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    Call her ‘Cash-lee’

    Special to the Horsetrader - March 20th, 2014 - Show & Event News

    Ashlee Bond Clarke puts the pedal to the metal on Little Valley Farms' Chela LS in the AIG $1 million Grand Prix at HITS on March 16.

    Ashlee Bond Clarke puts the pedal to the metal on Little Valley Farms’ Chela LS in the AIG $1 million Grand Prix at HITS on March 16.

    Flying Horse photo

    THERMAL — Ashlee Bond Clarke admits that she had to keep her nerves and her emotions in check when entering the ring for the jump-off of the AIG $1 Million Grand Prix March 16, presented by Lamborghini Newport Beach, at HITS Thermal.

    She was, however, a picture of poise and control to the crowd of 4,000 spectators that looked on as she topped a star-studded field to win the historic event with Little Valley Farms’ Chela LS.

    “It still hasn’t sunk in,” she said. “This was the biggest track I have ridden on this mare, but she comes out every day wanting to win. It’s been all about finding that partnership for us and I think we have found it.”

    Bond Clarke purchased the coming-10 chestnut mare from Simon Nizri in July and won the first grand prix of the season at HITS Thermal seven weeks ago. From there, Bond Clarke has seen the highs and lows with her scopey, yet opinionated mount.

    “She was really strong during the first World Cup week here and it took some time for us to figure it out and get the bridle right. We have been in the ribbons consistently since then,” said Bond Clarke.

    Alec Lawler of Atherton and his mare, Caresse, won the $25,000 California Horsetrader Jumper Classic to wrap up a bright 2014 HITS Desert Circuit for the Stanford senior.

    Alec Lawler of Atherton and his mare, Caresse, won the $25,000 California Horsetrader Jumper Classic to wrap up a bright 2014 HITS Desert Circuit for the Stanford senior.

    HITS photo by Lindsay Yandon

    Sunday’s order was a ‘who’s who’ of international show jumping with horse and rider accolades littering the list. The original order consisted of 39 riders who showed over a course designed by Marina Azevedo of Sao Paolo, Brazil. Fourteen obstacles and 17 jumping efforts made up the track, which boasted tall verticals, wide oxers and a formidable triple combination.

    “The course was really well-built,” Bond Clarke said of Azevedo’s work. “It was big, technical and scopey, but not unfair. There were faults everywhere and that’s the mark of a great course.”

    She topped an eight-horse jump-off that had come down to the last two riders. After East Coast rider Kirsten Coe of Florida clocked a clear round in 46.86 seconds with Baronez, owned by Ilan Ferder, Lovsta Stuteri and Tal Milstein, there were no more clears until Nayel Nassar of Santa Clara and Bond Clarke gave the crowd a jump-off to remember. 2013 Zoetis Million victor and West Coast favorite, Nassar jumped his own Lordan to a clear round in 45.38 seconds with just Bond Clarke to follow. He was posistioned to become the first two-time million-dollar grand prix winner.

    Bond Clarke put the speed of her big-strided mare to the test and crossed the timers in 41.16 seconds – more than three seconds faster than Nassar.

    Ashlee's hard work paid off, as the 2X-year-old rider from Los Angeles collected $350,000 with the win.

    Ashlee’s hard work paid off, as the 2X-year-old rider from Los Angeles collected $350,000 with the win.

    Flying Horse photo

    “Ashlee and I were joking about going one-two earlier in the week, and if there’s anyone I don’t mind losing to, it’s her,” said Nassar who has jumped Lordan throughout the HITS Desert Circuit, but gave the gelding a break before the AIG Million. “I gave him the week off and didn’t even bring him to this part of the show grounds for about 10 days, hoping the new jumps and the crowd would impress him today. They certainly did.”

    After watching two West Coast riders jump to the top in Sunday’s money, HITS president and CEO Tom Struzzieri was pleased to see their efforts at HITS Thermal pay off. “To see the leading money-winner of the circuit come out and win the big class was great,” he said. “It really validates this circuit – there were some pretty heavy hitters that came here from the east, but the West Coast stood their ground a produced great sport.”

    AIG $1 Million Grand Prix – Presented by Lamborghini Newport Beach
    March 16, 2014 – HITS Desert Horse Park, Thermal CA

    Place Horse/ Owner/ Rider/ Prize
    1 Chela LS/ Little Valley Farm/ Ashlee Bond Clarke/ $350,000
    2 Lordan/ Nayel Nassar/ Nayel Nassar/ $200,000
    3 Baronez/ Ilan Ferder/Lovsta Stuteri/Tal Milstein/ Kirsten Coe/ $120,000
    4 Coral Reef Via Volo/ Coral Reef Ranch/ Beezie Madden/ $100,000
    5 Quality Girl/ Quality Group/ Todd Minikus/ $75,000
    6 Status/ Pessoa Stables, LLC/ Rodrigo Pessoa/ $40,000
    7 Flexible/ Harry & Mollie Chapman/ Rich Fellers/ $30,000
    8 Cristallo/ Show Jumping Syndications, Int’l/ Richard Spooner/ $20,000
    9 Chill RZ/ Maura Thatcher/Alex Jayne/ Charlie Jayne/ $15,000
    10 Clintord/ Cross Creek Farms, Inc./ Michelle Parker/ $10,000

    MORE ONLINE: Http://bit.ly/403B_HITS

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