Will Simpson was solid gold during his first trip to the Horse Park at Woodside for the Woodside Spring Preview (April 26-29). The Olympic Gold Medalist led the victory gallop of the $5,000 Open Welcome Stake aboard Acorina (Monarch International, owner).
"The class was incredible, and the course (Anthony D'Ambrosio, designer) was superb," Will said. "It was top notch. My horse is jumping really good right now. She handled everything really nicely. It was a nice training ride on the way to the winner's circle. The ring was good as it gets. The footing was incredible and the bank was beautiful."
This was Will's first time showing at Woodside. "The show was super," he commented. "The park is really fun to be at with the beautiful cross country course, the nice arenas, and it's really set up for horses. I love the atmosphere there. I love this area and would love to go back."
Unfortunately, Will subsequently fell off a horse and broke his leg. "I fell off a young horse that was having a bad day. It's just a hairline fracture, and the doctor said I should be back in the saddle in a couple of weeks."
Peter Breakwell showed his characteristic cool as he topped the $15,000 Woodside Spring Preview Jumper Classic with Lucas (No Drama, owner). Peter was one of only two riders to master Anthony D’Ambrosio’s course, and he was joined in the jump off by Madison Bradshaw, a Zone 10 NAJYRC candidate. Along with many other jumper riders, Peter was complimentary of the Olympic Mix footing installed in both jumper rings. "Lucas jumped really well," Peter recalled. "He jumped two really good rounds. Anthony built a nice course for the class, and the new footing helped. It was nice for the horses in the other jumper rings to have the footing as well. It makes a difference for them, even though they're not jumping as big."
While Peter had the big jumper win of the show, his riders also enjoyed some wins. Sonee Kelley Arce was 1.00M Jumpers Champion on Dropkick Murphy (Alexa Budde, owner). Four of Peter's students took home reserve championships from the show: Suzanne Jain in the Modified Child/Adult with her Crimson Rose, Ruben Arce in the .80M Jumpers with Aston Martin (Taylor Gray, owner), Taylor and Aston Martin took the title in the .80M Children's/Adult Amateur Jumpers, and Ondine Izuno and her Lenny was 1.10M Zone 10 Children's Jumpers Reserve Champion.
The $2500 USHJA National 3' Hunter Derby continues to be the highlight for hunters, drawing 39 entries for the class. Of those, thirteen were from Sonoma Valley Stables--five of which ended up in the top eight. As she has done so many times before, Hope Glynn was at the top of the pack when the final scores were tabulated, piloting Roccoco (Avery Hellman, owner) to victory. She also had the second spot with Just Larry (Sarah Draxton, owner), student Emma Townsend was top amateur and fifth with her CR Haribo, Hope followed in sixth with Bel Canto (Sabrina H. Hellman, owner), and finally Helen McEvoy was eighth with her own Chance of Flurries, a veteran derby horse and past winner. Additionally, Emma Waldfogel, co-trained by Hope Glynn and John Charlebois, was just out of the ribbons but received the award for top scoring junior rider.
"It's really cool to have a class my students are so enthusiastic about," Hope remarked. "Every single hunter rider I had at the show participated. It's a really inviting class and a good way for the riders to start getting their feet wet in the derbies. It's slightly intimidating to be in there with the professionals, but it's a great experience because it gives them an underdog feeling so they feel like they have something to prove. It's nice that LEG offers an award to the high scoring amateur and junior, so even if they don't beat a professional, they can ride for that. For me, this was a good class because I could take Roccoco, a seasoned horse, and get some miles on him before the big class next week. Yet, this class was the second derby for Just Larry, the horse I was second on. I like that they take down part of the fence and use the adjacent warm-up area so they can build the course on a larger extended track. It gives it a much more open field type of feel. It's really nice because you don't get a lot of practice to do things like that."
In addition to performing well in the derby, the horses from Sonoma Valley Stables did well all weekend. Roccoco went on to clinch the tri-color in the Low Amateur Owner Hunters with Avery, and Just Larry won the $500 Children's Hunter Classic and numerous other ribbons in the Children's Hunters with owner Sarah. Emma Townsend was Amateur Owner Hunter Champion with CR Haribo.
Elsewhere in the hunter ring, Sue Sadlier (Vanessa Brown and Diane Yeager, trainers) had a great show on her new horse, Balios Z, and the pair won the championship in Modified Amateur Hunter. Trainer Diane Yeager also showed the horse to a reserve championship in Conformation Hunters. Sue purchased Balios Z in September, when she saw him place third in the Diamond Mills $500,000 Hunter Prix Final at HITS-on-the Hudson in Saugerties, New York. The horse had just been imported from Sweden a short time before and qualified as a wild card.
"I moved him up to 3'6" at Thermal, and Woodside was our first show since then," Sue explained. "Balios is a special horse. He's very keen to do his job. Diane works with us at shows and does an amazing job with him in Conformation Hunters, and I work with Vanessa Brown at home. This year I want to show in Amateur Owner Hunters, but my goal for next year is to qualify for indoors. I've never been, and neither has Diane. She deserves to go, so hopefully we'll get to."
In the equitation ring, riders in the Platinum Performance/USEF Show Jumping Talent Search competed over a challenging jumper-style course. When all was said and done, Samantha Levy (Nicole Bloom, trainer) reigned supreme and took the top title aboard her Cool Man Z. Although she has ridden in Talent Search classes before, this was her first win.
"I was a little surprised that I won," Samantha said. "I wasn't sure how it was going to go, but I trained really hard for the class. The course started off with a bending line that went away from the gate so I really had to make sure Cool was going forward. The open water led into two lines and then we had to ride up the bank afterward. After that I took a deep breath and felt much better. I'd practiced the bank earlier so I felt pretty good about it, and Cool just cantered over it. I thought it was a nice addition to the ring. My trainer was teary eyed when I came out of the ring, so that made me feel good. I'm so excited to ride in the Talent Search Final this year for the first time."
This 16-year-old sophomore at Burlingame High school has been riding since she was two-and-a-half. In addition to riding in the medal classes, she also excelled in the jumper ring, placing third in the $1000 Zone 10 Children/Adult Amateur Jumper Classic 1.10M. "I like how the Talent Search is a jumper type of class but is equitation based," Samantha added. "I think it's really a challenge, because you have to ride like a jumper but equitate and be really effective at the same time. It's what my trainer wants me to ride like, so it's good practice. It sets me up well for the jumper ring, too."
Maggie Drysch (Kelly Van Vleck , trainer) also shone in the equitation ring, winning the Pessoa/USEF Hunter Seat Medal Class, the CPHA Foundation Equitation Medal, the Hudson & Company Medal, and the NorCal Junior/Senior Medal. To top it off, she was also Modified Junior Hunter Reserve Champion aboard her Milton.
The Woodside Spring Preview kicked off the 2012 show season at the Horse Park at Woodside, and professionals started accruing points toward the much coveted trip to Maui. Peter Breakwell has won the first of six classes in the $25,000 LEGIS Jumper Bonus. If he can win a second class with Lucas, he will earn a $5,000 bonus. To win the $25,000 bonus Peter has to win four of the classes in the series. .
For more information on Woodside Spring Preview, including a prize list and complete results, visit the LEG website.
The Woodside season continues with Woodside Spring Classic (May 3-6). In Southern California, Gold Coast 3 (May 18-20) is at LAEC, followed by the always popular Memorial Day Classic (May 24-28). The Verdugo Hills series of shows at Hansen Dam Equestrian Center will continue May 12-13. The season in Colorado also kicks off this month with High Prairie Spring Preview (May 10-13).
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Photos: Will Simpson is golden in the $5,000 Welcome Stake; Peter Breakwell keeps his cool to top the $15,000 Woodside Spring Preview Jumper Classic; Hope Glynn wins again in the $2500 USHJA National 3' Hunter Derby; Samantha Levy and Cool Man Z show their mettle in the Platinum Performance/USEF Show Jumping Talent Search Photos: Sheri Scott