SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO, CA. – March 28, 2021 – The exciting sport of equestrian show jumping returned to the Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park at San Juan Capistrano with the production of the Blenheim Spring Classic 1 $25,000 1.45m Markel Insurance Grand Prix. The grand prix marked the first of fifteen qualifiers in the Markel Insurance Jumper Series leading up to the grand finale held annually at the Las Vegas National Horse Show in November.
As long-time supporters of Blenheim EquiSports and the horse industry, Markel Insurance has been in existence for over fifty years and is the largest consecutive running horse insurer in the country.
“It started out as more of a niche company that focused solely on horses and horse related liability. Over time, Markel has grown to a Fortune 500 company being traded on the stock exchange and has grown well beyond horses, but they love sticking to their roots,” explained Brandon Seger of Markel Insurance.
Thanks to their generosity, Markel Insurance helped formulate the Markel Insurance 1.40m -1.45m Jumper series. The program, in total, has upwards of $385,000 in prize money being awarded. Additionally, Markel Insurance will award the Leading Lady Rider and Leading Gentleman Rider of the series a rider bonus at the finals.
“Our relationship with Blenheim was a wonderful, coming together of personalities. I find that personalities really drive the business and relationships. You want to work with people that you get along with and connect with. When I met the Blenheim team eight years ago, I immediately got a great feeling that we could build something together and it has just worked out great,” Seger continued.
The first installment of the series held Saturday afternoon on the Grand Prix Annex Field had riders galloping around the luscious grass over a course set by Catsy Cruz (MEX). Set against a time allowed of 81-seconds, riders navigated fifteen jumping efforts obstacles featuring a triple combination and tight rollback turns.
“The course was planned according to the number of riders. This is the first show at this venue this year. It has its questions and has the height, but I built it for the new horses that are growing up and the new riders,” narrated Cruz. “It is really fantastic to have the opportunity as the course designer and for the riders and horses to work on a grass field. This year, they were able to rotate the arenas and save the grass for future shows. It has worked out very nice and I think the horses are jumping very well on the grass.” Cruz also expressed her pleasure of using the new colorful jump material provided by JB Horse Standards and Dalman Jump Company.
Out of the initial twelve horse field Kendall Bourgeois (Wilsonville, OR) and Collin 4 emerged victorious with a fault free ride at 77.535 seconds. They clinched the win as the only duo to go clear.
“I think the times allowed have been a little snug this week so that was a factor and because there weren’t a ton of entries today, we were all not quite sure if that was going to play into it at all. After the first rider went, we realized it was a little looser,” explained Bourgeois. “For me, I am almost a little smoother when the time allowed is snug and I feel like I can just keep galloping around. My horse jumped really great out here on the grass, he loves Blenheim.”
Bourgeois and ‘Carter’ as he is known around the barn, have been paired for two and a half years now and have been moving up the ranks. The duo has major accomplishments under their belts including competing at the Las Vegas National Horse Show in 2019. Bourgeois loves competing at the Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park and looks forward to these shows every year.
“We normally come down for these spring weeks, we are from Oregon so when we show up here, there is all the green grass, beautiful, feels a little more like home. We have always been a fan of these first few weeks.”
The fastest of the four faulters, Bruno Diniz Das Neves (Del Mar, CA) and Adelle XIII, owned by BDN Horse Investments, took home the second-place honors for their time of 72.739 seconds. Rounding out the top three was Nicholas Choi (Fullerton, CA) and his own Grand Desert. The pair stopped the clocks at 76.688 seconds to secure their ribbon placing.
The Markel Insurance Jumper Series will continue to serve as a stepping stone for both young riders and young Grand Prix horses along their pathway to success in 2021, with the finals at the Las Vegas National Horse Show, November 16-21, 2021.
Besides the Markel Insurance Grand Prix the Blenheim Spring Series features the new “Ticket to Ride” High Performance & Adult Amateur Jumper Series, the inaugural Blenheim West Coast Jumping Gold, Silver & Bronze Tours, five hunter derbies, and WCHR/USHJA ranking events.
|All Photos: McCool Photography