April 11, 2015 - San Juan Capistrano, CA - Saturday afternoon was filled with awards and accolades for a range of recipients, beginning with the $10,000 CardFlex 1.35m Jumper Classic, the $500 Grooms' Class, sponsored by Shapley's, and culminating with the $50,000 Spring Classic III Grand Prix, presented by EquiFit, inc.
Andrew Kocher took home the top prize in the 1.35m Jumper Classic, sponsored by CardFlex, on Ciana (owned by Eagle Valley Partners, LLC), going quick and clear in the jump-off in 43.16 seconds. Eduardo Menezes and his own Carushka narrowly missed the win, stopping the clock in 43.30 for a close second place. The winners of Thursday's Markel Insurance 1.40m Grand Prix, Nayel Nassar and Nakich Double Dutch (Madeleine Wilson, owner), sped through the timers in 44.66 seconds to take home third.
As the riders took to the Grand Prix field to walk the course, the gleaming horses entered in the $500 Grooms' Class sauntered in. Standing in center field the grooms illustrated all the essentials used to keep riders and horses prepared to enter the ring beautifully. Adolfo Garcia of Revolution Farms took home the win, showing off Laura Hite's Chapot Z in pristine, sparkling condition.
Sally Stith-Burdette, Director of Marketing for Shapley's premium line of equine grooming products is sponsoring several of these special classes throughout the show season. "We wanted to give back to the guys who use these products and make the horses look so good," Stith-Burdette explained. "This is our way of thanking them for all they do as the unsung heroes of the horse show circuit."
The highlight event, the $50,000 Spring Classic III Grand Prix, presented by EquiFit, inc., tested twenty-seven entries over an impressive Leopoldo Palacios course, which featured sixteen efforts in a time allowed of 84 seconds.
Wide, deceptively difficult oxers and prominent verticals, multiple double combinations and lines with tricky stride counts caused multiple rails throughout the class, several unfortunate eliminations and a few voluntary withdrawals.
Known for his technical and challenging course design, Palacios kept the level of experience in mind for today's track. Undoubtedly a reflection on his lauded career as a globally recognized course designer, he accurately predicted the jump-off number at just three. Sixth to gallop in, Andrew Kocher, aboard his own Heliante, was the first to go clear, directly followed by Eduardo Menezes on Sara Hank's Quintol Mercedes Benz. Not until the twentieth to go, Simon Nizri on SN Stables, LLC's E Muze Yek, did one more go clean - the last clean round of the class.
Traveling to Southern California from St. Louis, Missouri, Kocher has spent the last few weeks competing at Blenheim. Fresh off his win on Ciana in the 1.35m CardFlex Jumper Classic earlier in the day, he flew around the twisting jump-off track, catching three rails in a time of 42.55 seconds. Menezes, who was second to Kocher in the CardFlex Classic, as well as second in Thursday's Markel Insurance Grand Prix, kept all the jumps up with seasoned partner and 2016 Olympic hopeful mount Quintol Mercedes Benz, stopping the timers in 44.70 to take the lead.
Last to return, Nizri faced the challenge of going both clear and faster than Menezes over the scopey course. Executing a flying gallop that had the crowd clucking and cheering him on, he posted a clear round in a winning time of 43.23 seconds. Once again Menezes took home second and, in this class, Kocher took third.
Nizri hails from Mexico and rides for Israel. Successful in the saddle as a teenager, he competed in the 1996 World Cup Finals in Geneva, and them went on to get a law degree. He now owns and operates the beautiful Wildflower Ranch in Encinitas, CA. "E Muze Yek is an 11-year-old Belgian Warmblood by For Pleasure. I bought him a year ago and he's the best horse I've ever had. He has a very strong character, but is very nice to ride," Nizri explained.
He also praised the course, saying, "I think Leopoldo is always challenging and makes everyone work hard. It was a very nice course he built - it was a good test, so it was fun to ride."
And Palacios praised Blenheim EquiSports. "I love the grass ring here. Today, the sport is becoming too artificial and the environment isn't as nice for the horses. But I love the environment at this facility; it's very good."
Nizri's upcoming aspirations are international. "I'm now competing for Israel and there's a possibility of building a Nations Cup team, so we might be going to the Nations Cup in Batislava and Budapest. We're preparing at the upcoming Del Mar and Showpark Ranch & Coast shows close to home."
The four weeks of festivities during the Spring Classic series draw to a close on Sunday, finishing with the $7,500 CashCall Mortgage 1.35m-1.40m Futurity and featuring highlights from multiple Classic classes for juniors and amateurs in the hunter and jumper divisions.
$50,000 Blenheim Spring Classic III Grand Prix presented by EquiFit, inc.
Place - Number - Horse - Rider - Owner - Faults/Time
1. 748 - E Muze Yek - Simon Nizri - Simon Nizri - 0/0/43.233
2. 905 - Quintol Mercedes Benz - Eduardo Menezes - Sara Hank - 0/0/44.702
3. 790 - Heliante - Andrew Kocher - Andrew Kocher - 0/12/42.552
4. 874 - Quilebo du Tillard - Enrique Gonzalez - Enrique Gonzalez - 4/78.205
5. 561 - Baldira - Ray Texel - Mirador Equestrian + Paul Schockemöhle - 4/79.364
6. 760 - Alfie - Eduardo Sanchez-Navarro - Eduardo Sanchez-Navarro - 4/81.049
7. 546 - Clintord - Michelle Parker - Cross Creek Farms, Inc - 5/84.871
8. 944 - Heraldo S - Mei Mei Zhu - Mei Mei Zhu - 8/79.352
9. 455 - Bologna - Nayel Nassar - Andrew Ramsay - 8/80.247
10. 212 - Santa Catarina LS La Silla - Bretton Chad - Stone Ridge Farms LLC - 8/81.490
11. 791 - Cantori - Andrew Kocher - Aleece Jarman - 8/82.997
12. 657 - Balyon - Mark Watring - Mark Watring - 9/84.330