Edited Press Release
Wayne, Ill. – May 13, 2022 – The first week of the Lamplight Spring Classic at HITS Chicago is underway with exciting hunter/jumper action at Lamplight Equestrian Center. On Friday afternoon, riders gathered at the Grand Prix Stadium for the $10,000 HITS Open Jumper Prix in hopes of advancing to the jump-off to vie for the winning honors. Only two combinations completed the first round without fault, and it was first on the course who proved to be the best of the day as Thomas Cerra cruised to victory aboard Incredible Loma.
Florencio Hernandez designed a technical first-round track featuring 12 obstacles with a vertical-oxer-vertical triple combination and an oxer-vertical double combination. A difficult rollback to a narrow vertical early in the course caused problems for many, as did the gallop home to the final wide oxer. Only two competitors advanced to the jump-off, but both managed to repeat their success and clear the tie-breaking track.
Cerra was the first to compete with his own Incredible Loma, a 9-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, and he knew he would have to lay down two solid rounds to take home the winning prize. He carefully navigated the first round, and then added speed for the jump-off while leaving each rail intact. His time of 42.110 seconds would go straight to the top and eventually earn the winning title.
“I had to go first, so I really just wanted to have two clear rounds and have everybody else chase me,” explained Cerra. “My horse is 9 years old, but doesn’t have much ring experience, so I didn’t want to run him around too fast – I wanted to just be smooth and tidy in the jump-off.”
Cerra is local to the Chicago area, residing in Kildeer, Illinois, so a win at Lamplight is always exciting for the talented rider. He noted, “I’ve shown here since I was a little kid – I showed pony hunters here, so it’s very near and dear to my heart!”
Katie Leverick and Hardy were the only other pair to show over the short course, and they came very close to catching Cerra with a speedy time of 42.595 seconds for the second-place prize. The fastest 4-faulter of the day was Lisa Goldman-Smolen riding Ivaro N to round out the top three.
On Thursday, athletes competed in the $5,000 Vita Flex 1.35m Jumper Classic, with the top three producing double-clear efforts. Ashley March was the pathfinder with MTM Unicorn’s Love Me Tender, and the duo set an unbeatable pace in the jump-off, leaving all the rails intact in 29.838 seconds to top the leaderboard. Molly Talla and LCC Yankie were next in the ring and were also faultless over the course, breaking the beam at 33.909 seconds for the second-place prize. Katie Leverick and Hardy tried to catch March and Talla’s times, and while they were able to leave all the rails up, their time of 34.050 was just shy of Talla’s to pick up the third-place award.
The first featured event to kick off the Lamplight Spring Classic was Wednesday’s $2,500 Stal Hendrix 1.35m Welcome. As the last to show, Stephen Foran and Billy Manjaro answered all of the questions on course and clocked in at speedy 31.607 seconds with a clear jump-off to carry the day. Molly Talla and LCC Yankie were also double clear, but as the first to compete, their jump-off time of 34.650 seconds would earn the red ribbon once again. Katie Leverick and Hardy had the speediest 4-fault effort of the day to take home the third-place honors.
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