With three mounts to jump around, not a single onlooker would know that John Pearce of Bermuda Dunes, California was battling the flu during the $50,000 Go Rentals Grand Prix, presented by Zoetis, at HITS Thermal on Sunday. He and Son of a Gun, owned by Forest View Farm, were one of only four pairs to jump clear against a very tight first round time allowed of 81 seconds.
Pearce first appeared on trusted partner Chianto, owned by Forest View Farm and Allison Moore, and was clear, but crossed the timers four tenths of a second slow to pick up one time fault. He did not, however, let the clock be a problem for Son of a Gun. "Son of a Gun and I went around seven seconds under the time because I was not going to get another time fault," said Pearce. "I may have been a little over ambitious, but that's the competitor in me."
Pearce was not the only rider to find trouble with the clock – 13 pairs picked up time faults out of a starting field of 33. Five of which, including Pearce, were sitting on clear rounds when they landed off the last jump, but the clock would eventually keep them from the jump-off.
Florencio Hernandez of Mexico City, Mexico set the course on Sunday and tested both horse and rider with 13 obstacles, including three double combinations.
Ashlee Bond Clarke of Hidden Hills, California was the first to jump clear and bested the clock aboard Little Valley Farms' Chella LS. She was later joined by Jenni McAllister of Sun Valley, California in the irons of Here I Come for LEGISequine.com; Michelle Parker of San Marcos, California with Cross Creek Farms' Socrates De Midos and Pearce on Son of a Gun.
Bond Clarke and Chela LS have had a successful three weeks at HITS Thermal with two grand prix wins already in their pocket. She and the 10-year-old mare jumped clean in the jump-off to post a Great American Time to Beat at 44.04 seconds. McAllister and Parker both picked up faults to set the stage for a battle of the sexes between Bond Clarke and Pearce on his 15-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding.
Pearce returned last and laid down a trip like no one before him. "I did the leave-outs to the triple bar and the double combination," he said. "But it was in the turns that I got her – her horse is a little bit greener and couldn't pull off some of those turns, but mine knows his job and got it done."
Pearce stopped the clock at 41.15 seconds for the win. Bond Clarke finished in second, Parker in third and McAllister in fourth. Elizabeth Gingras of Edmonton, Alberta capped the top five in the irons of B Gingras Equestrian, Ltd.'s Floreen SFN, while Pearce and Chianto landed sixth.
After a week off from show jumping, HITS Thermal will host the second of its two FEI World Cup qualifying classes. The $50,000 Purina Animal Nutrition Grand Prix CSI-W2* will highlight grand prix competition during Week IV as riders continue to jump toward qualifying for both the FEI World Cup, as well as the HITS Triple Crown of Show jumping.
Source: Press release from HITS, Inc.
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