It was one for the books as the Blenheim Spring Classic Series wrapped up this weekend with a bang. Thunderstorms rolled in Friday afternoon just as the first round of the $10,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby was underway. By Saturday morning, the clouds cleared and the footing held up seamlessly for Week III of the Series to pick up just where it left off. Guilherme Jorge designed a demanding course in the Grass Grand Prix Field for the $50,000 Orange County Register Grand Prix that was both technically challenging and tactical. The tight time allowed made for multiple careful clear rounds but unfortunate time faults. Only ten horse and rider duos were able to master the first round of two double combinations back-to-back, a water jump, and a liverpool vertical, to make it back for the jump-off.
Everyone was on their feet for veteran Hap Hansen and Archie Bunker putting up the first of five double clear rounds in 43.594 in hopes of it being Grand Prix victory #100. Tiffany Sullivan and Haley Farms' Tristan were able to kick it into gear and claim the lead in 42.793. Then came Rusty Stewart and his brave Bristol, owned by Grey Fox Farms, cutting corners and making it look easy to top the board in 39.077. With countless tight turn slips and lucky fence chips, a faster time seemed near impossible.
It was going to take guts and speed to better the top time and doing so by three tenths of a second (38.846) was Columbian rider John Perez and Arezzo. "I knew I had a really good horse," John smiles, "and I was just going to have to go fast and careful to win. Guilherme Jorge is the best course designer. Nothing too big, but very technical. It was a great course". Carla Diewert and Nippur De Legash were the last pair to try and better the leader stopping the clock in 40.798 without fault, settling for third respectively. "I think it was a really exciting class, with a very competitive jump-off," commented Jorge, "I was a expecting a few less riders to go clear , but the horses were jumping great out of the footing that held up pretty well after all the rain we had Friday. In the end, I was happy with the outcome."
RESULTS: $50,000 Orange County Register Grand Prix
1st Arezzo - John Perez - John Perez 0/0/38.846
2nd Bristol - Rusty Stewart - Grey Fox Farm 0/0/39.007
3rd Nipper de Legash - Carla Diewert - Carla Diewert 0/0/40.798
4th Tristan - Tiffany Sullivan - Haley Farms 0/0/42.793
5th Archie Bunker - Hap Hansen - Linda Smith 0/0/43.594
6th Chianto - John Pearce - Forest View Farm 0/4/36.824
7th Fitzpatrick 2 - Theodore Boris - Theodore Boris 0/4/44.373
8th Coral Reef Coloredo - Vinton Karasch - Coral Reef Ranch 0/12/39.707
Source: press release from Blenheim EquiSports