Andres Rodriquez and Caballito soared through the jump-off in today's class in The Ridge at Wellington's $175,000 1.40m Invitational Grand Prix series in a blazing time of 31.475 seconds. The first to go clean around the immaculate Top's Field at Mida Farm, Rodriquez picked up the early lead and never lost it. Eleven others went clear, but no one within the talented forty-horse field was able to come within a second of Rodriquez and Caballito's roaring pace.
Rodriquez is no stranger to The Ridge at Wellington's Grand Prix series. He topped the class the first week of the series with Elatrice, and finished in second the following week aboard the talented mount. This week, the fourth event in the series, was Caballito's first time out. The grand prix horse owned by Arao Enterpries made it look easy as he vied for the $15,000 purse.
The attractive jump-off course, designed by Ken Krome, presented the option for a very fast, but very risky inside turn that Rodriquez opted not to take, instead banking on Caballito's speed in the footrace.
"He's a very, very fast horse," Rodriquez commented. "My plan was to go as fast as possible, leaving it so that if somebody wanted to beat me they would have to take that inside turn."
Throughout the day, not one rider tried for the more perilous option, leaving Rodriquez's time untouched. Anna McKnight was the closest contender aboard Sandor, owned by Double H Farm, finishing double clear with a jump-off time of 32.525 seconds. Rounding out the top three was Ben Maher aboard Quiet Easy, owned by Seth Vallhonrat. The British native enjoyed his first time out at Mida Farm and anticipates coming back for future classes in the series.
"If we had shows like this everywhere in England I'd be pretty happy," Maher stated. "This is a beautiful setting, great course, good jumps. It's relaxed, but is good sport."
Such positive reviews were heard from other top riders throughout the course of the day, including McLain Ward, winner of the week three event.
"It's a nice change of pace from the show grounds," McLain said. "There are nice jumps, and it's a really nice setting. The footing here is excellent; these old polo fields are the best footing."
Spectators were also able to enjoy the day under sunny skies thanks to the continued hospitality of Victoria McCullough. McCullough opened up her pristine property to riders, trainers and owners alike, and provided an elaborate, complimentary breakfast and lunch spreads for all in attendance, adding to the overall hospitable and comfortable atmosphere.
The course opened at 8 am and remained open until roughly 5 pm, allowing competitors ample time to come at their convenience to ride and enjoy the ambiance of Mida Farm.
"Seeing people enjoying the footing and the atmosphere is so wonderful," McCullough commented. "I want people to leave here and think to themselves that this is the best day they have had in a long time."
The $175,000 1.40m Invitational Grand Prix series will return to The Ridge at Wellington next Friday for the fifth week of competition. The 10-week series will culminate with the $24,750 Ridge at Wellington Invitational Grand Prix Finale on Saturday, March 23, 2013.
Source: Press release from Emily Riden for Phelps Media Group, Inc. International
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