Youth won out on Wednesday in the Kathy and Brad Coors Family Grand Prix Arena as Summer in the Rockies II kicked off. Seventeen-year-old Hannah Holik rode Czech Mate LLC's Cupido de Laubry and Morgan Hill Partners' Ferno Van de Hermitage to the top two spots in the $2,500 Open Jumper 1.40m, while 19-year-old Kelsey Van Ackeren claimed the $2,500 Open Jumper 1.30m with Vernon G, both defeating numerous professional riders.
Hector Loyola designed an inviting course for both classes that was not too technically demanding but gave riders options to save time. The jump-off included tight turns and rollbacks, challenging riders to choose an efficient but effective path. Holik said it was a useful warm-up for Thursday's $15,000 Open Welcome Stake. "I really enjoyed the parts where we could go for a long gallop or make a tight turn," she commented.
Clear rounds were hard to come by in the 1.40m, with numerous competitors knocking just one rail in the first round and missing the jump-off. There was no single bogey fence, although the final double combination proved challenging for several horses and riders.
Holik and Cupido de Laubry were first to reach the jump-off, where they had a rail at fence 14, the Parker Adventist Hospital vertical, and finished in a time of 38.209 seconds. Holik took the blame for the error, saying she let "Cupi" get too flat in the approach.
Bjorn Ikast and Iz's Viva La Vida were next to turn in a clear first round. They set a solid pace in the jump-off, appearing to pose a strong threat to Holik until two rails in a row came down at fences 14 and 6, toward the end of the course. They completed in a time of 36.191 seconds.
Holik returned to the ring with Ferno Van de Hermitage and successfully navigated the first round course once more. In the jump-off, the pair had a rail early on at fence 10, an oxer coming off a tight rollback from the first fence. They left the rest of the rails in the cups and finished in 39.772 seconds to take second behind Holik on her other mount.
"Both of my horses gallop better than they turn," Holik said. "So I tried to leave strides out where I could. The rollback from 1 to 10 was probably the hardest part for me, since it was a tight turn on the left lead, where they're both a little stiffer. But they felt great. They were a bit on the wild side, but it's always better that way!"
Holik successfully competed Cupido de Laubry at Summer in the Rockies in 2013, but Ferno Van de Hermitage is a new mount for her; she is still getting to know him. She began leasing "Fern" in February and competed at HITS Ocala.
"Fern is a little bit of a different ride than Cupi, but still he wants to win and go clear," she said. "He needs direction and focus all the time, since he gets distracted easily. I'm still learning about him, and we'll get better as the circuit goes on."
In contrast to the 1.40m, there were numerous double clear efforts in the 1.30m, with 11 of 18 competitors moving on to the jump-off and nine achieving double clear rounds. That meant speed was key in the jump-off, and the winner, Van Ackeren, distanced herself from the rest with a very quick time of 30.423 seconds.
Van Ackeren jumped early in the order, and none of the following riders could approach the target time. Megan Jordan and New Venture Investments' Atlantis took second with a time of 36.236 seconds, giving Van Ackeren nearly a six second margin of victory.
"With Vernon G, it's more about me not getting in the way and trying to be as smooth as I can and not fight with him," Van Ackeren said. "He's very quick on the ground and very quick in his jump, as long as I allow that to happen. I can't tell him too much what to do. I guide him and try to be balanced and soft."
She said she enjoyed the course and the different options it offered. "I always love when there are opportunities to gallop forward and get inside a jump," she said. "I had a lot of fun."
Van Ackeren has had the 12-year-old KWPN gelding for several years, and she has figured out how to accommodate his quirks to let his talent shine through. She has settled on a warm-up routine that works for him and said she "follows his rules," making sure he doesn't have to stand for too long and that he gets his boots taken off as soon as possible.
"He is the most feisty horse I've ever met!" she laughed. "He is a character. He has his own ideas about what he wants to do and how he wants to do it."
Results: Summer in the Rockies II - Wednesday, June 11
$2,500 Open Jumper 1.40m
1. 687/Cupido de Laubry/Czech Mate, LLC/Hannah Holik/730.00
2. 688/Ferno Van de Hermitage/Czech Mate, LLC/Hannah Holik/482.50
3. 712/Iz's Viva La Vida/Bjorn Ikast/Bjorn Ikast/357.50
4. 795/Chantico/Forest View Farm & Karen Ball/John Pearce/230.00
5. 871/Cassino/Armando Hassey/Armando Hassey/175.00
6. 644/Quickie/Natascha Gates/Natascha Gates/175.00
7. 711/Brave Heart/Bjorn Ikast/Bjorn Ikast/175.00
8. 898/Soulshine/Equestrian Investments, LLC/Courtney Frederick/175.00
$2,500 Open Jumper 1.30m
1. 754/Vernon G/Kelsey Van Ackeren/Kelsey Van Ackeren/730.00
2. 734/Atlantis/New Venture Investments/Megan Jordan/482.50
3. 816/Cooper/Erin Walker/Scott Lenkart/357.50
4. 733/Scandalous/Laura Piccard/Megan Jordan/230.00
5. 693/Cutler/Twisted Tree Farm/Janet Hischer/175.00
6. 882/Quite Quick/Irish Rose Stables/Delaney Flynn/175.00
7. 957/Super Bad/Blair Cudmore/Brooke Cudmore/175.00
8. 665/Girl Scout/High Standard Equestrian, LLC/Megan Ghere/175.00
Young Jumper 7/8 Year Old
1. 552/Livia Z/Sharon Granberg/Janet Hischer
2. 717/Supernatural/Bjorn Ikast/Bjorn Ikast
3. 873/Saveur de B'Neville/MHJ Sales, LLC/Armando Hassey
4. 826/Catoctin/Kathryn Kantes/Mickie Sage
5. 863/J.E.S. Quito/Nicki Wilcox/Nicki Wilcox
6. 753/Hey Joe/Kelsey Van Ackeren/Kelsey Van Ackeren
7. 785/Copy Cat II/Cordula Atkinson/JJ Atkinson
8. 716/Spice Boy/Bjorn Ikast/Bjorn Ikast
Press release from: Mary Adelaide Brakenridge for Phelps Media Group, Inc. International.
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