San Juan Capistrano, CA - Thrilling until the last ride, the Markel Insurance 1.40m Grand Prix Series qualifier at the Blenheim International Jumping Festival wrapped up an incredible season. Not over yet, the top 25 riders are invited to compete in the Final on Thursday, November 12th, 2015, at The Las Vegas National Horse Show. The prize money for the Series Final, which accumulated with each qualifier, will be $53,450.
With 13 qualifiers, 13 international course designers and 139 competitors, it was an impressive second season. A host of horses and riders experienced their 'first' in the Markel classes - from their first time in a grand prix, to their first grand prix win. As well, some of the West Coast's best show jumpers sought a top 25 spot in order to compete in Vegas in November.
Spring kicked off with some sweet success for Nayel Nassar, who won three out of the first four classes. After his eight-year-old mare Acita won her second Markel Insurance Grand Prix, Nassar said, "It's nice for her to start stepping up into these money classes and having a challenge to chase. It's really an ideal class for the horses I have right now and luckily it's been paying off."
Regarding horses gaining good miles through this series, in addition to Acita, there were at least three other horses who won their first grand prix competing at Blenheim in the Markel Insurance 1.40m Series. Andy Kocher and C'Havinia won in the Spring, Google and Sergio Nieto in the summer, and MH Wardance with Lane Clarke in the irons won the final qualifier. Nathalie Manning and her mount Con Spirit also won their first grand prix together during this season's Markel classes.
Michelle Parker and Cupilor won the seven-year-old Young Jumper Championships last year and then moved up into the Markel Grand Prix classes where he also picked up a summer win. Mandy Porter rode Eminent to a win in early August, and stated that she and owner Murdoch decided to try to qualify for the Markel Insurance Grand Prix Final, which they achieved when she won again in late August.
Similarly, Susan Hutchison garnered some top results to move up into the top 25 on the list at the end of the season. Interesting to note that the points Ieader of the Markel Insurance Grand Prix Series, Josephina Nor Lantzman, on her mounts Chello Z and Unlimited, had placings throughout the season, but didn't post a win, proving that consistency pays off.
Returning as the sponsor for a second year, Brandon Seger, Director of Equine Operations for Markel, is pleased with the response to these events. "We wanted to do a sponsorship with Blenheim EquiSports, and they had the brilliant idea to do this 'meter forty' series. They explained that it would be a class where up and coming riders, as well as amateur riders, could compete with some of the pros," he commented. "We are very proud of our affiliation with the series and grateful to everyone who participated in the class."
The Markel team, including Brandon, Chris Norden, Julian Bowan-Rees, and Lisa and John Seger, will be at the show jumping showdown in Las Vegas in November. "We look forward to seeing you all in Vegas," says Seger. "We will all be there to present the award and shake the winner's hand."
Click here for the full Markel Grand Prix Series standings.