Edited Press Release
A beautiful but brisk day set the scene for the Sarasota Winter Classic, hosted at TerraNova Equestrian Center. The day’s feature class was the $50,000 Grand Prix of Sarasota. Spectators gathered in the TerraNova Pavilion for a Grand Prix Brunch. An even 20 top horse-and-rider combinations took to the track, set by Mauricio Garcia (PUR), but it was Ocala resident Kristen VanderVeen and Bull Run’s Jireh who earned the victory gallop.
The starting lineup of international grand prix riders included Olympians Scott Keach (AUS) and Sharn Wordley (NZL). VanderVeen, one of the highest-ranked U.S. riders, trekked from Ocala with three top mounts, including the crowd favorite, Bull Run’s Faustino De Tili, and her most promising new jumper, Bull Run’s Jireh. The class also hosted a variety of rising grand prix competitors such as Haley Gassel (USA), Amy Schafmaster (USA), and last week’s second-place competitor, Brooks Hull (USA). Wednesday’s $10,000 Welcome Stake winners Marylisa Leffler (USA) and ZaZa Z rejoined the ranks but fell out of contention to one unfortunate knock-down
VanderVeen was the first under the archway aboard Jireh, the Bull Run Jumpers-owned gelding (Uriko x Conella), and put down a flawless performance and the first clean round. After that, only three more pairs emerged fault-free. Ocala-based Keach added his name to the shortlist with last week’s winner Wild Thing (Caracas x Wild Oats). Wordley threw his name in the hat twice with Mick Jagger (Chacco-Blue x Acentora) and Gatsby (Simba x Daisy Cruise).
VanderVeen and Jireh were the first to tackle Garcia’s short course. She said they were going for a medium tempo but ended up with a blazingly fast, clear round in 35.702 seconds. With the gauntlet thrown, Wordley was next aboard his longtime partner, Gatsby, but would settle for third on a clean round of 40.853 seconds. Keach and Wild Thing crossed the timers with no jumping penalties on 42.104 seconds, taking home the fourth-place ribbon. Returning with the last qualified mount, Wordley and Mick Jagger gave a great effort but couldn’t outpace VanderVeen and Jireh, settling for second place on 40.104.
“I wasn’t planning on going as fast as I did, but I’m still working out what the middle ground is and it ends up just being fast,” VanderVeen said. “He’s such a freak athlete that it’s quite fun. I have many horses that are very nice, but I think that this horse is very special.”
VanderVeen was introduced to TerraNova Equestrian Center when she competed at Split Rock Jumping Tour in 2022.
“I really liked the option of doing the grand prix in the morning so that we could do some other shows,” she said. “I like the permanent new stabling – it’s a lovely place to come in and have a nice setup. It was a great option for us to add onto our schedule with the horses we have.”
$50,000 GRAND PRIX OF SARASOTA
Plc / No. / Horse / Sire x Dam / Rider / Owner / R1/ TA/ JO / TA
1 / 820 BULL RUN’S JIREH / Kristen Vanderveen (USA) /Bull Run Jumpers Inc. / 0 /77.278 / 35.702
URIKO x CONELLA
2 / 778 / MICK JAGGER / Sharn Wordley (NZL) / Della Wordley / 0 / 75.256 / 0 / 40.104
CHACCO-BLUE x ACENTORA
3 / 777 GATSBY / Sharn Wordley (NZL) / Sharn Wordley / 0 / 75.783 / 0 / 40.853
SIMBA x DAISY CRUISE
4 / 686 / WILD THING / Scott Keach (AUS) / Scott Keach / 0 / 7.912 / 0 / 42.104
CARACAS x WILD OATS
5 / 685 / CENCORINUE PS / Scott Keach (AUS) / Kandor Farm LLC / 1/ 78.900
CENTADEL x CHACARINA
6 / 819 / BULL RUNS FAUSTINO DE TILI / Kristen VanderVeen (USA) / Bull Run Jumpers Inc. / 4 / 72.031
BERLIN x BIJOU VAN DE VIJFHEIDE
7 / 683 / ZECHARIAH 39 / Brooks Hull (USA) / Derek Petersen / 4 / 74.428
ZIROCCO BLUE x KARINA
8 / 581 / ZAZA Z / Marylisa Leffler (USA) / Rolling Acres / 4 / 74.831
ZANDOR Z x COCAINE Z
9 / 567 / CALLE 67 / Stephanie Gallucci (CAN) / Artemis Equestrian Farm LLC / 4 / 76.170
CARELL x CLEO NW
10 / 721 / ILIANO VAN D’ABELENDREEF / Haley Gassel (USA) / Westwind Equine Training Center / 4 / 76.727
OGANO SITTE x BARONESS VAN D’ABELENDREEF
For complete results of the $50,000 Grand Prix of Sarasota, please click here.
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