Andres Rodriguez (VEN) and the talented grey mare S.F. Ariantha proved too quick to beat in the $127,000 Tryon Estates Grand Prix CSI 3*, the final Grand Prix of the 2015 season at Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC). Rodriguez and S.F. Ariantha flew through the timers, securing the fastest double clear effort of the night, finishing with a time of 43.26 seconds. Andrew Kocher (USA), winner of the $34,000 Suncast® FEI 1.50m Welcome Stake this week, narrowly missed the mark set by Rodriguez, finishing only a tenth of a second off the pace with a time of 43.36 seconds. Christine McCrea (USA) and Wannick WH rounded out the top three with a time of 44.50 seconds while Denise Wilson (USA) and Galous recorded the fourth double clear effort of the night. After six consecutive weeks of elite hunter and jumper competition, the Tryon Fall Series will conclude tomorrow, Sunday, October 25.
The competitive class of 34 entries tested a difficult and expansive track designed by Oscar Soberon of Mexico, with only six entries advancing to the jump-off round. Rodriguez has been a figure of consistency throughout the past two weeks of FEI competition hosted at TIEC, earning multiple wins aboard his two top mounts Caballito and S.F. Ariantha.
"I brought my best horses here because I knew that the competition was going to be tough. I am just very happy with how this class went and I was very glad to find someone as challenging as Andy Kocher to ride against for the past two weeks. I had never met him before coming here and he really gave it a go in every single class. I was waiting for him to go tonight in the Grand Prix and put him in a place where he had to work really hard to get the win. That is what makes it so fun," said Rodriguez. "This was my first time at Tryon and everybody said great things about this place but as I've said before, I was even surprised because it is really a magnificent place. I think that this will become the heart of show jumping in the United States over the next few years."
Rodriguez and Kocher finished an incredible week of competition at TIEC, as both riders battled for supremacy in each of the major FEI classes hosted throughout the competition week at Tryon Fall 6. Rodriguez and S.F. Ariantha finished second behind Kocher in this week's $34,000 Suncast® FEI 1.50m Welcome Stake, while Kocher and Uppie de Lis have continued to add top finishes to their flourishing partnership. Abigail McArdle (USA) and Cade were the first combination on course in the jump-off, finishing a fast round but a single rail dropped in the double combination would ultimately keep them out of the top three spots. Lauren Tisbo (USA) and Rosiere Vesquerie attempted to catch Rodriguez in the jump-off, but rails dropped at the large Animo oxer would prevent the duo from securing a double clear effort for the night.
S.F. Ariantha is truly captivating to watch in the ring as the scopey 2005 Dutch Warmblood mare (Corland x Uriantha) tackles the largest Grand Prix courses with incredible ease while Rodriguez expertly guides from the irons. The gifted mare will serve as Rodriguez's Olympic hopeful mount as the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, rapidly approach.
"She's only ten years old and she doesn't have all of the experience yet. Quality wise I think she is hard to match with any other horse in the world. She just needs more experience to get to the next level and that is what we're hoping to get before the Olympics next year," commented Rodriguez.
Soberon was praised by riders for his course design in the FEI classes throughout the week, as tracks continually challenged riders with technical questions while maximizing the majority of the space in the George Morris Arena. Rodriguez, who finished well in each of the three FEI classes offered this past week commented on the night's course saying, "I think the course was set just right tonight. The crowd enjoyed the six rider combinations in the jump-off and I think that Oscar [Soberon] did a great job. There were some very tricky parts that were very challenging," he noted. "Coming into the combination was difficult and there were a lot of people whose dreams ended there. I really think he did a great job."
With international rider presence at a record high for the venue over the past two FEI weeks, Rodriguez believes those numbers will only continue to increase over time. Nine nationalities were represented in the $127,000 Tryon Estates Grand Prix CSI 3* including entries from Ireland, Russia, Canada, Colombia, Venezuela, New Zealand, France, Puerto Rico, as well as the United States.
"The sport is growing so fast and there are circuits popping up all over the world," remarked Rodriguez. "It's really an incredible thing and I think people will start to discover that this facility is here and there are not many other facilities like it in the world. This is a place that was built thinking about the horses, the riders, the grooms, staff, and spectators. When people start coming here more and more it is going to be very big for the sport."
Danielle Burns, Rodriguez's groom was honored with the Groom's Initiative Award, which is presented to the groom of the winning horse and rider combination for each Grand Prix class hosted at TIEC. Burns, who has worked with Rodriguez for a number of years, rejoined the team before the 2015 Pan American Games hosted in Toronto, Canada, where Rodriguez and Darlon van Groenhove earned an individual silver medal.
"I have a lot of great people working for me and right before the Pan Am Games we knew that we needed to find a special person for that job because it was going to be hard, especially at the top levels. I reached out to Danielle to see if she would be interested in coming back and we managed to make everything work. We've had a great go. You need someone like Danielle behind your horses because I'm on the horse for an hour a day and she's with them for the other 23 hours, so at the end of the day, she spends the most time with them and that is why she is so important on our team."
Final Results $127,000 Tryon Estates Grand Prix FEI CSI 3*:
1. S.F. ARIANTHA, 2005 Dutch Warmblood mare by Corland x Uriantha ANDRES RODIGUEZ (VEN), Robert & Sofia Castro: 0/0/43.26
2. UPPIE DE LIS, 2001 NRPS gelding by Andiamo x Lorraine ANDREW KOCHER (USA), BTS Entertainment & Sales: 0/0/43.36
3. WANNICK WH, 2003 Dutch Warmblood stallion by Heartbreaker x Elseroodnoot CHRISTINE MCCREA (USA), Candy Tribble: 0/0/44.5
4. GALOUS, 2002 Irish Sport Horse gelding by Touchdown x Huff & Puff DENISE WILSON (USA), Blue Gate Farm LLC: 0/0/45.33
5. ROSIERE VESQUERIE, 2005 Selle Francais mare by Narcos II x Java de la Vesquerie LAUREN TISBO (USA), Tequestrian Farms LLC: 0/4/43.75
6. CADE, 2002 Belgian Warmblood gelding by Heartbreaker x Tridentina ABIGAIL MCARDLE (USA), David McArdle: 0/4/44.5
7. ELOUISE DE MUZE, 2004 Belgian Warmblood mare by Nabab de Reve x Vodka Orange de Muze RICHIE MOLONEY (IRL), Equinimity LLC: 4/77.42
8. CAPALL ZIDANE, 2004 Dutch Warmblood gelding Concorde x T RONAN MCGUIGAN (IRL), Ronan McGuigan: 4/77.97
Source: Press release from Tryon International Equestrian Center.
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