Palgrave, Ontario - Lauren Hunkin of Kemptville, ON, enjoyed the biggest win of her career by claiming victory in the $90,000 Summer Festival Grand Prix on Sunday, August 8, at the CSI2* Summer Festival held at the Caledon Equestrian Park in Palgrave, ON.
Hunkin and Larry 0146 were first to tackle the challenging track set by course designer Michel Vaillancourt, individual silver medalist at the 1976 Montreal Olympic Games. They posted a clear round and were immediately assured of a jump-off as the second challengers on course, Karen Cudmore and Southern Pride, followed suit. Four more clear rounds were produced from the 21-horse starting field, bringing the total number of jump-off challengers to six.
First back for the jump-off, Hunkin and Larry 0146 posted a clear round in a time of 37.45 seconds, setting the standard to beat. Cudmore, a native of Victoria, BC, and Southern Pride, a 12-year-old Holsteiner stallion owned by her husband, Blair Cudmore, dropped two rails to eventually finish in fifth place.
Katie McVean, 23, who traveled to Canada all the way from her native New Zealand, was next up with Delphi, an eight-year-old New Zealand Sport Horse mare that she bred herself. The daughter of three-time Australian Olympian Jeff McVean, McVean had Hunkin’s time, but dropped a rail at the final fence to eventually place third.
Keean White of Rockwood, ON, gave his best effort with Celena Z, a 10-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare owned by Ashland Group and Angelstone Farms, but a refusal in the double combination ended up costing White a total of 13 faults, leaving him sixth in the final standings.
Olympic team silver medalist Jill Henselwood of Oxford Mills, ON, then laid down a clear round with Bottom Line, an 11-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare owned by Brad Prather, but her time of 37.73 seconds was just off the pace of 37.45 set by Hunkin.
It was all up to defending champion Yann Candele of Caledon, ON, who last year won this event with Mustique. Riding Game Ready, Susan Grange’s 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, Candele gave nothing less than a thrilling performance. He had the time, but when the final rail came down, victory belonged to Hunkin and Larry 0146.
“This was the biggest win of my career, and it was tough competition,” said Hunkin, who admitted that she could not watch the other jump-off contenders after taking her turn. “I knew I was beatable. I had to be very lucky for Yann to have the last rail, because he rode the track faster than I did. I am kind of speechless at this point.”
Of her jump-off strategy with Larry 0146, a 12-year-old black Oldenburg gelding owned by Synergy Farm, Hunkin said, “I wanted to lay it down and jump it clean, and challenge the rest of them. I was a little careful to number two, and then I was very happy with my roll back to the double - my horse was looking for the jump and he made a great effort there. My horse is a player and if I ride him right, we have a chance to win.”
For her victory, Hunkin claimed $27,000 of the total $90,000 in prize money on offer. She plans to invest her winnings into Synergy Farm, the training business she opened last year in Kemptville, just south of Ottawa.
“Lauren did an amazing turn back to the double in the jump-off, and that was a $90,000 turn!” said competition organizer Craig Collins of Equestrian Management Group. “It was the place where you were going to win it or lose it, and she and Larry jumped it great. It was a world-class turn back to a big jump!”
As for the overall competition at this year’s Summer Festival, Collins said, “It was a great horse show with a huge turn out with more than 900 horses competing. We had a great field of horses for all divisions; it was a pretty full house. We also had beautiful weather except for the severe thunderstorms that were predicted for the grand prix, but luckily it seemed to rain everywhere else except here.”
Another happy female competitor was Margie Gayford of Sharon, ON. Riding Showgirl, a 10-year-old selle francais mare owned by Wingberry Farms, Gayford delivered the only clear round to win Friday’s $35,000 Henry Equestrian Plan Open Welcome CSI2*. Nine-time Olympian Ian Millar, 63, of Perth, ON, was the runner-up after incurring one time fault with Dryden, a nine-year-old Belgian Warmblood stallion owned by Susan Grange.
Completing the hat trick for the women, Canadian Olympian Beth Underhill of Schomberg, ON, was the winner of Saturday’s $10,000 Champion Shavings Modified Grand Prix. Underhill was riding Viggo, her eight-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding. Amy Millar of Perth, ON, back in the saddle after giving birth to her first child in May, placed second riding Costa Rica Z as well as third with Piccobello du val de Geer.
Since 1986, the Caledon Equestrian Park has been operated by Equestrian Management Group in partnership with the Town of Caledon and the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority. Set against the backdrop of the Niagara Escarpment, numerous Olympic, World Championship and Pan American Games selection trials for Canada’s show jumping and dressage teams have been held at the Caledon Equestrian Park. The Caledon Equestrian Park has been selected as the equestrian venue for the 2015 Pan American Games/Para Pan American Games.
For more information on EMG, including full results, please visit www.equiman.com.
$90,000 Summer Festival Grand Prix – CSI2* Palgrave, ON
1. Lauren Hunkin Kemptville, ON Larry 0146 0:0 37.45
2. Jill Henselwood Oxford Mills, ON Bottom Line 0:0 37.73
3. Katie McVean New Zealand Delphi 0:4 36.47
4. Yann Candele Caledon, ON Game Ready 0:4 36.80
5. Karen Cudmore Victoria, BC Southern Pride 0:8 37.65
6. Keean White Cambridge, ON Celena Z 0:13 38.47
7. Margie Gayford Sharon, ON Showgirl 1
8. Hugh Graham Schomberg, ON Executive Privilege 3E 4
9. Karen Cudmore Victoria, BC Ceonto 4
10. Jonathon Millar Perth, ON Contino 14 4
$35,000 Henry Equestrian Plan Open Welcome – CSI2* Palgrave, ON
1. Margie Gayford Sharon, ON Showgirl 0
2. Ian Millar Perth, ON Dryden 1
3. Karen Cudmore Victoria, BC Southern Pride 4
4. Keean White Cambridge, ON Celena Z 4
5. Jonathon Millar Perth, ON Contino 14 4
6. Ian Millar Perth, ON Star Power 4
7. Karen Cudmore Victoria, BC Ceonto 5
8. Yann Candele Caledon, ON Game Ready 8
9. Ainsley Vince Milton, ON Frieda 8
10. Jenn Serek Calgary, AB Eleonora 8