Hayley Alfonso and Children’s Wish Win Big at Rocky Mountain Classic II

Calgary, Alberta – Hayley Alfonso, Ben Asselin and the Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada were the big winners during the CSI2* Rocky Mountain Classic II held August 25 to 29 at Anderson Ranch in Calgary, AB.

For the second week in a row, Asselin won Thursday’s featured event. Having won the $32,500 Laramide Oil and Gas Grand Prix the previous Thursday riding Magic Man, the 16-year-old returned to the grass grand prix field on Thursday, August 26, to capture the $32,500 Attaché Classic with Lolita. A total of nine clear rounds were produced from the 27-horse starting field but no one could catch Asselin and Lolita, hot of their double gold medals at the recent North American Junior and Young Riders’ Championship, who posted a clear jump-off round in a time of 46 seconds flat. Lindsay Wendt of High River, AB, and Chanel gave it their best shot, stopping the timers in 46.63 while Asselin’s own sister, Kelly Koss, clocked in at 47.01 seconds to take third place with Laokoon 12.

Saturday evening’s $50,000 Oilpatch Grand Prix saw 28 entries attempt the technical track set by Germany’s Werner Deeg, who challenged horses and riders throughout his two weeks as course designer at Anderson Ranch. A tricky line to the open water at fence 12 caused its fair share of casualties, but seven riders persevered to advance to the jump-off. Hayley Alfonso, 23, made easy work of the jump-off course riding Lennox 157, jumping clear in a time of 43.25 seconds. Runner-up Lisa Carlsen of Edmonton, AB, was more than four seconds off the pace, clocking in at 47.50 riding La Boom while Calgary’s Emily George stopped the timers in 48.83 seconds for third place with Quidam’s Ramiro.

“I wanted to try to be clean and be quick, because I knew there were a lot of quick ones coming behind me,” said Alfonso, who was second in the jump-off order with Lennox 157, a 10-year-old grey Holsteiner gelding owned by Tyndall Wood Farms. “My horse was amazing, he tried really hard. He felt great, and I couldn’t have asked him to be better.”

Earlier this season, Alfonso and Lennox 157, a horse she began riding last October, won the $15,000 Cymric Brae Grand Prix held during the Bow Valley Classic I at Anderson Ranch from May 12-16. Trained by her mother, Patty Alfonso, as well as Dayton Gorsline, Alfonso is currently based in St. Andrews, MB. Making the trip back to Calgary was definitely worthwhile.

“The entire show was having a great time, everyone in the tent was having a great time, and it made the class a lot more exciting!” said Alfonso. “It was a great evening. It was such a privilege to have the FEI classes here, and to be able to compete for world ranking points with so many great horses at a local facility. It was a great evening.”

The jump-off was made even more exciting given that 450 guests were enjoying a sit-down dinner in the VIP tent during the competition. Tournament organizer John Anderson of Rocky Mountain Show Jumping had planned the day to honour his sponsors, as well as host a fundraising event for the Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada.

At 12 noon, Anderson’s sponsors and supporters were treated to a shot-gun golf tournament at neighbouring Sirocco Golf Club. By 6:30 p.m., all 450 guests were seated in the VIP tent and special guest, J.C. Anderson, was toasted in a surprise tribute for his 80th birthday. The guests were reminded that they were gathered together in the spirit of giving, inspired by J.C. Anderson’s generous $11 million donation to the Calgary Foundation, which benefits community organizations for the long-term benefit of Calgary and the surrounding area.

With that, the spotlight was turned onto the Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada, and the difference it makes by granting wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses. Before the jump-off began, 12-year-old Children’s Wish recipient Alyssa Jobbagy, who has Cystic Fibrosis, was presented with her new pony, Sassy Pants, in an emotional ceremony.

Then a brand new blue Jeep Cherokee was driven onto the grand prix field, and a heated live auction ensued, with much encouragement from the professional auctioneers. Sally Meecham of EQ Barns, provider of new barns and classic equine equipment, emerged victorious with the winning bid of $68,000.

Other auction items of note included ‘Beef on the Hoof,’ with the lucky bidder paying $5,600 to hand-pick a steer from J.C. Anderson’s herd; a five-day get-away at Anderson’s home at Barton Creek Golf Resort and Spa in Austin, TX, which went for $16,000; and a private lesson with Olympic Gold Medalist Eric Lamaze that was won for $1,000 by Aidan Pettigrew.

“It was a great night,” said Anderson, who placed fourth in the $50,000 Oilpatch Grand Prix riding Terrific. “The Oilpatch Grand Prix is typically the one day that I build a huge sponsor recognition day around. My dad had a great surprise for his 80th birthday with 450 people toasting him before the sponsor dinner. When we presented the pony to Alyssa, there was not a dry eye in the house. The jump-off was very exciting, but no one could catch Hayley – she was on fire! And after the Grand Prix, we opened the VIP tent to everyone and partied into the night with dancing and a huge fireworks show.”

In total, more than $75,000 was raised for the Children’s Wish Foundation.

“It was the day when it all counted,” said Anderson. “The most important day of the year is the day when we say ‘thank you’ to everyone for their generous support. With corporate support, we can attract more and more riders to our ever-growing international tournaments.

“We are so extremely happy that, in our first year of hosting an FEI event, we were able to knock it out of the park,” continued Anderson of the inaugural International Equestrian Federation (FEI) sanctioned event. “The team at Rocky Mountain Show Jumping and all of the exhibitors made it happen.”

The Rocky Mountain Classic II was the second of three weeks of show jumping offered in the series. Competition continues with the Rocky Mountain Classic III, held September 1 to 5, featuring the $20,000 Western Regional Final of the Jump Canada Young Horse Series as well as the Canadian Equestrian Development League $25,000 Western Canadian Championships.

Rocky Mountain Show Jumping hosts its tournaments at Anderson Ranch in Calgary’s south end, a world-class facility featuring permanent stabling for 300 horses and a grass grand prix field complete with natural obstacles. For more information on Rocky Mountain Show Jumping, please visit www.rmshowjumping.com.

$50,000 Oilpatch Grand Prix CSI2* - Saturday, August 28
1. Hayley Alfonso St. Andrews, MB Lennox 157 0:0 43.25
2. Lisa Carlsen Edmonton, AB La Boom 0:0 47.50
3. Emily George Calgary, AB Quidam’s Ramiro 0:0 48.83
4. .John Anderson Calgary, AB Terrific 0:4 43.31
5. Lisa Carlsen Edmonton, AB Cuba Libre 0:4 46.90
6. Kelly Koss Calgary, AB Carlos Don Benito 0:8 42.57
7. Alexander Grayton Priddis, AB Henry 255 0:8 43.53
8. Jorge Verswyvel Venezuela Artifice LS 4
9. Lindsay Wendt High River, AB Georgia 181 4
10. Tamie Phillips Strathmore, AB Lucas 4

$32,500 Attaché Classic CSI2* – Thursday, August 26

1. Ben Asselin Calgary, AB Lolita 0:0 46.00
2. Lindsay Wendt High River, AB Chanel 0:0 46.63
3. Kelly Koss Calgary, AB Laokoon 12 0:0 47.01
4. Jorge Verswyvel Venezuela Artifice LS 0:0 47.21
5. Femke van den Bosch Red Deer, AB Tom Tom 0:0 48.04
6. Christina Marlin St. Albert, AB Cartanga 0:0 50.62
7. Kelly Koss Calgary, AB Carlos Don Benito 0:4 44.33
8. Lisa Carlsen Edmonton, AB La Boom 0:4 45.79
9. Kristin Russell Calgary, AB Ashtin’s Sevita 0:4 48.55
10. Marshall Whyte Cochrane, AB Quinlan 1

Photos:  Hayley Alfonso and Lennox 157 won the $50,000 Oilpatch Grand Prix held Saturday, August 28, at the CSI2* Rocky Mountain Classic II at Anderson Ranch in Calgary, AB.
Former owner Alexandria Pettigrew presents Sassy Pants to Children’s Wish recipient, Alyssa Jobbagy.
Photo credits – Cansport