On two gorgeous southern California afternoons, two fabulous rides earned the lead in the high performance victory gallops for the $60,000 Grand Prix of California, sponsored by Equ Lifestyle and presented by Ferrari & Maserati of San Diego, and the $10,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby, both on the grass Grand Prix Field. The competition was fierce with almost forty entries in both classes.
Before the Saturday afternoon class commenced, course designer Oscar Soberon of Mexico made a wise prediction. "I think since it's $60,000, it should be tough enough, not too tough, but appropriate for the amount of prize money given today. Because we have really good horses and riders I think we will get to see a good class. I'm expecting somewhere around four to eight clear rounds."
Thirty-seven couples gave the course their best effort, with only four men managing to master the questions asked. The fifth entry, Saint Quentin and Austrian Peter Petschenig; the tenth to go, Calavda with Brazilian Eduardo Menzes; then fourteenth to gallop in, Quilebo du Tillard and Mexico's Enrique Gonzales; and finally the eighteenth horse in the ring, Signe Ostby's Jonkheer Z with Karl Cook aboard, were the fourth and final to go clean. Nineteen more attempted, but no other team could touch that fault free score. Nine ended the day with a four fault round, rounding out the top twelve plus one, so the slowest four faulter just missed getting a prize.
Course questions included a skinny wall early on at fence two, a skinny oxer with rainbow rails and a liverpool as the third obstacle as well as another skinny vertical off a tight turn at fence ten. Lines required adjustability with the final line towards home a challenging tight six strides, some attempted to open up in five but for most that option was not successful.
Petschenig, first to go in the jump-off, had a rail in a time of 51.71, leaving the door open for the next three riders. Menezes answered with a double clean ride in a speedy 46.17, certainly the time and score to beat. Gonzales tried but had two rails. Cook went for the win but with four faults in a fast 47.79, neither his score nor his time could quite catch Menezes. The win and a victory ride in a Ferrari went to Eduardo Menezes and Calavda.
When asked about the challenging course and his great mount, the winner explained, "I actually was happy with the course. I'd rather have a difficult course with fewer in the jump-off. I've had Calavda for about two and a half years now and we've won a few Grand Prix classes together. He's a nice one."
The fastest eight of nine who had just four faults in round one finished fifth through twelfth. Australian Lane Clarke on Granville Equine's Casseur de Prix earned fifth with four in a time of 81.11, Canadian Ben Asselin rode Attache Stable's Makavoy to sixth with a single heartbreak last jump rail in 82.00. The ladies clocked in at seventh and eighth with American girls Saer Coulter on Don Vhp Z (owned by Copernicus Stables, LLC) and Ashlee Bond on Little Valley Farm's Wistful scoring four in 83.38 and 83.49 respectively. Grey Fox Farm's Bristol and Rusty Stewart also had just the last jump down for ninth in 83.94. Another Attache Stable entry, Showgirl with Jonathan Asselin aboard, picked up four in 83.95 for tenth. Alix Fargo's Zamiro ridden by Susan Artes brought home eleventh when lowering the height of just the final jump in 85.48. Rounding out the top twelve was Cross Creek Farm's Socrates de Midos and Michelle Parker with four in 86.17.'
$60,000 Grand Prix of California, sponsored by Equ Lifestyle and presented by Ferrari & Maserati of San Diego
Place - Horse - Rider - Owner - Faults/Time
1 - Calvada - Eduardo Menezes - Eduardo Menezes - 0/0/46.177
2 - Jonkheer Z - Karl Cook - Signe Ostby - 0/4/47.792
3 - Saint Quentin - Peter Petschenig - Peter Petschenig - 0/4/51.715
4 - Quilebo du Tillard - Enrique Gonzales - Enrique Gonzales - 0/8/47.434
5 - Caseur De Prix - Lane Clarke - Granville Equine - 4/81.113
6 - Makavoy - Ben Asselin - Attache Stables - 4/82.008
7 - Don Vhp Z - Sear Coulter - Copernicus Stables LLC - 4/83.387
8 - Wistful - Ashlee Bond - Little Valley Farms - 4/83.493
9 - Bristol - Rusty Stewart - Grey Fox Farm - 4/83.947
10 - Showgirl - Jonathan Asselin - Attache Stables - 4/83.959
11 - Zamiro - Susan Artes - Alix Fargo - 4/85.485
12 - Socrates de Midos - Michelle Parker - Cross Creek Farms Inc - 4/86.173
Source: Press release from Blenheim EquiSports
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