California Riding Magazine • May, 2012

Winner's Circle

John Perez and Arezzo win the $50,000 Orange County Grand Prix.
Photo: McCool

Perez & Haness Big Winners at Blenheim Spring Classic III

Friday the 13th brought heavy rain to San Juan Capistrano last month. It caused a little rescheduling, but otherwise didn't dampen the excitement for the show's biggest classes. Columbian rider John Perez and Arezzo were the fastest of five in the jump-off for the $50,000 Orange County Register Grand Prix. Aboard Archie Bunker, Hap Hansen was poised to earn his 100th GP win, but their clean jump off turned out to only be fast enough for fifth. Rusty Stewart and Bristol, Carla Diewert and Nipper de Legash and Tiffany Sullivan and Tristan earned the spots in between.

The rain caused the $10,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby to be moved to Saturday night under the lights of Blenheim Farm's indoor ring. In the Classic Round, veteran Derby star Hope Glynn locked in the top two standings with Roccoco and Chance of Flurries, while Nick Haness was hot on her heels with Gelato and Montague. The field of 26 was narrowed down to 12 for the Handy Round, and here things got a little complicated with refusals, rails and unfortunate mishaps. Nick and Conor Perrin's Gelato were the only pair to earn a score of 100, including all 10 Handy points and bonus points for taking the more difficult options offered.

Nick Haness and Gelato are Champions in the $10,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby. Photo: McCool

Blenheim EquiSports presented the annual Arthur Hawkins Award of Excellence during the evening's Hunter Derby. This award is given annually to an individual who has contributed to the industry of show hunters in a significant way during the prior year. The 2012 recipient went to Hope Glynn of Sonoma Valley Stables in Petaluma. "I was so surprised," Hope shared. "I was thrilled to have five horses in the class tonight let alone go home with this award. I am so excited."

Arthur Hawkings, Hope Glynn and Melissa Brandes.
Photo: McCool

Alliston In Control at Galway Downs

James Alliston started in control of both the CIC3* and the advanced divisions at the Galway Downs International Horse Trials, and after riding five bold cross-country rounds, he finished the day in complete command of the top spots.

Alliston, of the East Bay Area's Castro Valley, finished first and second in the CIC3*, winning with his veteran, India McEvoy's Jumbo's Jake (51.2), and moving up to second with his less experienced Tivoli (61.3). Barb Crabo rode Eveready II aggressively around the cross-country course to move up to third (67.8).

In the Advanced division, Alliston led after two phases on Parker II, but had one rail in show jumping to finish second to Jeanine Allred and Snap Decision II.

Alliston, 27, was thrilled with "Jake's" winning performance, and he believes the 14-year-old Irish-bred is ready to tackle the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event for the second time.  "He was awesome in all three phases this weekend. This was perfect preparation. I could have gone a bit slower, but I wanted to give him a bit of a fitness work before Rolex."

His partner in the Advanced divisions, Parker II, is also aiming for Rolex Kentucky. "If I can run him relaxed like he did today, then I can let him go faster," Alliston said.

Tivoli, 10, is an eye-catching horse, full of power and scope, but his development hasn't been a straight line. British international veteran Oliver Townend competed him to Intermediate, but his owners were from California, and Olympic sliver medalist Gina Miles imported him to ride or sell. 

Although the horse had won in England, he proved difficult to sell, but Miles and her assistant, Bec Braitling, believed Alliston would suit him. Alliston bought him with the help of Chuck and Peggy Moore of Graceland Equestrian, the farm where Alliston is based. "For sure he could jump a huge fence, and I think we're moving in the right direction now. He's aggressive to the jumps. There's no fence too big for him."

Unstoppable Steffen

Steffen Peters and Four Winds Farm's 10-year-old Westfalen gelding Legolas 92 (Laomedon x Fuerstin by Florestan II) continued their winning ways at the Festival Of The Horse CDI 3 Star, held at the Blenheim venue in San Juan Capistrano, March 29-April 1. They swept the Grand Prix and the Olympic Grand Prix Special Tests with impressive scores of 75.255% and 75.933%, respectively. 

"This is a wonderful horse which has the potential to earn even higher scores as he continues to get stronger," noted judge Gary Rockwell (5* USA), who will be officiating for this summer's Olympic Games in London. 

In the small tour, David Blake (USA) rode the impressive 11-year-old Oldenburg stallion Royal Prinz (Royal Diamond x Mystica by Dream of Glory, owned by Willard and Teresa Simmons) to victory in both the Prix St. Georges and Intermediaire I tests, with scores of 68.860% and 70.921%, respectively. "He was really, really good, and super focused," said Blake. "It's all very easy for him; it feels like when he goes in there, he enjoys himself. So I just try to maintain that feeling." In the freestyle, Rochelle Kilberg (Canada) claimed the win on a score of 69.583% with Rudy, an 11-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Rotspon x Waldluft by Werther, owned by Kilberg and Ben Vermeulen). "I thought my ride was really good," said Kilberg. "He's a little tired but the electric atmosphere in the arena woke him up a bit. He did a great job for me today." 

Canada's Monica Houweling rode the 14-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare Rifradin (Gribaldi x Atradin by Formateur, owned by Linda Houweling) to a winning score of 67.061% in the Young Rider Team Test, while Mackinzie Pooley (USA) rode Deena Smith's 12-year-old Oldenburg gelding Brigadier (Batido x Lady Deco by Art Deco) to top both the Individual Test (67.456%) and the freestyle (69.083%). Meanwhile, Kalynn Harrington (USA) topped the field of CDI Juniors in both the Team and Individual Tests, riding Elly Schobel's 14-year-old American Warmblood gelding Raison d'Etre (Regulus x Little Doozie by Uzi) to winning scores of 63.964% and 64.079%. For the freestyle, Julia Burke (Canada) earned the blue ribbon with her own 9-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding Patrick (Balhinrobe Pearl x Serena Dawn by Northern Minuet) with 58.042%.

Managed by Glenda McElroy's Cornerstone Events, the Festival posted competition highlights regularly on Cornerstone's YouTube channel. The service is getting rave reviews. "I absolutely love these YouTube videos and how quickly they're up," said Steffen, who explained that he used the service to review his own rides after each test.  "It's also so good for some owners who can't be here - for instance, Sundance's owner saw his video right away and was so excited about how he looks."

Diamond Mountain has Dazzling HITS Circuit

Macella O'Neill and Charles White's Diamond Mountain Stables in Calistoga had a terrific time during their six weeks at the HITS hunter/jumper circuit in Thermal. Highlights include:

St. Helena's Isabelle Nolden and her beloved mare Sotnia were mid circuit and full circuit champions in the Younger Adult/Amateur Division. Isabelle was also honored as the Arenas All Around Athlete for the Desert Circuit 2012.

Haley Schwab, San Francisco, and her mare Coya earned mid and full circuit championships in the High Junior Jumper Division. Haley also won an astonishing number of classes on her new horse Ducati Z. They were Low Jr. Jumper Division mid-circuit and full circuit champions.

Kimber Butts, Calistoga, and Murkas Rockstar earned the same status in the older A/A Division for both the mid and full circuits. The pair had one rail in their entire circuit! Kimber also had a great debut with her new horse, Heathrcoft's Comet.

Jean Edwards was reserve champion, Adult Equitation, in Week 2, Christine O'Hanlon was reserve champion, Adult Jumpers Low in Week 6, and Jerry Dugan, Savannah Turley and Melanie Rapp all won blue ribbons.