The applause resounded throughout the Lamplight Equestrian Center as 13 horse and rider combinations faced off in the Showplace Spring Spectacular $20,000 Open Welcome Stake. It came down to a battle of speed as Lisa Goldman and Tracy Fenney went neck and neck, but Goldman and Centurion B came away the victors. Fenney laid down two impressive double-clear efforts for the second and third place positions with MTM Timon and MTM Centano, respectively.
Twenty-seven riders were tested over a 12-obstacle track, including rollbacks, a liverpool, triple bar, a tricky in-and-out, and two double combinations. The course, although technical, proved welcoming for the riders on the second day of the Showplace Spring Spectacular I. For the jump-off, riders had to navigate the opening oxer and then make a right rollback over a single vertical; a quick left turn took them to the Animo oxer where they then entered into the technical in-and-out. Upon landing they had to think fast to shave the seconds and make a sharp left rollback to a newly introduced oxer that led to a narrow oxer that allowed riders to choose and inside turn to the final black vertical set on the outside. Many of the riders opted to stick to the outside track, but with speed as the name of the game, the inside turn proved crucial.
Theo Genn and Aniviero Z, owned by Amy Lefferdink of Cleveland, OH, were the pathfinders as the first horse and rider combination to take on the course. Choosing to stay in the ring, in accordance to the Table A format, they posted a double-clear effort in 41.378 seconds. Although their time was commendable, it would prove too conservative with several speed demons waiting in the wings.
Lisa Goldman was the next rider to clear the opening track, riding Centurion B, owned by Mary Goldman of Hawthorn Woods, IL, to an effortless round. Although she is normally a strong proponent of staying in the ring for the jump-off, she opted to return later. She made the same decision with her second mount, Morocco.
Laura Linback laid down an impressive double-clear in 39.355 seconds with HH Dauphin, owned by Woodrun of Mundelein, IL, but her time was shortly shattered when Tracy Fenney entered the ring with MTM Centano, owned by MTM Farm of Flower Mound, TX.
Fenney flew around the ring in a breezy 35.545 seconds, taking over the lead with MTM Centano. She later duplicated her effort aboard MTM Timon, producing a second clean and clear effort in 35.497 seconds to slightly beat out her previous time.
"They are both veterans, and are good at doing what they do," Fenney described. "We are trying to get them back up and recuperated before Sunday's class. I was very happy with how they went today. Lisa and I went back and forth in Ocala quite a bit, so I knew that she was going to be a hard one to beat."
Fenney elaborated, "I probably should have made the inside cut with Lisa on my heels, but I was hoping that staying nice and tidy would be enough to win today-anything can happen out there."
Linback and Whittaker MVNZ, owned by Woodrun of Mundelein, IL, came back to the Grand Prix Ring in an attempt to close in on Fenney; however, their time of 38.409 seconds was not enough to take over the lead. Linback would eventually earn the fifth and sixth place ribbons.
Goldman returned to the ring as the final rider to jump-off with her two mounts. She had produced clear efforts early in the class with Centurion B and Morocco, but had opted to return at the end in an effort to save her mounts' energy after the long opening track.
It was clear that she had her eyes set on the win as she took the opening oxer. She utilized Centurion B's large stride, eating up the ground and shaving the seconds with tight turns. She made an impressive turn from the in-and-out to the oxer with Centurion B turning on a dime and leaving change as he spun to the obstacle. She then completed the inside track to the final vertical, breaking the beam in 34.609 seconds to take the lead.
"He was phenomenal, I wasn't quite sure if I would get the turn to the last jump, but he is so good that he got it for me," Goldman laughed. "He is so good at the spin-back, and as soon as I saw this course, I knew that my horses could do this. I know I can land and stay on the inside track. Centurion B (Leo) and Morocco (Cowboy) are both so good at turns and they love jump offs."
She nearly beat her own time with Morocco, but when she landed from the penultimate obstacle she doubted her inside turn. Morocco was ready take it, and the miscommunication caused her to ride into the standard of the fence that had caused many of the other riders to negate the inside track. She recovered quickly, but the misstep cost her the time she was after. She tripped the timers in 37.798 seconds for the fourth place finish.
"Morocco is my boy!" Goldman exclaimed. "I have had him since he was a 4-year-old, so almost as long as I have had Leo. He has won all over the country with me. He got hurt last year in the winter, and he had the whole year off, so this was his first big class back. I am so excited about how great he was out there. He has so much fun out there, and I could feel how happy he was to be back."
"There is a lot of compromising with Cowboy," Goldman reminisced. "I went clean in Ocala one time and got bucked off after the timers. He, more than any other horse, has bucked me off, but I love him. He can turn like a Quarter Horse, and the mishap on the turn was totally my fault. It was his first big class in a year, and I was worried, but he had the turn. I should have known that he would have done it for me, but he picked right back up and jumped the last fence beautifully."
It was an emotional win for Goldman today, dedicating her tricolor to Fletcher McCracken, who passed away earlier in the week. Fletcher was married to Centurion B's breeder, Allyn McCracken. Goldman was thrilled to have the opportunity to win the $20,000 Open Welcome Stake in his honor.
For more information please visit: http://www.showplaceproductions.com.
Source: Press release from Phelps Media Group, Inc. International.
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