Michelle Parker and Xel Ha are simply uncatchable as they continue their domination in the Wednesday night $32,000 Blenheim Jumper Classic.Parker and her incredible nine-year-old Selle Francais mare mastered Brazilian Guilherme Jorge's track in the Blenheim Farms Indoor Arena to clinch their second Jumper Classic victory in two weeks. The one-round speed class saw twenty-one horse and rider combinations, and only five were able to beat the time allowed and keep all the rails in their cups.
The lights of the indoor arena illuminated the colorful obstacles, making them appear even more intimidating than they already were. Jorge (BRA) set a technical track that demanded competitors to step up to the next level if they wanted to post a top score. The addition of the indoor element asked riders to focus on guiding their horses to each obstacle with accurate timing and precision. The tight time allowed of 79 seconds caught up with a handful of contenders as well. "It wasn't an easy course." Jorge admitted, "It's the first indoor class and the course matched the regulations so I am pleased with the result. "Jorge went on to add, "There were faults everywhere so even though there was a broad range of experience in the field tonight, I'm happy that the course held up and it produced a good show."
Half-way through the class, Nicole Shahinian-Simpson was the first to post a fault free round in 77.00 seconds aboard her nine-year-old stallion, Imothep. Only two rounds later, Michelle Parker galloped in on Tula Pinella's, Xel Ha. Mimicking their winning performance from the $32,000 Showpark Jumper Classic just two weeks earlier, Parker used Xel Ha's amazing scope and large stride to float over the rails and cover the distances between obstacles to cut down on time. The pair kept all the rails untouched and tripped the wire in 72.92 seconds, securing the lead. Within two more rounds, Kyle King guided Cross Creek Farm's Socrates De Midos to a gutsy faultless round in 73.79 seconds, settling for second behind Parker.
With four rounds to go, Nick Gegen and Sancerre took to the track and cleared each obstacle with determination to surpass Parker's lead. Galloping towards the final oxer, Gegen kicked it into gear, clearing the final jump and stopping the clock in 73.35 seconds, good enough to move into second place. Tiffany Sullivan and Tristan were the final pair of the evening. Sullivan guided Tristan to a careful but quick paced trip around the course, posting a fault free time of 76.16 seconds, good enough for fourth place, and ensuring Parker's back-to-back Jumper Classic victories.
"She is just that good, no matter the setting." Parker commented on her mount. "Xel Ha will compete in Friday night's Grand Prix as well and we will hope for a similar result." The $50,000 Blenheim World Cup Grand Prix will showcase top level horse and rider duos as they compete for valuable World Cup points and the top prize. "Expect it to be much bigger," course designer Jorge added, "There will be triple combinations, triple bars, wider oxers, and taller verticals. It'll be a great night."
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