March 29, 2015 - San Juan Capistrano, CA - The second week of Spring season competition at the Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park at San Juan Capistrano culminated in today's $40,000 Spring Classic I Grand Prix. Eighteen entries competed for the top prize in the showcase class, presented by The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel, over a sweeping track designed by Brazil's Guilherme Jorge.
After 15 years of course designing for Blenheim EquiSports, Jorge is an expert at making the most of the Grand Prix field and creating a welcoming track appropriate for the competitors. "Since it's the start of the season, I didn't put a triple combination; I used three doubles. I used the rail over the water to help them jump a little better," Jorge explained. "The idea is to have an inviting course to start the spring and summer. We've got great footing, super jumps, and a good jump crew, so it's a nice place to come and design."
Featuring 16 efforts in a time allowed of 85 seconds, the scopey course required focus and agility over multiple wide oxers and related distances. As predicted by Jorge, difficult elements included an imposing double combination with two oxers as well as the double combination preceding the open water jump.
Only three entries managed to answer the questions Jorge asked in the time allowed. A fourth came close - Gabriella Salick on her mare Centuria 2 cleared the course but got caught by the clock, finishing with a score of three faults and ultimately fourth place.
Challenging obstacles from the first round, such as the one-stride coupled with twisting rollbacks offered several track options, created an exciting battle against the clock.
First to return, Molly Talla on her own Java Keltic Courage zipped around the course and stopped the timers double clean in 43.37. Tanya Levorchick and Zanzibar (Megan Camaisa, owner) had an unfortunate rail at 7a of the two-stride but a quick time in 40.49 seconds.
Last to return, New Zealand's Katie Laurie and her own Frangipanne de Toxandria laid down a slick round and looked to have the win, until a heartbreaking rail at the last oxer, for a second place finish, with Levorchick third.
Local to San Juan Capistrano, Talla proudly led the victory gallop to an exuberant, cheering crowd, including her husband and three young children.
"It's hard to juggle riding and raising a family, but I have a very supportive husband and one of my kids loves to ride. These shows are great because I live in town and I've got a great team behind me that keep the horses going so I can carpool and come to show and do my bit. It's not easy, but very fun and that makes it worth it."
She elaborated her thoughts on the class, saying, "The course was actually a bit bigger than I expected. It wasn't super technical, but it was pretty big and square. I think Jorge did a great job, and with three clear it was just about right."
Talla praised Java Celtic Courage, an 11-year-old Irish Sporthorse. "He's a wonderfully sweet horse. We're just getting back into the Grand Prix ring again after I had my third baby a year and a half ago, so I'm very pleased with him. He tried really hard today for me," she said.
The action continues at Blenheim next week during the Spring Classic II, featuring the $10,000 1.30m Scarlett's Derby, the $7,500 CashCall Mortgage Futurity, and the $40,000 Spring Classic II Grand Prix, sponsored by Orange County Register.
$40,000 Spring Classic I Grand Prix presented by The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel
Place - Number - Horse - Rider - Owner - Faults/Time
1. 246 - Java Keltic Courage - Molly Talla - Molly Talla - 0/0/43.371
2. 357 - Frangipanne de Toxandria - Katie Laurie - Katie Laurie - 0/4/40.044
3. 369 - Zanzibar - Tanya Levorchick - Megan Camaisa - 0/4/40.491
4. 210 - Centuria 2 - Gabriella Salick - Gabriella Salick, LLC - 3/87.727
5. 356 - Kiwi Iron Mark - Katie Laurie - Katie Laurie - 4/79.446
6. 208 - Uwwalon - Michelle Rodal - Morgan Hill Partners - 4/81.201
7. 298 - Akku 2 - Jasmine Wiggins - Jasmine Wiggins - 4/83.439
8. 205 - Darius de la Ferme Rose - Michelle Rodal - Morgan Hill Partners - 5/85.697
9. 418 - Chello Z - Josephina Nor-Lantzman - Josephina Nor-Lantzman - 8/81.574
10. 379 - Desdemona - Nathalie Manning - Idyllic Imports - 8/84.544
11. 194 - Uppercut Chavannaise - Peter Petschenig - Pam Bilek - 9/85.310
12. 125 - Already - Jeffrey Fields - Kew Farms - 20/78.502