Featured jumper competition on Thursday came in the form of the weekly $25,000 Alliant Private Client Grand Prix and a win from Samuel Pegg. Martin Otto’s first round track dwindled down the 21 entry starting field to just under ten combinations making their return to the jump off. The course asked questions across the board and kept five horse-and-rider pairings from advancing with just a single downed rail. Francois Lamontagne threw down the gauntlet as the first to return and set the pace to beat as he piloted his own Thunderbird VH Scheefkasteel Z, cleanly over the fences and to a good time of 42.41 seconds.
Lamontagne held on to his lead through the remainder of the jump off until David Cameron emerged in the penultimate position aboard the Laura Sloey-owned 16-year-old Warmblood stallion (Quintero), Beijing LS La Silla. The duo were determined to dominate and undercut Lamontagne’s time by close to half a second to clock in at 41.97 seconds which placed them in the lead with only one challenger remaining. Unfortunately for Cameron, Sam Pegg’s fancy-footed mount, a 12-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Graftop) named Gin Tonic 158, made determinedly short work of the task at hand and shaved over a second from the best time to sail smoothly into first in 40.65 seconds.
“He’s pretty full of himself and he doesn’t know he’s a little horse,” Pegg laughed. “He’s normally very relaxed to flat and exercise around the show, but when it comes time to jump he gets pretty excited.”
Besides his passion for clearing the fences, Pegg relied on the gelding’s naturally fast foot speed to bring home the win.
“He’s naturally very fast and I had the benefit of going fast so I got to watch the other horses,” he explained. “I didn’t think I needed to ride too wild or try to leave out a stride in between any of the jumps; I just needed to keep up his pace and get a good one after the combination to let him gallop to the last.
“We just got here last week so this is actually his first class, and I haven’t been to HITS in probably ten years,” Pegg continued. “This is my first time bringing our own horses and it’s just lovely; they certainly seem to be enjoying the Florida sunshine!”
For their fantastic finish, Pegg and his mount also received the VitaFlex Victory Pass award chosen from a top jumper round of the week. Kicking off the week of jumper competition on Wednesday, Jiran R and Morgan Ward repeated their previous week’s win with another top finish in the $2,500 Great American Open Welcome. Show jumping competition will resume Friday, February 9, 2024 and highlight another round of the $15,000 STX Open Speed Series.