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Ali Nilforushan and Green Sleepes Vioco win the $25,000 Showpark August Festival Grand Prix on Aug. 1.

Daniel K. Lew / Horsetrader photo

Ali Nilforushan and Green Sleepes Vioco win the $25,000 Showpark August Festival Grand Prix on Aug. 1.

DEL MAR — As the horse show season heads toward the end of summer, many hunter/jumper riders started to gear up for upcoming competitions and took the opportunity to prepare at the Showpark August Festival, organized by Blenheim EquiSports from July 29 to Aug. 2 at Del Mar Horsepark.

With the 2009-2010 FEI World Cup Qualifier season commencing soon, 12 show-jumping Grand Prix events between August 2009 to April 2010 will have added elements of excitement and importance. Spectators get to cheer for their favorite show-jumping riders and horses, while West Coast Grand Prix riders compete to earn points toward qualifying for the 2010 FEI World Cup Jumping Finals, to be held April 14-18, 2010 in Geneva, Switzerland.

As a warm-up to the upcoming World Cup Qualifiers, Ali Nilforushan of Cardiff, Calif., topped a field of 40 entries to claim victory in the $25,000 Showpark August Festival Grand Prix. Adding excitement to the class was the fact that an unusually high number of rider/horse pairs–16–jumped clean in the first round to come back for a suspenseful jump-off.

“Now, everyone’s starting to get serious about the coming fall and winter shows–it’s time to crank it up again,” Nilforushan said. “Summertime is ending and it’s getting closer to the World Cup season, so all the riders are starting to bring out their best horses. In August, there will be an even more of an increase and it’s slowly growing; getting ready for the major shows again.”

In the jump-off, Michelle Parker of San Marcos, Calif., had another clean ride aboard Socrates, owned by Cross Creek Farms Inc. of Tucson, Ariz. Their time of 40.34 seconds–within the time allowed of 50 seconds–looked like it would be good enough for the win, as many other riders knocked down rails or accumulated time faults. They placed second in the end.

Gabriella Salick of Westlake Village, Calif., continued to have a good summer show season, as she and her Gredo La Daviere also went clean in the jump-off. Their time of 41.16 seconds would eventually place them in third place.

Nilforushan riding Green Sleepes Vioco aggressively breezed through the jump-off course with a clear round at 39.06 seconds to clinch the blue ribbon in the $25,000 Showpark August Festival Grand Prix. The victory followed up a win earlier in the week for the pair in the 1.40M Jumpers class.

The jump-off was a lot tougher than the first round, Nilforushan said. “My strategy was to go as fast as I could because there were so many in the jump-off, and there were a lot of good horses and riders,” he said. “My strategy was to put it down right from the beginning.”

It worked, as Nilforushan and his new horse, Green Sleepes Vioco, were the fastest and cleanest of the day. “He’s been wonderful, jumping fantastically,” Nilforushan said of the 11-year-old Belgium Warmblood gelding. “I think he’s going to be quite special.”

Nilforushan bought Green Sleepes Vioco about 4 months ago in Florida. “Nobody seemed to want him; he was a bit of a difficult horse, but now he’s tremendous, coming around faster than I thought, and doing quite well.”

He also had a second ride in the jump-off aboard his Warco Van De Halhoeve, a 10-year-old Belgium Warmblood gelding, but they hit two rails.

Things in general are going well for Nilforushan right now. “I’m working really hard to get ready for the Masters; that’s my next goals at Spruce Meadows,” he said of the prestigious Spruce Meadows Masters Tournament from Sept. 9-13 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. “We’re hard at work with a conditioning program to get the horses fit.”

For complete Blenheim EquiSports show results, visit: www.showpark.com/results.asp

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