WOODSIDE, Calif.— Young riders reigned supreme in the LEG Woodside Summer Circuit. During the first week of the LEG Woodside Summer Circuit, it was Alessia Arrigo Zazadze and her NCS Chico’s Junior who topped the Woodside Circuit Opener Grand Prix. On Saturday evening, Alessia’s Stanford classmate Alessandra Volpi sealed the deal in the Woodside BayFest Grand Prix with her Foster 39.
As a full crowd gathered by the ring for a dinner and spectator party, the evening kicked off with our annual Stick Horse Classic and before the jump-off we celebrated the winners of our Brooke USA Barn Challenge. Everyone got into the spirit of giving as we raised nearly $13,000 for our new charity partner. Read on for photo highlights of the fun Stick Horse Classic and Barn Challenge.
Earlier this spring, 17-year-old rider Emma Reichow clinched the Woodside Spring Preview Grand Prix and fellow junior rider Rachel Long won the Woodside Spring Classic Grand Prix. Alessandra continued the streak of young riders edging out professionals this year. In a field of 30 horse and rider pairs, Alessandra was one of only three who found the key to Danny Foster’s challenging track along with her barn mate Emma and professional Mariano Alario.
Alessandra and Emma’s trainer, Olivia Brown was the eighth rider on course with Valiant and the first to leave all the poles up. The crowd roared with excitement as she made it through the timers with a clear round, but her time of 90.297 seconds— a fraction of second over the 90 seconds time allowed—cost her one expensive time fault.
Spectators held their breath as Emma came into the ring aboard Forever Alve, the horse that she won the Woodside Spring Preview Grand Prix with earlier this year. Emma, who is heading to FEI Youth Championships in August, followed her trainer’s track and laid down a clear round with a time of 87.858 seconds.
Ten more riders, including Alessia and her NCS Chico’s Junior struggled to keep the fences up in Danny’s course. The triple combination coming down off the bank posed a challenge to even the most seasoned riders.
“There was a little balancing exercise down that hill after the bank,” Danny explained. “The horses gained momentum coming up the bank and riders had to quickly balance them back up. The natural elements in the ring like the bank and the grob enabled me to use creative ways to make the course challenging without having to make the jumps too large.”
As 19-year-old Alessandra entered the ring, the audience questioned if Emma’s barn mate could challenge her to a jump-off. “I’m always a little bit nervous going into a big class and it was especially nerve wracking that so many professionals and good horses had rails down,” Alessandra said. “I knew if Emma could do it, so could I.”
Alessandra followed her trainer and barn mate, laying down the third clear round of the evening with a time of 85.051 seconds. “Harley warned me that when you come down the bank, you need to sit up and support with your body,” she said. “I tried to get a nice quiet distance coming into the triple combination. Many riders also struggled to keep up the second to last fence, an oxer with a Liverpool because they came to it a bit of an angle. I tried to stay out a few steps to get there as straight as possible. Our plan worked out well and I was really happy.”
“I couldn’t have been more impressed with Emma and Alessandra,” said Danny. “They rode their plan and they basically rode the best of anyone. They each had two beautiful rounds of great riding. To me, that is my goal regardless of how many clear. I want to give riders the opportunity to use their skills to come out on top.”
As everyone was preparing for a jump-off head-to-head between two barn mates, professional rider Mariano Alario and Edesa’s Stallone wowed spectators with a clear round as he made it through the timer with a time of 89.980 with less than a fraction of second to spare.
It came down to three in the jump-off and Emma led the charge, going clear with a time of 45.923 seconds. Alessandra rode next, following Emma’s track and racing to the finish with the fastest time of 43 seconds. “I was glad I got to see Emma go first,” she said. “I planned to be very tidy to the first three fences like she did then I stayed out a little bit and used my space to be as straight as possible in the end.”
This special win marked Alessandra’s first grand prix victory with her horse. “I’ve had Foster 39 for just under a year now,” she said. “He’s super honest both on the ground and in the ring. I’m very to lucky to have him. I live in Woodside and did my first grand prix three years ago here. It was a full circle moment to win my first grand prix here at Woodside.” Next up for Alessandra and Emma is FEI Youth Championships in August.
Stay tuned for more highlights Woodside Bay Area Festival! Thank you to everyone who joined in our Brooke USA Barn Challengeto raise funds for working animals around the world. Congratulations to our winning barn Core Equestrian, our runner up Aspen Ridge, and our Fundraising MVP Parker Anthony Abe from Horizons East.