The Summer Fort Festival at Thunderbird Show Park concluded on Sunday as Susan Hutchison jumped to victory in the inaugural $55k CSI** Bryan Anderson Memorial Grand Prix. In what was possibly the most exciting round the year, it came down to just a few tenths of a second between the top three spots. "That's not even a breath," Hutchison laughed.
Setting challenging tracks throughout the tournament, International designer, Peter Holmes, put together two rounds that delivered some of the best rides spectators have seen all season. From a field of 40 entries, 12 advanced to the jump off round, including two mounts each for Rich Fellers and Richard Spooner.
"I had a great group of people to be jumping off against and knew that I had to just go belly to the ground in order to win this," explained Hutchison.
Fellers kicked off the second round with his signature speed aboard the nine year-old Irish Sport Horse mare, Lux Lady, to set the pace at 40.50. California's Vinton Karrasch on Coral Reef Baloufino and Richard Spooner on his first mount, Zangersheide gelding, Chivas Z matched rounds exactly, each taking one rail and finishing with times of 40.01. Ann Knight-Karrasch and Andrea Strain followed, posting four faults each to keep them out of the top spots.
Making it look effortless, Fellers was back mid-order with Flexible, delivering a quick round at 38.56 to put the pressure on, but Hardin Towell made short work of his lead, burning up the course on Man in Black and finishing with a time of 38.32.
Columbia's Juan Pablo Gnecco had one rail down in the combination on his 8 year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, New York and it was a heartbreaker for Richard Spooner and Cristallo, who posted the fastest time of the day at 37.79, but had a rail mid-course.
Having watched Fellers, Towell and Spooner battle it out, and with two rounds still to ride, Hutchison put it all on the line. Leaving a stride out from fence six to seven, she made a tight turn coming home and managed to shave off a little time.
"When I landed off the oxer I saw that the eight was going to be choking and I can't be choking at this point, I had to just keep going because the seven was staring me in the face," explained Hutchison. "I do walk lines, but when it gets like that, I just throw the numbers out the window."
Coming through the finish markers at 38.02, she was rewarded with hearty cheers from the crowd. John Anderson and Terrific hoped to challenge, but after a big rub on fence four, he tipped a rail in the combination and another in the last line to come home with eight faults at 48.18. Lauren Crooks and Ziezo II were last into the ring, but posted four faults to leave the top of the leader board unchanged.
For Hutchison, the win was shared with Ziedento's owners at St. Brides Farm. Watching the class as it unfolded via the Thunderbird Show Park Livestream, Hutchison had barely stepped out of the stirrups before her phone was ringing with their call of congratulations. "It's such a nice treat for the show to do that," she said.
$55,000 CSI** BRYAN ANDERSON MEMORIAL GRAND PRIX – Top 12
Place Rider Horse Owner Time Faults
1. Susan Hutchison (USA) Ziedento St. Brides Farm 38.02 -
2. Jack Hardin Towell (USA) Man in Black Jennifer Gates 38.32 -
3. Rich Fellers (USA) Flexible Harry & Mollie Chapman 38.56 -
4. Rich Fellers (USA) Lux Lady Harry & Mollie Chapman 40.50
5. Richard Spooner (USA) Cristallo Show Jumping Syndications Intl. 37.79 4
6. Juan Pablo Gnecco (COL) New York Onlyjumpers.com 39.77 4
7. Vinton Karrasch (USA) Coral Reef Baloufino Coral Reef Ranch 40.01 4
7. Richard Spooner (USA) Chivas Z Richard Spooner 40.01 4
9. Ann Knight-Karrasch (USA) Coral Reef Carmel Z Coral Reef Ranch 41.70 4
10. Lauren Crooks (USA) Ziezo II Cathy Langston 42.52 4
11. Andrea Strain (CAN) Djakarta Andrea Strain 45.04 4
12. John Anderson (CAN) Terrific Foxdale Farm 48.18 8
The event marked the approaching anniversary of Anderson's passing. A well-respected member of the equestrian community Bryan made his international riding debut in 1985 and was shortlisted for the Canadian Equestrian Team in 1987. The Alberta rider represented Canada at the World Cup Finals in Dortmund, Germany in 1990 and went on to establish himself as a talented and dedicated trainer.
"Bryan loved coming out here every August and it's truly and honour to see so many people here supporting this class," said his brother, John Anderson. "Bryan was a true horseman and a true gentleman who always worked hard and encouraged his students to do the same. And even though he couldn't stay with us, he's in all of our hearts, all the time."
Source: Press release from Thunderbird Show Park.
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