On a warm Southern California afternoon where the temperatures reached into the 80s, twenty-one pairs rode a course set by designer Pierre Jolicoeur in the $30,000 Blenheim Red, White & Blue Grand Prix, presented by Markel Insurance. With a mix of rookies and veterans, both horse and rider, the track was inviting to all who entered. Of the ten who were clear in the first round, Brazilian Eduardo Menezes once again led the victory gallop, this time aboard Caruschka.
Jolicouer, who has set courses around the world, intentionally created a challenging yet not overwhelming track. "I wanted it to suit younger horses and riders as well as the experienced ones, giving them a chance for a positive experience. I expected seven or eight but I am happy with ten clear."
Inviting but not easy, fences 3 and 9, both tall verticals, came down twice each and the triple combination, element 11, caused quite a few rails. Four riders finished with time faults.
Galloping in first for the second round, Michelle Parker and Cross Creek Farm's Clintord set the pace in the jump-off, finishing double clean in 41.52, ultimately second place. Bettering the time but not the score, El Milagro's Bariano with sixteen-year-old Eugenio Garza stopped the clock in 39.35 with one rail down, finishing a respectable fifth for his efforts. Australian Olympian Matt Williams qualified two for the jump-off, Sara Nordstrom's Cenzo, who picked up four faults in 41.18 for sixth, and Imothep (Hyperion Stud LLC, owner) who was clean in 44.06 for a third place finish.
Fifth to go in the ten horse contest, Menezes and Caruschka went double clear in a blazing 37.74, topping Parker and holding the lead for the remainder of the class. Michelle Spadone aboard Morgan Hill Partner's Tembla also left all the rails up, but was the slowest of the fault-free rounds, picking up fourth.
The remaining jump-off competitors made gallant efforts finishing with four and eight fault scores, rounding out the top ten. The fastest four faulters of the day earned eleventh and twelfth.
Having a particularly hot season, Menezes has not only brought home the top prize in three Blenheim grand prix events since May, he has done so on three different horses.
Eagerly awaiting his first child, Menezes made a last minute decision to compete. "It was a good class, a good crowd and nice to see a good group in the jump-off. I was really pleased with Caruschka and set a time I hoped couldn't be beat. And lucky enough it worked."
Place - Horse - Rider - Owner - Faults/Time
1 - Caruschka - Eduardo Menezes - Eduardo Menezes -0/0/37.748
2 - Clintord - Michelle Parker - Cross Creek Farm - 0/0/41.524
3 - Imothep - Matt Williams - Hyperion Stud - 0/0/44.061
4 - Tembla - Michelle Spadone - Morgan Hill Partners - 0/0/44.772
5 - Bariano - Eugenio Garza - El Milagro - 0/4/39.350
6 - Cenzo - Matt Williams - Sara Nordstrom - 0/4/41.183
7 - Zarenko - Guillermo Williams - El Milagro - 0/4/42.006
8 - Socrates De Midos - Michelle Parker - Cross Creek Farm - 0/8/40.617
9 - Barla - Hannah Selleck - Descanso Farm - 0/8/42.031
10 - Raska - Tommi Clark - Tommi Clark - 0/8/43.309
11 - Deauville - Francisco Pasquel - Francisco Pasquel - 4/77.863
12 - Lasse - Jamie Barge - Jamie Barge - 4/78.652
Source: Press release from Blenheim EquiSports
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