Las Vegas, NV - With a successful second season, the Markel Insurance 1.40m Grand Prix Series awarded over $300,000 in prize money from March through September this year. Adding a percentage of each entry from the 13 qualifiers, the purse for Thursday evening's Series Final at The Las Vegas National was over $53,000. After eight pairs rode the first round without fault, it was Austrian Peter Petschenig aboard Saint Quentin who rode the fastest double clean for the win.
Twenty-four of the top scoring riders throughout the season competed in the South Point Equestrian Arena over an Olaf Petersen, Jr. course. With 14 efforts featuring a series of related distances from start to finish, and a tight time allowed, the track demanded precision. Twelve horse and rider pairs finished the course without lowering the height of a jump, but only eight of the twelve mastered the track within the time allowed.
Petersen designed a jump-off that offered options with challenges. "The course has one sharp left turn, one sharp right turn and a long gallop to the last jump. It has everything an exciting jump-off needs."
With its share of thrills, the jump-off had some surprising twists. First to return, Sayre Happy on Ludwig's Joker B (HC Sport Horses, owner) had a refusal at the oxer into the 10ab combination. Richard Spooner on Cristallo were next. Known as the Master of Faster, Spooner went for speed, had a rail halfway through the round and a refusal at the final fence. Wednesday evening's winner, Karl Cook on Banba, had the time but two rails kept him out of the top spot. Rails continued to fall until Peter Petschenig and his own Saint Quentin zipped around the short course in a fault free time of 43.90. Last to go in the jump-off, Eduardo Menezes aboard Carushka finished a close second, clean and clear in 44.43.
The winner thought the course was a good test. "It was great. I think the course was tough enough. It was a tight time, and many had time faults. There were good horses and good riders, it was fun."
Pleased with the results, but especially with his horse, Petschenig said, "Saint Quentin came back this year from an injury. I didn't actually know how good he was going to be this year. As you can see, he did a great job - he was fantastic in the jump-off. It's a great end of the season for him."
The Las Vegas National continues through Sunday, with the first round of the West Coast Equestrian Medal Finals kicking off today, as well as the $30,000 Las Vegas 1.35m Speed Classic, presented by Walter Oil & Gas, this evening. Packed with highlights, Saturday's schedule includes two FEI classes - the $35,000 FEI 1.45m Winning Round Classic and the $100,000 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Las Vegas, presented by Interactive Mortage - as well as the final two rounds in the WCE and the NAL Children's and Adult Hunter Finals. Sunday wraps up a full week with the SJHF and NAL Finals in several jumper divisions.