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In the hunt

Tommi Clark sweeps $2,500 USHJA Hunter Derby at LAEC Opener show

Special to the Horsetrader - February 7th, 2013 - Show & Event News

BURBANK — It may not have been a day at the races, but Tommi Clark’s win-place-show stranglehold on the $2,500 USHJA Hunter Derby certainly brought some excitement to the LAEC Opener Horse Show, held Jan. 18-20 at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center.

Although she is no stranger to the winner’s circle, Clark’s finish in the top three spots was quite a feat for the young professional.

“I am so lucky to have all these great horses that performed their best,” she said. “We really just went in and had fun.”

Randy Henry, a seasoned judge of almost 30 years, judged the class and applauded the course design of Canadian Meghan Rawlins.

“It’s fair and offers enough questions that it should separate the horses,” Henry said. “I always look for flow, logic, and what will show off athletic ability and movement.”

Clark praised the course, too.

“They did a great job of changing up the courses and making them interesting,” said Clark, who not only knows how to get around a hunter course, but also is studying to design them with Joe Lombardo and Linda Allen.

After the first round, Clark and Bailey Gossett’s Harper scored 86, two behind leader Alexandra Murray and her Otis. Fifteen horses returned for the handy round, which challenged the riders to take the tighter turns and show off their horses.

When an unfortunate mishap left Murray out of the standings in the second round, Clark and Harper advanced to a well-deserved first place. She also finished second on her own Kampari and was third on Exemplar, owned by Stephen Borders.

“Harper has been in training with me for about four years and has derby experience, but today he jumped better than he has ever jumped,” Clark said. “I’m lucky to have such a brave horse in Kampari. Exemplar has only been training with me for a few months, but he is already showing amazing potential.”

Lauren Franco was thrilled to place second in the handy round and fourth overall on her Ben ‘CZ, but she was even more excited to win the CPHA Foundation Medal in her first win as an amateur.

“My trainers at Elvenstar have helped me prepare for medal classes,” said Franco, who hopes to qualify for all of the amateur medal finals this year. “We practice work off tests in the warm up ring, so I felt ready. The first rollback was really tight and surprised my horse, but then we got really smooth. I think I chose a good track to hand gallop.”

Sierra Swaffar, trained by Shauna Pennell, received the second-place ribbon aboard her SS Brando in addition to winning the LEGIS Jumper Medal Class.

“I have had Brando for a little over a year,” said Swaffer, a senior at Foothill Technology High who hopes to take a gap year before college to compete in the 3’6’’ medal finals as a junior. “He really helps me in the equitation ring because he can make very handy turns.”

Riders of all levels enjoyed competing in the new LEGIS Medal Classes, where riders do not have to pay a membership fee to participate in the LEGIS League in 2013 and they are qualifying for the LEGIS League Finals in November. Morgan Shayler, trained by Heidi Misrahy, took home the blue ribbon for the LEGIS National Children’s Medal Class on Prince Caspian, owned by Chelsea Pennington.

“The test was trotting a vertical, and I was a little apprehensive,” Shayler said. “But we nailed it. It was great.”

She also competed on Santana, owned by Betty Meyer, in the jumpers.

“I love having a dedicated jumper and a dedicated hunter,” she added. “I am a newcomer to the jumper world. I had such a fun weekend.”

Katie Russell, a barn mate of Shayler’s who trains under Heidi Misrahy, captured the Short/Long/Rusty Stirrup Championship and Green Rider Reserve Championship on Versace, owned by Katie Russell.

“I’ve been showing Arabians, so I’m brand new to the hunter/jumper world,” she revealed. “I started last year with Heidi and I’ve only had my horse for five months. I was thrilled to get through all my courses and win some classes. Versace really takes care of me because he’s very experienced and tolerant. Heidi is so encouraging and patient and always points out small details.”

Bella Hadid, trained by Kost Karazissis, and her Night Cap had quite the triumphant weekend with a win in both the ASPCA Horsemanship Medal Class and the Pessoa/USEF Hunter Seat Medal Class in addition to a second-place finish in the USEF Show Jumping Talent Search. They were also reserve champion in Equitation, ages 16-17.

Trainer Karen Perlow had a successful weekend as well, debuting several green horses and new partnerships.

“My business has grown quite a bit and we have many new young horses and clients this year,” she said. “This is a great show to start off the year because it’s close to home, the rings are inviting, and young horses and riders are able to school in the show ring. Many of my clients are campaigning for year-end points, so this provides good experience for them and a solid foundation for the year.”

Perlow’s student, Alexandra Vizents, started the year off right on Amarillis Van De Kaai, owned by Mcdongh School.

“I just recently started leasing her,” Alexandra stated. “This is our first big show together and our first time competing in the Low Children’s Jumpers.”

The pair didn’t miss a beat and were Low Children’s/Adult Amateur Jumpers Champion.
Perlow was thrilled to be co-champion in the 0.95M Jumpers on her Suganda, a horse which has had a long road back to the show ring.

“Four years ago, Suganda was in a horrific trailer accident and had to have major surgery,” she explained. “I was told she would never be rideable again and that her best future would be as a broodmare. It was amazing to feel how much power she had in the show ring this weekend after being told she would never jump again. She had so much fun and jumped great on the Olympic mix footing. I’m so proud of her and that we were able to heal her and bring her back to the show ring. This is finally her year to campaign in the jumpers.”

Perlow also was champion in the 3’ Pre-Green Hunters on Deep South, owned by Sue Lane, and her student, Eli Bussel, was reserve champion in the Medium Pony Hunters on his Summerhill.

“It was a really a great show, and we’re looking forward to coming back and showing at the LEG shows at Los Angeles Equestrian Center throughout the year,” Perlow said.

The next show at LAEC will be Gold Coast 1 (Feb. 15-17). Also in Southern California, the Verdugo Hills series of shows will kick off March 2-3. In Northern California, things will get under way with the Woodside Spring Preview (April 25-28).

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