September 20, 2014 - San Juan Capistrano, CA - Amid a weekend packed full of equitation and young jumper finals, the $30,000 Markel Insurance Grand Prix saw twenty-five entries vying for the top prize on Saturday afternoon in the popular 1.40m highlight class. Course designer Anthony D'Ambrosio set a technical track with 16 efforts in a time allowed of 80 seconds. In designing the course for the last qualifying class before the $50,000+ Markel Insurance 1.40m Series Finals at the Las Vegas National in November, D'Ambrosio wanted the track to pose more challenge to competitors than the season's beginning qualifiers.
"It's a strong 1.40m class, whereas earlier in the season they may have been built a little softer. I think the course today is fairly technical. It's a big 1.40m - I used three doubles and they are each tough in their own way. The time allowed is going to cause some pressure and that's something to keep it in mind," he explained.
As predicted, the double combinations were a source of trouble for many entries, causing the majority of rails throughout the class. Fence 8, an impressive oxer, and final fence 13, a plank going home, also caused difficulty, which D'Ambrosio aptly observed when elaborating on his plan.
"I think fence 8 is a tough jump - it's a bit wide and a tough turn away from the gate. And the last fence, a plank off a very steady six or flat five, will be difficult. I'd love to see six clean - that would be a nice number in this group."
He very nearly hit the mark in the jump-off - seven entries returned to contest the deciding course, which featured 8 efforts in a time allowed of 50 seconds. The jump-off included the tricky combination of 12a-b, as well as several opportunities to shave off the seconds with inside turns and a gallop to the finish.
First in the qualifying round and first to return for the jump-off, Michelle Parker aboard Washington (David Kroff, owner), set the standard by zipping through the timers with a clean round in 38.48 seconds. Just after Parker, Jamie Barge on Kylieco's Lasse, had a thrilling time of 36.88 but a single rail.
With the rails continuing to fall for the next several entries, it was once again Barge, this time aboard Kylieco's Luebbo, who turned in the only other clear round. Close but not close enough, Barge couldn't quite catch Parker, stopping the clock in 41.44. Going first throughout both rounds proved to be the first-place formula for Parker, while Barge earned both second and third with Luebbo and Lasse, respectively.
Parker has only had the ride on Washington, a son of Heartbreaker, for a short time. "I have been riding him for about two and a half months, and I started doing the grand prix classes with him in August," she said.
The pair won the 1.35m Jumper Classic at the Blenheim Fall Tournament and they placed second in the August Summer Festival Markel Insurance Grand Prix. Parker plans on competing in the Markel Insurance 1.40m Series Finals in November at the Las Vegas National, one of the top 25 riders to qualify after a competitive season.
Rebecca Bruce and Pizzazz B Are Top Class in Scarlett's Jumper Derby
On Friday afternoon the East Grass Field was the place to be as spectators enjoyed Argentine BBQ while watching the Scarlett's Jumper Derby, 1.30m. Joe Lombardo's sprawling derby track took the horses and riders up, down and around the entire length of the grass field.
The course required notable stamina and endurance from competitors as they navigated challenging derby elements including an open water jump, a steep bank, and a grob, a total of 19 efforts in a time allowed of 133 seconds.
Humberto Quirarte on his own Saffier were the first clean round of the class, while several others had only single rails keeping them from the jump-off. It looked to be a win for Quirarte until Rebecca Bruce on her own Pizzazz B entered the ring last to go and turned in a clear round, forcing a jump-off.
The jump-off incorporated three new fences and required several tight rollbacks and an efficient track between fences. Quirarte returned first and turned in a smooth, clear round in 45.18 seconds. With their work laid out for them, Bruce and Pizzazz B galloped in and zipped around the course, leaving all the jumps up and shaving several seconds off Quirarte's time to win in 41.17.
Bruce was full of praise for her talented horse. "I've been riding Pizzazz B for about a year and a half and this is the first Derby I have done on him. You can rely on him when you go in the ring and he was awesome with all the natural obstacles."
$30,000 Markel Insurance Grand Prix
Place - Number - Horse - Rider - Owner - Faults/Time
1. 418 - Washington - Michelle Parker - David Kroff - 0/0/38.489
2. 506 - Luebbo - Jamie Barge - Kylieco - 0/0/41.442
3. 508 - Lasse - Jamie Barge - Kylieco - 0/4/36.889
4. 420 - Socrates De Midos - Michelle Parker - Cross Creek Farms, Inc. - 0/4/47.255
5. 239 - Casseur De Prix - Jenni McAllister - Granville Equine - 0/8/40.964
6. 606 - Pizzazz B - Rebecca Bruce - Rebecca Bruce - 0/8/46.123
7. 573 - Arivederci Alex - Peter Petschenig - Pam Bilek - 0/EL
8. 635 - Daylight - Theodore Boris - Mary Sweeney - 1/80.050
9. 253 - Eminent - Laura Lloret - David Murdoch - 4/72.798
10. 370 - Semira de Saulieu - Lane Clarke - Charlotte Gadbois - 4/77.434
11. 283 - Oh My Goodness - Leslie Steele - Leslie Steele - 4/78.940
12. 396 - Zanzibar - Tanya Levorchick - Megan Camaisa - 4/79.048
$10,000 Scarlett's Jumper Derby, 1.30m
Place - Number - Horse - Rider - Owner - Faults/Time
1. 606 - Pizzazz B - Rebecca Bruce - Rebecca Bruce - 0/0/41.172
2. 613 - Saffier - Humberto Quirarte - Humberto Quirarte - 0/0/45.180
3. 405 - Zan Chin - Kelly McKnight - Jane Hind - 4/116.297
4. 418 - Washington - Michelle Parker - David Kroff - 4/120.612
5. 637 - Clintord - Michelle Parker - Cross Creek Farms Inc. - 4/121.395
6. 371 - McLord's First John - Lane Clarke - Mickey Hayden - 4/128.076
7. 329 - Ultimate II Se - Jamie Sailor - Felyn Farms - 8/120.538
8. 633 - Walkabout - Carly Ramsey - Carly Ramsey - 21/141.226