Brianne Link and Q Royal Palm Outlast Field of 42 to Win Farm Family Speed Derby at Silver Oak Jumper Tournament

By Kenneth Kraus for Phelps Media Group

Fieldstone Show Park – August 14, 2015 – Another gorgeous New England day, with warm temperatures and bright sunshine was the setting for day three of the Silver Oak Jumper Tournament at Fieldstone Show Park in Halifax, MA. In the Unicorn Landing Grand Prix field, the name of the game today was speed. An early 1.40m Open Jumpers, followed by a Low and High Junior/Amateur Owner Jumpers class, all scored under Table II 2.1, set the table for the main event of the day – the $7,500 Farm Family Speed Derby.

It was a true derby test today with 15 numbered obstacles and 19 jumping efforts including a couple of jumps, up and down the banks, a ditch and three double combinations. Course Designer Olaf Petersen of Germany also offered up a couple of options along the way. Forty-two horses lined up to challenge the Friday faults converted test.

Of the 42 that started, nine completed the course without penalties, but it was the time taken over the course that meant the most today. In fact, 13 horses today broke the 90 second barrier, only to see their time increased because of knockdowns along the way. The top three finishers all tripped the timers in less than 90 seconds.

Brianna Link, a 17-year-old high school senior from Long Island, New York, and Q Royal Palm raced around the derby track in 87.292 seconds without penalty to seal the victory.

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Brianne Link and Q Royal Palm. Photo by Andrew Ryback.

Molly Ashe Cawley, who had gone earlier on Vernal, a catch ride for the day, had been leading with a clear go in 89.112 seconds. Link sliced over two full seconds off of that time. Ashe-Cawley stood at the gate and watched Link knock her out of first place. “I went before her, thank goodness. Brianne’s round was so slick because it was smooth. She just hit that good gallop and never once had to interrupt it,” she said. “I’d never ridden the horse that I rode today and so we had a little miscommunication on the way to number three. It was like I was going through a blinking red light – he sort of stopped and then I got too much of a reaction when I pulled, so I had to make up some time. I would’ve been close, but I don’t think I would’ve had her if I hadn’t done that, but it would’ve been closer,” she smiled.

In third place, Lucas Porter actually had a much faster time with Psychee D’Amour in 85.835 seconds, but a knockdown along the way bumped that time up to 89.835 seconds.

Rounding out the top four was Mattias Tromp who galloped around without penalty on KM Whatever RV, crossing the finish line in 90.100 seconds.

Link, who rides with Jeffery Welles and Ed Copeland was pleased with her efforts in her very first speed derby. “I was very proud of my horse. I’ve only been riding her for a few months, I don’t own her myself, so it was a little bit of a challenge coming in and I wasn’t sure if we were going to last the whole round, but I was really proud of her, she was great,” Link said.

Welles gave Link her plan for the day. He told her, “Just to do the leave-outs in the lines and always look at the next jump, and go fast!” she laughed.

Ashe-Cawley, who has done a number of speed derbies in her career, talked about today’s track. “I thought the course was great. It was smooth and long, but a really nice course to gallop. There wasn’t a lot of stop and go, it was just pretty much floor it all the way.”

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Molly Ashe Cawley and Vernal. Photo by Andrew Ryback.

“I’ve always liked the horse show,” added Ashe-Cawley. “They put on a great event. The horse show has always been a fun show for the exhibitors even with the change of venue. I didn’t get to come last year so this is my first year doing Silver Oak at Fieldstone and it’s a great show. I think it’s great to have some classes like this too that we can all do together and it’s not 1.50m or higher.”

Link noted, “I was here last year. I am very happy to be back. I love riding on the field and just like Molly said, it’s fun to do a class that’s on the lower side, but with adults and juniors and everyone together.”

The day started off in the Unicorn Landing Grand Prix field, however, with the $4000 Open Jumper 1.40m, sponsored by Dover Saddlery.

With 23 entries contending for the top spot on the scoreboard, only 12 were able to produce a clear round. The fastest clear round went to 2014 NAJYRC Individual Gold medalist and Vanderbilt University student, Wilton Porter.

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Wilton Porter and Patriot. Photo by Andrew Ryback.

With a time allowed of 70 seconds, Porter, from Sleepy P Ranch, and his mount, Patriot, galloped around the course with ease – pulling off an impressively sharp rollback from fence nine to fence 10 and 11, an in and out combination, ultimately stopping the timers at 53.288 seconds. There was no doubt that Porter showed up to win.

“Patriot is here for these second level classes – the 1.40m and the Mini Prix – so we didn’t want to just school around this course, we wanted to go for the win,” explained Porter. “Patriot’s cool. We’ve won a couple speed classes and jump-offs this summer. He’s a good speed horse because he kind of skims over the jumps and then he really cuts into the turns.

“This is my first time at Silver Oak,” continued Porter. “I love it. I love these shows that are just jumpers. It kind of has a European feel to it.”

Second place honors went to Francesca Bolfo and Celly Negra with a time of 54.339 seconds, followed by Chelsea Sundius and Nomination Hastak with a time of 56.929 seconds in third.

Next, the grass Grand Prix field welcomed 26 exhibitors in the $1500 Low Junior/Amateur Owner Jumper 1.20m. The top two ribbons both went to students of North Run’s John Brennan, who were showing at the Silver Oak Jumper Tournament for the first time and were separated by only 7/10ths of a second. Nicolas Horgan raced to the first place finish aboard Zico T in 54.257 seconds and Kendra Gierkink followed closely behind with her second mount out of three that she competed in the class, Udento VDL, in 54.963 seconds.

“The plan was to be really tight in the turns, have a really nice track, make the time up between the jumps and leave the jumps up,” Horgan simply stated.

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Nicolas Horgan and Zico T. Photo by Andrew Ryback.

Gierkink, who was third to go clear in the class on Udento VDL, commented, “I was just trying to go fast and shave the turns because I generally go kind of slow. I wanted to really ride forward and go after the jumps.

“The first horse I rode (Contino 14) – he’s huge and has a really big stride so he’s generally a bit slower – he didn’t carry me as much so I needed to create more pace with him,” continued Gierkink. “With Udento I just needed to pick up my gallop and he took me around the course. My third horse that I rode in the class (Zemilion) – he has a loftier jump so I needed to kind of create a pace with him a little bit more as well. Udento is probably my fastest horse so I just knew if I picked up a big gallop he would take me around the course.”

Sima Morgello and Zopala rounded out the top three finishing with a time of 55.701 seconds.

The fences were raised for the $2000 High Junior/Amateur Owner 1.30m with only six entries. Callie Smith and Bigshot were the first to go clear in the one round competition speed class and remained at the top of the leaderboard to take the blue ribbon with a time of 59.077 seconds.

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Callie Smith and Bigshot. Photo by Andrew Ryback.

“Bigshot’s nine,” said Smith. “I’ve had him for about a year and a half. I’ve taken him around the biggest classes that he’s done. He came from Europe with an amateur doing the 1.30m’s and we’ve just stepped him up and he’s been really good, he’s a good boy.”

Riding to second was Casey Lorusso and Cool Runnings who posted a time of 61.006 seconds and Chloe L. Field and Estar in third with a time of 63.150 seconds.

“Yesterday I had a little trouble because I came out of a turn and I thought I saw a distance, but then messed up,” said Lorusso. “I wanted to have a conservative round and try and go nice, but he felt so good in the warm up that I figured I’d trust him and try and go fast. I knew we might have trouble at fence four because a lot of horses had. Once the first three jumps felt good I just kept kicking and went for it. The plan was to try and do everything technically correct and if we were fast and did well, great. I just wanted to go clean.

“I came to the show last year,” continued Lorusso. “It’s definitely one of the nicest shows, hands down. Last year there weren’t as many people, which was cool because you got a lot of prize money whether or not you did well and that’s always nice, but this year it’s way more competitive. You have all these huge names here and that’s so cool. The jumps are nicer and the footing is definitely better. I’ve just noticed big improvements, even the stabling is way better so I couldn’t be happier.”

Competition continues on Saturday at 8:00 a.m. starting with the Masters 1.05m in the Unicorn Landing Grand Prix field.

Sunday is the main event, with the $75,000 Agero Grand Prix in the afternoon and proceeded by the D & G Ventures Mini Prix.

Fieldstone’s Summer Showcase Horse Show immediately follows the Silver Oak Jumper Tournament and offers impressive prize money from August 18-22, 2015. Highlighting the show week is the $50,000 Fieldstone Show Park Grand Prix plus additional $40,000 in supplementary prize money offered in other highlight classes. The week of competition offers events across jumper, hunter and equitation disciplines.

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$7,500 Farm Family Speed Derby Podium. Photo by Andrew Ryback.

For 30 years, Fieldstone Show Park has stood as New England’s principal horse show venue, employing the finest terrain New England has to offer with all-weather draining base arenas with GGT Geo-Textile footing to create an environment conducive to top-tier equestrian competition. One hundred and six acres of arenas and beautiful grass fields make Fieldstone a truly world-class facility, and a perfect host for the summer’s events, culminating with the Fieldstone Summer Showcase.

For full results, go to www.horseshowing.com.

Photos by Andrew Ryback Photography www.andrewryback.com.