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Very Vegas

Stars are out as Las Vegas National delivers a spectacular show week

Special to the Horsetrader - December 4th, 2014 - Show & Event News

LAS VEGAS, Nev. – In true Las Vegas style, the final highlight event of the Las Vegas National opened with glitz and glamour. As eager spectators began to fill the stands, 44 of show jumping’s best and brightest prepared to compete in the $75,000 Las Vegas CSI-W Grand Prix on Nov. 15. After 10 went clean, it was Dutch rider Harrie Smolders and the speedy Regina Z who outran the rest for the win.

The Opening Ceremonies epitomized the grandeur of the week,which included a line-up of special classes and important year-end finals. A Parade of Nations in which flags from 11 countries waved as each rider was introduced to the crowd, led into a performance by the silk aerialist group Flight La Femme, a tumbling and twirling act from floating banners affixed to the ceiling.

In the jump-off, the 10 finalists challenged a track that offered options to leave out strides, take tight turns and gallop to the final oxer. In a showdown of speed, Karl Cook on Jonkheer Z, owned by Signe Ostby, set a time to beat in 39.33; Lucy Davis and Old Oak Farm’s Barron had the time, 39.16, but lowered the height of the last oxer for four faults.

Making superbly tight turns, Smolders and Axel Verlooy’s Regina Z flew to the lead with a time of 39.21. Jack Hardin Towell and Lucifer V, owned by Jennifer Gates, smoked the time in 38.76 but also had a heartbreak rail for four faults. Jos Verlooy on Farfelu de la Pomme, owned by Verlooy, made a gallant attempt, with a fantastic time of 38.41 but also with an unfortunate four faults to finish fourth. Smolders had the only other double-clean effort on Enjoy Louis, also owned by Verlooy, ultimately finishing first and third.

“She doesn’t have such a big canter, but is very quick in the turns – naturally very fast,” Smolders said. “I know I always have a shot in the jump-off with her.”

The pair know each other well. Now 14, he acquired the mare when she was 10. After four years, they have found a successful routine.

“She’s a real trier and gives everything,” Smolders said. “She’s such a fighter and I’m so proud of her.”

This season was the first for the pair to compete on the West Coast.

Saturday’s highlight events kicked off in winning form with a tremendously exciting $10,000 1.40m Winning Round Classic, presented by Cardflex Financial. The 10 riders with the least faults and fastest times from the first round were brought back for round two with a clean slate to compete for the top prize.

After competing in qualifying grand prix events throughout the year, the top 25 point-earners were invited to compete in the inaugural finals of Thursday’s Markel Insurance Grand Prix Series Final. With add-back from each horse’s entry during the qualifying season, the purse for the class had grown to $53,400.

Set at 1.40m with 14 efforts in a time allowed of 74 seconds, the course featured a double and triple combination as well as several tricky bending lines; in particular, a blind left turn to a skinny wall on the far end of the short side of the arena.

Course designer Olaf Peterson, Jr. of Germany elaborated on his plan.

“It can be difficult to make a 1.40m class challenging, especially since we have very good horses and riders in this class-for example, Enrique Gonzalez, rode at the WEG this year,” he explained. “It’s set very light; you need a careful horse to keep the fences up, since everything is set a solid 1.40m.”

Trouble spots included fence 3, an airy striped vertical, as well as fence 7a of the triple combination and 10a of the double combination. The tight time also caused additional faults for nearly a third of the class.

Nine entries returned for the jump-off, which was a series of rollbacks and lines before a hand gallop down to the last oxer. First to return, Jeffrey Fields on Bybalia SMH, owned by Stall Minion, was quick and clear in 41.39 seconds. Ann Knight Karrasch on Coral Reef Carmel Z flew around the course, leaving all the rails up in a time of 37.99, which stood as the leading time until Kristin Hardin and her spunky partner, Bert, owned by Emily Cohodes, zipped through the timers in 36.36.

Rich Fellers on Harry and Mollie Chapman’s Lux Lady were close behind Hardin, clean and fast in 37.95. In a heartbreaking turn of events, both Susie Hutchinson on SIG Excel and Michelle Parker on Cross Creek Farm, Inc.’s Socrates de Midos both had quicker times in 34.71 and 35.63, respectively, but had a rail at the final oxer. Their four-fault rounds resulted in a victory gallop for Hardin, with Fellers in second and Karrasch taking home third.

Hardin was full of praise for her beloved horse.

“After the first big class we did together I thought, ‘Wow, he’s the real thing,'” she said. “There’s that point where you start to believe. Last year we did well and now I trust him completely. He’s super hot and doesn’t look easy to ride, but I just grab his mane three strides out and hang on.”

She elaborated on his habits.

“He’ll be super wild and try to buck me off, and as soon as I untack him, he knows that is his time to roll,” she adds. “He always rolls on both sides and rubs his head in the dirt. It relaxes his back and makes him happy.”

As for what’s next for this wonder horse, Hardin explained that she takes it one day at a time.

“He’s my horse,” she said. “Everyone wants him to do more, but I want him to last for a long time and for my kids to go to Young Riders on. I want him to go forever – he doesn’t have to prove anything to me. He’s been perfect and is the horse of my dreams.”

A large group of show jumpers raced against the clock in the $30,000 Las Vegas Speed Classic, presented by Equ Lifestyle. With over 50 riders contending for the top prize, the enthusiastic crowd watched a thrilling display of time-efficient twists and turns throughout the 1.35m class.
Being fast and fault-free was key in the $33,500 Las Vegas Welcome Jumper Classic. Vinton Karrasch and Coral Reef Baloufino topped the field of 58 for the top prize in the first of two FEI classes of the week.

Las Vegas National Horse Show
Nov. 11-16, 2014 * South Point Equest. Center, Las Vegas, Nev.
Major Show Champions

Horse – Rider – Owner

Children’s Jumpers
Warrick – Rachel Torok – Kristin Hardin

Low Child/Adult Jumpers
Powder Day – Lusa Olle – Laurie Jueneman

Adult Amateur Jumpers
Too Much Bling – Alyssa Palmquist

Modified Jr/Am Jumpers & Classic
Condoleeza – Genevieve Engelhorn – AMA Marketing & Mgmt, Inc.

Low Jr-A/O Jumpers & Classic
Gucci – Hannah von Heidegger – Cavallo Farms, LLC

Jr-A/O Classic
Axl Rose – Hannah von Heidegger – Monarch International

.80m Jumpers
Heathcroft Jimmy – Zacko Hardin – Kimberly Butts

.90m Jumpers
Cojack – Kendall Gath

1.10m Jumpers
Gold Strike – Mark Mead – Sara Guren

1.15m Jumpers
Leonidas – Kristin Hardin – Mark Cassar

1.20m Jumpers
Elle – Kristin Hardin – Mark Cassar

1.30m Jumpers
Zaiza – Kristin Hardin – Gavin Brodin

Markel Insurance Grand Prix Series Final
Place – Entry – Horse – Rider – Owner – Faults/Time
1. 365 – Bert – Kristin Hardin – Emily Cohodes – 0/0/36.362
2. 857 – Lux Lady – Rich Fellers – Harry & Mollie Chapman – 0/0/37.958
3. 872 – Coral Reef Carmel Z – Ann Knight Karrasch – Coral Reef Mgmt., LLC – 0/0/37.996
4. 149 – Bybalia SMH – Jeffrey Fields – Stall Minion – 0/0/41.393
5. 180 – SIG Excel – Susan Hutchison – SIG International – 0/4/34.718
6. 879 – Socrates de Midos – Michelle Parker – Cross Creek Farms, Inc. – 0/4/35.638
7. 685 – Lasse – Jamie Barge – Kylieco – 0/4/39.045
8. 691 – Zanzibar – Tanya Levorchick – Megan Camaisa – 0/4/40.851
9. 927 – Quilebo du Tillard – Enrique Gonzalez – Enrique Gonzalez – 0/4/44.859
10. 287 – Mucho Gusto – Melissa Doddridge – Melissa Doddridge – 1/74.522.

$10,000 1.40m Winning Round Classic
Presented by CardFlex Financial
Place – Entry – Horse – Rider – Owner – Faults/Time
1. 890 – Balvino – Brandon Howard – Brandon Howard – 0/35.992
2. 519 – The Dude – Will Simpson – Monarch International – 0/0/36.181
3. 111 – La Fleur – Eduardo Menezes – Franscisco Pasquel – 0/0/38.915
4. 213 – Basimodo – Eric Navet – Signe Ostby – 0/0/39.402
5. 676 – Arjo – Audrey Coulter – Copernicus Stables, LLC – 0/0/39.542
6. 690 – Aiyetoro – Harrie Smolders – Copernicus Stables, LLC – 0/0/39.704
7. 643 – Arly – Enrique Gonzalez – C & M Partnership, LLC – 0/0/41.024
8. 897 – RMF Viva Colombia – Kirsten Coe – Ilan Ferder – 0/0/41.806
9. 258 – Courtown – Karrie Rufer – Morning Star Sporthorses, LLC – 0/4/38.942
10. 937 – Arivederci Alex – Peter Petschenig – Pam Bilek – 0/4/42.772

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