Christian Heineking (GER) proved he was the only one who could answer Leopoldo Palacios’ questions in the $41,000 LEG Anniversary Grand Prix at the National Preview (Oct 30-Nov 3)—and he did it twice. Christian started the class with a bang aboard NKH Selena (NKH LLC, owner) and made the course look easy with a clear round within the time allowed. “I honestly just tried to ride my very best and my horses really jumped well,” Christina commented. “I knew the time allowed was probably going to be a little short, but Selena is usually a very careful and fast horse. I can keep her going the whole course and she usually stays within the time allowed.”
Though Christian made it look easy, the course quickly proved to be anything but for the other horse and rider combinations. Riders had to contend with the tight time allowed of 81 seconds, and many of them earned time faults even if they were clear on the course. In order to be within the time allowed, riders had to take tight tracks and make difficult rollbacks. This caused several rails, which fell often in two of the triple combinations and at fence four, which was a liverpool off of a tight rollback.
No one was able to catch Christian, who had the only other zero-fault round on his second mount, River of Dreams (Caroline Jahr, owner). “Selena and River of Dreams are my two top horses right now,” Christian elaborated. “Selena has been very successful all season and I think this was her eighth grand prix win this season. She’s only eight so she’s still a very young horse and I’m very happy to have her.”
Though both horses were eligible for the jump off, Christian decided to rest his horses instead. “We have two more big weeks in front of us and it just wouldn’t be the right thing to run the horses at the end of the day when we didn’t have to,” Christian explained. Christian had the win on NKH Selena and claimed the red ribbon with River of Dreams. Peter Petschenig and his Saint Quentin placed third with two time faults and no jumping faults.
Christian and his wife, Erin Davis-Heineking, brought several of their horses to the West Coast from their barn in Texas. “We came out to do the World Cup Qualifier grands prix at the Los Angeles National Horse Show and the Las Vegas National Horse Show,” Christian shared. “We decided that for coming such a long way, we might as well come out early and do this show as well.” The trip has already been worth the effort with Christian’s one-two finish in the grand prix. He also placed ninth on NKH Barbosa (NKH LLC, owner), and Erin placed seventh on eleven-year-old Alamo (October Hill Hunters and Jumpers), which she has raised since he was six months old.
Though Erin has showed at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center before, it is Christian’s first time. “I’m very happy with the experience. The show staff and management have been taking care of us and we are grateful for the warm welcome,” Christian said. “I’d also like to give a special thank you to my sponsors NKH and the Jahr family. They are both so supportive and I am lucky to have them.”
In the opening ceremonies of the $41,000 LEG Anniversary Grand Prix, the winning team from the West Coast Child-Adult Amateur Jumper Championship Team Competition got to do a special victory gallop around the Equidome to kick off the festivities. The All Stars were this year’s winning team, consisting of barnmates Tessa Dejong aboard Charly B (Allegra Davis, owner) and Alyce Bittar (Rebecca Bruce, trainer) on Beirut B (Georges Bittar, owner) as well as Team McAllister barnmates Stina Van Halen aboard her Kenitra VH and Michaela Wood on her Optimo Santa Rosa.
This was Tessa’s second year winning the team championship, and she was happy to step in when Alyce wanted to form a team. “I had a blast doing it last year, but I wasn’t planning on doing it this year because I’m moving up. But Alyce really wanted to do it and she didn’t have enough people, so I stepped in and we coordinated with the McAllisters to have two of their riders join our team,” Tessa explained.
Team classes are not too common at horse shows, and Alyce was immediately drawn to the championship for that reason. “I’ve done team classes before, and I enjoy the team aspect a lot which is why I wanted to compete in this class,” Alyce said. “I would definitely do it again next year.” Tessa added, “I think it’s a fun event and we don’t get a lot of team classes in the horse show world so it makes it interesting and unique.”
In addition to working together, riders had the additional benefit of riding Leopoldo’s courses. “Leopoldo is amazing. I got to work with him last year at a clinic and he’s just a great course designer,” Tessa said. “The course had just the right amount of challenging elements but at the same time it was extremely doable.”
The All Stars’ Chef d’Equipe was Georges Bittar, Alyce’s father. “It’s easy to work with my dad as my trainer because I’ve been doing it my whole life. I’m used to his strictness in the ring,” Alyce commented. Though he can be strict, Georges is always the one cheering the loudest for his daughter and her barnmates when they go into the show ring. “Georges provides so much expertise and insight and we’re grateful to him and Becca for all of their training,” Tessa shared.
Alyce is just twelve years old but hopes to move up to the 1.20M next year, and Tessa hopes to move up to the High Junior Jumpers. The individual portion of the West Coast Child-Adult Amateur Jumper Championship will conclude on Sunday with members of team All Stars and other junior and amateur riders competing for the individual championship.
The National Preview Horse Show isn’t done yet! Sunday is all about the ponies as Pony Palooza kicks off at the LA Equestrian Center. Stay tuned for our coverage, which includes the LAHJA Pony Medal Finals, $3,500 West Coast Pony Hunter Finals, and $1,000 West Coast Pony Jumper Finals.