Temecula, CA - The Temecula Valley National Horse Show II hit its halfway mark Friday, with Nilforushan Equisport Events' third day of competition featuring the $10,000 Meyer Selles 1.40m Jumpers in the Audi Grand Prix Arena. Susan Hutchison and Notable ultimately showcased their skills best, galloping to the top spot in the prize money class. The $10,000 NEE Hunter/Jumper Team Challenge pitted teams comprised of riders from both disciplines against each other, with the performances by Michelle Parker and Madison Dunham aboard their horses edging out the competition to emerge victorious. In the hunter ring, Brooke Morin, 15, returned from her week one domination in the Junior 3'6" Hunter division on Winterfell to lead the way after Friday's classes.
The $10,000 Meyer Selles 1.40m Jumpers brought a talented group of horses and riders to the main ring for a shot at the prize money, but only three pairs proved skillful enough to master the first track to qualify for the abridged jump-off, with none piloting to double clears. Fourth to ride, Hutchison and Carolyn Mittler's 8-year-old Notable were the early pathfinders of the class as the first to jump clear, and eventually finished the short course with a single rail down at the in oxer of a lofty in-and-out in 46.349 seconds to take the initial lead, a lead that would be uncatchable for the rest of the pack.
Francie Steinwedell-Carvin and Magnus, owned by Prentice Partners, would give Hutchison and Notable a run for their money a few trips later, and while the duo tripped the timers in a brisk time of 42.169 seconds, a handful of rails would keep them out of contention for the blue ribbon. Francie Nilforushan, one-half of the namesake of Nilforushan Equisport Events, would soon after lay down a similar trip on Straviaty, earning a spot in the jump-off but clipping a few rails to finish in third position overall.
The $10,000 NEE Hunter/Jumper Team Challenge added an inventive twist to standard equestrian competition, this time with hunters and jumpers teaming up to combine their respective talents. Scores were calculated by subtracting the time from the jumper portion of the course from the score awarded by a judge to the hunter counterpart to determine a final tally. As the second pair to ride, Dunham and Parker did not have the advantage of watching many trips before them but were able to navigate their horses, Gusti CK and CCF Hibiscus Coast, to the total score of 51.14 points. Dunham piloted Gusti CK over the first six hunter jumps of the track to earn an 80 score, followed by Parker and CCF Hibiscus Coasts' quick time of 28.860 seconds over the subsequent six fences.
The remaining contenders each took their turns around the course, comprised of both hunter and jumper-style fences, but none were able to surpass the early leaders. One of the last to ride, Mia Jones aboard Caro As 17 and Laura Ware with the reins on Ursina du Perchet claimed the reserve spot with final marks of 50.421, less than one point behind.
The high school freshman of Laguna Beach, California, Brooke Morin rode Strasburg Morin Inc.'s Winterfell, a 7-year-old grey mare, to an early lead in the Junior 3'6" Hunter division after winning an over fences round, placing second in another over fences round and earning a yellow ribbon in the under saddle class. Back in April during the first week of competition in Temecula, the pair clinched the Junior 3'6" Hunter division title and they are aiming to add another tricolor ribbon to their collection Saturday when the division concludes. Maneuvering into second place in the overall division rankings was Juliette Joseph aboard Natalie Templeton's Salvatore, a 9-year-old Hanoverian gelding.
In the Junior 3'3" Hunter division, Tate Beteta rode Surf's Up, her 11-year-old Warmblood gelding, to the lead by placing first and second over fences and placing third in the under saddle.
Equestrian competition at Galway Downs will return Saturday for the penultimate day of the Temecula Valley National Horse Show II, with the $60,000 KindredBio Grand Prix bringing the best show jumpers to the Audi Grand Prix Arena for a share in the top prize. In the hunter ring, Junior champions will be crowned while the Amateur-Owner divisions get underway.
FROM THE WINNER'S CIRCLE
Susie Hutchison - $10,000 Meyer Selles 1.40m Jumper champion
"He belongs to Carolyn Mittler and he is actually her first jumper! She has always had hunters. I bought him a year ago in Holland, and we did the 7-year-old classes, where he finished 3rd in the finals. During that time, we were stepping him up a little bit in the 1.40m but we actually quit showing in September because that is the time for the World Cup qualifying classes and he wasn't quite ready for that. It was a long haul for him to sit at home until we started back up at HITS Thermal at the end of March, and he was kind of iffy there as far as getting his feet back in the water in the 1.40m division, but he was good at Showpark and has been getting better and better at these shows."
On showing at the Temecula Valley National Horse Show:
"Ali [Nilforushan] has done a fantastic job and the footing is just perfect! I was here for the first show and already you can see the improvements and all the effort that is going into this whole event. I most especially appreciate the area for the exhibitors - we can sit down and enjoy the competition without having to pay for the VIP tables."
On what elements made the course difficult:
"I think that the square oxer in the corner, fence four, and 8a were certainly big enough. The ring is narrow, but I think it's a great ring and it helps the horses learn to be adjustable. My rail was at 8a and I flew in so fast that there was no way, unless he was extremely clever, to get in and out of that combination without a rail. I don't have that adjustability yet but he is a clever horse and he will learn from the rail today."
Brooke Morin - Junior 3'6" Hunter leader - On her thoughts about leading the division:
"I feel pretty good! I thought both our rounds were good, but I liked the second round better because it was smoother."
"I have had her since January. She is so pretty with her color and she has a really good expression going around. She is so sweet and loves cookies. I was champion the first four weeks I showed at HITS Thermal, at Showpark during WCHR Week and also here in April. We plan to do indoors later this year."
On competing at the Temecula :
"I like everything here! I didn't show in the grass ring at the last show since it was on sand, but the grass ring is fun. It's so pretty and I love the trees. I also do the jumpers and that Grand Prix Arena is great."
$10,000 Meyer Selles 1.40m Jumpers
Place / Rider / Horse / Owner / Faults / Time
1. Susan Hutchinson / Notable / Carolyn Mittler / 0 / 4 / 46.349
2. Francie Steinwedell-Carvin / Magnus / Prentiss Partners / 0 / 12 / 42.169
3. Francie Nilforushan / Straviaty / Ali Nilforushan / 0 / 12 / 48.560
4. Michelle Parker / Bella Sophia / Antonio Ramos / 4 / 71.663
5. Leslie Wright / Karo / Susan Ousterhout / 4 / 71.845
6. John Pearce / Chantico / John Pearce / 4 / 73.316
7. Olivia Brown / Kangano / Katherine Brewer / 4 / 73.914
8. Natasha Traurig / Tender Star / Neil Jones Equestrian / 4 / 73.951
$10,000 NEE Hunter/Jumper Team Challenge
1. Madison Dunham / Gusti CK / 80
Michelle Parker/ CCF Hibiscus Coast / 28.860
2. Mia Jones/ Caro As 17 / 77
Laura Ware / Ursina du Perchet / 25.579
3. Mickie Sage / Esperance / 78
Tiffany Sullivan / Christian Grey / 29.309
For more information, please visit www.jump-NEE.com.