September 19, 2015 – San Juan Capistrano, CA – With 39 entries and 11 clean, the final qualifier of the Markel Insurance 1.40m Grand Prix Series kept everyone on the edge of their seats and saddles, as top contenders raced to be the fastest, and, of course, clean. Four riders each had two horses in the jump-off, Brazilian Eduardo Menezes, Australian Lane Clarke, Brazilian Josephina Nor Lantzman and Enrique Gonzalez of Mexico, followed by last week’s winner, American Susan Hutchison aboard Ziedento.
With several speed demons aiming for the top prize, it was Lane Clarke piloting MH Wardance (owned by MH Warbucks) who took the quickest route without a fault. Demonstrating true warrior mentality, ‘Brave’, as Clarke calls him, performed this feat even after pulling a shoe partway through the jump-off round.
Lane Clarke and MH Wardance.
FEI Course Designer Catsy Cruz of Mexico knew she had a competitive group of starters. “I have a very good group of riders and horses and a good number in the class. So I think I have to build a little more technical to be able to get some interesting development. So the course is playing with distances – a little long, a little short, and also with the material. I think some will have rails; and I think we’ll have a good jump-off.”
As expertly predicted by Cruz, a solid group of horse and rider combinations finished the first round without fault, including the aforementioned five riders and nine horses, plus Austrian Peter Petschenig and amateur competitor Michelle Kerivan.
First to return, Enrique Gonzalez with Chacna (Daniel Chavez Anicet, owner), was double clean in 43.01. Five riders followed but failed to catch Gonzalez, including Clarke and Semira De Saulieu (owned by Brookelane Farms), who had the time, 39.58, but dropped a rail at fence 11b.
Eduardo Menezes and Carushka.
Menezes on his second mount, Carushka, set the new time to catch, speeding around the course clean in 39.36, almost four seconds faster than Gonzalez and seemingly unbeatable. Clarke proved that, in fact, he could be faster, when he returned on his second mount, MH Wardance.
Turning quick and tight after the first fence, an oxer set along the rail, they held a fast pace until they landed off fence 6 and let loose at a full gallop to the second to last fence (16, a tall vertical) and continued over the last oxer, fault free, with the winning time of 38.68, just under a second faster than Menezes.
Clarke was fully aware that the competition was going to put the pressure on. “I knew it was going to be really fast from the beginning. Eduardo on Carushka was extremely fast, my mare Semira is extremely fast, so I knew I was going to have to go really fast on Brave. I really wanted to win the last Grand Prix [of the season], it’s home and I love it here,” Clarke explained. “I have never pushed my nine-year-old that fast. Every time there was an option, I left the stride out and went as fast as I could go. I really just put the pedal to the metal and trusted my horse was going to step up. I was extremely happy with him.”
This was Brave’s first grand prix win. “I’m just really happy with my horse and thankful for all the support I get from all the people around my home. Also, to the Percivals for sponsoring the horse, Mickey for all the coaching and all of my sponsors. And a special thanks to Brave. He’s grown up a lot this year, he left his heart on the line and it was successful. I’m super excited for how good he was today.”
With well over $50,000 in prize money, the Markel Insurance 1.40m Grand Prix Final at The Las Vegas National is on the horizon, and Clarke has his eye on the possibilities.
Lane Clarke celebrates the win with Nancy Percival, Mickey Hayden, April Branson,
Melissa Brandes, Robert Ridland and Brandon Seger.
Eve Jobs is Victorious in Inaugural CashCall Mortgage U25 Final
In the spring of this year, Blenheim EquiSports introduced the CashCall Mortgage U25 Futurity, a division and final where young grand prix riders could have a chance to compete among their peers as opposed to against veteran professionals. After five $7,500 qualifiers throughout the season, 10 show jumpers under 25 years old competed in the inaugural $15,000 CashCall Mortgage U25 Final on the Grand Prix Field. Eve Jobs and her Sandor De La Pomme were first clean and held the lead to claim her second big victory of the week.
Eve Jobs and Sandor De La Pomme.
Cruz also created the track for the up-and-coming show jumpers. Using the entire field, the course offered options where riders needed to make decisions best suited for their horses. Jobs said, “I thought the course was great. It incorporated a lot of hard parts and had some time to breathe as well.”
Several other experienced yet young show jumpers galloped onto the field for today’s class, including internationally-experienced Karl Cook and Nayel Nassar. However, it was two other rising stars who joined Jobs in the jump-off, Taylor Harris on Kavanagh IV (owned by Harris Equestrian, LLC) and Mitchell Endicott on Chicago Lyngriis (owned by RC MCD, LLC).
Taylor Harris and Kavanagh IV.
Jobs set the pace, going clean in 40.54. Explaining her strategy, she said, “My turn after the white oxer to the vertical was tidy. And then I think taking out one stride of the last line helped me out.”
Harris, also clean, was a second slower for second place. Endicott had a mishap part-way through the jump-off, taking the third spot in the U25 Final.
Mitch Endicott and Chicago Lyngriss.
Jobs complimented her chestnut gelding that she has had for less than a year. “I got him from Catherine Tyree of North Run in December. He’s phenomenal, he’s the horse of a lifetime. I mean, I have so many things to say about him – he’s incredible.
“We believe in the development of young horses and young riders,” DeLong commented. “After all, they are the future of our sport.” With the first year in the books, the DeLong family and Blenheim EquiSports look forward to the future of this U25 Division and Final.
As the first class in a strong line-up of competition today, yet another competitive young rider event followed, the final phase of the Platinum Performance/USEF Show Jumping Talent Search Finals West. Notably, Eve Jobs, who clearly had a superb weekend competitively, made it to the competitive Final Four and finished third overall. Mitchell Endicott also earned a spot in the Final Four, finishing fourth overall.
Sunday rounds out a full week of fabulous finals at the International Jumping Festival, when the young horses are center stage on the Grand Prix Field as the Blenheim Young Horse Finals, presented by Fairbanks Valley Farm, culminate in three age divisions – five, six and seven-year-olds. Although the 2015 season at the Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park at San Juan Capistrano is coming to a close, the excitement of The Las Vegas National Horse Show is mounting. Stay tuned.
Photos by McCool