Del Mar, CA - The excitement for the popular Markel Insurance 1.40m Grand Prix Series is escalating each week, as the competition intensifies and the purse for the year-end Final at The Las Vegas National continues to increase, currently at $49,800. With two qualifiers remaining, a top 25 position on the ranking list is a sought-after spot.
48 entries competed, and 14 returned for the jump-off, in Thursday's class. Mandy Porter and David Murdoch's Eminent set a fast jump-off pace that could not be topped to take the blue. Also the winner of the Markel Insurance Grand Prix at the Blenheim Summer Classic, Porter is climbing up the ranks, determined to achieve her goal of qualifying for the Final in Las Vegas.
International FEI course designer Michel Vaillancourt, who also created the tracks for the recent Pan American Games in Toronto, set a course of 15 jumping efforts that demanded precision but was not overwhelming. As often seen in this 1.40m class, the entries were a mix of young horses and/or young riders seeking grand prix miles, plus veterans, including last week's Showpark Grand Prix winner Josephina Nor Lantzman, Pan American Games competitor Eduardo Menezes and Olympic Medalist Eric Navet, who were looking to warm up for Saturday's $50,000 Showpark Grand Prix.
"I built a 1.40m course that is fair for the middle group, not the top. I kept it a little bit technical not overly technical because I don't want a seven-year-old or an eight-year-old to go and have a bad experience. I kept the rails really delicate," explained Vaillancourt, describing how he set this course for a wide array of horses.
Jumping a clear round required focus all the way down to the last jump. Vaillancourt methodically set a wide oxer at fence 11 followed by a skinny vertical as the final obstacle (fence 12). With too much impulsion coming into the line, the five strides between fences 11-12 came up quickly, so often riders would get deep to the skinny jump and, in turn, have the rail down.
A solid group of 18 competitors went clear. Of the 14 who returned, seven were double clear while the rest scored rails and refusals in an attempt to go fast and fault-free for the ribbons. Third to go, Porter and Eminent, put the pedal to the metal and turned out a fast and clear round in 36.60.
Fence 7, a tall liverpool vertical with white rails, turned out to be unlucky for Menezes, as all three of his qualified mounts had it down, but lucky for Porter. When she made a tidy roll back from the oxer before and went to jump the vertical right out of the turn, Eminent stuck in one extra stride in front but cleared it. The crowd loved the effort as they cheered her on.
Within the six clear rounds to follow, the only pair to give Porter a run for her money was Navet and ASB Conquistador (Signe Ostby, owner) coming in with a time of 37.01 seconds. Mandy admitted, "I thought for sure Eric had beaten me. I watched him and he looked way faster."
And she had nothing but praise for her horse. "Luna is very fast in the air; she doesn't waste a lot of time, she just kind of lands and goes. She loves her job, she loves to go out there and be competitive. You can't ask for a lot more in a horse."
After yesterday's win, Porter sits 8th out of the top 25 on the list. She is one of many who plan on competing at The Las Vegas National, which is certain to sell out. The Markel Insurance 1.40m Grand Prix Series Final is one of several highlight classes at the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping event. Entries close for The Las Vegas National on October 12th.
$25,000 Markel Insurance Grand Prix
Place - Entry - Name - Rider - Owner - Faults/Time
1. 609 - Eminent - Mandy Porter - David Murdoch - 0/0/36.605
2. 179 - ASB Conquistador - Eric Navet - Signe Ostby - 0/0/37.018
3. 111 - Luebbo - Jamie Barge - KylieCo - 0/0/38.300
4. 375 - Chacna - Eduardo Menezes - Daniel Anicet Chavez - 0/0/41.045
5. 256 - Allstar 5 - Gavin Brodin - Gavin Brodin - 0/0/41.195
6. 109 - Zuidhoeve - Kasey Ament - Kyu Jin Whang - 0/0/42.780
7. 563 - Fyer Van de Broy - Michael Endicott - Pegasus Partnership - 0/0/46.190
8. 371 - Quintol - Eduardo Menezes - Carlos Hank - 0/4/36.778
9. 361 - Golden Horta - Eduardo Menezes - Carlos Hank, Jr. - 0/4/37.670
10. 176 - Legis Touch the Sun - Jenni McAllister - Legisequine.com - 0/4/40.228
11. 149 - Caretol - Marc Grock - Moonlite Beach, LLC - 0/4/41.098
12. 202 - Saint Quentin - Peter Petschenig - Peter Petschenig - 0/8/41.425