Parker, CO--Have you jumped at a mile high? If not, you are missing one of the most talked about horse shows of the year. With its expanded six-week schedule, The Colorado Horse Park has been the summer vacation spot with big money for both hunters and jumpers. Of course, this show is also about the parties, including the Friday Afternoon Club at A Bit of Tack, sponsored this week by Arenus, and an exhibitor party that rocked for hours after the Grand Prix.
Week five of the Colorado Summer Circuit was highlighted by the $40,000 Griffis Apartment Funds Grand Prix. Twenty-nine entries contested the course designed by Dave Ballard. Among the trouble spots was the triple combination into the crowd, with a related distance to the Griffis Group jump, the final obstacle on the course. Maggie Jayne, Elgin, IL, who had four rides in the class, reflected, "I thought it was a nice, challenging course."
John Pearce had no difficulty with the first round, qualifying both of his rides, Son of a Gun and Chianto, for the jump-off. Karen Cudmore also qualified two horses and Jayne, rode Thomas Edison to a perfect first round to join the World Equestrian Games veterans in the second round.
Karen Cudmore and Southern Pride were first to return. As always, the perennial winner gave the audience a thrill. The 1998 Holsteiner stallion cut an impressive figure, but he lowered the last fence in a time of 33.892. Pearce and Son of a Gun were next. Although they had won last week's $30,000 Grand Prix Presented by Nutrena, this week they too were foiled by the last jump. Although the pair's time of 31.973 gave the rest of the class something to aim for.
Because Pearce and Cudmore had multiple horses, Jayne elected to ride out of order to keep her 12-year-old Thoroughbred, Thomas Edison, sharp and focused. The pair had a rail at the third fence and Jayne wished she had done the ride differently. "I rode a conservative six across the middle and I should have done the five," she said. Jayne and Thomas Edison have had a successful 2011, including an 11th place in the $150,000 World Cup Qualifier at Winter Equestrian Festival in February. Thomas Edison "is a big character," Jayne said. As part of his program, he eats eight times each day and goes for numerous walks.
Pearce returned with his World Equestrian Games partner, Chianto. Their experience showed as they mastered the jump-off, leaving all the rails up in 32.675. This left Cudmore to chase. With Ceonto, a 2001 Holsteiner gelding, Cudmore went for broke. As she crossed the timers, she had Pearce's time with a 32. 633, but a rail at the last fence left her with the yellow ribbon. "I thought I had it!" she said "I might have gotten a little excited. I was really happy with my horses."
Superstar hunter Small Affair dominated the hunter divisions during week five of the Colorado Summer Circuit. The nine-year-old Selle Francais gelding won all four over fences classes in the Performance Working Hunter Division, 3'6"- 3'9" with John French, as well as all five classes with Olivia Esse in the Large Junior Hunter Division, 16-17, to claim championships in both divisions. However, the handsome bay gelding wasn't done winning; he also took the spoils in the $1,000 Open Hunter Classic sponsored by Norstar, and the blue ribbon in the $1,000 Junior Hunter Classic sponsored by The Chronicle of the Horse.
"He's just about as good of a jumper as there is," French said. "He's so careful and he tries so hard. He really studies the jumps." The California-based rider also praised the gelding's rideability. "He's quite adjustable. You can change your mind on the way to the jump, but nobody else can tell."
French commented on the courses, which were dressed with beautiful greenery and also included many natural-looking obstacles. "Having such beautiful courses was really good for Small Affair," French explained. The lush courses helped prepare all of the horses for the types of obstacles they will find in the big Derby classes.
The Colorado Summer Circuit culminates this week with an entire day devoted to the Derby on Tuesday, July 19, as well as the $50,000 Parker Adventist Hospital Grand Prix on Saturday, July 23. The winner of the Grand Prix not only takes home a big paycheck, but also a pair of custom Milo Felline boots.
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.
$40,000 Griffis Apartment Funds Grand Prix
1. Chianto John Pearce
2. Son of a Gun John Pearce
3. Ceonto Karen Cudmore
4. Southern Pride Karen Cudmore
5. Thomas Edison Maggie Jayne
29 Horses Competed
Photos: Small Affair, shown here with John French, dominated week five of the Colorado Summer Circuit with two championships and two classic wins.
John Pearce riding Chianto won the $40,000 Griffis Apartment Funds Grand Prix during week five of the Colorado Summer Circuit.
Tom Barta, David Birnbaum and Ian Griffis (L-R) present Canadian Olympian John Pearce with his prizes in the $40,000 Griffis Apartment Funds Grand Prix at The Colorado Horse Park.
Photo credit: Flying Horse Photography