Kenneth Vinther and Collichio kick off Blenheim season with split-second grand prix win
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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SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO — Since 2012, Legolas 92 and U.S. Team rider Steffen Peters traveled the world together and have a multitude of titles to their credit, including a Team Bronze Medal from last summer’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
But in January, Four Winds Farm’s Westfalen gelding (Laomedon x Fuerstin by Florestan II) entered a whole new chapter in his career as Peters handed over the reins to 27-year-old former working student Dawn White-O’Connor, and the promising pair wasted no time getting top results as they claimed both the CDI Grand Prix and Grand Prix Special titles at Cornerstone Event Management’s Dressage Affaire CDI3*/1*/Y/J/U25/AM, held March 24-26
White-O’Connor’s weekend got off on the right foot as she piloted Legolas to a hard-fought win over a field of 12 competitors in Friday’s CDI Grand Prix with 73.780%.
“I think it was the cleanest test with the best feeling I’ve had with him so far,” White-O’Connor said. “There’s always plenty of room for improvement, but I was so happy.”
The pair then returned to the main ring at the Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park with another solid performance in the Grand Prix Special, topping the leaderboard with 73.706% in their inaugural outing in this notoriously-challenging test.
Encinitas-based Porter and Milano take AIG $1 Million Grand Prix in Thermal
THERMAL — Mandy Porter rose to the occasion against a top-notch field of 54 riders March 20 in the most popular AIG $1 Million Grand Prix class to date.
Porter, based in Encinitas, rode Milano, owned by Abigail Weese, to a thrilling finish as the second-to-last rider in a six-horse jump-off. The starting order included several prior victors of the AIG $1 Million Grand Prix at HITS Desert Horse Park including 2016, 2015 and 2014 winners: McLain Ward, Charlie Jayne and Ashlee Bond.
“It’s an honor to win this class, coming into this I always hoped that this result would happen,” said Porter. “I always try to go into an event like this hoping to do the best that I can – —I think it’s great that the West Coast won this one!”
Horse Spirit Ranch will host a one-day Sylvia Zerbini Liberty Clinic and Luncheon in beautiful Bonsall this month. It will be a rare, up-close opportunity for horse-lovers to spend a day with Sylvia, former star of Cavalia and a ninth generation circus performer. The Liberty Clinic, Luncheon and Fundraiser on Sunday, April 23 will be held at the Horse Spirit Ranch facility located a short drive east of Oceanside, south from Temecula or north from Escondido. The event will run from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and will feature a silent auction, vendor booths, raffles, and a tack sale. Proceeds from the event will be donated to the Horse Spirit Ranch Emergency Horse Fund, and is sponsored by Ambassadors for Compassion, Inc., a 501(c)(3).
The inaugural Winter Central California Horse Show Series wrapped up in March after two weeks of competition and camaraderie at the scenic Paso Robles Horse Park. Next up for the West Palms series will be Flintride Spring Classic (April 20-23) and the 96th Annual Flintridge Horse Show (April 27-30).
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CRHA kicks off 2017 season with Bunny Slide at LAEC
BURBANK — A new year of reining competition launched Feb. 3-5 at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center where the California Reining Horse Association held its season-opening Bunny Slide.
With more than $11,500 in added money and a qualifier for National Reining Horse Association Affiliate points, this event had no shortage of top horses and riders hopping to it.
Ashlee Bond and Chela CS win $100,000 Longines FEI World Cup qualifier at HITS
THERMAL — The sun shined bright above the desert sky at HITS Desert Horse Park as the crowd gathered to watch the $100,000 Longines FEI World Cup™ Qualifier Feb. 11. The competition served as the grand finale of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Thermal event during week IV of the HITS Coachella Desert Circuit.
An impressive lineup of horses and riders from California and around the globe gathered to jump for the final West Coast qualifying opportunity and a $100,000 purse.
As the last stop for qualifiers on the West Coast commenced, riders were hungry for the opportunity to qualify for the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final to be held in Omaha, Neb., March 29–April 2.
CRHA hosts year-end show, NRHA Southwest Affiliate Championships
BURBANK — Not even badly needed rain showers could dampen spirits at the California Reining Horse Association’s 2016 Challenge Show, held Oct 26-30 at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center.
Exhibitors from all across California as well as Nevada, Arizona, Wyoming and other points north, south and east came to participate in National Reining Horse Association Finals, Year-end Special Award Events, parties, futurities, derbies, an inaugural para-reining class, youth meetings, and more.
Events kicked off with a CRHA-hosted omelet Bar on Friday morning, setting the tone for Saturday night’s exhibitor party sponsored by longtime CRHA supporter Danny Gerardi. Italian food, a well-stocked bar and a deejay got spirits flowing in time for the evening’s exciting NRHA Open Futurity, where Nicolas Barthelemy, riding Manny Rojo’s WRS Shiney Diamond, swept all divisions L1, L2, L3 and L4, marking a 150 for their big win.
Megan Wilson and her 'Mojah' take Training Division win, start-to-end
TEMECULA — Galway Downs International is a popular year-end destination for West Coast eventers, offering not only international CCI divisions, but also a chance to tackle a traditional long format event with their USEA Classic Series divisions. These proved increasingly popular at Galway Nov. 4-6, with entries warranting two training three-day divisions.
Megan Noelle Wilson and her own Classic’s Mojah (Chambertin x Sevillano) led the Training Three-Day A division from start to finish. The 7-year-old Oldenburg was originally slated for a career in dressage, and carried theses skills into the first phase of competition, scoring a 26 on the flat.
RANCHO MURIETA — A beautiful autumn weekend at Murieta Equestrian Center played host to the West Coast Reining Horse Association Year End Show Oct. 20-23. With eight saddles, $21,000 in added money, buckles to champions and reserves and even more prizes up for grabs, this premier Northern California show didn’t take long to hit a high note.
With a four-way tie and run-off for the Open championship saddle, Aces High Whiz owned by Larry Lease and shown by David Hanson, won the run-off with a 73.5 to win. Jennifer Gilliam and her gelding, Hick A Shine, and Martin Padilla showing Diamond Oak captured the Co-Championship in the Open 7 & Up Maturity and Reserve Championship in the Open class with a score of 73.