Del Mar, CA - August 30, 2012 - Leave it to Michelle Parker to outdo herself by not only posting the fastest clear round time of the day, but the second fastest as well. Today's $32,000 Showpark Jumper Classic was a race against the clock as thirty-six horse and rider combinations gave it their all in the one-round speed competition. Many riders were preparing their mounts today for this Saturday's $50,000 World Cup Grand Prix, however with only four clear rounds posted, numerous riders became aware that a new level of performance would have to be met to earn those valuable World Cup Qualifying points.
Canadian course designer Michel Vaillancourt set a technical track with a generous time allowed of 81 seconds for the speed class. It was up to the rider to risk time penalties and ride clean, or to push to the wire, hoping to leave the rails in the cups and post a top time. Half way through the class, many chose the latter. Tricky distances to an oxer-vertical-vertical combination, a liverpool vertical, a vertical-oxer double combination, and blind angles created for numerous faults and refusals. Twenty-two year old Karl Cook was the first to post a clear round, but had an unfortunate time fault. Cook returned with his second mount and to ensure a clear score, Cook picked up the pace and guided the reliable ASB Conquistador to a fault free round in 80.52 seconds.
Parker was on deck and was able to easily surpass Cook's time aboard Cross Creek Farm's Socrates De Midos. The thirteen-year-old gelding jumped with ease and covered the ground with each stride to post a time of 72.63 seconds. Within two rounds, Rusty Stewart and Bristol were the next to challenge Parker's lead. Setting up each line with precision, Stewart piloted Bristol to a very safe and clean round in 73.12 seconds, good enough for third respectively. "He felt great," Stewart smiled. "Just looking forward to Saturday now (Grand Prix)."
It wouldn't be until Parker returned to the ring that another clear round would be posted. Xel Ha and Parker, the defending champions of the 2011 $31,000 Showpark Jumper Classic, took to the track and with the nine-year-old mare's giant stride and scope, the pair was able to leave all the rails up and stop the clock in a blazing 70.48 seconds, securing both second and first place. "The course was straight forward and had anice feel," Parker commented, "it was a good ride altogether." Parker will ride in this coming Saturday's $50,000 World Cup Grand Prix with hopes for similar results. "Xel Ha will come back on Saturday for sure. I may bring in my third mount, Clintord, too." Parker continued, "They are all jumping so well and love that field, so we'll just see who is the most ambitious and make our decisions then and hope for the best."
The first World Cup Qualifying Grand Prix of the 2012/2013 California season will kick off this Saturday, September 1st, 2012 on the International Grand Prix Grass Field. The $50,000 Showpark World Cup Grand Prix, presented by EQU Lifestyle Magazine will showcase top West Coast League Show Jumping horse and rider duos as they compete for valuable points towards qualifying for the Rolex FEI World Cup Finals in Goteborg, Sweden, April 24-28, 2013.
The FEI World Cup Finals, an indoor competition held in April each year, is the single most important annual international Championship in equestrian sport. Other equestrian events at this level, the Olympics and The World Championships, occur every four years. Blenheim EquiSports annually hosts three FEI World Cup Qualifying Grand Prix classes in three different locations - Del Mar, San Juan Capistrano and Las Vegas - during the fall qualifying season.
Get up close and personal with these top riders during our Autograph Session immediately following Saturday's class. For more information please visit the Blenheim EquiSports website or view our upcoming World Cup Qualifier event details below:
$50,000 Showpark World Cup Grand Prix - FEI
presented by EQU Lifestyle Magazine
A World Cup Qualifier and HITS Million Grand Prix Qualifier
Saturday, September 1st
International Grand Prix Grass Field
Opening Ceremonies begin at 4:00PM
FREE admission and parking
Photos: Michelle Parker and Xel Ha; Karl Cook and ASB Conquistador finish 4th; Michelle Parker and Socrates De Midos finish 2nd; Rusty Stewart and Bristol finish 3rd; ; Michelle Park and Xel Ha win the $32,000 Showpark Jumper Classic, presented by EquiFit, inc. Photos © Amy McCool Photography.