Parker, CO-Seven horses and riders returned for the second round over the Peter Holmes-designed course in the $30,000 Colorado Circuit Opener Grand Prix Presented by Nutrena. Twenty-five horses and riders started in the featured event on Saturday July 9, 2011 during week four of the Colorado Summer Circuit at The Colorado Horse Park. Canadian WEG riders John Pearce and Karen Cudmore each had multiple rides in the jump-off, with the two of them galloping off with the top four ribbons.
Course designer Peter Holmes, Cowichan Bay, B.C., planned to use the Park's Derby Field to full advantage. "It's a beautiful big arena on two levels, which is not that common. I wanted to use the slope as part of the course; it's a balance test that we don't often get to see."
In his pre-ride course walk Olympian John Pearce speculated that four fences could be problematic for riders in the first round of the class: fence #3, a vertical off of an inside turn; the double combination, an oxer to a vertical; the triple combination of vertical, oxer vertical, that was set completely on its own and faced into the crowd, and the line from fence #9 to #10. And he was right. All four jumps presented problem spots for the class. The result--an excellent selection of horses that advanced to the second round. "I thought the course designer did a great job all week," Pearce said. "He nailed it."
In the jump-off Pearce was first to go with his eventual winner, Son of a Gun, delivering a clear round with a 36.148. This put the pressure on the rest of the class, who each faulted, until Pearce returned with Chianto. This was his partner in last year's World Equestrian Games, where they finished in eighth place overall. The duo was clear, but finished with 36.474, leaving Son of a Gun in the lead. Cudmore was last to go with her mare Shea; the perennial favorite in Colorado didn't disappoint her loyal fans. Cudmore put in a great run, but pulled the last rail to finish in third.
Pearce found Son of a Gun three years ago as a green nine-year-old, a type of horse he admitted he's not usually on the lookout for. "I just really, really liked him," Pearce recalls of seeing the horse at show. "He's a tough, smart horse. He's really coming to fruition." Pearce says the 12-year-old is very efficient and athletic, qualities that help make an international-caliber horse.
Pearce has worked carefully to bring Son of a Gun along. "He's starting to like his job," he says. "I train with compassion. [The horses] have to know every day is going to be a good day." Pearce credits his wife, Gretchen Pearce, for putting together the complete horsemanship program for their string of top horses. "She deserves a lot of credit. Details! All the little things matter. Her attention to detail is unbelievable," he says.
Earlier in the week Pearce and Chianto won the $10,000 Welcome Stake Presented by Nutrena. "I love it here," Pearce says of returning to the shows at The Colorado Horse Park. "The people are so friendly. I look forward to it--it's the highlight of my summer."
Karen Cudmore agrees with Pearce's assessment of the shows in Parker. "Colorado is fun! Great spectators, great crowds--we love it!" In the final tally in the Nutrena Grand Prix, Cudmore finished in third, fourth and sixth with her horses. Yellow ribbon winner, Shea, is a nine-year-old homebred Holsteiner by Conejo out of a mare by Galypso. "I have high hopes for this horse," she says.
On Friday, Cudmore and Ceonto rose to the challenge of the exciting $5,000 4-Bar Competition sponsored by Douglas and Associates. She entered the 10-year-old Holsteiner in the class to school him after he got a little too fresh in the Welcome Stakes. "I went in for training purposes and I came out having a blast. I learned a lot about my horse," she says. The height of the final fence? 1.8 meter--5' 11".
Next week the prize money rises to $40,000 in the Griffis Apartment Funds Grand Prix. Schedules and information are on-line at www.coloradohorsepark.com.
The Colorado Horse Park relies on the generosity of its sponsors, including Parker Adventist Hospital and Foundation, Littleton Equine Medical Center, Platinum Performance, Holiday Inn of Parker, Hampton Inn of Parker, Super 8 of Parker, Gesco Nursery, Griffis Group, Norstar, The Olson Family, Horse Connection, Comfort Suites of Castle Rock, Days Inn of Castle Rock, Nutrena, The Chronicle of the Horse, Wells Fargo Advisors, WeatherTech, THIS, Pony Lane Farm, The Jensen Family, The Devencenty Family, A Bit of Tack, Our Day Farm, Douglas and Associates, Grand Meadows, MGP Ventures, Animo, Dev Cook, Horseware Ireland, Our Day Farm, C & E Horse Transportation, Charles Owen, Arenus, Today's Horse Trader, Ariat, Cosequin, Sidelines, Equisure, Stable Grounds, Cheval Colorado, Goose Down Farm, Suzy Sweitzer, Sandy Lee, Once Upon a Horse, Mrs. Patricia Carney Calkins and many more.
Check out all of the Flying Horse Photography photo galleries on Facebook and loads of videos on The Colorado Horse Park's Youtube channel. Visit www.coloradohorsepark.com for more details.
$30,000 Colorado Circuit Opener Grand Prix Presented by Nutrena
1. Son of a Gun John Pearce
2. Chianto John Pearce
3. Shea Karen Cudmore
4. Southern Pride Karen Cudmore
5. La Roche Armando Hassey
6. Ceonto Karen Cudmore
7. Caladesi Anna Murphy
8. Colorado Bjorn Ikast
25 Horses Competed
Photos: John Pearce and Son of a Gun bested a jump-off field of seven competitors to win the $30,000 Colorado Circuit Opener Grand Prix Presented by Nutrena.
John Pearce accepts his prizes from Kristen Allen, Kolby Malesich and Nara Bennet (L-R) from Nutrena.
Karen Cudmore and Ceonto claimed the $5,000 4-Bar Competition sponsored by Douglas and Associates. All Photos By: Flying Horse Photography