San Juan Capistrano, CA - It was a 'Susie Hutch' Sunday at the Blenheim June Classic II. As the only double clean in the $30,000 June Classic Grand Prix, presented by Michael & Kenzie 1911, Susie Hutchison and Ziedento led the victory gallop. Earlier in the afternoon she was the fastest in the jump-off on SIG Firecracker for the win in the $7,500 CashCall Mortgage Futurity.
From the hilltop VIP tent to the grassy knoll, there was a sizable crowd soaking up the Southern California sun while watching show jumping at the Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park at San Juan Capistrano. Mexican course designer Javier Fernandez designed the track, with standout challenges in the first round, including a short turn to the Michael & Kenzie vertical line in five strides to the open water jump and an oxer-vertical-oxer triple combination going away from the in-gate towards the end.
It has been several years since Fernandez has worked with Blenheim EquiSports. "I was here about ten years ago, but am very happy to be back. It's a good place and they take good care of the facility." The class was run under Table II, Sec 2(d), with the top six from the first round coming back for the jump-off, carrying their first-round scores. Four of the six returning entries were clear, while the remaining two returned as the fastest four-fault scores.
Order of return for all six entries was determined by time and faults in round one. Francie Steinwedell-Carvin aboard Lapsus du Lavoir (owned by Prentiss Partners) galloped back first in the jump-off. Carrying over her four-fault score from the first round, she rode a clean and quick round and stopped the clock in a fast 40.27 seconds. Second to return, Josephina Nor Lantzman and Chello Z (owned by Josephina Nor Stables, LLC) had a rail and then a sliding skid off a short turn to a wide white oxer, resulting in an involuntary dismount and elimination, but luckily no injuries, as Nor Lantzman walked off the field. The first two clean rounds to return, both owned by Georgy Maskrey-Segesman, were Tasha Visokay on Caspa 7 and Kilian McGrath aboard BB Casablanca.
With two rails in the jump-off, Visocay finished with an eight-fault score in 44.47 and McGrath had a single rail, in 44.92. Enter Susie Hutchison on veteran partner Ziedento (owned by St Bride's Farm). Demonstrating her winning style in a thrilling jump-off ride, the pair bounced the top rail on the Michael & Kenzie sponsor fence, but it remained in the cups. Hutchison and Ziedento stopped the clock clean in 41.39 seconds, taking over the lead.
Illustrating the exciting aspect of this format, Steinwedell-Carvin had a faster jump-off time, but carried over her one rail from round one for an overall four-fault score. Jeffrey Fields aboard Bybalia SMH (Stal Minion, owner), returned as the final entry to compete for the win, but a single rail in a time of 44.40 meant a third place finish, with Steinwedell-Carvin earning second and Hutchison the top call. Hutchison, a beloved local favorite, acknowledged the challenges the class presented, but used them to her advantage.
"It was pretty difficult not to have the water all week and then having it go away from the gate in a five-stride line. But, for me, the course rode nicely," she said of the first round. Not her first grand prix victory on Ziedento, she appreciated how fortunate they were today. "In the jump-off, my horse slipped turning back to the green vertical and he almost had it down, but luck was on our side today. I kind of felt from the crowd it was still up, and I didn't want to look back so I just kept on going!"
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