “I didn’t have a team as of yesterday so I joined this one last minute. I’m glad I did because I’ve never done a team competition before so it was a ton of fun.” The four girls are all from different barns, but that didn’t stop them from working well as a team. “It was really fun getting to know each other before the class,” Caroline noted.
Hannah, who competed in the $12,000 West Coast Junior-Amateur Jumper Championships for the second year in a row, started off the first round for her team in style when she and Santiago (Llc. Czech Mate, owner) went clear and well under the time allowed. They went even faster in the second round and still left all the rails in place to help their team to victory. “My horse tends to get charged up and speedy, so I wasn’t worried about the time allowed. I tried not to get too speedy and put in two smooth rounds,” Hannah recalled. “When I came back for the second round, I kicked him up a little to make him pay attention since it was the same course and he knew where he was going. He doesn’t take much time over the jumps, so that helps with the time allowed, and I took some inside turns so we wouldn’t expend too much energy.”
Simonne was particularly proud of her horse Las Vegas Z, who is still a little green in the jumpers. “We just imported him about a month ago from Europe,” Simonne shared. “He’s a bit green so he still doesn’t turn very well. He has a huge step but he doesn’t quite know how to condense his stride now, so we’re working on that. He was a bit green in the first round, which is why we dropped two rails, but he was so much better and jumped clean in the second round.”
Alexandra also praised her horse, Manchester. “We got Manchester two summers ago in Germany and we’ve been a really good match for each other,” Alexandra said. “I wanted to fix my errors in the second round, but I actually ended up making more than I intended. Luckily, Manchester was perfect and jumped amazingly well and went clean.”
Caroline and Conamour (Susan Delahanty, owner) had eight faults in the first round but improved in the second with just four. Although she has competed in similar team competitions before, this was her first time competing in the $12,000 West Coast Junior-Amateur Jumper Championships. “I thought it was a great experience,” she remarked. “It was a collaborative win, which made it fun. The competition was well put together and you could tell the horses had a lot of fun—mine did for sure. The course was challenging; there were some parts where you really had to think and strategize, and we all decided we would go out there and just go all out to try to win. The level of competition was really good. It was really fun and I will definitely do it again next year.”
In the equitation ring, the Onondarka Medal Finals kicked off with the first round. Last to go in the class, Grady Lyman (Michelle Stubbs, trainer) is leading the pack after scoring a 90 on her aptly named Opportunity. Katie Aoki (Jan Hainze, trainer) is close behind after scoring an 87 on Truman. Watch for our coverage of the second round and work off of the Onondarka Medal Finals as well as the individual portion of the $12,000 West Coast Junior-Amateur Jumper Championships and the $3,500 LA National Pony Hunter Derby!
For more information about the LA National Horse Show, including a schedule and complete results as they are available, please visit the LEG website.