Woodside Spring Preview Kicks Off Northern California Show Season

Harley Brown and Apex
Harley Brown and Apex

The show season in Woodside is under way, and riders have thrown down the gauntlet in their quests to qualify for year-end finals, earn bonus checks, or win a relaxing week’s stay in Maui courtesy of LEG’s Maui Trainer Incentive. Here are just a few of the winners from this year’s Woodside Spring Preview (Apr 22-26).

Harley Brown and Apex
$10,000 Woodside Spring Preview Grand Prix
Harley Brown topped the first Woodside Grand Prix of the year aboard his new mount, Apex. “We bought him from Macella O’Neill a month ago for a rider in my barn, but I’ll be riding him for the next six months,” Harley explained. “My student Sarah Baz went in the jump off before me and had just taken over the lead. She’s 16 years old and it was her first grand prix, so I was really happy for her. I was just watching her, so I was actually very relaxed when I went in. I went for it and it was great.” Sarah ended up second in the class on her Abadon, plus Harley was also fourth on Sarah’s other horse, Quintana 57. Harley’s wife, Olivia, joined the fun and placed seventh on Cash (Heather Nicholson and Olivia Brown, owners).

“I thought Anthony D’Ambrosio did a great job designing the courses,” Harley added. “He’s a great course builder. He built at the FEI World Cup Finals the week before and now for us, and that’s great. Good courses make good horses.”

Bert Mutch and Bunistar
Bert Mutch and Bunistar

Bert Mutch and Bunistar
$2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby
Bert Mutch won a LEGIS Hunter Rider Bonus in 2014 after winning two $2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derbies at Woodside, and this year he’s going to try for it again. This time, his mount is Bunistar (Naomi Rubin, owner). “Bunistar is a new horse we just purchased in Thermal and this was our first derby together. Woodside is only the third or fourth hunter show in this horse’s career. I've ridden this horse only a few times, but I knew he was a special individual. His performance was special as well as his handiness, and I am looking forward to great relationship with him. We are planning to support the series of shows at Woodside. I love the LEGIS bonus program in both the hunter and jumper divisions.”

 

Kelly McKnight and Zan Chin
Kelly McKnight and Zan Chin

Kelly McKnight and Zan Chin
Winner, $2,500 1.20M Open Speed Derby
Kelly McKnight and Zan Chin (Jane Hind, owner), sponsored by Circa 23, not only blazed through the new $2,500 1.20M Open Speed Derby, they did it in unusual style: in a leather halter. “I really wanted to support the class,” Kelly recalled. “I have the perfect horse for it. She's so fast, and at 1.20M or 1.30M if I don't make too many mistakes nobody will catch her. We walked the course and made a plan, and she did it exactly as we walked it. She proved hard to beat that day, just got up to speed and never took back. She nailed every jump.”

Kelly had nothing but praise for the derby. “I think this is a great class. Derbies are my all-time favorite, so of course I’m happy they’ll have a derby at every show. It is a great class for the crowd, and I really think we need to schedule crowd-pleasing classes that bring spectators out or at least get the folks at the show to stay and watch!”

As for riding the mare in a halter, he added, “The halter is what she goes best in in the show ring. I do hack in a bridle and draw reins a bit, but when jumping everything is too sharp: she reacts by lifting her head and hollowing or getting flat on top of the jumps and going up and down instead of forward. With the halter she gets to a cruise control, and I simply guide and suggest a track and try to stay out of her way and let her go to the jumps like a laser. She seems to like it that way. We mostly ride on the trail in between shows, in a halter.”

The Speed Derby is the newest offering at Woodside this year and it got off to great acclaim.

Ava, Scott, and Maggie Drysch
Ava, Scott, and Maggie Drysch

Ava Drysch and WT Skydancer
CPHA Foundation Equitation
Ava Drysch (Kelly Van Vleck, trainer) was thrilled to win the CPHA Foundation Equitation class, especially since she and WT Skydancer had a big obstacle to overcome. “Last year at this very show we got the early morning call no owner wants: colic,” recalled Ava’s mother, Beverly. “Ava had to switch gears and showed her sister's horse Milton in the 3'3" hunters for the remainder of last season, so we’re thankful to have Sky going again this year. Woodside is always competitive and a good test for our riders and horses.”

“I was so happy when I found out I won the CPHA Foundation Class,” Ava added. “I felt so fortunate to win such a large class. It was on my list of medals to qualify for this season, and I am looking forward to finals later this summer. Being back in the ring with Sky feels so good.”

Anya Gupta and Curious George
Anya Gupta and Curious George

Millenium Farm
Jill Hamilton and Nancy Thomas of Millenium Farm brought a number of students and had a great show. “We have been coming to the Woodside Shows for over ten years, and our clients love them because they are good shows that they do not have to leave the area for,” Jill said. “Nancy and I appreciate the variety of classes which means that there is something for everyone and the beginning riders get to participate as well. This is important because we want to make sure our young riders get the right start and get to participate in top quality shows. Our kids won in every division form the Short Stirrup to the Junior Hunters, so overall a great show for Millennium Farm.”

Some of the kids moved up to new heights. “Anya Gupta was a super star,” Jill adds. “Anya has been working really hard and was champion of a very competitive Medium Pony Hunter section on her Curious George. She was also second in the $500 Pony Hunter Classic. She was first and second in the Large Pony Hunters on her Cruzin, so she was a true star at the pony ring.”

Millenium Farm had other successes, as well. “Rachel Penner, who has been terrific in the Children’s Hunters and was second in Nor Cal Hunter Jumper Association for year-end points with Sinclair (Tylor Nowell, owner) last year, debuted in the Junior Hunters at this show. Rachel rode great and ended up second in the Junior Hunter Classic.” 

Upcoming LEG Events
Woodside Spring Classic - Apr 29-May 3
Verdugo Hills - May 15–17
Memorial Day Classic Horse Show - May 22-25
Verdugo Hills - June 12-14
Woodside Circuit Opener - June 17–21
Bay Area Festival - June 24–28




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