Wayne, IL - July 24, 2013 - It could not have been a more perfect day at the Lamplight Equestrian Center as riders were welcomed to the first day of Equifest I. There was not a cloud in the sky as the courses were set for the opening day of jumper competition, as top contenders gathered at the Grand Prix Ring for a day of enticing show jumping. It was David Dorner who stole the spotlight in the arena today, riding to the victory in both the $5,000 1.40m Jumpers and the $500 1.20m Jumpers. Brittini Raflowitz rode to the top of the leader board in the $500 1.25m Jumpers, proving that a new venue was no diversion for neither she nor her careful mounts.
Manuel Esparza of Mexico designed all of the jumper courses in today's Grand Prix Ring. He created a course with 13 efforts, testing horse and rider alike over 11 daunting obstacles. His course was filled with a serpentine pattern of tight turns, rollbacks, an oxer-vertical double combination, vertical-oxer double combination, a liver pool, and a tight time allowed.
It was the first rider of the $5,000 1.40m Jumpers, David Dorner who took to the challenge first, aboard Clyde 9, owned by Black Dog Enterprises of Marion, IN. Dorner took an easy pace through the opening round, and found no fault as he completed the track in 67.209 seconds, well within the time allowed of 76 seconds. He continued immediately into the jump-off where Esparaza tested each pair with six obstacles to be completed in a mere 47 seconds.
Dorner picked up a quick pace from the beginning, taking the opening vertical and bending to the consecutive oxer. He made an inside left turn to an oxer to shave off some time, continuing through the three-stride; however, a rail fell at the opening of the line, earning them four faults. Dorner continued to move forward through the vertical-oxer double combination set on the outside, and finished with a blazing speed over the final vertical. As the pathfinder for the class, Dorner wore a target on his back with the speedy time of 33.830 seconds, and the four faults from the heartbreaking rail.
"It was a fun course out there today," Dorner stated. "There were quick turns, the jumps were the right height and it was very well-designed. It feels great to be back in this ring, and at Lamplight. I love it here-it is a home away from home for me. I love the improvements they have made. The rings look beautiful, and the footing feels excellent."
The $5,000 1.40m Open Jumpers wasn't Dorner's only win of the day. Earlier in the morning he guided Barack to the first place in the $500 1.20m Jumpers, as well as picking up the second place in the 1.20m Jumpers with Upido, owned by Kim Puckett. He guided Upido to the red ribbon in 33.589 seconds, and finished with a four-fault total. When he entered as the last to go aboard Barack, he knew he had the win in the bag. He sliced the turns easily aboard the Thoroughbred, and left all rails in their cups as he tripped the timers in a speedy 31.273 seconds. Courtney Starring and Double Dollar, owned by Starring Equine, LLC, captured the third place ribbon with the fastest of the four-fault efforts.
"He is a very nice horse, he did the Grand Prix, and he is just sort of coming back," Dorner explained. "He is a little bit older, so I wanted to take him in the 1.20m Jumpers this morning to get him prepared for the larger classes later. All he needs from me out there is a soft ride, and a quick one."
For many of the competitors Lamplight is like a second home, welcoming riders back every year for top-tier competition. With a multitude of improvements, the world-class show facility has exceeded all expectations with more than $1 million in improvements made, including improving drainage and upgrading many of the existing arenas with European GGT footing. It was the installation of the footing that brought Brittini Raflowitz to Equifest I.
After showing for two weeks at the Chagrin Valley Hunter/Jumper Classic, Raflowitz took her first step onto the Lamplight Equestrian Center grounds. Her father helped to install the all-new GGT Footing, and she jumped at the opportunity to show at such a beautiful venue. The change in scenery did not deter her from the blue ribbon during today's $500 1.25m Jumpers. She snatched the victory as the only rider to complete the jump-off without faults, carefully piloting K.T. Undercover to the time of 37.267 seconds.
Owned by Michael Kirby, K.T. Undercover is a new mount for Raflowitz. "I have only been on him three weeks, and he is one of Michael Kirby's Grand Prix horses," she said. "He was so good out there. He is like riding a big pony, you kick him along and he just kind of goes."
Raflowitz was the only rider out of the entrants in today's 1.25m Jumpers that was able to make her way into the jump-off. She cleared the first round course with Zacca Zoeloe, owned by Maarten Huygens of Wellington, FL, and took a more conservative approach to the jump-off. Although she earned no jumping faults, it was her one time fault that pushed them into second place. She chose not to jump-off with Elios, owned by Huygens, taking the third place award for her clean first round effort.
"Zacca Zoeloe is my baby right now," Raflowitz said. "I have jumped at home at the top of the standards, and he just jumps his heart out. I think that he could be my legitimate Grand Prix horse if he doesn't sell within the next year. The other one didn't jump-off because he is doing the 1.40m Welcome Stake tomorrow. I only put my horses in there for schooling today."
Raflowitz also nabbed the first place ribbon in the first class of the day, the $500 1.15m Jumpers. She guided Free and Easy, owned by Huygens, to the only clear effort of the class. They beat out 10 entrants to take home the first place prize.
"I love it here, we seriously could not have asked for a better day. I was shocked when I needed a sweater this morning," Raflowitz concluded. "The rings are beautiful, the footing - although I may be a bit biased - is great, and it is really nicely run. I am looking forward to the rest of the week."
Tomorrow riders will have the opportunity to continue competing in the Open Jumper divisions, as well as the Young Jumper Championship divisions. The highlight of the day will be the $5,000 1.40m Welcome Stake, where riders will gear up for the approaching $35,000 Prix de Lamplight to take place this Saturday at 4 p.m.. To find out more about Lamplight Equestrian Center, go to: http://lamplightequestriancenter.com/