The Santa Fe Summer Series zealously swung into the Santa Fe Sonrisa Week. The Spanish word “sonrisa,” means “smile,” which is exactly what competitors and spectators have been doing since the moment they arrived. Excitement filled each corner of the HIPICO Santa Fe property and every inch of the arenas. An action packed week—with busy Hunter rings and Jumpers enjoying the grass fields – included highlights $5,000 USHJA National Derby, Welcome Stake, Chorizo Wiener Races, All-in-One Grand Prix, and Sister City Challenge Cup, capped off by the $30,000 Sparrowhawk Grand Prix on Sunday.
The Sonrisa Week may be behind us but there’s more to come – Fiesta Week and the finale, Grand Prix de Santa Fe, are still ahead! And on behalf of HIPICO Santa Fe, thank you for always making us smile—we’re delighted you’re here and wish you the best luck horse showing!
What About This Week Made You Smile?
“For one thing, the weather and the beauty of the grass, the trees, and the clouds. And the fact that we have such a world class horse show so close to us—is very very wonderful. I think [HIPICO] becomes a meeting space for all our friends that we know throughout the southwest and also the west. And of course, now, with the new management, we’re getting a lot of people from all around the country—John McQueen has done such a good job managing. It’s a nice mesh of east and west!” –Caroline Invicta Stevenson, Invicta Farms, NM
“Just being at a horse show makes me smile, but everybody is so friendly and it’s a fun environment that you can’t help but have fun. Everything [at HIPICO’s facility] is kind of all together, it’s very cozy, instead of spread out and commercialized. It’s more family and friend kind of oriented. I think we’ve smiled the whole time we’ve been here. It’s a pleasure to come to a horse show and have that much fun.” –Debbie Jamsa, Happy’s Dream Ranch, AZ
“The cool mornings and the staff make me smile—it’s just wonderful.” –Joey Brumbaugh, Free Flight Farm, OK
“A clear round with my horse of course!” –Audrey Rooke, Grant Seger Sport Horses, TX
“We started coming here the first year HIPICO started having the Summer Series. It’s been an absolute steady improvement with everything. The competition that’s coming is better and it’s all kinds of fun. We like it a lot better each year and we really enjoy coming here. All the people who work here have been great. It’s fun to see them all again… On a personal note, I broke my hip a few months ago and had to have a complete hip replacement. I was a little concerned and unsure if I’d be able to jump right back in the show ring. I started my day today showing three horses who were all good and we got great ribbons—so I was like ‘ok I can do this.’ So that made me smile!” –Sandy Strack, Valley View Stables, TX
$5,000 National Hunter Derby
The question murmured by the spectators atop the grassy berm’s bleachers at Friday’s $5,000 National Hunter Derby was, “Who Dat?!” Sarah Rice’s ride last week begged the question about the gleaming bay with the bulging white blaze, and on Derby Day, the question was gracefully answered with yet another stellar ride and win by the professional out of Pine Hollow Farm in Texas aboard Who Dat. Last week Sarah swept the Derby with the top two scores.
Owned by Maura Harrower from Jacksonville, Wyoming—Who Dat sealed the first prize in this week’s $5,000 National Hunter Derby after earning Champion in the Green Hunters earlier in the week. In a close second place, last week’s National Hunter Derby winner and this week’s 3’3” Performance Hunter Champion—Nickle owned by Alta Basaldua—took the red ribbon today, rewarded by the judge for the pair’s handy inside turns and an impressive angle over an oxer. Belynda Bond glided across the Derby Field aboard the handsome chestnut mare Norderney earning third place out of a competitive field of 30 contenders with a total score of 174.
Scott Alder designed a confidence-building course for the derby riders, which served the riders well with plenty of variations and inside jump options. Santa Fe Summer Series Fiesta Week features the $10,000 International Hunter Derby – what’s sure to be a challenge for the top derby contestants!
$7,500 Santa Fe Welcome Stake
Racing through the timers after clearing the final Día de los Muertos designed oxer in the jump-off, Gianna Aycock released a gleeful squeal, followed by an elated fist pump and grin for her double clear ride in Sonrisa Week’s $7,500 Welcome Stake. Letting loose in the turns set Aycock’s strategy on top. “Most people are afraid to let loose and go for the gallop,” she said.
The professional and head trainer at Storybrook Sport Horses in Texas beat Charlie Carrel’s time on Cassanova by just over a second, riding Flex A Tia, the Warmblood mare sired by Rich Fellers’ famous stallion Flexible, owned by Julia Strawbridge. Erin Davis-Heineking followed in third place riding Leonie, owned by October Hill Farm. They all rode smoothly over Oscar Soberon’s course, which he designed as a “friendly and fluid track for the mixed group of riders in the class.”
Born in Albuquerque and a New Mexican at heart—Aycock’s win is a nostalgic one. “To be able to come and ride here after growing up here is spectacular. It’s an amazing feeling.” said Aycock. She is thunderstruck by the facility, “I’m so appreciative of the [owners] McElvains’ and Gonzales’s for putting themselves out there. It’s a huge endeavor, they’ve put so much work into HIPICO.”
All-In-One Jackpot Grand Prix
Professionals, amateurs, and juniors alike—rode with the phrase in mind ‘all or nothing.’ In a class which allows riders of all levels, ages, and riding experiences to compete together, the heat turned up on the Grand Prix Field at Saturday’s All-in-One Jackpot Grand Prix. With 44 entries, only those who rode double-clear in the top six placings were able to snag prize money.
Colby Coltrain, sped to the first prize on MTM Zig Zag, jumping the course at 1.20m as a confidence-building ride for his mare, who he’s owned for one year. Coltrain was thrilled by her fast and careful performance. Last week they entered a class that pushed their limits in height, so this week, the class allowed them to, “get our legs back underneath us going into the rest of the year.”
While a professional won the class, a younger rider gave certainly gave Coltrain a run for his money. Laurel Walker, 12, rode to fourth place aboard No Sky Too High, also known as “Onion.” Filled with appreciation for her horse, Walker was flushed, almost in tears of happiness after she rode double clear in the class filled with people, twice and perhaps three times her own age. “I’m so excited and I couldn’t do it without my horse Onion. I love him to death. He’s taken me so far and I think his most special quality is how friendly he is. He’s goofy like me so I understand him. I feel like we’ve really progressed—it’s just special,” said the young rider, trained by Celine Myers at Chantilly Farm.
New Mexico professional and 2017 Sonrisa Week All-in-one Winner Michael Elmore, placed third in the class at 1.10m, enjoys this class. “You can play chess with it, by deciding whether to go bigger or smaller. It gives you options,” said Elmore. In all, the All-in-One provided as much excitement as ever, allowing riders of all kinds to enjoy competing together. They left it all on the field, for the last All-in-One of the horse show for the 2018 summer season.
Sister City Challenge Cup
Santa Fe is synonymous with culinary, cultural, artistic, and athletic pride! On Thursday evening, a special celebration for the upcoming Sister City Challenge Cup was held. Guests enjoyed the ‘Sabors de Santa Fe’ and mezcal tasting. Chefs from Sazón, Terra at Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado Santa Fe, La Casa Sena, El Nido Restaurant and Geronimo showcased their talent with beautifully prepared cuisine. Saturday’s class marked the beginning of an exciting new competition between Santa Fe in the US and San Miguel de Allende, Mexico—a meaningful boon for tourism, economic prosperity, intercultural harmony and fun for both countries. Brian Gonzales, one of HIPICO Santa Fe’s founding owners,shared his vision, “Santa Fe and San Miguel de Allende are much alike when it comes to art, flavor, beautiful people—to bring those two cities together with a competition like this is really going to grow into something special.”
Randy Randall, the Director of Tourism for the City of Santa Fe, shared his thoughts on the inaugural event, “What I think is so exciting is that it’s the first competition of this type between two sister cities—Santa Fe and San Miguel de Allende. The team representing Mexico did a terrific job but of course, it’s wonderful that Santa Fe was able to win the first of the Challenges.”
Team Santa Fe and Team Mexico jumped head-to-head, with Sharon McElvain’s ride sealing the win, despite suffering a dislocated shoulder from a fall in an earlier round, for the farther north sister city. Having competed at Otomi Club Hipico in San Miguel de Allende, Colleen Acosta competed for Team Mexico joining Mindy Coretz. Tomas Torres and Federico Daners were proud to compete on behalf of their homeland. “To represent my country in a place as beautiful as HIPICO was a privilege,” said Daners.
A special thanks to Randy Randall and Santa Fe Mayor Alan Webber. HIPICO Santa Fe also extends its gratitude to the interim mayor Gonzalo Gonzales and the governing body of San Miguel de Allende.
Chorizo Wiener Races
Colorfully dressed crowds lined the fence of the Grand Prix Field, in anticipation of Saturday’s Chorizo Wiener Races. Some of the racing contestants even had their own fan clubs! Ella Fisher and Julia Young from Corragio Equestrian, sported hand-made signs to encourage their favorite racers.
Bribed with squeaky toys, turkey sandwiches, and different pitches of dog-calling, the first mixed-breed race began—with Lily taking first prize. In a flurry of puppy kisses and lifting the winning pups into the air, Lily’s owners, Sarah Invicta Williams Echols and her husband Lance, were so proud of the two dogs they entered in the race. When asked about his competition strategy to train Lily, Lance said, “Well, they’ve been in training for about 45 minutes, so in that 45 mins we figured out our strategy was: out of the gate just go all four legs running fast.” Sarah’s other dog, Luke, sported a jockey costume. Luke wasn’t the winner Sarah explained, because, “Another dog tried to eat his jockey [costume] and he got a little side-tracked.”
This week Sharon McElvain sat at the wheel of the four wheeler in the second race of the day—for the Dachshunds—to avoid a repeat of last week’s DNF. Guy McElvain was rumored to have confused the dogs the week before, because he was an unfamiliar driver to the pups. The driver-switch made all the difference, and Porky—the reigning winner of last year’s Dachshund races, revived his Chorizo Wiener winning glory! When asked about the feeling of Porky’s accomplishment, Sharon McElvain said, “I feel awesome because Porky wasn’t distracted today. He got to really go out there and race and pay attention to what was going on. He was a rockstar.” Sharon entered multiple Dachshunds in the race and shared that there’s some sibling competition arising in the McElvain household over the races—stay tuned to see the race within the race next week!
$30,000 Sonrisa Week Sparrowhawk Grand Prix
With clouds in the distance over the Sangre de Cristo Mountain range, a bubbly crowd from the champagne brunch in the VIP Lounge, and a splendid ambiance set by the Santa Fe Opera singer performing the National Anthem—26 riders gave it their all on the Grand Prix Field in the $30,000 Sonrisa Week Sparrowhawk Grand Prix. Julie Cleveland Beam kicked off the class aboard Lancelot over a course designed by Oscar Soberon and never looked back. Before the nine rider jump-off, the crowd in attendance enjoyed the “half -time” presentation by the Pojoaque Youth Hoop Dancers, a Native American troupe from the Pueblo of Pojoaque, followed. The dancers, wearing bright colors of traditional dress, shared a sacred cultural element of New Mexico with HIPICO Santa Fe’s competitors, spectators, and VIP patrons who came from all over the world.
In both rounds of the Grand Prix class, Julie Cleveland Beam entered the arena on a mission. Her laser sharp focus could have cut glass, as she sailed around a challenging jump-off at a speedy time of 36.82 aboard Anastasia Stewart’s grey Warmblood gelding. Following Cleveland Beam, only two other riders came out of the jump-off faultless. Christian Heineking earned second prize on Chaccrobat, whose explosive takeoffs catapulted the pair to a clear time of 40.81. Chenoa McElvain atop Wallstreet RC threw down a bold and double-clear ride—her horse gliding above each jump with vigor, never chancing any sort of rub with a jump-off time of 41.40.
Although Julie Cleveland Beam had the challenge of going first in both rounds, she anticipated the riders after her would be fast, so made every effort to maintain a forward pace. Executing tidy and tight turns, angling jumps, leaving out strides, and not allowing herself to slow down at any point on course, Julie knew today was to be Lancelot’s day. “We’re still working through the kinks, but he’s just been fantastic and we have gained a lot of confidence together in the past couple months. Today I could just feel it in him that he was ready to go for it,” she said. The Sonrisa Week Sparrowhawk Grand Prix marked Lancelot’s first career win and Julie’s first Grand Prix at HIPICO Santa Fe.
Hillcrest Farm’s head trainer and professional win was especially poignant. “It’s been since 2006 that I’ve won [a Grand Prix], so this is really special. In 2006 I lost my husband Kevin Cleveland. It was actually a week after his death and we went to Brownland Farm—that was my first ever win. I did the Prix there, because it is what he would have wanted… Having this horse made it extra special. If you are there for Lancelot, he is 100% there for you and that’s what happened today,” she said. Cleveland Beam’s smile was absolutely radiant as she posed for the award photos with an entire team of supporters, grooms, friends, clients, and fellow riders.
The second place recipient, Christian Heineking, was noticeably pleased with Chaccrobat’s first experience in an upper level class. A new horse to the Heineking family, who imported him about 2 months ago, this Sunday marked the Oldenburg gelding’s first Grand Prix, “I’m still figuring him out. One day he’s calm, simple, and easy, and other days—he’s sensitive.” Heineking enjoyed his third year at HIPICO Santa Fe, “We’ll be back next year. I love this show, because [the HIPICO staff] really work hard to make it better every year.”
Chenoa McElvain’s double-clean third place finish had the young professional and head trainer at Rancho Corazon thrilled. “It was so much fun! The crowd was really into it today, you could really hear their excitement with clear rounds and bigger jumps. The horses were getting all lit up from the atmosphere of the VIP and it made the day feel really special.” After Wallstreet RC cleared the last fence of both clean first rounds, he was very pleased with himself. Fired up by the crowd’s loud applause and thrill over the pair’s performance, “Walle” showed off by stretching his neck and shaking his head while exiting the expansive grass field in a gorgeous extended trot.
Even after the riders found their way back to the barn aisles, the crowds melted away, and the jump crew dismantled the Grand Prix obstacles—there was still action on the grass. Somehow a fun afternoon at HIPICO Santa Fe always ends in a dog fest. Almost a dozen dogs where whirling around the Grand Prix field, having their own ‘go’ at the course with their owners.
THE SANTA FE FIESTA WEEK WILL END ON A HIGH NOTE WITH THE $30,000 SANTA FE FIESTA WEEK CITY OF SANTA FE GRAND PRIX.
WILL YOU BE HERE??
It’s hard to believe we’re already mid-way through the 2018 Santa Fe Summer Series! Don’t miss out on the fun – come join us! We’re expecting a huge Santa Fe Fiesta Week with rich competition and many more special events. Look forward to the Sale Horse Exhibition Wednesday and then bid in the first ever Fiesta Auction on Saturday! This is week will be packed with crowd favorites, such as Thursday’s $1,000 Pro/Am Team Hunter Classic and Saturday’s $5,000 Sandia BMW/MINI Cooper Ride-&-Drive. Bring your Friday best to the Derby Hat Contest and Vendor Fashion show.