Thomas Cerra and Altius Capture $1,500 Open Jumper 1.30m Win at Showplace Spring Spectacular I

Wayne, IL- It was opening day at the 2010 Showplace Spring Spectacular Week I at the Lamplight Equestrian Center. Equestrians from all over the country made their way to Chicago for the first week of top competition.  In the Grand Prix Ring competitors vied for the blue ribbons in the $1,500 Open Jumper 1.30m and the $1,500 Open Jumper 1.40m. Earning the first place ribbon in the 1.30m was Altius, owned by Sharon Classen, with Thomas Cerra in the irons. Winning the blue ribbon in the 1.40m was Willie Tynan and Cartier Van Schuttershoff, owned by Emily Skoggard .

This morning's 1.30m and 1.40m jumper course, designed by Hector Loyola (PUR), consisted of 12 jumping efforts.  The course featured a triple bar, a liverpool, a vertical oxer combination, and an oxer vertical combination.  The jump-off course included eight obstacles.  The jump-off started off the right lead, followed by a right rollback to fence two, then riders made a left hand turn to the vertical oxer combination, and then the course turns got even tighter.  After the combination each pair proceeded to make a short left turn to a vertical going away, followed by a fast right turn to a liverpool oxer coming home. Riders then hurried to make a right lead turn that resembled the letter "J" to a six-strided bending line. Over the two classes the most difficult of the fences was number ten, which was a liverpool oxer fence coming home.  Number ten had the top rail knocked down on multiple occasions over the course of the day.

The $1,500 Open Jumper 1.30m class included 28 competitors.  The first rider to go double clear over the first course and the short course and maintain a lead throughout the day was Thomas Cerra riding Altius.  The duo used their quick pace to earn the top time of 41.303 seconds that could not be beaten, earning them the first place ribbon.

Thomas Cerra and Altius had only ridden together once before about five years ago.  Cerra was asked by Altius' owner, Sharon Classen, to assist her during the Showplace Spring Spectacular, so Cerra decided to take Altius into the 1.30m prior to Classen showing him in the Amateur Jumpers.  This practice round turned out to be a big win for everyone.  However, the courses turns added a little nervousness to Cerra's ride. "I thought the inside turns were very tough," explained Cerra. "I even practiced one of the turns before I ever started the first course.  My horse is super fast across the ground, so I sacrificed making nice turns to being as fast I could away from the jumps, using speed to my advantage.  At times I jumped and ran."

This technique proved to hold-up as riders navigated the short course.  "I noticed that as each rider entered the ring, the other people were really tidy on their turns, but they did not catch me in the end," smiled Cerra.

The first duo to challenge Cerra was Casino Van De Helle, owned by North Face Farm, and Erin Haas. The pair moved fast across the ground, but their clean turns and time of 44.113 seconds would garner them the sixth place ribbon overall.

Next to attempt to break Cerra's time was Caribe and Steve Schaefer.  The duo attempted the inside turn from the combination back to the vertical going away from the gate.  This technique held Caribe and Schaefer's time, breaking the beam at 41.412 seconds, and earning them the third place ribbon.

The third horse and rider combination to challenging Cerra's time was Victoriano, owned by Liz Millikin, with rider Willie Tynan.  Tynan moved fast away from the first fence and sliced the Liverpool oxer, but his time of 43.061 seconds would hold-up for the fifth place ribbon overall.

After a great first course, Sin City, owned by Windcrest Farms, ridden by Alex Granato, would attempt to top the leader's time.  The duo would race across the finish line, leaving all of the rails in their cups and tripping the timers at 41.367 seconds, earning them the second place ribbon.

Tommy Feigel and Chuck Waters' horse, Bling It On were the last pair to chase the clock. Feigel's gallant efforts through the short-course stopped the clock at 42.456 seconds placing the pair in fourth place in the 1.30m.

Not one horse and rider duo could top Cerra and Altius, proving that the Lamplight Equestrian Center is the home-turf for Cerra.  Cerra has been coming to the Showplace Horse Shows since he was young and enjoys having the Lamplight Equestrian Center only five minutes away from his home.  Cerra noted, "This is a beautiful place to show and I look forward to showing here over the next few weeks.  I love that this show feels like my home turf in my backyard.  I also enjoy being able to take horses home so they can sleep in their own stalls, or I can move the horses back to their barn if the weather starts to change."

After a short drag and raising the fence heights, the $1,500 Open Jumper 1.40m class commenced. Riders navigated the same course as the 1.30m.

The first rider to attempt the short-course was Wilhelm Genn and Copyright 3.  The duo bound across the course leaving all of the rails in their cups in a time of 45.819 seconds.  At the end of the day their efforts would earn them the fifth place overall.

Making an exciting race across the course was Charlie Jayne riding Victor, owned by Pony Lane Farm. The duo took the inside left turn off the combination to the single verticle, then made a right turn over the Liverpool oxer.  As Jayne left the oxer he glanced back because it was his foot that rubbed the top rail, but to his relief the jump stood strong.  Jayne then turned on the speed and finished over the bending line, tripping the timers at 40.314 seconds.  This time would be the time to beat until the last rider of the day challenged Jayne.  In the end, Jayne and Victor would earn the second place ribbon.

After Charlie Jayne's exciting efforts his sister, Maggie Jayne piloted Pablis over the short-course.  The duo would make their way over every obstacle leaving all of the rails in their cups prior to coming to the Liverpool oxer.  The duo knocked the rail and stopped the clock at 46.417 seconds.  Their time would earn them the sixth place ribbon.

Rider John McConnell and Katie Riddle, owned by Rancho Corazon LLC would be the next competitors to challenge the clock.  McConnell and Katie Riddle chose to take the wider turn around the Liverpool over the single vertical.  McConnell and Katie would stop the clock at 43.020 seconds earning them the fourth place ribbon.

Alex Granato and his horse Gangsta, were up for the challenge over the short-course. The duo also chose the route around the Liverpool to the vertical oxer.  Their efforts would garner the pair the third place ribbon.

Last to attempt the short-course was Willie Tynan and Cartier Van Schuttershoff, owned by Emily Skoggard.  Tynan navigated the tight turns, flew over every fence, and raced across the finish line with his top mount in 38.503 seconds.  The pair's outstanding time would overthrow Charlie Jayne's lead and would earn them the first place ribbon overall.

Tynan and Cartier Van Schuttershoff navigated the turns neatly and proficiently. "The turns were tight today; there were a lot of rollbacks," said Tynan.  "It was nice that the course offered the rider to be as tight as you wanted or you could give yourself a little room. I enjoyed that the course gave you options so you were not just stuck in one plan."

Today's course was a practice before this weekend's Grand Prix. Tynan noted, "It was a nice first day and it was good for the horses.  My horse jumped just right today.  I was surprised it was not slippery even after yesterday's rain. The horses were getting a good grip out there."

Tynan and Cartier Van Schuttershoff have been working together over the last six months and they have proven to be outstanding performers.  Tynan got Cartier Van Schuttershoff towards the end of January right before the Florida circuit and they have already won and placed in many top classes.

Tynan, who is the trainer at Shamrock International Equestrian Center, made  his way to Chicago for the second time in the four years that he has been in the United States. Tynan commented, "This is my fourth year in the States.  We moved up here to Battle Creek, Michigan, and last year was our first year here at Showplace.  I like this show; it is close to home, it is well run, and there are lot of good people here."

Prior to showing at Showplace Spring Spectacular, Tynan was competing in Florida winning top ribbons with Cartier Van Schuttershoff.  "He is like a little pony," Tynan said. "He is only 16 hands, but he feels like a big guy and he does not know how big he is.  He is a lot of fun and he is definitely a winner."

The pair has proven themselves time and again over the 1.40m and 1.45m courses.  He is the ultimate horse with top wins at the 2010 HITS Ocala Circuit including winning the 1.30m Level 6, winning the 1.40m Level 7 twice, placing second in the $10,000 Modified Grand Prix at Ocala Jumping Classic, and many other top accolades.  Tynan will attempt the $30,000 Showplace Productions Grand Prix this weekend in hopes of capturing top ribbons.

Tomorrow's hunter and jumper coverage of the 2010 Showplace Spring Spectacular Week I continues with the professional hunter divisions vying for their division championships and the $1,000 Young Jumper Five-Year-Old, Six-Year-Old and Seven/Eight-Year-Old Championships, followed by the exciting $10,000 Open Jumper Welcome Stake.

For more information on Showplace Productions and the 2010 Showplace Spring Spectacular Horse Show Series, please visit

Photo Credit: Altius and Thomas Cerra win $1,500 1.30m at 2010 Showplace Spring Spectacular, Cartier Van Schuttershoff and Willie Tynan win $1,500 1.40m. Photo 2010 © Lindsay McCall/PMG.