Ocala, Florida - Marilyn Little with Corona came out on top in Sunday's $100,000 Longines FEI Jumping Qualifier Presented by Golden Ocala to culminate the 2016 Live Oak International.
Little bested seven other riders who reached the jump-off by riding fault-free over the first-round course designedby Leopoldo Palacios. It was Little's second win in as many days after she won the $35,000 Live Oak International CSI3* on Saturday.
Only three of the eight riders in the jump-off posted clear runs and Little's was the first. She and Corona stopped the clock in 43.34 seconds to set the mark to beat in the final qualifier determining which North American show jumpers qualify for the 2016 Longines FEI World Cup Finals in Gothenburg, Sweden in March.
The next clear round was posted by 19-year-old Chloe Reid who finished in a time of 45.19 on Codarco to claim the Reserve Championship. Katie Dinan went last in the jump-off on Dougie Douglas and posted a clear round of 48.61 seconds to finish third.
For Little, it was solid proof that she hasn't lost her show jumping touch since starting to focus on eventing a few years ago. "I think that eventing makes me sharper here," said Little who won double Gold Medals in eventing in last year's Pan American Games. "There are things I feel I do better now than I did before I evented. I wouldn't trade those things for anything and I think that being here in the show jumping ring also allows me to stay sharp for what I hope is coming in eventing."
Reid is one of the rising stars on the Grand Prix circuit. Her mother Juliet is co-president of the Live Oak International with her uncle, Chester Weber, and to turn in such a stellar performance in a strong international field with riders from 13 countries was a moment she'll treasure.
"I couldn't ask for a better placing at a better venue. To do it and sit up here with my uncle and my mom is kind of incredible. It's kind of a dream come true along with everything else that has been happening this week," Reid said.
Little had praise not only for the Live Oak venue but also for Sunday's course. "This is one of the most beautiful venues we have for a horse show anywhere," she said."It is first-class in every regard and I think Juliet and Chester are really to be commended.
"There's no more challenging course to jump than a Leopoldo course. There are always a number of tricks hiding in there and this was no different," Little continued. "(The course) really asked the horse to keep going. It was quite lengthy. It tested them hard, but very fair. It was a real pleasure to jump and a pleasure to be out there."
"The ring and the footing here are very good," Palacios responded. "I needed to give them a strong course. I think the result was great and I am quite pleased."
Wins in the $35,000 Sovaro 1.50m CSI 3* on Vasco and the $10,000 Waldron Private Wealth 1.40m Power & Speed Stake on Si Bella, combined with a third place finish in the $35,000 Live Oak International CSI 3*, earned Adam Prudent the $10,000 E² Showjumpers Leading Rider Award.
Beat Mandli of Switzerland won the M. Michael Meller Style of Riding Award and Grant Road Partners, who had horses ridden by Dinan and Mandli, won the award as Leading Owners.
This year's Live Oak International broke attendance records and was one of the most successful multi-discipline events this country has ever seen. Still, the Weber family will not rest on their laurels. "We have large aspirations in this family, so you'll see more from us," Weber said.
Full results of all classes and divisions are available at liveoakinternational.com.