Nicole Haunert and Calgary IV Clinch the Win in $25,000 Markel Insurance Grand Prix

Nicole Haunert aboard Calgary IV. Photo by McCool Photography

June 12, 2021 – San Juan Capistrano, CA – Nicole Haunert and Calgary IV claimed victory in the $25,000 Markel Insurance Grand Prix on Saturday, June 12, during the Blenheim June Classic I in San Juan Capistrano, CA.

The featured event marked the first grand prix since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic for which spectators were welcomed back on site at Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park. In honor of the occasion, all exhibitors were invited to the Looke Out Pointe Lounge for complimentary beverages and snacks while watching the class.

When Haunert and Calgary IV trotted in front of the crowd and onto the grass of the Oaks International Grand Prix Field as the final entry to contest the class, a clear round had yet to be turned in. So, when Haunert and the 13-year-old bay Holsteiner mare, owned by Cherokee Show Horses Inc., delivered a faultless performance, the pair went straight to the top of the leaderboard for the win.

Nicole Haunert and Calgary IV emerge victorious in the $25,000 Markel Insurance Grand Prix during Blenheim June Classic I.

Second place with four faults and a time of 80.644 seconds went to Braden James and his own Hercule de Tamerville, while Haunert also claimed third with four faults and a time of 83.990 seconds riding Concolue, owned by Cherokee Show Horses Inc.

“[Calgary IV] loves it here,” said Haunert, who previously topped Markel Insurance Jumper Series events in 2019 and 2020 with Calgary IV and who won the third event of this year’s series on April 18 with Concolue. “She felt really confident and very happy out there.”

“I thought the course walked a bit nicer than it rode,” continued Haunert, who had the advantage of having already ridden the Catsy Cruz-designed course with Concolue when she entered with Calgary IV. “After I rode it [with Concolue], I didn’t think it was as easy! I thought it was a really great course. Catsy did an amazing job.”

Second place finisher Braden James aboard Hercule De Tamerville.

Having now been partnered with Calgary IV for more than two years, Haunert knows well that the mare is quick across the ground. With that in mind, Haunert’s plan was to go wider in her turns than she had with Concolue, which she credits with helping her to deliver the only clear round.

“I just wanted to take a little bit more time and have a clean round; that was kind of my strategy,” explained Haunert.

That effective strategy earned Haunert the winner’s share of the prize money, prizes from Shady Lady and Topline Design Ribbon Wreaths and 10 points toward the Markel Insurance Jumper Series standings.

Saturday’s class marked the fifth event of the Markel Insurance Jumper Series, and with two out of the five victories, Haunert currently sits tied for second on the series leaderboard with 32 points. Sharing the second-place spot with Haunert is Kendall Bourgeois, while Saree Gordon Solanki leads the way on 33 points.

With upward of $395,000 in prize money awarded across the series’ 15 qualifying events, riders contest the series all season long before the top 25 riders are invited to compete at the finals, to be held at the Las Vegas National Horse Show in November. To view the series specifications and the full leaderboard after the first five qualifiers, click here.

Nicole Haunert and Calgary IV lead the victory gallop.

$25,000 Markel Insurance 1.45M Grand Prix Classic Results Place – Entry # – Horse – Rider – Faults/Time
1. 398 – Calgary IV – Nicole Haunert – 0/79.587
2. 150 – Hercule de Tamerville – Braden James – 4/80.644
3. 457 – Concolue – Nicole Haunert – 4/83.990
4. 149 – Iceman – Braden James – 8/80.417
5. 725 – Wonder Kid – Hillary Ridland – 8/82.980
6. 456 – Council FZ – Sara L Van Fleet – 8/84.525
7. 342 – Tylientje Z – Shawn Casady – 16/74.229
8. 1332 – Elegidals – Everardo A Hegewisch – 16/81.8969. 569 – Crystall II Z – Alison Raich – 23/95.567

All Photos: McCool Photography