At the Las Vegas National Saturday’s $50,000 Markel Insurance Grand Prix CSI-W had forty-two entries with eight pairs going clean, resulting in a nail-biting jump-off. As the class commenced, course designer Guilherme Jorge of Brazil explained the aspects of building to spec. "This is a World Cup qualifier event so we have some standards to keep. The maximum height is a 1.60m and we have today three verticals at 1.60m, and we have oxers at 1.50m high with a maximum spread of 1.60m. I've got a triple bar at 1.90m spread. I think the riders have plenty to work with."
Course questions included a vertical on the rail next to the audience, a difficult scope test with a plank vertical in a forward three to a wide, square oxer; around the corner to a large triple bar in a line with a tall 1.60m vertical; a triple and a double combination; and finishing on a liverpool vertical with the 'water' at the back side.
Forty-two entries gave the course their best effort, with eight managing to master the questions asked. Francie Steinwedell-Carvin and Taunus (Prentiss Partners, owners) were the first to return for the jump-off. They laid down the gauntlet going double clean in 35.60. Next to go, Copernicus Stables' Springtime with Saer Coulter had the time but a bit of trouble resulting in eight faults in 34.05. Mandy Porter and Plum Creek Hollow Farm's Con Capilot were flawless until the last turn away from the in-gate when the stallion broke to a trot, but Porter managed to still go double clean in 35.74. Sean Crooks aboard Armegedon (Glen Youell, owner) had trouble early on in the jump-off and ended up with 12 faults in 38.92. Enter Andrew Ramsay on his relatively new mount, Adamo van't Steenputje. They were smooth and slick, and set the new time to beat at 34.32. Fence five, the Las Vegas skinny vertical, came down for both Duncan McFarlane on Mr. Whoopy and Vinton Karrasch on Coral Reef Baloufino. Last to go, Christian Heineking on NKH Selena made a gallant effort but couldn't catch Ramsay, stopping the clock at 34.37, a mere 0.05 off the winning time.
A California native, Ramsay spent the last four years riding in Europe. When asked about the challenging course the winner explained, "I thought the course was great. In hindsight, I took a bit of a gamble to the last fence, because I thought we were much tighter on the time then we were. It was a nice jump-off. It was perfect for this horse because I don't know him too well. There were no questionable things where you really had to know your horse. So that played to my advantage. I knew I would be here in the States through this show, so it's nice to finish up on a high note."
Source: Press release from Blenheim Equisports
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