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Big guns vie on grass at Showpark

Special to the Horsetrader - May 19th, 2016 - Show & Event News
Lauren Crooks takes Dora to a thrilling split-second win over Rich Fellers and E Unanime de la Haie in the May 14 Interactive Mortgage Horses 10&U Futurity.

Lauren Crooks takes Dora to a thrilling split-second win over Rich Fellers and E Unanime de la Haie in the May 14 Interactive Mortgage Horses 10&U Futurity.

Captured Moment photo

DEL MAR — Setting an early pace in the jump-off proved to be unbeatable as Nayel Nassar and Lordan stepped up for the win May 14 in the $60,000 Grand Prix of California. It was clearly a week for the young and talented show jumpers, as Lauren Crooks took the win in the Interactive Mortgage Horses 10&U Futurity.

FEI Course Designer Oscar Soberon set the 1.50m track for the 30 grand prix competitors, focusing more on the verticals than the oxers.

First entrant Marc Grock, riding Moonlite Beach, LLC’s Little Gancho, was also the first to go clean. It took another 20 rides before Nassar went clean on Lordan, followed into the jump-off by three of the world’s top riders: Rich Fellers on Harry and Mollie Chapman’s Flexible, Richard Spooner on Cristallo and Will Simpson riding Monarch International’s E Unanime de la Haie.

Grock opened the jump-off with a fault-free yet conservative ride in 40.08 seconds. Nassar then put pressure on the venerable riders after him, opting to leave out strides in several places and using tidy turns. He stopped the clock in 35.43, and his strategy paid off. Both Fellers and Spooner recorded eight faults, and then Simpson, going last, was without fault, but not quite quick enough in 36.11.
Nassar thought the course suited the competition.

“There was enough in there to keep the riders motivated and to keep them on point,” he said.

Nassar bought Lordan as a 7-year-old. Now 12 and returning with gusto from a year off, they have competed together in a World Cup Final and the World Equestrian Games, won the HITS Million in Saugerties and recently won a CSI3*-W World Cup class in Thermal.

Crooks and Dora the Explorer took first in the Interactive Mortgage Horses 10&U Futurity. Similar to Thursday’s Markel Insurance Grand Prix, the second $7,500 Interactive Mortgage Horses 10&U Futurity of this season’s series seemed like another win for Rich Fellers until Crooks snapped it away by .059 seconds.

Fourteen of 39 entries went clean over Soberon’s course of 14 efforts, including three double combinations. Once again, several top names were vying for the win in this competitive young horse class.

Second to return, Michelle Parker and Vancouver 45 set the pace with a quick and clean ride in 39.55. The next seven attempts couldn’t catch Parker. Then Fellers stepped into the ring on Leslie Nelson’s Coupis. Choosing a tidy track, he left out a stride in the first line and galloped down to the final square oxer, stopping the clock at 38.75 to take over the top spot.

Crooks decided to see what the 8-year-old Dora the Explorer, owned by Wembley Farms, could do. Galloping down the first line, the pair were quite fast early on. Leaving out a stride to the combination and racing to the last fence, she clocked in at a speedy 38.69, edging Fellers.

“She’s my next up-and-coming grand prix prospect,” Crooks said of the mare she acquired in August 2015. “This is the first time I have actually tried ‘going for it,’ so it’s really exciting. She’s a young horse, so to be able to push her and test her limits was really great.”

She agreed that narrowly edging out Olympian and World Cup Champion Fellers was an added bonus.

Four more qualifiers are scheduled before the $20,000 Interactive Mortgage Futurity Series Final at Showpark All Seasons, Aug. 31 – Sept. 4. The top 25 point-earners will earn a chance to compete.

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