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Fellers and Flexible take Del Mar

Experience, athleticism prove a winning combo for tandem

From Horsetrader staff reports - May 20th, 2010 - Show & Event News

DEL MAR – After he clinched a jump-off spot on Flexible at the $100,000 Grand Prix of Del Mar, Rich Fellers found a seat. Scheduled last in the 10-horse jump-off, he watched the first entries in the final round, Helen McNaught on Caballo and Guy Thomas on Carino. It made all the difference.

“She rode a beautiful round – a really class jump-off round — and her horse jumped super,” Fellers, three weeks removed from the Rolex/FEI World Cup Final, said of McNaught. “She set the time right there.”

That front-running time was still standing when Fellers and Flexible took the course nine horses later. With McNaught’s turns and strides indelibly in mind, Fellers composed a go that Flexible executed perfectly.

“I knew exactly what I had to do when I went into the ring,” said Fellers, whose victory earned $30,000. “I know Flexible very well – his strides, his ground speed, his turning ability. I’ve seen Helen’s horse quite a bit and I know that horse fairly well, so I pretty much knew that if I matched her track, her turns and her stride, that I would be quicker — just because Flexible is a smaller, quicker horse. And he was, fortunately!

Fresh off their 12th-place finish April 15 at the Rolex/FEI World Cup Final in Geneva, Switzerland, Rich Fellers and Flexible won two grand prixes at Del Mar, including the $100,000 AGA event Saturday night.

Rick Osteen photo

Fresh off their 12th-place finish April 15 at the Rolex/FEI World Cup Final in Geneva, Switzerland, Rich Fellers and Flexible won two grand prixes at Del Mar, including the $100,000 AGA event Saturday night.

“I still have no idea what my time was,” he added. “I asked people, ‘anybody see my time?’ When I went through the timers, the crowd was screaming so loud that I knew that I won it.”

The 30-horse Grand Prix of Del Mar May 9 at the Del Mar Arena highlighted the hunter-jumper portion of the 65th Annual Del Mar National Horse Show. Two nights earlier, Fellers and Flexible won the 65-entry, $25,000 Surfside Grand Prix.

The two events were the first on U.S. soil since Fellers and Flexible competed in April at the 2010 Rolex/FEI World Cup Final in Geneva, Switzerland. An early front-runner, the duo from Wilsonville, Ore., finished 12th in an extraordinarily tight competition. Under the unique FEI World Cup scoring calculation, one less rail would have placed Fellers in sixth; two less, and he would have won it.

“Flexible jumped great there,” said Fellers. “It was close. The top 12 or 15 riders were all right there, together.”

He acquired the 14-year-old Irish Sport Horse stallion for owners Harry and Molly Chapman as a 6-year old, then began showing him the next year. He’s been with Flexible eight years, although more than two of those years were spent away from show jumping because of injuries.

2010 has the makings of a memorable year for the pair, which is on the shortlist for the Alltech/FEI World Equestrian Games in Lexington, Ky., this fall. Fellers has scheduled a handful of grand prixes to in preparation for the WEG qualifying tour in late July/early August. That tour – with events in Sweden, Great Britain and Ireland – will determine the five-member U.S. squad that will vie in Lexington in September.

“Everything I’m doing now is kind of teeing him up to be really on his game when he goes to Europe,” said Fellers. “I’m going to show one class at Showpark, then two classes in a couple weeks – a World Cup qualifier and another class at an International show in Canada – and then I’ll show one class at Spruce Meadows in early July before he flies out of Calgary to Europe to start his tour.

“I have a good feeling about the year so far,” he added. “So far, so good.”

For more Del Mar National results, click here: http://bit.ly/DelMar2010

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