With 72 seconds to navigate 15 jumping efforts, Laura Linback and Woodrun's HH Dauphin combined speed with technique to end Sunday's $40,000 Purina Animal Nutrition Grand Prix, presented by Zoetis, on top.
Collecting her fifth grand prix win in two months with HH Dauphin, Linback was one of only five to advance to the jump-off of Tucker Williams' track. Williams of Houston, Texas set 12 obstacles that, according to Linback were challenging and technical, but quite fair and interesting to ride.
The course consisted of three double combinations with a vertical to vertical one stride at fence three, a one stride oxer to a vertical with a liverpool at the b element of fence six and a two stride at fence 11. Jumps seven, eight and nine were in a serpentine that ended in a right hand turn to a square oxer six strides from the last combination. The final fence was a plank set at 1.48m coming off a 10-stride gallop.
"The time allowed stood at 72 seconds and proved a big factor in conquering the 15-effort course as riders had to be very technical in their routes and approaches to almost every fence on the track," said Williams, who owns and operates CCI Jumps.
The first five rides of the day had faults with four picking up time faults in addition to rails. Manuel Torres of Leesburg, Virginia proved that the clock could be beat with a fault-free ride on Andreas Torres' Fidelina.
Ninth in the order, Hasbrouck Donovan of Gainesville, Florida guaranteed a jump-off aboard her own Delilah. They were later joined by Kama Godek of Fairfax, Station, Virginia on her own Air Force One, Patty Stovel of Chester Springs, Pennsylvania in the irons of her own Carigor Z, and finally Linback.
Torres set an early Great American Time to Beat in the jump-off at 34.80 seconds. Donovan was clear, but couldn't catch him, finishing in 38.03 seconds, while Godek had a heartbreak rail at the final fence of the second track to pick up four faults. Torres' lead remained until Stovel bumped him to second by fractions of a second to sit first in 34.52 seconds. Her lead was short-lived, however, as Linback batted cleanup in the jump-off and shaved five tenths of a second off Stovel's time, winning with a time of 34.02 seconds.
"HH Dauphin has tremendous scope, a gorgeous stride, but beyond that, he has the loveliest character of any horse I have ever owned," said Linback. "He wants and loves the relationship with his rider."
HITS Culpeper will always bear special meaning for Linback as she purchased HH Dauphin during the show in 2011 from HH Farm. "He has become a one-girl kind of horse, he likes being a member of the family, likes to be spoiled and tries his heart out for me every time."
Behind Linback, Stovel finished second, Torres third and Donovan fourth. Godek rounded out the top five, while Lillie Keenan of New York, New York was the fastest of the four-fault rounds and finished in sixth.
Source: Press release from HITS, Inc.
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