San Juan Capistrano, CA - With one Markel Insurance 1.40m Grand Prix Series qualifier remaining, many West Coast show jumpers have their eye on earning a spot on the top 25 list for an invite to the Final at The Las Vegas National Horse Show. Susan Hutchison and Ziedento (owned by St. Bride's Farm) were last and fast for the win at the Blenheim Fall Tournament. This victory moved Hutchison to the 25th spot in the Grand Prix Series standings, and with one qualifier remaining she is literally on the line for an invite!
On an ideal Southern California afternoon, 39 entries contended for the top prize over Brazilian FEI course designer Marina Azevedo's track that utilized the entire grass Grand Prix field at the Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park at San Juan Capistrano.
Explaining her plan, Azevedo said, "At the beginning of the course, we have a line with two oxers going away from the in-gate, which could be a big question if they aren't paying attention. I think the line going to the triple combination is tricky. It's an 's' line, so we have bending lines before and after the combination. We also have a very good oxer as the last fence, it's big and wide. It's fair and a good test for the riders. I'm going to say between six and ten clears. If they ride well, everybody can do it."
As predicted, fences 4 and 5, yellow oxers set in a forward four stride line heading away from the in-gate, caused a multitude of rails. With a relatively tight time allowed, in an attempt to save precious seconds, several riders cut the corner a touch too much to fence 8, a tall vertical, and had it down.
Eight horse and rider pairs navigated the tests without fault. Along with California native Hutchison, experienced show jumpers Enrique Gonzalez of Mexico, Josephina Nor Lantzman of Brazil and Lane Clarke of Australia all qualified two mounts for the jump-off. Riding clean on Sandor De La Pomme, junior rider Eve Jobs also joined this esteemed group of professionals in the jump-off.
First into the ring, Gonzalez and Santos (Carlos Hank, Jr., owner) started with a great gallop, but with a disappointing rail at the first jump, ended with four faults in 38.15. Second to compete over the shortened course, Nor Lantzman and Unlimited (owned by Josephina Nor Stables, LLC), had a refusal in an attempt to leave out a stride and an unfortunate dismount. Lane Clarke and MH Wardance (MH Warbucks, owner) set the time to beat with a clear round in a time of 41.21.
Sixteen-year-old Jobs also rode double clean in 41.54, fast enough for fourth overall. Clarke returned on Brookelane Farm's Semira de Saulieu and beat his previous time, fault free in 38.19. In the enviable last-to-go spot, speed demon Hutchison knew what she had to do with Ziedento. As the crowd cheered, the pair cleared the second-to-last jump and made a sprint for the last. Clean in a blazing 36.51, Hutchison claimed the top prize.
Hutchison commented on the 1.40m track, "I think Marina is one of the best course designers in the world, for the field of horses it was a really fair track. The vertical before the triple combination, I had that down on Firecracker. Because of the time allowed being a little short, I turned back a little too early there and didn't get him squared up; he's a little too green to do that with.
"It ended up being a really fun jump-off with a great group of horses, all fast ones, and all ones that could have won today, so it is a privilege to be the one to win."
$30,000 Markel Insurance Grand Prix
Place - Entry - Horse - Rider - Owner - Faults/Time
1. 190 - Ziedento - Susan Hutchison - St. Bride's Farm - 0/0/36.514
2. 349 - Semira de Saulieu - Lane Clarke - Brookelane Farm - 0/0/38.191
3. 341 - MH Wardance - Lane Clarke - MH Warbucks - 0/0/41.210
4. 183 - Sandor De La Pomme - Eve Jobs - Eve Jobs - 0/0/41.549
5. 621 - Santos - Enrique Gonzalez - Carlos Hank Jr - 0/4/38.159
6. 622 - Chacna - Enrique Gonzalez - Daniel Chaves Anicet - 0/4/39.156
7. 636 - Chello Z - Josephina Nor Lantzman - Josephina Nor Stables, LLC - 0/4/40.774
8. 635 - Unlimited - Josephina Nor Lantzman - Josephina Nor Stables, LLC - 0/elim.
9. 296 - Cerafina - Jeff Campf - Aislinn Lamoreaux - 1/79.868
10. 154 - Little Gancho - Marc Grock - Moonlite Beach, LLC - 3/81.215
11. 218 - Cupilor - Michelle Parker - Cross Creek Farms, LLC - 4/74.462
12. 187 - SIG Firecracker - Susan Hutchison - SIG International - 4/77.542