Susie Artes delighted the crowd and dismayed the competition when she put in the only fault-free round to win the $30,000 Memorial Day Classic Grand Prix in grand style. “It was great to come back and win another grand prix after I won the $50,000 LA International Grand Prix in the fall,” Susie commented. “It was a wonderful way to start the spring. Since I train here at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center, all of my clients and friends were able to come watch and it was nice to have their support.”
The grand prix was a fantastic finish to the Memorial Day Classic Horse Show (May 23-27) as a large crowd gathered to watch several grand prix regulars and a few newcomers attempt Danny Foster’s (CAN) difficult course. “I thought it was an exciting class with the crowd holding their breath waiting for a clean round,” Danny noted.
First out of the gate was Jenni Martin-McAllister on LEGIS Here I Come (LEGISequine.com, owner). Though Jenni rode a beautiful and clear round, the clock caught up to her and she received four time faults when she finished in 99.766, exceeding the time allowed of 96.
Many horse and rider combinations came and went, including grand prix regulars like Rusty Stewart, Ashlee Bond, and Justin Resnik, but each caught at least one rail. Several riders dropped a rail on the triple combination, which had a tricky approach off an oxer and heading toward the crowd. “That was challenging because the turn from the oxer to the triple threw a lot of people off,” Ashlee commented. Her World Cup mount Wistful (Little Valley Farms, owner) knocked the rail on 9B, but otherwise jumped clean and fast and landed in third.
“This class was to be set at the national standard, which made it challenging to begin with, but I think the distractions of a large crowd and its proximity to the ring were definitely a factor in making the course jump even harder than it may have seemed,” Danny elaborated. “Having said that, I think the horses jumped great. Several of them were just a little unlucky, but we certainly had a very good winner.”
Susie knew she could do better after dropping three rails with her first horse, Karina 445 (Alix Fargo, owner). “I was disappointed in my first ride,” Susie commented. “I felt like I didn’t fight hard enough, so when I came back on Zamiro, I fought twice as hard.”
Susie made sure to stick to her plan with Zamiro (Alix Fargo, owner), which she has been riding for four years. “When you watch other riders go, it can be tempting to doubt yourself and change your plan. But Zamiro has such a big stride that I have to stick to my plan no matter what other people do,” Susie explained. “We have such a good partnership and we’ve been together long enough that I feel confident I can trust the plan I came up with in the course walk.”
Her plan was obviously the right one, as she finished in plenty of time despite losing a shoe after fence 12. “I left out a stride in the first line, which most people didn’t do. I also took the inside turn option from fences 7 to 8 just to be safe on time, and it never hurts to be fast. I wasn’t worried about clearing fence 8 because we’ve been competing on courses with a tight time allowed so we’ve practiced those tight turns.”
Susie proved she had all of the answers to Danny Foster’s questions, and when she went clear across the final oxer within the time allowed, the crowd exploded. Though Susie was relieved after her picture perfect trip, she couldn’t let herself relax. “While I watched the rest of the riders go, I was thinking about the jump off and planning where I would leave out strides,” Susie recounted. “It can be nerve-wracking to wait until the end of the class.”
She did have to wait to see if there would be a jump off until the very end of the class when Justin Resnik stepped into the ring on his third mount, Carismo Z (Carismo Group, owner). “I knew I had to have a clean round and it was a tough, lengthy course,” Justin said. His focused effort left all the rails in place, but unfortunately his tracks were not quite as efficient as Susie’s. The pair clocked in at 98.920 seconds and unfortunately incurred three time faults, which put him in second place.
“Carismo spends quite a bit of time in the air so I tried to make up some time on the course, but I needed to make a few more inside turns to make it within the time allowed,” Justin commented. “But overall it was a great course and I’m happy with the round.” Justin also had reason to celebrate when his student Gavin Brodin placed seventh on his Ballingtogether Mustateer in Gavin's grand prix debut.
Ashlee placed third, fifth, and tenth on her horses Wistful, Argo Star (Zuchtoff Klatte, owner), and Cadett 7 (Little Valley Farms, owner), respectively. “I was happy to get ribbons on all three horses,” Ashlee said. “Cadett hadn’t shown in awhile, but he had a good round. This was also Argo Star’s fourth grand prix ever, so I was really happy with how well he did.”
Susie was naturally thrilled with the win, which is an excellent precursor to her World Cup campaign. “I’ll be going to Spruce Meadows, and then we’ll try the World Cup Qualifiers for the first time with Zamiro,” Susie shared. “I hope to get to most of the shows on the West Coast Indoor Circuit as well.”
$30,000 Memorial Day Classic Grand Prix results:
1st Zamiro - Susan Artes - Alix Fargo 0
2nd Carismo Z - Justin Resnik - Carismo Group 3/98.920
3rd Wistful - Ashlee Bond - Little Valley Farms 4/85.603
4th Bristol - Rusty Stewart - Grey Fox Farm 4/88.648
5th Argo Star - Ashlee Bond - Zuchtoff Klatte 4/89.267
6th LEGIS Venice - Jenni McAllister - LEGISequine.com 4/91.186
7th Ballingtogether Mustateer - Gavin Brodin - Gavin Brodin 4/93.524
8th Copias - Justin Resnik - AMA Mkt & Mgmt 4/94.597
9th LEGIS Here I come - Jenni McAllister - LEGISequine.com 4/99.766
10th Cadett 7 - Ashlee Bond - Little Valley Farm 8/80.487
In the hunter arena, Katie Gardner returned to the winner circle for the second year in a row after she won the $3,000 Memorial Day USHJA National Hunter Derby on Maldini (Star Lane Farms Inc., owner). Maldini’s win was particularly impressive because it was his derby debut. “He’s an amazingly special horse. He’s only six years old and just started showing here last season at the National Preview in the Baby Greens,” Katie shared. “He has already worked his way up through the Pre-greens and into the Adult Amateur classes because he’s a really, really fast learner.” Not only was this the second year in a row Katie won this class, but it was also the second year she won this class and the Memorial Day Classic Equitation Challenge. Click here to read our coverage of that class.
Chris Collman (USA) designed a similar course to Sunday night’s $10,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby. “The track was a little simpler than last night’s, with a couple of related lines and simpler bends,” Chris described. “The target exhibitors in the national derby are more of the junior and amateur riders, with some pre-green horses ridden by trainers. The goal as a course designer is to challenge the riders and encourage the horses, so the course must present the proper questions that reward good riding without harshly penalizing mistakes.”
Though the classic hunter course was familiar to Maldini, the handy was a new experience for him. “I was a little nervous about the handy just because he’s never done a trot jump or rollback in competition. But he figured it out incredibly well,” Katie said. Maldini made the short turns with ease and the pair scored a 90 in the second round to ensure their victory. Junior rider Deni Hird (Stephanie Haney, trainer) and Freedom C (Vicky Dimitri, owner) placed second, and amateur rider Lauren Franco (Elvenstar Farms, trainer) placed third on her Ben’CZ.
Katie and Maldini are now eligible for the LEGIS Hunter Rider Bonus, which is open to any derby rider who wins two or more designated derbies on the same horse. They will have the chance to win the bonus if they win the national hunter derbies at the LA International Jumping Festival, National Preview Horse Show, or the Los Angeles National Horse Show.
“I actually won this class last year with Chrush and wasn’t able to come back and do more derbies on him,” Katie recounted. “But I’m so excited for the chance to win the LEGIS Hunter Rider Bonus with Maldini. We’ll definitely try and do as many of the national derbies as we can.”
Between hunter classes in the Equidome, young riders competed in the ASPCA Horsemanship Class and the Pessoa/USEF Hunter Seat Medal Class. Olivia Champ (Karen Healey, trainer) proved her riding ability and consistency by winning both classes back to back aboard Le Prince. Olivia beat out a competitive field of 20 rides in the ASPCA Horsemanship by executing a technical course and shining in the flat work off. “It was really great to win the Maclay, particularly against so many other great competitors,” Olivia commented.
The win was even sweeter because of her horse.“This show has been incredible,” Olivia remarked. “It’s so nice just to be back on my own horse again. He was off for about a year and this is just his fourth horse show back. I’m really proud of how well he’s gone this show and I’m so happy to be back on him.”
Last year, Olivia placed second in the USEF Show Jumping Talent Search Finals West on another horse. “The Talent Search finals are definitely my main goal this year,” Olivia remarked. “This show was actually Prince’s first time on the grass field and he went around great, so I really hope I can come back to the Talent Search final with him.”
Did you miss our coverage of the first four days of Memorial Day Classic? Visit the newly redesigned website to view all of our stories. There is still more to come with more highlights from this year's show.
Horse showing returns to LAEC with Gold Coast 4 (June 14-16), while the Verdugo Hills Show Series at Hansen Dam Equestrian Center continues June 1-2 with Verdugo Hills 5. The Northern California series continues with Woodside Circuit Opener (June 19-23) and Bay Area Summer Festival (June 26-30). The Colorado show season continues at its new location, the Norris Penrose Event Center, with the LEG Summer Festival Preview (June 24-26), offering $40 class credit for up to three classes per horse.
For more information on Memorial Day Classic, including a prize list, schedule, and complete results, visit the newly redesigned LEG website.