Being fast and fault-free was key in tonight's $33,500 Las Vegas Welcome Jumper Classic, presented by EquiFit, inc. Fifty-eight entries competed for the top prize in the first of two FEI classes featured in this week's schedule of events.
Germany's Olaf Petersen, Jr. designed a winding course with 14 efforts in a time allowed of 79 seconds. Featuring three double combinations as well as multiple bending lines that required adjustability and accuracy, the course gave riders several opportunities to shave off precious seconds by executing daring inside turns and tight rollbacks.
"This is a very nice indoor ring - good footing and a good size. The field is strong this year and I think it will be a competitive class," Petersen stated. "It's a solid 1.50m everywhere, with three double combinations. I'd like to see around 15 clear, that would be a nice result."
Petersen also predicted that one of the most challenging elements was a tight turn to a triple bar leading into a snug six strides before a double combination with horizontally-striped green poles. The double combinations 4a-b and 10a-b also proved to be tricky elements, falling multiple times throughout the class.
With close to sixty entries, the pressure to be clean and quick steadily increased. Riding twenty-fifth, Harrie Smolders (NED) on Enjoy Louis (Alex Verlooy, owner) set the time to beat in 63.22. The Dutch pair seemed untouchable until twenty horses later Vinton Karrasch (USA) aboard Coral Reef Baloufino (Coral Reef Management, LLC, owner) laid down a slick, smooth track in 63.18 to take over the lead.
None of the next twelve entries could touch Karrasch, who took home the win, with Smolders earning second and Canadian Kara Chad on Alberto II (owned by Stone Ridge Farms, LLC) in third with a time of 63.38. Notably the top three were within two-tenths of a second of one another. Egypt's Nayel Nassar aboard his own Raging Bull Vangelis S picked up fourth in a time of 64.59.
Karrasch indicated that he definitely went for a tidy track, and he approached the difficult triple bar line with a clear-cut plan. "I wanted to be as tight as I could be and really attack the triple bar - it's hard to get too deep to a triple bar and out of the tight turn. I think I actually ended up a little more on the inside than I planned, but it worked out."
He went on to say, "I picked Bally to be my point horse for tonight and wanted to try and win it." With that achieved, Karrasch and his winning partner will compete in Saturday's $75,000 Las Vegas CSI-W Grand Prix, an FEI and World Cup qualifying class.
Source: Press release from Blenheim Equisports.
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