Summer Grace / Flaxen Mane Media
For the Sarasota Winter Classic
Jan. 7, 2024 — Myakka City, FL — The first week of the 2024 Sarasota Winter Classic wrapped up on Sunday, January 7, following an action-packed schedule of competition that kicked off the winter show season for many athletes in South Florida. Featuring two weeks of hunter, jumper, and equitation competition at the immaculately-designed TerraNova Equestrian Center, the Sarasota Winter Classic has spent the past five years crafting a boutique exhibitor and spectator experience. The event specifically turned its focus to the junior and amateur riders this year and made schedule adjustments for their classes to receive distinct attention throughout the series. Sunday’s premiere event, the $10,000 Medium-High Junior/Amateur Classic, launched a full day in the Lakeside Arena and saw Morgan Ashby take yet another top ribbon for the week.
Marina Azevedo set another technical track for the morning’s debut event, which presented the riders with an immediate chance to jump off should they come home fault-free after the first round. As has been the theme of her week, Ashby was first to go on Kilkenny Ecco, a horse she has had previous success on already this week. She returned twice more with Leigh Ashby’s Farthago PS and Allen Nabors’ Bon Chatsworth Pierre, but was unable to match her leading performance with her first mount.
Ultimately, Ashby’s time of 31.507 seconds held strong until the class’s completion and she returned with yet another win to add to the Eliza Derstine-owned 15-year-old KWPN gelding’s (Kilkenny Jasco) resume. Hot on Ashby’s heels but just off the pace, Ramatou Ouedraogo took the reserve position aboard the Shore Acres Farm LLC’s All Star Del Cabalero with a time of 31.661 seconds. As the only other competitor clear in the first phase, Ashby would bookend the class by taking third with a time of 31.831 seconds on Bon Chatsworth Pierre.
With a full schedule of classics still to go, changes were quickly made as eight horse-and-rider combinations prepared to contest the track for the $5,000 1.30m Jumper Classic. Displaying the technicality that she is well known for, Azevedo once again asked a series of fair-but-challenging questions which led three of the original starting field to advance to the short track. Ronny Reimer took the early class lead as the first to advance to the jump off and produce two clear rounds, but that lead was short lived as Shannon Hicks entered the arena on her second of three mounts.
Hicks and Helen Gilbert’s 15-year-old Warmblood gelding (Cheers Cassini) Al Pachini made short work of both courses as they cruised home with a leading time of 30.184 seconds. Riemer and the Sentry Sport Horses’ Gold Diamant du Plan D’eau, slipped into second place with their faultless effort of 33.271 seconds, while Hicks posted into the third position with another Helen Gilbert entry, Halo de Maugre, but took down a rail in the process.
The day marched onward with a win in the $5,000 1.20m Junior/Amateur Classic by Julie Roberts and her own 17-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (VDL Douglas), Lothario. The pair produced one of three double-clean efforts across the track but clocked in at a blazing 32.859 seconds to catapult into the top position. Jessica Roth-Thomas and Daffodil Hill’s Quintana VIII came close to catching Roberts with a time of 33.309 seconds, but proudly donned the red ribbon. Ashby once again found herself in the victory gallop as she picked up third place on her own stallion, Ralph van de Bleukhoeve, in 33.373 seconds.
As the only pair to advance to the jump off in the $2,500 1.10m Child/Adult Classic, amateur rider Olga Zarlenga and her own 15-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Baldwin B), Barana van het Wimpelhof, sealed the deal for victory. Annabella Wyman and Katie Triantos’ Mischief Managed titled in second place while Tia Gay earned third aboard her own Damingo.
The $1,500 1.0m Child/Adult Classic concluded special jumper competition with a win from Leslie Richman and her own eight-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding (Bamako de Muze), The Significant Other. The pair were the only combination to go double clear while Annabella Wyman and Rolling Acres LLC’s Casilla took second place with a time of 31.279 seconds and four faults. Tia Gay and Caracas Car capped off the class in third place after faulting one effort with a time of 33.227 seconds.
The Sarasota Winter Classic will resume Wednesday, January 13, 2024 for another full week of top-level competition including the Grand Prix of Sarasota, another USHJA National Hunter Derby, and Junior/Amateur or Child/Adult classics in both the hunter and jumper rings. For a full list of results please visit www.showmanagementsystem.com.