SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO — With an exuberant crowd gathered on the grassy knoll at the Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park, the Blenheim Spring Classic I kicked off the 2017 season with the first $25,000 Markel Insurance Grand Prix of the year.
Local rider Kenneth Vinther topped the field of 14 aboard the young Holsteiner stallion, Colicchio, after a speedy double-clear effort.
Course designer Catsy Cruz of Mexico built an inviting track that led to four double-clars, the top two of which stopped the clock within .2 seconds of one another.
Hannah Loly, a rising star at age 14 who also won the 1.35m Jumper Classic on Friday, took home second place aboard Asombro with a time of 47.28, while Vinther and Colicchio clinched first in 47.09.
Both the first round and the jump-off allowed riders to flow forward, which Vinther took advantage of.
“It was the kind of course where you try to hit a good pace and then stick to it,” Vinther said. “My plan was to try to pick up a good rhythm and just maintain it all the way through, which he did.”
This Grand Prix win is a first for both Vinther and Colicchio. With 15 qualifiers remaining in Markel Insurance 1.40m Grand Prix Series, the keen competition will continue in the months ahead.
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