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Back to Blenheim

Canadians go 1-2-3; Susie and Cantano return to San Juan

From Horsetrader staff reports - April 15th, 2010 - Cover Story, Show & Event News

SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO – As eagerly awaited as the swallows, the Blenheim EquiSports Spring Tournament returned Easter weekend, launching a fresh season of Blenheim show jumping while winding up FEI World Cup qualifiers with the $50,000 Orange County Register CSI-W Grand Prix.

The April 2 Friday night headliner class, the final West Coast qualifier for the 2010 FEI World Cup Finals in Geneva, Switzerland, April 14-18, went to the Canadians. Riders John Pearce, Karen Cudmore and Chris Pratt went 1-2-3, respectively, with Pearce and Chianto the only ones managing a clear round on Olaf Petersen Jr.’s challenging course.

Finishing fourth was a hard-charging Susie Hutchison on Cantano, a dynamic duo in each of the last two Blenheim seasons. For Hutchison, who is coming off a solid HITS Desert Circuit this year where she finished third in the $300,000 Lamborghini Grand Prix of the Desert March 14, there’s plenty of optimism as she enters her fourth year with the striking, 10-year-old Holsteiner stallion owned by the El Dorado 29 partnership.

$50,000 Orange County Register CSI-W Grand Prix winners John Pearce and Chianto with Blenheim EquiSports President Robert Ridland, VP of Marketing Melissa Braunstein, Lelani Kroeker and  Jackie Saragueta of The Orange County Register,  and Blenheim EquiSports CEO, R.J. Brandes.

Jump Shot photo

$50,000 Orange County Register CSI-W Grand Prix winners John Pearce and Chianto with Blenheim EquiSports President Robert Ridland, VP of Marketing Melissa Braunstein, Lelani Kroeker and Jackie Saragueta of The Orange County Register, and Blenheim EquiSports CEO, R.J. Brandes.

Her sterling career, which includes AGA Rider of The Year and Leading West Coast Rider awards and four trips to the World Cup Finals, has in recent years stayed closer to home, where the fires have been burning aboard Cantano. In 2008, the pair won four of five spring grand prixes, and last year they took three. She says 2010 could be a step for Cantano toward the 2011 World Cup Finals.

“That’s the goal” says Hutchison.

She turned 57 during this year’s HITS Thermal campaign, and she appears as energetic as ever. Her secret is no secret –it’s the horse.

“They do that to you,” says Hutchison, who’ll campaign just one grand prix horse this year in Cantano. ““You’re only as good as you are mounted. Two (grand prix horses) would be nice, but it’s great just to back in that ring. It’s fabulous. To be on a horse that can be a player and a competitor –it just makes all the difference in the world.”

As a 6-year old, Cantano was paired with Hutchison by Sandy Aston, who had imported the stallion for another client.

“Sandy was helping the owner with the horse, and he was a little bit of a handful to be in the hunter barn,” says Hutchison. “So they kind of said, `well, let’s see what happens with Susie on him.’ It just kind of fell into my lap.”

That spring, Cantano aced his first 1.45 m challenge at the Oaks Spring Classic II so well that they decided to give the grand prix a try. He won it.

Then, when Aston recommended to her longtime clients, Jim and Pat Iverson of El Dorado 29, that they buy Cantano, the team was in place.

“She thought that we’d be a good match,” Hutchison says. “Sandy’s got a really good eye for a horse, and good eye for matching up horses and riders. Luckily for me, she was right!
“I give her the credit for all this,” she adds. “She had a lot of faith in the horse. She just had that gut feeling. I must say I thought he was a nice horse. I don’t know if I really thought that he was `the’ horse, but he’s certainly stepping up to the plate to be `the’ horse.”

Open Equitation winner Blake Lindsley and Pascal receive their award from presenters Melissa Braunstein, VP Marketing of Blenheim EquiSports and Jenny Fine of Royal Champion.

Dirk Gallian photo for Jump Shot

Open Equitation winner Blake Lindsley and Pascal receive their award from presenters Melissa Braunstein, VP Marketing of Blenheim EquiSports and Jenny Fine of Royal Champion.

In Thermal last month, Cantano was .56 seconds from being “the” horse in the $300,000 Lamborghini Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer, A shade over a half-second separated Hutchison from winner Jill Henselwood aboard Bottom Line in the jump-off. The big purse still provided $39,000 third-place winnings, helping position Hutchison and Cantano No. 5 in the qualifying for the Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix that will take place on Sept. 12 at HITS-on-the-Hudson in Saugerties in New York. The field will consist of the top 40 qualifiers.

“I have been showing in California and not outside it for a while just because I feel that if you can’t win here, you shouldn’t be showing somewhere else,” she says. “ In my opinion, it’s too costly nowadays to go to Spruce Meadows or the East Coast unless you think you can be a player.

“I’ve been lucky enough to be mounted on some really nice horses — thanks to Samsung and some other clients in the past — and I’ve had that opportunity. Now with this Million Dollar class, our hopes are that we’ll stay in the top 40 and go back to Saugerties and do that. I’d also like to go to Colorado this year and do a couple of shows there. We’re spread out wings out a little bit — venturing out.”

And the World Cup?

“Not this year,” she says. “And even if he were in, I think he’d be a year too young to do that. I’ve been there when I haven’t felt comfortable about being there in the past. I learned that anyone who doesn’t feel that they can be a player for the U.S. and know that it’s the right time for their horse, it’s really a bad decision. Next year is the goal.”

“As I said last year, that horse is the reason that I still put my boots and breeches on, you know?,” she says. “The horses you ride stimulate your attitude, and draw you forward or pull you back.

Hutchison, whose stables opened March 1 at a new location at Ashe Farm in Temecula Valley, also enjoyed HITS Desert Classic success with young horses of another client, SIG International from Japan. Two wins came on Feng Shui in the 6-year-old Classics.

“As long as I’ve got the horses, and as long as I feel that I am physically in good shape and can be fair to the owners, to the horse and to myself, then I’ll still be out there,” she says, preparing to get back to work. “The day that I feel that’s not happening anymore is the day you won’t see me.”

Like the swallows not one day returning, California show jumping circuit without Susie Hutchison seems unfathomable.

Show results: http://bit.ly/blenheimspring

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One comment has been made on “Back to Blenheim”

  1. Suzanne Ansari Says:

    Thanks for all your great support and coverage of our 2010 Blenheim EquiSports Spring Series!!

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