CULPEPER, VA (September 30, 2001)--Michelle Pia, 18, of Landenberg, Pennsylvania, riding Gabby won the $15,000 Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Low Invitational at the Cosequin® U.S. Grand Prix League Finals in Culpeper, Virginia, today, beating a field of 33 entries. Gabby, an eight-year old, 16-hand, Brazilian mare, brought home $4,500 for her owner, Grand Prix rider Manuel Torres. Ms. Pia trains with Emil Spadone at Redfield Farm in Pottersville, New Jersey. Dave Ballard of Ontario, Canada, designed the course. "Gabby is really fun to ride," said Ms. Pia. "She's so easy. She's perfect. You don't have to show her at all, you can just go into a class and she doesn't look, she doesn't spook, she will just jump anything. She's the best horse."
Ballard designed a 12-jump Round One course that included a double at Fence No. 4 and a triple at Fence No. 8 with Time Allowed set at 81 seconds. Ten horses jumped clear rounds and qualified for the Jump-Off. "I thought there were going to be a lot of clear rounds because it didn't seem that hard at first," said Pia. "But when I went in, it was a lot harder because the time was really tight and everyone was flying around and had rails down because they were going so fast to make the time. But I liked the course. It was good."
For the Jump-Off, Ballard set a six-jump track that included the double at No. 4 and introduced one new jump, No. 14. Time Allowed was set at 40 seconds. Pia was the fourth rider on course in the Jump-Off and posted the first clear round, setting the pace at 33.711, which proved to be unbeatable. Only one other rider, Amy Shafmaster of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, riding her Darby was able to produce a clear round, but her time of 37.272 placed her second. Shafmaster took home a $3,300 paycheck. Marilyn Little of Frederick, Maryland, on Polaris had the fastest time, 31.393, but lowered the last two fences for eight faults and ended up in seventh place.
"I was worried about the last fence because of the plank," said Pia. "It was a long run to a plank-oxer and I was nervous about the front rail. If I was going too fast I knew I would just 'catch a flyer' and she would have it down in front. But she was a good girl, she backed up and she jumped it." Pia finished almost four seconds faster than Shafmaster, and said leaving out strides and turning were the keys to her faster finish. "I had a tight turn after 4AB to the vertical so that saved time. I did six strides instead of seven from two to three and that also saved time."
Pia qualified for the Finals in both the Low and High Jr/A-O Jumper Invitationals on her own horse, but that horse is taking time off before the indoor circuits. Pia was unaware of her eligibility for the Low class until Wednesday, and did not have a horse to ride. Owner Torres gave the ride to Pia on Gabby for the $15,000 Jr/A-O Low class and owner Paul Sa gave her the ride on his Inner Beauty for the $25,000 Jr/A-O High class. Gabby had been sent to Spadone to sell, and Pia only recently started riding her. "I rode Gabby at the Gold Cup and in one class at Columbia. I want to take this opportunity to say thanks to Manuel for letting me ride Gabby. I also want to thank Emil Spadone."
$15,000 Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Low 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/Gabby/Michelle Pia/Manuel Torres/$4,500/0/0-33.711
2/Darby/Amy Shafmaster/Amy Shafmaster/$3,300/0/0-37.272
3/Gulit/Evan Coluccio/Evan Coluccio & Erika Scherer/$1,950/0/4-31.484
4/Dennis the Menace/Sherry Hyland/Sherry Hyland/$1,200/0/4-35.435
5/Paul Harvey/Tracy Bartko/Mr. & Mrs. John Bartko/$900/0/4-35.850
6/Summer Salute/Barbara U. Rochford/Barbara U. Rochford/$750/0/4-37.155
7/Polaris/Marilyn Little/Raylyn Farm & Marilyn Little/$600/0/8-31.393
8/Isabelle/Ashley Latsha/Ashley Latsha/$450/0/4-33.898
9/Edge/E. Burrell Davidson/E. Burrell Davidson/$450/0/8-34.512
10/Limelight/Martha Jolicoeur/Pierre Jolicoeur/$300/0/11-55.354
11/Marco/Michael Kennedy/Michael Kennedy/$300/4/NA
12/Jolien/Rebecca Astrom/Twin Oaks Farm/$300/4/NA
Number of horses who competed in this class: 33
Class Prize Money: $15,000