Gulfport, MS - Thermometers were up and down, weathermen forecasted gloom and doom with the supposed arrival of 3 inches or more of snow and like all good businesses the managers of the Gulf Coast Winter Classics decided to aire on the side of caution by cancelling Friday classes. The good news was that aside from some nasty rain it truly was a “Non Event” day as Bob Bell co-chairman hoped.
Saturday saw the return of warmer temps, some sunshine, and the traditional ringside pizza parties as week one of the 2010 Gulf Coast Winter Classics got back into full swing. The first Division Championships were awarded in the Hunter rings, beginning with the 1st Year Green Working title going to Any Wonder ridden by Kelly Mullen for owner Avery Griffin.
In the combined 2nd Year and Regular Working sections it was Georgia resident Julie Curtin with her Bases Loaded taking the tri colors, while Twin Oaks Farm’s Promenade and Thomas Brennan were named Champions in the Conformation Hunters. For the Pre Green 3’ Division it was Laura Hightower’s entry Kid Chocolate, ridden by Jordan Siegel, getting the Championship honors and in the Pre Green 3’3, owner Linda Bobrik’s Figaro B sang out a victory song with Holly Shepherd’s directing.
While most celebrate Valentine’s Day with heart shaped boxes of chocolates and sentimental cards expressing one’s undying love, Eirin Bruheim of Houston, TX received what every horse crazy girl in America would feel to be the perfect gift- two big hearted horses giving their all to win Eirin two big checks!
Starting with this morning’s debut first of six weekly $15,000 NHJL Nordic Lights Farm Junior-Amateur Owner Jumper Classics, Bruheim partnered with NLF Trans Atlantic, her 12 year-old Westphalian gelding to best a field that included the irrepressible Land sisters- Taylor aboard Karonda V Schl’Hof and Frances riding Merlin. Competing over the challenging 11 obstacle 81 second layout designed by Paul Jewel of Lambertville, NJ, Bruheim was the first clear run in 77.190. “It [the course] was pretty technical, it started off with an option of either 5 or 6 [strides] to a skinny vertical followed by some difficult turns and then 5 ½ to a triple bar.”
Bruheim said of the opening round. As the last horse walked off the grass field it became evident the final round was a two horse race between Trans Atlantic and Karonda V Schl’Hof. “He’s a small horse, but he’s the one with the most heart. He can go as fast as lightening! He’s just a super horse.” Bruheim said with every confidence going into the match up against Taylor Land’s mount. 7 twisting obstacles and 54 seconds on the clock would test that faith. Bruheim stepped into the sunshine and unleashed her source of lightening, Trans Atlantic did not disappoint with a heart stopping clear round in 41.897. Land gave chase but when the clock stopped she fell short with a clean time of 42.040 and second place. 3rd place also went to Bruheim with mount Cicero 75, 4th place to Lillian Hahn riding Lucky One, and 5th to Ryan Genn with Poco 3.
Just a few hours later the “almost” 18 year-old Bruheim would return to the lush grass field with Cicero 75 to take on 20 more horses in the $10,000 Valentine Open Jumper Classic presented by the Gulf Coast Classic Company. This time around Paul Jewel had prepared a 12 fence, 15 effort layout complete with 3 sets of combinations- two double and one triple- spanning the vast field via tight turns and all to be done in less than 84 seconds. Bruheim had two nice advantages with Cicero 75, the 11 year-old Oldenburg she’s had since September of 2009, one in having been on the field earlier and being last in the order of go.
“I guess it was a little bit of an advantage because I did already know two of the lines.” Bruheim chuckled. The sticky point on the course was the red plank vertical on the final track which broke the hearts of many competitors as it dropped to the ground. “Luckily for me he doesn’t like red so I showed it to him [upon entering the field] to make sure he jumped.” Cicero got the message and gave Bruheim a clear ride in 81.806.
In all eight would advance to the final 53 second limited round of 6 fences, 7 big efforts that would conclude with a double combination of verticals. The fifth in the order, Lebanon, OH based pro Wilhelm Genn riding Copyright 3 were the first to make it through clean with a time of 40.716. Fellow Ohioan David Beisel of Goshen, overtook Genn’s time with a clean run aboard Moet Walk in 37.739, but the big strided Cicero was determined to deliver a special Valentine’s present of a second victory to Bruheim. Galloping onto the field he was “super careful” and blazed cleanly through the course in 37.523 to thunderous applause and hugs from Bruheim.
Official results for the $10,000 Valentine Open Jumper Classic were:
- 1st Eirin Bruheim & Cicero 75 owned by Nordic Lights Farm, LLC 0 Faults 37.523
- 2nd David Beisel & Moet Walk owned by Harlow Investment Enterprises 0 Faults 37.739
- 3rd Wilhelm Genn & Copyright 3 owned by Wilhelm Genn 0 Faults 40.716
- 4th Amanda Flint & Will of Iron owned by Kathleen Kamine 4 Faults 37.236
- 5th Amanda Flint & Texas Hold’em owned by Kathleen Kamine 4 Faults 40.331
- 6th David Beisel & Patoile owned by Harlow Investment Enterprises 8 Faults 34.553
- 7th Wendy Thompson & Orome owned by Fleur de Lis Farm 8 Faults 38.150
- 8th Kari Frey & Solinus owned by Kari Frey 12 Faults 38.290
- 9th Alex Granato & Mad Season owned by Alex Granato 1 Fault 84.800
- 10th Andrew Ross & Pantera owned by Serosun Farms 4 Faults 75.134
- 11th Alex Granato & Vasco da Gama owned by Augustin Walch 4 Faults 77.037
- 12th Sherre Sims & Eternity 18 owned by Bruheim-Sims 4 Faults 77.780
The Gulfport Winter Classics continues with more hunter/jumper action through March 21st. Admission is free and the public is invited to enjoy the exciting competition throughout the week along with another $25,000 Grand Prix each Sunday afternoon.
Photos: Eirin Bruheim & NLF Trans Atlantic & Cicero 75 ©Flashpoint Photography