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Sweeney, Duet in tune at Platinum Performance Hunter Prix

Special to the Horsetrader - March 6th, 2014 - Show & Event News

THERMAL — In the $1,500 Platinum Performance Hunter Prix, a West Coast qualifier for the Platinum Performance $250,000 Hunter Prix Final at HITS-on-the-Hudson, Polly Sweeney of Pasadena jumped her own Duet to a win with consistent scores of 83 and 84. Sweeney rides under the direction of trainer Archie Cox.

Twenty-one turned out for the class, as excitement builds on the West Coast for the HITS Championship that will return to Saugerties, N.Y., on Sept. 3-7.

Following Sweeney, Kate Gilhuly of Woodside rode Fine Design to second for Patti Gingras. Their scores of 75 and 86 put them six points off the win.

Stephanie Goodson of Beverly Hills swept the next two placings, riding her own Leonetti to scores of 77 and 83 for third, and Poetic to a 73 and 86.5 to finish fourth. Emma Glaunert capped the top five with her own My Thoughts Exactly after scores of 70.5 and 85.

With two weeks remaining at the HITS Desert Circuit, West Coast hunter riders have two more opportunities to seal their fate for September’s HITS Championship. Each year, the West Coast is represented by a strong contingent of competitors in the Diamond Mills $500,000 and Platinum Performance $250,000 Hunter Prix Finals, and 2014 is shaping up to be no different.

Mandy Porter catch-rides big win

THERMAL — When Mandy Porter walked into the Strongid® C 2X™ Grand Prix Stadium on Feb. 28, the crowd expected to see her in the tack of her usual stallion, Con Capilot. This time, however, she piloted a 16.3 hand grey gelding named Lexito for Marguerite McAfee of P2 Capital, LLC.

Porter, who hails from Encinitas, catch rode for Lexito’s regular rider, Toni McIntosh of McIntosh Stables, after injury has sidelined McIntosh. It earned them a win in the $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix, presented by Zoetis.

“I rode this horse a little last fall for Toni [McIntosh], so I was familiar with him, but I certainly did not expect that we would go in there today and win,” said a pleasantly surprised Porter. “This is a game horse, but doesn’t have a lot of experience at this level – my goal was just to help keep him right and building for Toni.”

Danny Foster of Milton, Ontario set a course of 13 obstacles and 16 jumping efforts. The last four jumps of the original course proved to pose the most difficult task. An oxer-vertical bending line was placed near the in-gate before the course wrapped around the end of the ring to a tall vertical and finished with an oxer. “I think the horses thought they were done after the bending line, so that vertical was difficult for them,” said Porter.

With technical distances and considerable size, the course allowed four to advance to the jump-off from an original order of 35.

Jaclyn Duff of Edmonton, Alberta was the first to best the first-round course as the 13th in the order, aboard her own Pater Noster. She returned first in the jump-off, but had trouble with a right-hand rollback and was eliminated after a fall.

With one grand prix victory already pocketed this season, Francie Steinwedell-Carvin jumped Taunus, owned by Prentiss Partners, in the jump-off. Taunus jumped around happily to a clear round in 54.15 seconds for two time faults. Steinwedell-Carvin isn’t shy about admitting that her goal at this point in the circuit is to save her chestnut gelding for the AIG $1 Million Grand Prix. Alexander Grayton of Preddis, Alberta rode Candy Girl to 54.42 seconds for Grayton Farms, Ltd. and finished with one rail and six faults after two on the clock.

The door was wide open as Porter trotted Lexito into the ring. After an inside turn from the second-to-last fence kept them safe from time faults, a long spot to the final effort cued gasps from the sidelines. “It didn’t feel as desperate as it obviously looked,” said Porter with a laugh. “He likes to go forward, so I didn’t think pulling was in my best interest at that point – I wasn’t worried at all that he couldn’t get it done.”

After a breathtaking finish, Porter and Lexito led the victory gallop with Steinwedell-Carvin and Taunus in second and Grayton in third with Candy Girl. Duff finished fourth with Pater Noster, while Nayel Nassar of Santa Clara was the fastest of the four-faulters in round one with his own Lordan, and capped the top five.

With only three more qualifying grand prix left for the AIG $1 Million Grand Prix, it’s crunch time for riders hoping to find a spot in the coveted event. Sunday’s $50,000 Horze Equestrian Grand Prix, presented by Zoetis, will wrap up Week V before attention turns to the final opportunities next week.

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