Camden, SC—April 13, 2010—Playing host to its first USEF AA rated equestrian event, the horse friendly town of Camden rolled out the red carpet for The Camden Spring Fling, and welcomed some of the country’s best competitors. Held at the South Carolina Equine Park in Camden, it was an inaugural event full of appetizing specialties in and out of the rings for exhibitors and spectators. Friday’s $5,000 Welcome Stake, presented by Willoughby Stables, was the first of three featured events during the week to ignite the crowd’s excitement.
As diners supped on a true Southern BBQ in the ringside VIP tent, renowned course designer Michel Vaillancourt tested a field of 18 horses with a layout of 15 efforts and a time of allowance of 84 seconds. A mere 6 advanced to the 48 second limited jump off round of 7 obstacles, but the tight turns proved a bit much for many as only two managed double clear rides. Taking the win was Southern Pines, NC based Harold Chopping aboard the Burmonds and Wetmore entry Kinsale with a final time of 35.689.
Second place went to Claire Lee of Ponte Vedra, FL with mount High Roller finishing clear in 38.098. Third place to Jay Land of Alpharetta, GA riding daughter Frances’ entry Look Real to a 4 fault 35.689 final. Fourth place to Michael Tokaruk of Aiken, SC and partner Roger Rabbit with 4 faults in 46.762. And completing the top five was Camden’s own Hardin Towell riding Querreque, owned by Aley Russell, and finishing with 14 faults in 57.209.
Under a starry sky, Saturday evening was a celebration of Hunters and for hometown favorite Elizabeth “Liza” Boyd when she won Camden’s first ever $10,000 Chronicle of the Horse-USHJA International Hunter Derby, aboard Brunello. “So so wonderful!” said Boyd of being triumphant in her home town, “I grew up showing here and it’s a really good feeling to be here now. It’s got that Blowing Rock atmosphere where everyone sits on the hill and watches, grab a hamburger, and it just has a really special feel to it.” Many opted to enjoy the delicious Derby Dinner served in the VIP tent with choices ranging from spiced tenderloins to sumptuous desserts.
The two rounds of courses for this event were designed by Jean Paul Goddard of Aiken, SC with a goal to uphold USHJA’s concept of applying basic riding principles, true horsemanship in the ring, and creating natural obstacles similar to the days where mounts soared over stone walls or brush in perfect form and style. Goddard’s vision for the initial round consisted of 10 fences set at 3’6” to 4’ and offering four option fences set at 4’ to 4’3”.
Patty Anderton, Diann Langer, Scott Hoffsteter and Rob Bielefied were tasked with determining which 12 horses would return for the deciding Handy round. One of the sport’s most recognized riders Jennifer Alfano of New York partnered with the SBS Farm owned Jersey Boy were the first pair to compete and scored a combined 186. “Jen Alfano is always-always gonna go for it and make you work really hard. And Chase Boggio is a great rider, he’s got that equitation practice that Jen and I haven’t done for a while so he always makes me a bit nervous. He makes those inside turns look super easy and I feel like us older ladies have to catch up with him!” quipped Boyd.
Chase and mount Graphiq scored an impressive 188 in the first round. Despite how she may joke of being the elder rider, Boyd and 12 year-old Hanoverian Brunello exhibited near perfection in their first ride as evidenced by the judging panel’s 196 combined total. “He was really on tonight! He loves night classes; he goes in there and tries his heart out. And when you put a little pressure on him, well he really came through for me.” Boyd said of the Caroline Clark Morrison owned Brunello. Alfano had the last entry in round one with the Helen Lenahan owned Extraordinary, a 6 year-old who Alfano states, “rides like a 15 year old, there’s nothing green about him”, and true to Boyd’s prediction the pair heated up the competition securing a 192 score that had them in striking distance of the win. “I thought the courses were really nice, they rode well. The footing is good; the jumps are pretty- I think they’ve done a truly nice job.” Alfano said.
Round two, the Handy, was an 8 obstacle layout with 4 option fence heights along with sections to test the handiness and style of the horses, such as the hand gallop and trot fences. Chase Boggio’s equitation skills paid off big in this round with more than 20 bonus points awarded to bring his second round total to 203. Alfano and Extraordinary landed just one point behind at 202 in this round. Marking his third Derby appearance Extraordinary lived up to his name with another solid performance, “You’ll see a lot more of him to come in these Derbies. This is right up his alley! He’s so brave and scopey. He loves this.” Alfano complimented of her partner. Boyd and Brunello felt good returning as the top of the leader board, but Boyd pointed out, “I’ve done a lot of his [JP Goddard] courses, on paper it doesn’t look that hard [his handy’s] but he really makes you work at it with some trickier turns. You had to be careful, but you had to go for it, there was a lot of options and questions going back and forth. And then with Jen and Chase going so well, I had to tell myself go for it but don’t knock something down just trying to win, so I took an easy option to the second jump and then had to make up for that by doing some inside turns. It was close!”
Boyd’s strategy paid off with a 199 in the second round being added with their previous score to give her an overall total of 395 for the win. “I have to say being in your hometown you really want to win when all your friends and family come here, and baby Ellen was here for the first big show to watch her mommy. I was more nervous here than I was in Wellington! I’m glad it’s over!" a giggling Boyd said of winning this first Derby on home turf. Show manager Lewis Pack added, “It was a class loaded with talent and quality horses. One of the best Derby’s I’ve seen and we can’t thank The Tack Room enough for sponsoring this event. JP’s courses were beautiful, Leslie Kirk did an outstanding job on the VIP tent, and the exhibitors were happy. I’d have to say that makes for a perfect evening.”
Final Results of the $10,000 Chronicle of the Horse-USHJA International Hunter Derby:
- 1st Brunello- Caroline Clark Morrison – Elizabeth Boyd 395
- 2nd Extraordinary- SBS Farm, Inc – Jennifer Alfano 394
- 3rd Graphiq- Chasen Boggio- Chasen Boggio 391
- 4th The Specialist- Meredith Lipke- Jennifer Alfano 360
- 5th Onassis- Sarah Cate Ward- Sarah Cate Ward 359
- 6th Jersey Boy- SBS Farm, Inc- Jennifer Alfano 356
- 7th Massimo- Chasen Boggio- Chasen Boggio 356
- 8th Samaritan- Jennifer Munday- Joy Janouskovec 319
- 9th Posh- Elisabeth Fouche- Robert Hunt 304
- 10th Accomplice- Meredith Lipke- Jennifer Alfano 278
- 11th Remedy- Betsee Parker- Don Sheehan 276
- 12th Barrington- Robert Hunt- Robert Hunt 169
Capping off the debut of the Camden Spring Fling was Sunday afternoon’s $25,000 Queen City Classic Grand Prix presented by Charles and Nancy Hunt. It would be an afternoon of firsts- the first big money show jumping class held in Camden and the first Grand Prix victory for bride to be Claire Lee of Ponte Vedra, FL riding her 13 year-old Belgian gelding High Roller.
Taking on Michel Vaillancourt’s 15 effort required not only beating the 78 second time limit, but navigating some sharp turns as well as a pair of combination jumps and the dreaded triple bar fence. Friday’s victors Harold Chopping and Kinsale were the first to successfully clear the track, doing so well under the time threat with a fast 69.447. Two slots later it was Jay Land and Look Real assuring a jump off round with a clean 68.031 finish. Visiting from Canada Margie Gayford and the Wingberry Farm entry Showgirl joined the list to return with a clear 68.427 time. Six rides later it was Claire Lee and “Roller” blazing through the course clean in 69.142. “I was worried about #8 bending by the gate, it looked like a couple of people were getting lost and earlier in the week I was getting lost in those bending lines so I was worried a little bit too, but it came right up-all the lines came right up for me today!” Lee said. Only one more would join the jump off list, Daniel Geitner and the CDS Stables’ entry Neville finished clean in 72.033.
When asked about her nerves in facing some of the best known competitors of show jumping Lee smiled and confessed, “Yes, but I’m still so new, so I’m competing against myself really. Let’s just say I wasn’t expecting to go out there and win. I just want to be good at what I do - not worry so much about everyone else.” The abbreviated 8 fence jump off began with the triple bar and snaked its way across the arena via rollbacks and combo jumps to end over a wide oxer facing into the VIP tent. The first two back dropped rails and it was Margie Gayford and Showgirl to post the first clean ride in 39.859, safely below the allowed 43 seconds.
With lifetime groom and head cheerleader Kitty, Claire’s mom, watching intently from the grandstand Lee and Roller entered the arena for their moment in the sun. “It was a fun course and with only five clear at that point I figured what’s wrong with fifth place for me?! I was perfectly content, but I also knew if I could be double clear we could be faster than 39 [seconds]” Lee joked. Seems the last laugh was on her because Roller not only went clean but stopped the timers at 35.963 with only one horse left to go.
Geitner and Neville put a valiant effort on but fell short with two rails dropping. An overwhelmed Lee found herself in the winner’s circle for the first time, surrounded by friends and family cheering her big moment plus a kiss from fiancé David. After her victory gallop when asked about the final run a laughing Lee admitted that she actually “had to whoa him [Roller] down the last line to the in and out, and then I definitely added probably 5 strides to the last jump- I just kept waiting until I saw it because I didn’t want to knock it down! And then I looked up at the clock…4 seconds faster.” Lee is honest in saying that High Roller hasn’t had an easy road to this level of competition from learning “the rules” to an unexpected surgery that sidelined them for nearly 6 months, and credits Chad Watridge in their turning the corner, “Chad moved back to the Jacksonville area recently and has been helping me with Roller and I think that’s what did the trick for us.”
Asked what her future plans are Lee took a breath and said, “To focus at home a little bit, we host a couple of local shows there-have a little Derby of our own, plus the lesson plans. I’ll keep working on my licenses for judging and course designing. Oh and I’m getting married in August so there’s the wedding to plan and hopefully start a family soon.” All while continuing to ride of course, Lee is the proverbial jack of many trades.
Official Results for the $25,000 Queen City Classic Grand Prix:
- 1st High Roller- Claire Lee- Claire Lee 0/35.963
- 2nd Showgirl- Wingberry Farm- Margie Gayford 0/39.859
- 3rd Kinsale- Burmonds & Wetmore- Harold Chopping 4/35.348
- 4th Look Real- Frances Land- Jay Land 8/34.292
- 5th Neville- CDS Stables- Daniel Geitner 8/37.269
For more information on the 2010 Camden Spring Fling presented by the Queen City Classic or complete results please visit www.queencityclassic.com.
Photo: Elizabeth Boyd & Brunello, Claire Lee & High Roller ©Flashpoint Photography