Rising Stars Steal the Show in Week I of the June Classic Series

San Juan Capistrano, CA - June 10th, 2012 - The June Classic I wrapped up today and it could not have been a better day to spend at the Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park. The sun was shining and the competition was hot as up and coming star Tina Di Landri was able to outride the international field by over a second in a nail biting jump-off. The competition will only get better as the series runs for another three weeks in San Juan Capistrano.

The Zone 10 North American Junior and Young Rider Championship Team Trails were the prelude to the young blood domination of the week. Both Junior and Young Riders rode towards a cumulative high point standing over the course of the week. By Sunday, the top ten riders were named to each team. The top four riders from Junior and Young Riders are named to the team with the fifth rider named as the team alternate and fifth individual rider. Both teams will continue on to the NAJYRC Finals later in the year in Lexington, Kentucky. Team names are listed below. 

Nineteen horse and rider pairs took on course designer Linda Allen's Grand Prix course this afternoon in the $30,000 Blenheim Classic Grand Prix, presented by St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort and Spa. Veteran rider Rusty Stewart, and his trusty mount Bristol, led the International field as the first clear round in the 90 second time allowed track. "It's a course suitable for the horses starting out and for the experienced ones", mentioned Allen, "it's always fun to see a mixed group tackle the same course." Challenges included multiple tight turns, a triple bar, an oxer-vertical double, an optional water jump and a finishing line that included a vertical-oxer-vertical triple combination. Six other riders were able to go clear and join Stewart in the jump-off. 

Four nations represented the jump-off field, including Brazil, Mexico, Australia, and the United States. Allen adjusted the track for the jump-off leaving contenders with a very demanding course but with numerous options. The competition's intensity grew by round as each horse and rider were able to stop the clock and claim the lead. Riding for his 100th Grand Prix victory, Hap Hansen and Linda Smith's Archie Bunker were able the best the men in the field and secure the lead with a time of 35.452. Three ladies wrapped up the field but with an unfortunate rail, Michelle Parker, and her magnificent nine-year-old Selle Francais mare Xel Ha, would become the fastest four faulters of the day. 

It was deja vu as Brazilian rider Josephina Nor Lantzman galloped into the ring, looking to better the time of legend Hap Hansen, just as she did earlier this season in Thermal when she barred Hansen of his record win by just a few hundredths of a second. Lantzman took charge of the course, cutting corners and galloping between lines knowing that Chello Z was capable of topping the leaderboard yet again. Gunning to the wire, Lantzman and Chello Z stopped the clock in a blazing 35.151, to take the lead, and yet again, put Hansen's 100th win on hold for another day, settling for 3rd respectively.

With one rider to go in the jump-off, it seemed near impossible to better the time of current leader Lantzman. Young rider, and up and coming Grand Prix star, Tina Di Landri did not let her nerves get to her but rather kept a sense of calm going into the ring. "I knew I'd have the upper hand riding last in both rounds and watching everyone else go before me." Tina shared. "The course was great though. It wasn't super technical, but the time allowed was tight so there was no room for error. We needed to cut some corners to avoid time faults."

Di Landri and the 11-year-old Irish Sport Horse Avargo have been riding as a team for two years, and began competing at the Grand Prix level only last summer. Going into the jump-off, "it was all about turning and having momentum," noted Di Landri. "After watching how slick Hap (Hansen) moved around the course and how intense Josephina (Lantzman) went, I knew coming in I had to be quick and shave off as much time around turns as possible. I was very happy with him (Avargo)". Di Landri was able to ride a flawless course stopping the clock at a remarkable 34.120, over a second faster and good enough for 1st.

"I couldn't be happier," Allen smiled, "there's nothing a course designer could be happier with then to have the final rider win it all." While everyone holds their breathe for Hap Hansen to clinch that 100th victory, "we'll all just enjoy riding along with him until that day happens. It's wonderful to see Hap (Hansen) riding so well and I hope that the two young ones (Josephina Lantsman and Tina Di Landri) are riding just as well at his age."

The competition continues next week in sunny San Juan Capistrano with Saturday's $10,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby and Sunday's $30,000 June Classic Grand Prix, presented by Royal Champion. Both competitions will be held on the International Grass Grand Prix Field. Check the Blenheim EquiSports website for up-to-date event information.

Zone 10 North American Junior Championship Team
Madison Bradshaw - Katina 12
Haley Schwab - Coya
Hannah Von Heiddegger - Candle Light Van De Warande
Alicia Gasser - Audi's Reflection
Alternate: Haley Stone - Tyrone

Zone 10 North American Young Rider Championship Team
Kilian McGrath - Salerno
Sage Fylnn - Hot Pants
Charlotte Gadbois - Semira De Saulieu
Stevie Sorenson - Esperanto
Alternate: Taylor Harris - Candilla

$30,000 BLENHEIM JUNE CLASSIC GRAND PRIX presented by St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort
course designer Linda Allen
1st Avargo - Tina Di Landri - High Point Farm 0/0/34.120
2nd Chello Z - Josephina Nor-Lantzman - Josephina Nor Stables 0/0/35.151
3rd Archie Bunker - Hap Hansen - Linda Smith 0/0/35.452
4th Casseur de Prix - Lane Clark - Granville Equine 0/0/36.259
5th Montejo - Francisco Pasqual - Francisco Pasqual 0/0/37.838
6th Bristol - Rusty Stewart - Grey Fox Farm 0/0/38.270
7th Xel Ha - Michelle Parker - Tula Pinnella 0/4/36.320
8th Picturized - Jill Humphrey - Pacificia Ridding Club 4/84.472
9th Serendipity - Devon Gibson - Tracey Griswold 4/85.591
10th Con Capital - Mandy Porter - Plum Creek Hollow 4/85.679

Photos: 2012 Zone 10 NAJYRC Teams; Tina Di Landri and Avargo; Josephina Nor Lantzman and Chello Z settle for 2nd place respectively Photos © Amy McCool Photography.