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Del Mar duels

Haness tops French, Tina tops Josephina in separate dramas

Special to the Horsetrader - August 2nd, 2012 - Cover Story, Show & Event News

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Nick Haness and Gelato

DEL MAR — Nick Haness outdueled John French, breaking the veteran’s win streak June 28 aboard the famous Small Affair, and young gun jumper Tina Di Landri stole the show by outrunning the fearless Josephina Nor Lanzman in the June 29 $30,000 Grand Prix jump-off.

Those match-ups atop the respective hunter and jumper divisions highlighted a memorable weekend return of the Blenheim EquiSports series to Showpark in Del Mar.

In Saturday’s featured $10,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby, the Grand Prix Grass Field allowed for course designer Joe Lombardo to create a fluid Classic Round where contenders could utilize the large space to negotiate their approach and make deliberate decisions on options and lines.

French, seemingly untouchable on Small Affaire after the pair’s recent back-to-back hnter wins, looked to continue his win streak when he qulaified the top three mounts returning for the Handy Round: Small Affair, Sander, and Small Kiss. Haness was also able to sneak through two of his mounts into the Handy Round with his Spring Classic III Hunter Derby Champion Gelato and his newest 5-year-old mount, Good Times.

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Tina Di Landry and Avargo

The Handy Round asked riders to showcase their horse’s ability to jump clean and to keep focus on both the next obstacle and on their rider. Unique elements included two fences on the berm, multiple turn backs, a natural hedge with a Swedish oxer and an immediate halt after the final fence.

“It’s comfortable to come back in a lower spot,” Haness said of returning in fifth aboard Gelato. “I’ve learned to stay safe the first round because the Handy Round is where Gelato excels.”

Haness and Gelato took all the risks with hopes of having them pay off. They did. He took all of the higher options, and Gelato did an amazing job.

“I’ve never rode two jumps on the berm before,” said Haness. “But it was a nice change of pace — a great course — and I could not be happier with the overall result.”

Haness and Gelato were the only pair to receive a score above 100 from the judges, securing the lead and going home Champions.

French and Small Affair were the last pair who could have surpassed Haness and Gelato’s lead. Opting out of all the higher options, French rode a safe but flawless Handy Round to finish a solid third. French was able to maintain the second highest score aboard his other mount, Sander, and walk away with the Reserve Championship.

In the grand prix, 36 combinations and seven countries vied on the technical track laid out by Mexican course designer Catzy Cruz.

“I wanted to ask the field some questions and see who could answer them,” Cruz said of the large field of mixed levels of ability and experience. The technical track included a challenging bending line to a skinny vertical, taking more than a dozen victims. Other challenges included an oxer-vertical-oxer triple combination to which, “had an awkward distance that you had to approach correctly to get through,” noted Cruz. Only five lucky duos were able to answer Cruz’s questions correctly and make the jump-off.

Hap Hansen, sitting on his 99th Grand Prix victory, was the first to return in the jump-off and set the stage aboard Archie Bunker. Hansen was setting up what looked to be No. 100, but with an unlucky rail, Hansen and Archie Bunker finished with four faults in a time of 40.436 seconds. Coming off her win in the $30,000 Red, White and Blue Grand Prix, Brazilian rider Nor-Lantzman and Chello Z were the next contenders to top the leaderboard. Nor-Lantzman, not being one to hope for the best, knew a fast clean round was in order to secure the win. Knowing her horse’s abilities, Nor-Lantzman piloted Chello Z to a flawless jump-off, bolting through lines and cutting every corner possible to trip the wire in 39.317 seconds.

Michelle Parker and Xel Ha was the third pair to challenge the finalists. Just as it had in the qualifying round, the skinny vertical took another victim and with an additional rail on the final line, Parker and Xel Ha finished with eight faults in a quck time of 36.912 seconds.

“Avargo is so good at what he does. I’m so proud of him,” Di Landri said of her winning mount.

The rivalry between Nor-Lantzman and Di Landri re-emerged as Di Landri galloped into the ring.

“I completely changed my jump-off plan after Phina (Josephina) went, “Di Landri laughed. “She was quick, so I knew I had to leave some strides out and go for it. They left the skinny vertical which was risky but Avargo is so good and when you gotta go you gotta go.”

Di Landri charged through the track leaving all the rails in the cups, posting a time of 37.355 seconds, shifting Nor-Lantzman to second. Antonio Maurer (MEX) was the final rider to challenge Di Landri’s post. Maurer guided Callao through a swift round but with one unfortunate rail, Maurer would finish with a four fault time of 36.878 seconds, good enough for third place.

USEF OVERALL WEST COAST JUNIOR HUNTER
Champion Overall: Small Affair – Olivia Esse
Reserve Champion: Illusion – Olivia Esse
3rd: Small Kiss – Samantha Sommers
4th: Bayside – Kelli Cruciotti
5th: Einstein – Ashlyn Matheus

$10,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby
1st: Gelato – Nick Haness – Conor Perrin 373
2nd: Sander – John French – Lily Blavin 370
3rd: Small Affair – John French – Iwasaki and Reilly 369.5
4th: Anomaly – Hap Hansen – Shelly Lachow 360
5th: Small Kiss – John French – Iwasaki and Reilly 352

$30,000 Racing Festival Grand Prix
1st: Avargo – Tina DeLandri – High Point Farms 0/0/37.355
2nd: Chello Z – Josephina Nor-Lantzman – Josephina Nor Stables 0/0/39.317
3rd: Callao – Antonio Maurer – Antonio Maurer 0/4/36.878
4th: Archie Bunker – Hap Hansen – Linda Smith 0/4/40.436
5th: Xel Ha – Michelle Parker – Tula Pinnella 0/8/36.912

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