Yann Candele Races to Victory in $55,000 Ram Equestrian Grand Prix

Palgrave, Ontario - Yann Candele of Caledon, ON, scored a hometown victory by winning the $55,000 Ram Equestrian Grand Prix on Sunday, May 22, at the Caledon Equestrian Park in Palgrave, ON.  Candele was one of four entries to advance to the jump-off after successfully negotiating the track set by course designer Bernardo Cabrille of Portugal. First back for the jump-off, Margie Gayford of Sharon, ON, had the second jump down for four faults riding Winston, a 12-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding owned by Wingberry Farms.

Beth Underhill of Schomberg, ON, was next in the ring. The Canadian Olympian guided Viggo, her nine-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, to a clear round in a time of 45.21 seconds.

When Candele entered the ring on Game Ready, he knew that Colombian rider Roberto Teran was still to come. He was able to post a clear round in a time of 40.94 seconds to move into the lead. When Teran took to the course riding Uvalier for owner Augustin Walch, he risked too much in an effort to catch Candele’s time, paying the price with two rails down.

“I wanted to be very efficient, knowing that if I was clear, I would put the pressure on Roberto,” explained Candele of his jump-off strategy. “He tried to go for the time, and he had faults.”

Game Ready is an 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding sired by Andiamo that Candele rides for owner Susan Grange.

“He was placed in every class he went in this week,” noted Candele of Game Ready, a horse he has been campaigning for the past four seasons. “Our goal is for him to be competitive at the grand prix level, and then to assess if he could do a major championships. He is doing very well, and progressing in a nice manner. Sue and I are very pleased with his results.”

The win came at the end of a long week, with unseasonably cool temperatures and heavy rains having an impact on the five-day Caledon National show jumping tournament, held May 18 to 22, as well as the previous week’s Classic @ Palgrave Phase I tournament.

“We had some tough weather at the beginning of the week, but the show organizers did a lot to manage the ring, and it turned out very well,” said Candele. “It is a good feeling to know that the crew is sharp, well-organized and ready for any situation. They do such a good job, and we as competitors should support them as much as we can.”

Underhill, also a regular competitor at the Caledon Equestrian Park, was pleased with her horse’s second-place performance.

“I got Viggo as a six-year-old, so I’ve been able to develop him from the beginning,” said Underhill of her now nine-year-old gelding. “Last year, we were second in the Seven and Eight-Year-Old Young Horse National Finals. He just started doing some of the bigger classes in Florida this winter and gained some confidence. This was his first Sunday Grand Prix. He was double clear, and he jumped really solid. He has a big gallop and can be a fast horse, but it was a long jump-off and I didn’t want to go belly to the ground. I wanted to be efficient, but my main priority was to be clean and let them come after me. My horse did everything I asked him to do. I think this is a horse for the future for me, so it is very exciting.”

In addition to being Viggo’s rider, Underhill also owns the horse with her brother.

“It has been really fun to see him come along,” said Underhill. “He is by Quick Star, and he is a real character! I couldn’t be more thrilled with his performance today. It is very gratifying for me as a rider and as an owner.”

Underhill also placed fifth with Executive Privilege 3E and seventh with Distant Star 3E. Both horses are owned by KingRidge Stables, and Underhill was asked to take over the reins until regular rider, Hugh Graham, returns to the saddle after breaking his leg.

Competition organizer Craig Collins of Equestrian Management Group was especially pleased with the success of the $55,000 Ram Equestrian Grand Prix, given that heavy rains had forced the cancellation of the previous week’s $50,000 Grand Prix, scheduled for Sunday, May 15.

“Last week we had to cancel, and this week the weather was looking iffy, but 10 minutes before the start of the Grand Prix, the clouds parted and we had a beautiful, sunny day,” said Collins. “When last week’s grand prix was cancelled, we made the decision to distribute the money over our next group of horse shows. We added $10,000 from the $50,000 we didn’t spend last week and put it into this week, making the Open Welcome a $25,000 competition and the Grand Prix a $55,000 competition. No one was more upset than we were to have to cancel last week’s grand prix, and we appreciate the support we received from the competitors.”

Equestrian Management Group will continue to add the leftover prize money to its upcoming 2011 tournaments, including the next event on the schedule, the Classic @ Palgrave Phase 2 from June 8 to 12.

The $25,000 Open Welcome held Friday, May 20, saw Toronto’s Sarah Johnstone take the win riding Starlet, a 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare, for owner North Ridge. The 20-year-old was able to hold off veteran competitors Candele, 40, who placed second with Azzaro van’t Hagenhof and fourth with Game Ready while 2008 Olympic Team Silver Medalist Mac Cone, 58, took third place riding Unanimous.

In Saturday’s $10,000 Devoucoux Modified Grand Prix, Hyde Moffatt of Brantford, ON, claimed victory riding Curtis CR for owner Ryan Roy while Erynn Ballard of Hillsburgh, ON, placed second riding Fifth Estate 3E for owner KingRidge Stables. Caledon’s Chris Sorensen was third riding Undoctro.

Set against the backdrop of the Niagara Escarpment, the Caledon Equestrian Park has hosted numerous Olympic, World Championship and Pan American Games selection trials for Canada’s show jumping and dressage teams. For more information, including full results, please visit www.equiman.com.

$55,000 Ram Equestrian Grand Prix – Sunday, May 22, 2011
1. Yann Candele Caledon, ON Game Ready 0:0 40.94
2. Beth Underhill Schomberg, ON Viggo 0:0 45.21
3. Margie Gayford Sharon, ON Winston 0:4 45.39
4. Roberto Teran Colombia Uvalier 0:8 43.41
5. Beth Underhill Schomberg, ON Executive Privilege 3E 4
6. Roberto Teran Colombia Denver 4
7. Beth Underhill Schomberg, ON Distant Star 3E 4
8. Sarah Johnstone Toronto, ON Starlet 4
9. Erynn Ballard Hillsburgh, ON Robin van Roosendael 8
10. Peter Gisborn Erin, ON Sir R 9
11. Mark Samuel Toronto, ON Wembley 234 10
12. Erynn Ballard Hillsburgh, ON Fun 2 Fly 12

Photo: Yann Candele of Caledon, ON, won the $55,000 Ram Equestrian Grand Prix riding Game Ready on Sunday, May 22, at the Caledon Equestrian Park in Palgrave, ON.  Photo Credit – ShootPhoto.ca