With grand prix prize money increased by over 20% for week three of the Blenheim Spring Series, internationally renowned course designer Leopoldo Palacios intentionally built a tough track. "From the three weeks this is the week with the most money. I needed it to be a touch harder than the other weeks. The field of riders is good, so I built a more difficult course."
Thirty-nine pairs attempted to master the tight time allowed, distance and scope challenges, including a flowing first line, a bending line from three to a light skinny plank jump as the fourth obstacle followed by a triple combination set at a tough angle directly off the arena fence. Lines got tighter towards the end of the course, making the time allowed a factor. This technicality caught up with three riders who had no jumps down but finished with time faults.
Palacios explained, "My way of building and what I want doesn't always happen (he laughs). A course is not one distance; it's a flow and a lot of distances together. From one to two, already the distance is a little bit forward. But I put this forward so they make decision to add or go forward. At the end I have short distances. I change the mind of the horse several times and this is where they have faults."
It wasn't until the fourteenth horse on course, 21-year-old Saer Coulter and Springtime (Copernicus Stables LLC, owner), did a duo keep all jumps in the cups within the time allowed. Having ridden her Don VHP Z earlier in the class with just four faults, Coulter knew what she needed to do. Five rounds after Coulter, Enrique Gonzales of Mexico matched that effort going clean aboard his own Criptonite. Twelve rides later, with only six remaining, two more managed to join the jump-off group - Canadian John Pearce on the trusty Chianto (Forest View Farm, owner) and young Lucy Davis riding Old Oak Farm's Barron.
Two young women and two experienced men in a jump-off with long galloping lines meant speed and agility would prevail. Admirably, each of the four was double clear with solid times. First to go Coulter and Springtime set the pace in an impressive 40.44. Next in Gonzales and the powerful Criptonite tried to catch Coulter, but didn't quite succeed with a time of 41.16. Edging out Coulter, John Pearce and Chianto clocked in at 38.62. Last to go was Davis on Barron, also double clean in 40.80, just tenths of a second slower than Coulter. Veterans Pearce and Chianto claimed victory.
"The horse just seems to be getting better. He's 17 years old, but like wine, he's just getting better with age," said Pearce with a smile. Now in his sixth season riding Chianto, the winner went on about his horse, "He really likes himself a lot. He wants to act like the tough guy but he's actually kind of mushy inside."
Three couples turned in great rounds but stopped the clock just over the 85-second time allowed for two time faults apiece - Jonathan Asselin with Attache Stables' Showgirl, Josephina Nor-Lantzman on her own Chello Z and Saree Solanki aboard Olympiade des Gres (Tomboy Farms, owner).
Seven horse and rider combinations finished with a four fault score in round one, the fastest five of those finished eighth through twelfth, including Coulter's third entry Carmena Z, two entries from Signe Ostby's string - Quanto Fino 2 with Eric Navet and Karl Cook aboard ASB Conquistador, Grey Fox Farm's Bristol and Rusty Stewart as well as Tiffany Sullivan with Tristan (Haley Farms LLC, owner).
$50,000 Blenheim Spring Classic III Grand Prix,
presented by Equine Insurance
Place - Horse - Rider - Owner - Faults/Time
1st - Chianto - John Pearce - Forest View Farm - 0/0/38.629
2nd - Springtime - Saer Coulter - Copernicus Stables, LLC - 0/0/40.443
3rd - Barron - Lucy Davis - Old Oak Farm - 0/0/40.807
4th - Criptonite - Enrique Gonzales - Enrique Gonzales - 0/0/41.446
5th - Chello Z - Josephina Nor-Lantzman - Josephina Nor Stables - 2/86.055
6th - Showgirl - Jonathan Asselin - Attache Stables - 2/86.077
7th - Olympiade des Gres - Saree Solanki - Tomboy Farms - 2/86.786
8th - Carmena Z - Saer Coulter - Copernicus Stables, LLC - 4/80.034
9th - Quanto Fino 2 - Eric Navet - Signe Ostby - 4/82.153
10th - Bristol - Rusty Stewart - Grey Fox Farm - 4/82.508
11th - ASB Conquistador - Karl Cook - Signe Ostby - 4/83.164
12th - Tristan - Tiffany Sullivan - Haley Farms, LLC - 4/83.951
Source: Press release from Blenheim EquiSports
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