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Heidegger sweeps qualifiers

- June 1st, 2017

DEL MAR — Jumping off last in the $25,000 Markel Insurance Grand Prix as well as the $5,000 Interactive Mortgage U25 Series Qualifier, 19-year-old Hannah Heidegger and Di Caprio RV topped a field of 62 entries to claim the win in both classes. Vani Khosla and Billy Mexico finished in a close second in the Markel Insurance Grand Prix, with Heidegger beating her time by just 0.05 seconds. Both emerging stars train with Meadow Grove Farm.

A Spring Classic at the MEC

- June 1st, 2017
Rebecca Drake and her One Red Mist take control on their way to the 50K Amateur title at the El Rancho Spring Classic in Rancho Murieta April 27-30.

Rebecca Drake and her One Red Mist take control on their way to the 50K Amateur title at the El Rancho Spring Classic in Rancho Murieta April 27-30.

John O’Hara photo

RANCHO MURIETA — The El Rancho Cutting Horse Association, an NCHA Affiliate, prides itself on promoting one of the last outdoor cuttings on the West Coast. Competitors come from all over the Western U.S. to compete at one of the premier cutting facilities.

This year’s event paid out a $102,000 to competitors. With over 761 entries, the facility was packed with athletes, horses and excited spectators. The exhibitors and their horses enjoyed beautiful spring weather in ranging from 70 to 80 degrees.

Carol Ward and crew go to great lengths to make the event a fun-filled show, with hosted exhibitor’s party, pancake breakfast and more.

A unique and inspirational component to this popular cutting results in the West Coast Equine Foundation receiving net proceeds from the event.  The Foundation is a charitable organization that supports a variety of equine related organizations including; college scholarships and grants to youth organizations that provide, therapeutic riding and support to 4-H and other equine related youth organizations.

Next up for the association will be the El Rancho Futurity and Mercuria World Series, Sept. 8-17.

MORE ONLINE: http://www.elranchofuturity.com

A ‘Rein-y’ Season!

Cactus Reining kick off season of top reining competitions

From releases and staff reports - May 1st, 2017

1705ACoverSCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — After a prolific rainy season, the “rein-y” season seems to have kicked off this spring, and Californians are claiming their share of titles.

At the venerable Cactus Reining Classic, held March 22-26 at Westworld, major winners from the Golden State included Tom Foran in the Open Derby Level 2 and 3 and Non Pro Dana Avila in the Novice Horse Non Pro Levels 1 and 2 as well as Intermediate Non Pro.

This year, the event was pushed into late March, a move that didn’t slow down Temecula-based rider Avila. With her gelding Gunna Spook Ya, by Smart Spook and out of Gitty Annie Gun, by Gunner, Avila won the High Point Championships in Novice Horse Non Pro Level 1 and 2, and Intermediate Non Pro.

“I opted not to show my horse in the Derby ,as my husband, Bob, and I felt he wasn’t quite as seasoned as the other Derby horses,” Dana said. “I ended up having a terrific show. As they say, winning is always fun.”

Once again, the $70,000-added Lucas Oil Open Derby, with 74 horses in the competition, did not disappoint the spectators. It took a 220.5 to place 15th and be in the money. When Arno Honstetter, of Scottsdale left the arena after his run on Gunnafoolya, by Gunnatrashya, owned by Marilyn Overgaard, with a smoking score of 226, the crowd thought they had seen their winner.

Petschenig rides a Classic

Three horses in jump-off, including winner Saint Quentin, make memorable day

- May 1st, 2017
Peter Petschenig gallops to a sweeping victory aboard Saint Quentin at the $40,000 Spring Classic II Grand Prix April 9 in San Juan Capistrano.

Peter Petschenig gallops to a sweeping victory aboard Saint Quentin at the $40,000 Spring Classic II Grand Prix April 9 in San Juan Capistrano.

Amy McCool photo

SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO — The grassy knoll of the Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park at San Juan Capistrano was filled with fans April 9, as Peter Petschenig galloped to a sweeping victory aboard Saint Quentin in an unbeatable time of 40.24 in the $40,000 Spring Classic III Grand Prix, presented by The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel.

He topped Thirty-six horse and rider combinations who were trying to master a difficult track set by Puerto Rican FEI Course Designer Mauricio Garcia Ballesteros.

“He can be super fast,” Petschenig said of his 14-year-old partner of six years. “I tried to stay on the inside track, but I didn’t force it too hard because the other ones weren’t that extremely fast. Today was lucky.”

The Speedy Six

Blenheim honors top riders of spring

- May 1st, 2017

SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO — Four weeks of riveting competition came to a close April 15 as the Blenheim Spring Classic IV wrapped up the 2017 Blenheim Spring Series. Part of the closing celebrations included the Veredus Leading Jumper Rider Awards, presented to the riders who accumulated the most points on their highest placing horses throughout the month-long series.

Michelle Parker took the jumper ring by storm during the of the Blenheim Spring Series and won the Veredus Leading Professional Jumper Rider Award. Her first place finish during the Spring Classic II in the $25,000 Markel Insurance Grand Prix, plus another blue and other solid placings in the Spring Classic III Open Welcome and Speed Derby, put her squarely at the top of the professional leader board with an unbeatable total of 31 points.

SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO — Jim Ifko claimed the first place prize in the $50,000 Blenheim Spring Classic IV Grand Prix aboard Eventyre Farms Ltd.’s Un Diamant des Forets. In front of a full audience of fellow equestrians and local fans, Ifko delivered two swift, faultless rounds that secured him the win by over 2.5 seconds against five others in the jump-off. Robert Blanchette and his own Coupis picked up second place as the only other double clear finisher.

Dual in the Debut

Kenneth Vinther and Collichio kick off Blenheim season with split-second grand prix win

- April 1st, 2017

1704A CoverSAN 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.

MORE ONLINE: Http://bit.ly/704_BLEN

White-O’Connor and Legolas 92

White-O’Connor and Legolas 92

Terri Miller photo

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.

Mandy in a million

Encinitas-based Porter and Milano take AIG $1 Million Grand Prix in Thermal

- April 1st, 2017

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!”

InGate graphicHorse 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).