Wrapping up the indoor season, the Las Vegas National offers the final FEI classes on the West Coast until February 2014. Fifty-six horse and rider pairs representing eleven different countries gave it a go in the $33,000 EquiFit, inc. Jumper Classic. The course was technical and the competition fierce. Brazilian Guilherme Jorge set the track. Knowing he had a large field, he intentionally built a course with technical questions and a tight time.
"Even though this is a Welcome Class and a speed round, I set everything at 1.45m - 1.50m; the last jump has 1.7m spread. I added technical aspects. The first jump is a triple bar. There are plenty of options with strides and turns," explained Jorge. "This is just a taste. Saturday's class will be closer to what a World Cup Finals course could be. The idea is to prepare for that level."
In order to accommodate a tight turn option that ultimately determined the top placings in the class, fence 11, the skinny Las Vegas jump, was set as the last element of a line towards the gate, with an option to turn inside and gallop to the final oxer. Preceding the skinny was a triple combination out of the corner at the top of the ring. This line caused rails to fall over 30 times during the class. However, it wasn't the only trouble spot; the tall vertical at fence 3 came down a number of times and the forward bending line into the combination at 6a-b caused rails, refusals and one dismount. The 78-second time allowed was also a factor. About fifteen riders accrued faults by going over the time.
The second pair in the ring, American Michelle Parker on Cross Creek Farm's Holsteiner stallion Clintord, was the first clean in a time of 71.02, which ended up in the fourth spot. Seventh in the order, Granville Equine's Casseur de Prix and American Jenni McAllister, rode neat and clean for a time of 71.82, ultimately fifth. On his first horse, Fifty Fifty 111, Andres Rodriquez of Venezuela was smooth with no faults in 72.52 for a sixth place finish. Going for the win, New Zealander Duncan McFarlane rode his steady Hanoverian stallion partner, Mr. Whoopy (Simone Coxe, owner), to a quick 65.75 and held that lead for the next ten rides.
Building quite a winning reputation, Egyptian show jumper Nayel Nassar laid down a seemingly unbeatable time, 61.66, on Lordan. American Saer Coulter gave it a good try, riding Carmena Z to a speedy 60.90 with one heartbreaking rail at the skinny. She was clean and a touch more conservative on her second mount, Don VHP Z, finishing in 72.68 for seventh place. With the end of the class approaching, Andres Rodriquez returned on his second mount Caballito.
"I saw a rider, (Saer), who had a nice ride with unfortunately one fence down. I really liked her track, she was really smooth, so I planned to ride it the same way," the winner commented. "It worked out well." In fact, he won by only 0.6 of a second in a time of 61.06, just edging out Nassar.
Based in Wellington, Florida, this is Rodriquez's first season competing on the West Coast. Starting his summer in Calgary, Canada at Spruce Meadows, then on to Thunderbird Show Park, he then returned by invitation to Spruce for the Masters in September. Since there's no stall limit or qualifying for the indoor season here, Rodriquez is able to compete on all of his horses, gaining solid miles for the younger ones while earning World Cup points on his experienced mounts. "So many people had said good things about the indoor shows here so we decided to stay. I really like it. I have met so many professionals here whose names I knew and had dealt with on the phone, but I didn't know them."
The Las Vegas National continues with more superb show jumping and highlight classes. Friday evening features the Just World International Horseless Horse show and $30,000 Equ Lifestyle Speed Classic with seventy-five entries! Saturday is packed with excitement, with the $10,000 SmartPak Classic and the $50,000 Markel Insurance World Cup Qualifier.
Source: Press release from Blenheim EquiSport
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