It was a triumphant return to Southern California for Germany's Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum and Cantano, owned by Octavia Farms, LLC, with a win in Sunday's $30,000 SmartPak Grand Prix, presented by Zoetis. The pair topped a field of 42 entries and produced the fastest of two clears among eight jump-off contenders.
Indeed the trophy ceremony wound up a Team Beerbaum affair, as student Saer Coulter of Stanford, California, and Don VHP Z placed second with the afternoon's only other double-clear. Meredith's husband Markus Beerbaum finished third on Lancero. Both Coulter and Markus Beerbaum's horses are owned by the Coulter family's Copernicus Stables.
Fourth place went to San Marcos, California's, Michelle Parker riding Cross Creek Farms' Socrates de Midos, and fifth to Lane Clarke of Laguna Niguel, California, and Granville Equine's Casseur de Prix.
Designer Bernardo Costa Cabral's round one course of 13 obstacles and 16 jumping efforts of up to 1.45m in height featured several tight turns, including one right out of the triple to a vertical. But, it was the second-to-last jump, number 12 – an oxer – that proved the bogey, resulting in 13 knockdowns. Several long gallops tested speed and stamina to make the time allowed, which was reduced from 90 to 87 seconds. Eight pairs had time faults.
For Michaels-Beerbaum, who grew up in Southern California, the win in front of her hometown crowd – and that of Cantano, who successfully competed on the grand prix circuit here for many years – was particularly meaningful. "Cantano was out for a while with an injury, and this is the first grand prix we've done in about five months, so it was a nice comeback that shows he's back in super form," said Beerbaum. "Also, we lost a very special friend recently. Pat Iverson, who was one of his California owners, passed away, so this win is for her."
Markus Beerbaum said he was thrilled to see his wife and student do so well today, and that the top three placing was gratifying because, he says, he has been so busy training he hasn't had much time to ride competitively. "I won with Lancero in last Saturday's 1.45m class, and it's nice to be back in the grand prix," he said following the ribbon ceremony. Lancero is a 12-year-old Holsteiner he is keeping tuned up for Audrey Coulter while she attends college on the East Coast.
For her part, Saer Coulter is very pleased that Don VHP Z, a horse she's only been riding since the latter part of 2012, is showing the potential to be her next superstar. The horse has competed in Level 7 and 8 jumper classes, as well as last week's $50,000 EMO Grand Prix, and this is its first placing in a grand prix.
Source: Press release from HITS, Inc.
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