Thermal, CA - February 13, 2012 - In Saturday’s $53,000 HITS Grand Prix CSI2*-W, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, New Zealand’s own Duncan McFarlane worked his magic aboard Simon Coxe’s Mr. Whoopy and posted the only double-clear effort in the class to capture their first Grand Prix victory of the season together. This dynamic duo has a history together, and a rich one at that! The pair cleaned up last September with a second-place finish at the Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix at HITS-on-the-Hudson in Saugerties, New York and went home with a handsome check for $200,000. So it’s no surprise to see them back at it with their sights squarely set on making a return trip to Saugerties for this year’s Pfizer Million.
In Saturday night’s feature class at the HITS Desert Circuit, McFarlane and Mr. Whoopy, who has a habit of being a rather rambunctious partner, met the challenge of Course Designer Florencio Hernandez’s 1.60 meter World Cup course.
Only five of the original starters advanced to face Hernandez’s jump-off course and Great Britain’s Helen McNaught was the first to do so aboard her own Caballo. Colombia’s John Perez aboard his own Utopia followed McNaught into the ring and posted another clear round to join her in the jump-off.
Three trips later, McFarlane cruised through the first round with ease as a sold-out crowd in the indoor arena cheered for what was shaping up to be an exciting, international jump-off. Adding to the excitement was Otavio Penedo of Mexico who piloted his own ES Carando Z to a clean round, making the jump-off total four with more than half the class still left to show.
Hernandez’s course seemed unforgiving as the next seven pairs all suffered jumping faults along the way. It was fence 11, a parallel oxer heading to the final fence, which gave the riders the most trouble. Just when it looked as though the line-up for the jump-off was finalized, 22-year-old Karl Cook of Woodside, California came into the ring for his second attempt at the course. Earlier in the round, riding Signe Ostby’s Uno De Laubry, Cook had a rail down on the very first fence of the course. On his second trip he teamed up with Signe Ostby’s Jonkheer Z and was able to crack the code to advance to the jump-off with the final clean effort of the opening round.
In the jump-off, Hernandez kept it challenging by bringing back his 10a-b combination and the pesky fence 11, which proved to once again be the downfall of the class as McNaught, Perez, Penedo and Cook each suffered a single rail down at that same fence.
McNaught and Caballo were first to go and finished the class in fourth place with four faults in 37.22 seconds. Perez and Utopia followed and couldn’t pull ahead of McNaught’s time. The pair ended the night in fifth place with four faults and a time of 37.61 seconds.
McFarlane and Mr. Whoopy were next to show and cruised through the timers in 37.39 seconds, leaving all the fences up and setting the Great American Time to Beat with two more left to show.
“I’m lucky, this horse is a superstar,” said McFarlane after the win. “This was a great class. The footing was spectacular and the new jumps are wonderful. The facility has really matured and HITS Thermal is a force to be reckoned with.”
Penedo and Cook each looked to challenge McFarlane’s pace, but came up short with four faults and times of 34.76 seconds and 35.21 seconds to finish the class second and third, respectively.
After the class McFarlane made his intentions to qualify for the Pfizer Million clear. “[Mr.] Whoopy has really come into his own in the last year or so. This year, we will be going to Saugerties for the [Pfizer] Million. It's our big event of the season and I can’t wait to go for it again."
McFarlane and the rest of the High-Performance riders showing this winter at the HITS Desert Circuit still have plenty of opportunities to bank their qualifying classes and some serious cash. The second half of the circuit will offer eight more Grand Prix, including two more World Cup Qualifiers and the season finale $200,000 Lamborghini Grand Prix of the Desert, presented by Lamborghini of Newport Beach, Sunday, March 11.
$53,000 HITS Grand Prix CSI2*W, presented by Pfizer Animal Health
Place Horse Owner Rider Prize $ Rd 1 Faults JO Faults JO Time
1 Mr. Whoopy Simone Coxe Duncan McFarlane $17,490 0 0 37.39
2 ES Carando Z Otavio Penedo Otavio Penedo $10,600 0 4 34.76
3 Jonkheer Z Signe Ostby Karl Cook $7,950 0 4 35.21
4 Caballo Helen Mc Naught Showjumping LLC Helen McNaught $5,300 0 4 37.22
5 Utopia John Perez John Perez $3,180 0 4 37.61
6 Uno de Laubry Signe Ostby Karl Cook $2,385 4
7 Lariccello Alison Heafey Helen McNaught $1,590 4
8 Katie Riddle Rancho Corazon, LLC John McConnell $1,325 4
9 Uitteraard Alejandro Rodal Michelle Spadone $1,060 4
10 Warco Van De Halhoeve Katie Harris Ali Nilforushan $1,060 8
11 Green Sleeps Vioco Horseworks etc Inc Mark Watring $530 8
12 Taunus Prentiss Partners Francie Steinwedell-Carvin $530 12
Photos: Duncan McFarlane and Mr. Whoopy get some serious air in Saturday night's $53,000 HITS Grand Prix CSI2*W, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, at the HITS Desert Horse Park in Thermal, California. © Flying Horse Photography.
Tony Hitchcock of HITS presents Duncan McFarlane and Mr. Whoopy with the awards for their exciting win in Saturday's $53,000 HITS Grand Prix CSI2*W, presented by Pfizer Animal Health. © Flying Horse Photography.