It was a display of athleticism and accuracy in Del Mar as competitors in the $50,000 Grand Prix of Showpark, a World Cup qualifier, presented by Equ Lifestyle, delighted a crowd of cheering spectators. Twenty-one entries tackled the impressive course with five returning for the jump-off. Josephina Nor Lantzman not only added another victory to her successful season, she stepped closer to a 2015 FEI World Cup Finals invite.
Canadian course designer Michel Vaillancourt created the World Cup Qualifier track. Focusing on the overall standard of the international class, the veteran course designer required riders to exhibit the scope and stamina required for the World Cup Final.
"Being a World Cup Qualifier, we have to follow certain standards. People have to be prepared to go to the Final. I think it's a difficult course at a World Cup standard. If I make it easier, then I'm stepping outside those boundaries," Vaillancourt explained. "I know the field quite well and I use that to my advantage. I tried to stay a little more simple in the distances. The track is 535 meters, quite long, so I think by the end of it ridability will become an issue for some."
Right away, the challenges of the course presented themselves, as the first four entries in the class all brought down the second element of 12a-b, a double combination leading to a wide final oxer. As the class continued, fence 10, a natural oxer leading into a forward five/short-six stride line to the skinny Equ Lifestyle vertical, also came down multiple times.
With sixteen efforts and a time allowed of 86 seconds, the time also caused heartbreaking single time faults for several competitors, despite a clear ride over the jumps. Five entries returned for the jump-off. Consisting of several bending lines from the first round and 5a-b of the triple combination, the winding track gave riders the opportunity to leave out strides and execute quick inside turns to shave off time.
Jenni McAllister (USA) and Casseur de Prix (owned by Granville Equine) were the first to return on course. McAllister guided the 15-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Caretino x Lord) to a four-fault finish with the final fence coming down in 44.40 seconds. Second to return, crowd favorites Josephina Nor Lantzman (BRA) and her faithful partner Chello Z, a 14-year-old Zangersheide gelding (Chellano Z x Alme Z) owned by Josephina Nor Stables, LLC, cut a quick track in 41.15, with fence 10 coming down for a fast score of four faults.
Susan Artes (USA) aboard Alix Fargo's Zamiro, came close to catching the pair, also bringing down fence 10 in a time of 42.54, ultimately earning second place. Brazil's Eduardo Menezes on Quintol (owned by Gestut Lewitz u. Eduardo Menezes) turned in a four-fault round as well, just behind Artes' time in 42.57, which was third place today. Last to return, Karl Cook on Signe Ostby's Jonkheer Z wisely attempted a cautious clear round, but then brought down the final fence in 46.64.
With the Brazilian national anthem playing triumphantly over the Grand Prix Field, Nor Lantzman wore a huge smile as she led the victory gallop. The win was especially sweet, as she and her husband celebrated their six-year wedding anniversary today. "I was too cautious in last week's jump-off, so this time I said I'm just going to go for it, and whatever happens, happens!" she exclaimed.
She also elaborated on her future plans with her seasoned partner. "The World Cup Final would be nice, but I still try to keep it show by show and not live too long-term. I try to have a plan but still stay in the moment. That way I stay focused for the win and then the future!"
The Showpark All Seasons Tournament wraps up a week of competition on Sunday with the Young Jumper Championships - Western League Finals. The show jumping action then moves to San Juan Capistrano for two weeks in September with the Blenheim Fall Tournament and the Blenheim International Jumping Festival, where highlights include a $30,000 Markel Insurance Grand Prix each week, and the USEF Show Jumping Talent Search Finals.
Source: Press release from Blenheim EquiSports
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