CULPEPER, VA (September 30, 2001)--Marilyn Little, 19, of Frederick, Maryland, aboard the stallion Lassango, bested a field of 27 horses to win the $25,000 Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper High Invitational at the Cosequin® U. S. Grand Prix League Finals in Culpeper, Virginia, today. Ms. Little owns the eight-year-old, 16.1-hand German-bred stallion with her family's Raylyn Farm, and took home $7,500 for her win. Dave Ballard of Ontario, Canada, designed the course. "I did my first Grand Prix ever in Culpeper when I was 16," said Little. "Now here I am at 19. It's a good way of gauging how far you've come. I'm in exactly the same place three years later where I did my first Grand Prix, and now I'm qualified for this class. And I qualified in the middle of the field. It's good to see, and it's a good accomplishment, not necessarily winning, but just to say 'Look how far I've come and progressed as a rider'."
For Round One, Ballard built a 12-jump course that included a double combination at Fence No. 4 and a triple at Fence No. 8. Time Allowed was set at 81 seconds. One rider was eliminated on course and two riders voluntarily withdrew on course. Five riders had clear rounds and qualified for the Jump-Off. "I thought it got progressively harder as the course went on," said Little. "It didn't stride out, it wasn't a real 'in your face' course to start out with, but it slowly built. By the time you got to the triple combination, it seemed like a $25,000 class. The triple was the scope test. The Time Allowed was a factor. You really had to keep pushing it through the turns. Dave Ballard incorporated a lot of turns into the course, asking can you rollback neatly to a jump? What if you don't have a whole lot of time in between? Most of the lines were related, so it plays up to rider error."
Ballard's six-fence Jump-Off course included the double at No. 4 and introduced a new jump, No. 14. Time Allowed was set at 40 seconds. Susan Strecker of Killingworth, Connecticut, aboard her Philadelfia went first in the Jump-Off and had a rail for four faults, which placed her fourth. Next to go was Little on Lassango who cleared the course in 33.222, which set the pace and no one was able to catch her. Third to go was Erin Davis of Fort Worth, Texas, on October Hill's Ravina who lowered two fences in 36.363 taking fifth. Next to challenge was Danielle Torano of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on Sir Ruly Inc.'s Lojana who blazed around the course in the fastest time, but had the last fence down for four faults in 32.059, relegating her to third place. Last on course was Michelle Pia of Landenberg, Pennsylvania, on Inner Beauty owned by Paul Sa, who cleared the course, but her time of 34.701 put her in second place. Earlier in the day, Pia won the $15,000 Jr/A-O Low Invitational on Gabby.
"It was a good jump-off because in the beginning you had to do the numbers--the oxer-vertical-vertical, and then you had the option--could you make the inside turn back to the double? As it turned out, everybody did. Then at the last two jumps you could either win it or lose it. I flew. Then Danielle Torano had to chase it. She probably had me beat on the time, but she was really pushing it to the last one and that's why she had that one down. For me, that was my place to say 'Okay, don't get too excited here', because that would be where I would make my mistake. The last two fences were where you had the chance to just let it rip, and you had to try not to."
Little qualified for the Invitational Finals in the $15,000 Jr/A-O Low, the $25,000 Jr/A-O High, and the $100,000 Cosequin® Grand Prix. She rode Polaris and placed seventh in the $15,000 Low class where she lowered the last two fences, but put in the fastest time. "I had a really fast little horse and he's been really good. I won on him last week in Columbia. I just thought I'd go with it and take a shot. It was the luck of the day that I went first in the Jump-Off. You have 10 behind you, so you have to go fast and I did, and I had some rails, but I'm glad I did because it made me think about this second round for the $25,000 class. I used Lassango in this class because he's jumped a lot of big classes lately and I wanted him to be able to take a step back because he's only eight years old and he hasn't had that much mileage. I'll ride Landman in the Grand Prix. He's also just moving up to the Grand Prix but he had more mileage in the lower classes before we got him. We'll just hope for the best later on. I have a feeling the jumps are going to be really big."
$25,000 Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper High Invitational,
September 30, 2001
HITS Culpeper VI, Cosequin® USGPL Finals, Culpeper, Virginia
Course Designer: Dave Ballard
Pl#/Horse/Rider/Owner/Prize Money/Rd 1 Faults/J-O Faults-Time
1/Lassango/Marilyn Little/Raylyn Farm & Marilyn Little/$7,500/0/0-33.222
2/Inner Beauty/Michelle Pia/Paul Sa/$5,000/0/0-34.701
3/Lojana/Danielle Torano/Sir Ruly Inc./$3,250/0/4-32.059
4/Philadelfia/Susan M. Strecker/Susan M. Strecker/$2,000/0/4-33.232
5/October Hill's Ravina/Erin Davis/October Hill Sales/$1,500/0/8-36.363
6/Big Len/Michelle Harding/Michelle Harding/$1,250/ ½ /NA
7/Razzoo/Ann Alfano/Cherry Knoll Farm/$1,000/4/NA
8/Logan's Peak/Darby Toben/Darby Toben/$750/4/NA
9/Carlow Clover/Robin Sweely/Acorn Hill Farm Inc./$750/4/NA
10/Ever After/Stacie Ryan/Stacie Ryan/$500/4/NA
11/Atlantic/Rory Hovell/Rory Hovell/$500/4/NA
12/Stormin Norman/Beth Forbes-Howard/Windy Hill Stables, Inc./$500/8/NA
Number of horses who competed in this class: 27
Class Prize Money: $25,000