The second week of hunter/jumper action galloped into the Horse Park at Woodside for the Woodside Spring Classic (May 5-8). The competitors who showed both weeks had the chance to settle into the location and up their game, and their hard work paid off in the form of blue ribbons and prize money.
Guilherme Jorge of Brazil journeyed from the World Cup Finals in Liepzig, Germany to Woodside to design the courses for the Spring Classic. "This is my second time here and it is even better than two years ago," he reported. "The horses are jumping great out of the new footing."
Despite lighter jumper attendance compared to the week before, Guilherme kept asking challenging questions of the horses and riders. In the $10,000 Woodside Jumper Classic, the script was a repeat of the previous week. The riders couldn't quite answer all of the questions Guilherme posed until Jeff Fields and Taco (Katrina Montinola, owner) stepped into the ring and put in the only clear round for the win.
"It was my first time winning a big money class like that," Jeff said. "It was very exciting. I was fifth to go, and I was the only clear round. Taco tried his heart out, although the course was trickier than the week before." The rollback to the water, followed by the S turn to the LEG vertical and then the big wall caused difficulties for several people. However, Jeff and the 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood tackled the course with confidence and left every rail in place.
"This was our first show together, so my plan was just to do the 1.30M classes. We did the 1.30M Jumpers the first week and he was pretty confident and comfortable, so I tried the $2,500 Open Welcome Stake. He was very good and the height was not a problem, so it was a good confidence builder even though we had a rail. We got better and better with each class during the two weeks, and finally today we put it all together and put in a clear round." Haley Roberson was second in the class aboard Chantre' (Equinity, LLC, owner), and Lindsay Ramar followed in third with her Dance and Jump.
With Jenni Martin-McAllister winning the $10,000 Jumper Classic the first week and Jeff Fields taking the win the second week, both riders are now in the running for the $25,000 LEGIS Jumper Rider Bonus. If either of them wins another designated jumper classic or grand prix in the Woodside series, they will win a bonus check for $2,500, and their bonus will increase with each subsequent win.
The $2,500 USHJA National 3' Hunter Classic proved to be another exciting class, with Diane Yeager piloting Regal (Susan Dorsey, owner) to the win, edging out Hugh C. Mutch and Lacorado L (Laura Owens, owner) by just one point. "Hugh was fantastic," Diane commented. "I haven't seen him ride in years, and he was a master. I took three of the four higher option fences to stay on top." She also took three of the options on her second horse, Absolute Gold (GW Farm/Twinkle Gorman, owner), a horse she described as "uber brave", and finished third on him. "I took the risk, and it turned out right," she added.
As for the class and the course, Diane couldn't have been happier with how it was presented. "I have to give big kudos to the course designer. He gave us some good challenges and several options for more points, which levels the playing field. You could be conservative, or you could take the risk and take the higher fences. It's a great class and a crowd pleaser, and it's nice to have amateurs and professionals all out there together."
To showcase the class, Course Designer Brian Post had horses starting in Hunter 2, jumping into Hunter 3 and doing more course, and then jumping back into Hunter 2 to finish. Riders loved the long, fun track in the first round, and the challenges and options in the second round.
Diane also rode Diamond River (Sue Sadlier, owner) to wins in all of his classes and the championship in the Green/Regular Conformation Hunters. Owner Sue took over the reins and moved up to the Amateur Owner and Modified Amateur Hunter classes after competing in the Low Amateur Owner Hunters the week before, and the pair won the tri-color in the Modified Amateur Hunter section. In the Amateur Owner Hunters 18 & Over, Sue took the top spots in several of her classes and won the championship with Double Eagle and reserve with Diamond River.
"It was really exciting because it was Diamond River's second time at 3'6", Sue recalled. "It's nice when we have two weeks in a row so the rider and the horse can make progress over the course of the two shows. For me, as a rider moving up on a green horse, it made me more confident having the first week to get settled into the courses and venue and build on that in the second week. As for Double Eagle, I've had him since he was four, so this was our sixth season together. He continues to be my rock."
In the equitation ring, Sue and Double Eagle won the Foxfield Medal and PCHA Adult Victor Hugo-Vidal Medal, plus they won the Carousel Junior/Amateur Medal the first week. "Fortunately, the Woodside shows offer full array of medals to compete in, so I was able to compete in multiple medal classes. The good thing is that after winning these three and qualifying for them, I can focus on the others and do the derby without having to do too many classes. It was nice to knock these off my list so early in the season."
With the success of Diane's students over the course of the two weeks, she has taken an early lead in the race for a stay at the beautiful Marriott Ocean Resort in Maui, courtesy of LEG's Maui Trainer Incentive.
Mariano and Nina Alario's Estancia provided the afternoon hospitality during the two Woodside Spring Shows. "We've always told Linda (Show Secretary) that we would love to sponsor something to support the shows and any improvements. Every time we come here there are improvements," noted Nina. "We went home between the two shows and came back and Hunter 3 was enlarged. I love that ring now." Mariano added, "The shows are convenient and close to home." Mariano had great praise for the new footing in the Grand Prix ring. "The show always made it work, but now the footing is awesome. The horses are jumping well." Mariano also appreciated the world class course designers. "We don't normally see that kind of course designing in Northern California, and we had two weeks of some of the best."
During the running of the Kentucky Derby, a party of the show's attendees donned their favorite hats in true derby fashion and gathered in the hospitality tent to enjoy some afternoon snacks while they watched the Run for the Roses on the big screen television. The next best thing to being at the race in person!
With new footing and all the exciting classes, the Woodside show season is shaping up to be a great one. There are still plenty of chances left to get in on the run for Maui or earn a check in the $25,000 LEGIS Jumper Rider Bonus.
For more information on the Woodside Spring Classic, including complete results, visit http://langershows.com/woodside/show_details.php?show_id=207.
The jumping excitement will continue in Woodside during the summer circuit, starting with the Woodside Circuit Opener June 22-26. Meanwhile, the Colorado show season is just getting started with the High Prairie Spring Preview May 12-15. In Southern California, exhibitors will try out the new schedule at Verdugo Hills 4 May 14-15, and Gold Coast 3 will run May 20-22.
Photos: Lindsay Ramar and Dance and Jump take the lead in the $2,500 Open Welcome Stake, Photo: Sheri Scott; Diane Yeager tops the $2,500 USHJA National 3' Hunter Classic, Photo: Sheri Scott; Kentucky Derby-style fun, Leg Up News File Photo