Held at the beautiful Sonoma Horse Park http://www.sonomahorsepark.com/, the July 30th, Saturday evening Grand Prix, was both very exciting, and great fun.
It was a lovely, brisk evening, and the 28 horse/rider entries certainly delivered. The course proved to be quite difficult, especially treacherous was the triple combination!
The first 9 horses had between 4 and 20 faults, deducted by the number of rails they knocked down (each rail down equals 4 faults), and refusals (first refusal 4 faults, second is elimination). Just as the audience was beginning to wonder if any team would conquer the course and go clean, the 10th horse did.
This was the big grey gelding “Dance and Jump”, owned and ridden by the very capable A/A Lindsay Ramar, who boards and trains with Mariano and Nina Alario of Estancia Farms at Willowbrook Stables in Petaluma. Excellent ride.
Four riders later, the very handy “Lariccello”, ridden by professional rider Helen McNaught and owned by Alison Heafey, also went clean, giving the audience a guaranteed jumpoff.
And 9 riders after that, two in a row went clean: “Lucas”, ridden by pro Peter Breakwell and owned by No Drama, making it look easy, and the very entertaining bay stallion “Mr. Whoopy”, ridden by pro Duncan McFarlane and owned by Simone Coxe.
In between these 4 clean rides were many a fantastic horse and rider; including the gorgeous bay stallion “Ace”, ridden by Abigail Weese, the polished competitor “LaMarque”, a beautiful bay stallion owned by Wild Turkey Farm LLC, the wonderful and talented rider Mandy Porter, and many other very accomplished riders including, but certainly not limited to, professionals John French and Macella O’Neill.
The jump off was thrilling. Lindsay and “Dance and Jump” went first, and emerged with just 4 faults from a rail down (quite a remarkable feat for the only Adult Amateur in the jumpoff!).
Helen and “Lariccello” went next: brilliant ride, clean and fast, putting up the time to beat of 35.030 seconds.
Peter and “Lucas” also jumped clean, but just a bit slower with a time of 37.580 seconds.
Last, the incredibly talented ‘bucking, rearing, plunging, capering’ “Mr. Whoopy”, ridden so ably by Duncan. Again, a clean ride, with just a bit more on the clock of 38.124 seconds.
Congratulations to Helen McNaught and “Lariccello”, owned by Alison Heafey, for winning the 2011 $30,000 SC Barns Grand Prix/HMI Equestrian Classic I (AA), held at Sonoma Horse Park!
Awesome effort to all, and to all a well deserved good night!