Blainville, QC - Two top equestrians, Lauren Hunkin and Christine McCrea battled for the top award at Friday night's FEI Open Welcome Class during the Classique Internationale de Blainville (Jumping Blainville). Hunkin and Larry 0146's ambition and speed would earn them the winning rosette after flying through the jump-off in 31.96 seconds.
McCrea aboard Baloubet Junior Z's time would hold up for the second place position. This evenings class took place in the Grand Prix Ring at the Equestrian Park of Blainville and was watched by a large crowd of enthusiastic onlookers.
Today's challenging first round track and jump-off course were designed by Linda Allen. The opening round featured a liverpool, a triple bar and three double combinations. Many riders accrued faults at the final oxer-vertical double combination which came just a few strides after the wide spread of the triple bar. One of the most difficult aspects of the first round proved to be the time allowed, with only five riders breaking the beam without time faults.
Hunkin and McCrea were the only riders to advance to the short course, while Kirsten Coe earned the third place ribbon aboard Kilkenny Randall Z, owned by Sophie Morner, after accruing two time faults and leaving all the rails in their jumps. Yann Candele scored the fourth and fifth place awards with Redefin owned by Susan Grange and Carolla Z owned by Elizabth Currie. Candele had a rail with each mount but managed to stop the timers before the time allowed to earn his top prizes.
The jump-off course began over a large oxer with a bending line to a single vertical. Riders then had to make a sharp left turn to the difficult oxer-vertical double combination before making another left turn to a large, single oxer. Finally riders had to gallop home over a single vertical and a single oxer on the right lead going towards the gate.
McCrea was the first rider to complete a successful first round course and advance to the jump-off with Baloubet Junior Z, owned by Candy Tribble. The pair picked up a quick pace to the first fence and made a tight turn to the double combination. They increased their gallop to the final fence and soared over it with ease, completing a clear round in 32.65 seconds.
"I love Baloubet Junior and I'm very excited to have the ride on him," smiled Christine. "I had a lucky rub at the double during the first round. I wasn't surprised by his great performance because he has really been stepping up for me. I have a great feeling on him and he is in really good form."
McCrea will now aim to show the 10-year-old stallion during Sunday's $60,000 World Cup Qualifier. The exciting event will begin at 4 p.m. in the Grand Prix Ring.
Twenty horses later Hunkin entered the ring for the first round with Larry 0146, owned by Synergy Farm, and they were the only other pair that was able to leave each fence standing and stopped the clock without fault. Hunkin mimicked McCrea's tight turn to the combination and opened her horse's stride to the final two fences. Larry 0146 leapt over the last obstacles and galloped across the finish line in 31.96. The pair's incredible clear effort took them to the top of the leaderboard and they led this evening's victory gallop.
"Today's first round was a really tough track," explained Hunkin. "It was wide, it was technical and to be honest I was a little bit concerned about the width of the oxers. I didn't start off quite the way I wanted to at number one but eventually I got into a rhythm with him and I got a whistle from a friend in the crowd to pick up the pace for the time allowed after fence 10. Larry fights for me every time he goes in the ring."
After watching McCrea's track during the jump-off, Hunkin was not sure she would be able to catch the pair's quick pace. "Larry was fast across the ground to number one, but Christine was slick and I really didn't think that I could catch her time," she commented. "I saw the last fence from far away and it was really long. I didn't touch the reins and it was there, so that's where I think we made up the time."
Hunkin has been riding Larry for four years and she is thrilled with their successful partnership. "He is fantastic horse I have a lot of fun with him," she smiled. "Larry is generally a pretty quick horse as long as I don't take him in the wrong direction. He's pretty forgiving but he needs an accurate ride because he's a very careful horse and wants to do his job well."
Jumping Blainville is one of Hunkin's favorite competitions and she travels from Kemptville, Ontario, with Synergy Farm to compete each year. "I love Jumping Blainville," she said. "The park is beautiful and it is right in the middle of town so we get a nice crowd during the weekend. The ring is fantastic and the organizers do everything they can to make sure we have a nice ride."
The incredible jumper action at Jumping Blainville will continue tomorrow with the Speed Derby. Top riders will have the opportunity to test their horses strength and agility as they tackle the demanding course. On Sunday, July 18, Jumping Blainville will host its highlight event the $60,000 World Cup Qualifier. Riders will vie for the class' top honors and the opportunity to win points towards competing at the 2011 World Cup Finals in Leipzig, Germany.
For more information about Jumping Blainvillle or to download a copy of the prize list please go to www.classiqueblainville.com.
FEI Open Welcome
1 Larry 0146 Lauren Hunkin Synergy Farm 84.55 0 0 0 31.96 0 0 0
2 Baloubet Junior Z Christine McCrea Candy Tribble 84.27 0 0 0 32.65 0 0 0
3 Kilkenny Randall Z Kirsten Coe Sophie Morner 92.70 0 2 2
4 Redefin Yann Candele Susan Grange 83.14 4 0 4
5 Carolla Z Yann Candele Elizabeth Currie 85.05 4 0 4
6 Frieda Ainsley Vince KMA Group 86.10 4 1 5
7 Unica Van De Angela Covert - Lawrence Eastwood Group 87.09 4 1 5
8 Solerina Conor O'Regan Frances O'Regan 88.16 4 1 5
9 Bethsabee Keean White Angelstone Farms 89.15 4 1 5
10 Tikita Eric Flameng Torrey Pines Stable 89.67 4 1 5
11 Vicki Vale Isabelle Lapierre Ecuries De La Chaudiere 90.83 4 2 6
12 Stakkador Lubov Kochetova Lubov Kochetova 93.41 4 2 6
Photo Credit: Lauren Hunkin Leaps to Victory Aboard Larry 0146 in FEI Open Welcome at Jumping Blainville. Photo © 2010 Lindsay McCall for PMG.
Photo Credit: Christine McCrea and Baloubet Junior Z win second in FEI Open Welcome at Jumping Blainville. Photo © 2010 Lindsay McCall for PMG.