Leave it to Michelle Parker to outdo herself by not only posting the fastest clear round time of the day, but the second fastest as well. Today's $32,000 Showpark Jumper Classic was a race against the clock as thirty-six horse and rider combinations gave it their all in the one-round speed competition. Many riders were preparing their mounts today for this Saturday's $50,000 World Cup Grand Prix, however with only four clear rounds posted, numerous riders became aware that a new level of performance would have to be met to earn those valuable World Cup Qualifying points.
Canadian course designer Michel Vaillancourt set a technical track with a generous time allowed of 81 seconds for the speed class. It was up to the rider to risk time penalties and ride clean, or to push to the wire, hoping to leave the rails in the cups and post a top time. Half way through the class, many chose the latter. Tricky distances to an oxer-vertical-vertical combination, a liverpool vertical, a vertical-oxer double combination, and blind angles created for numerous faults and refusals. Twenty-two year old Karl Cook was the first to post a clear round, but had an unfortunate time fault. Cook returned with his second mount and to ensure a clear score, Cook picked up the pace and guided the reliable ASB Conquistador to a fault free round in 80.52 seconds.
Parker was on deck and was able to easily surpass Cook's time aboard Cross Creek Farm's Socrates De Midos. The thirteen-year-old gelding jumped with ease and covered the ground with each stride to post a time of 72.63 seconds. Within two rounds, Rusty Stewart and Bristol were the next to challenge Parker's lead. Setting up each line with precision, Stewart piloted Bristol to a very safe and clean round in 73.12 seconds, good enough for third respectively. "He felt great," Stewart smiled. "Just looking forward to Saturday now (Grand Prix)."
It wouldn't be until Parker returned to the ring that another clear round would be posted. Xel Ha and Parker, the defending champions of the 2011 $31,000 Showpark Jumper Classic, took to the track and with the nine-year-old mare's giant stride and scope, the pair was able to leave all the rails up and stop the clock in a blazing 70.48 seconds, securing both second and first place. "The course was straight forward and had anice feel," Parker commented, "it was a good ride altogether."
Source: Pressrelease from Blenheim EquiSports.
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