Helen McNaught and Caballo.
Photo: Erin Gilmore for ProEquest.com
Audible gasps, cheers and applause were heard throughout the night as Murieta Equestrian Center hosted the sixth annual Sacramento International Grand Prix. Mandy Porter and Con Capilot were the only double clear out of a field of 35 horse and rider combinations to tackle the $54,5000 Land Rover Grand Prix of Sacramento. Heiko Wahler of Germany designed a challenging and highly technical course that asked some tough questions of both riders and horses. Out of the 35 entries, six returned for the jump-off, and out of those six, only Mandy went clear. Will Simpson, 2008 Olympic gold medalist, and Warrant were second, and Enrique Gonzales and Quilebo du Tillard third.
Prior to the big class, Sacramento's own Painted Ladies graciously lent their colorful mounts to an intrepid group of Grand Prix riders including Mandy Porter, Will Simpson, Andrew Ramsey, Enrique Gonzales, Joie Gatlin, Ashlee Bond and Karl Cook for some pre-show entertainment. In western saddles, the jumping riders attempted a western-style course that included everything from pole bending at speed to barrel racing, jumping hay bales, opening and closing a gate, navigating a chute and crossing a bridge, all against the clock. For the riders, it seemed navigating a five foot-plus course was an easier task.
Next came a nice ceremony for Helen McNaught's jumper Caballo. Caballo and Helen have had an exciting partnership with wins and successes in some of show jumping's most prestigious competitions. Together, they've earned top placings in World Cup qualifiers, the Pfizer Million at HITS Saugerties and many other exclusive Grand Prix. With many of Caballo's best career moments occurring at the Sacramento International, it was fitting to send him off in a place so full of great memories.
Following the Grand Prix, riders signed autographs, and took time to mingle and chat with fans as Hip Service prepared to get the Victory Party underway. Spectators and exhibitors alike were on their feet dancing well into the night to the electrifying sounds of this consummate party band. Top-notch equestrian competition
and fabulous entertainment wrapped up an incredible night.
This year's Sacramento International Horse Show saw bigger crowds and greater competitor numbers than ever before. Show managers Dale Harvey and Rudy Leone put on a smoothly-run, top-notch event from the time the first horse entered the in-gate during Welcome Week until the last fence was jumped Sunday at the close of World Cup Week.
In addition to finishing second in Saturday night's Grand Prix, Will Simpson won the previous night's Land Rover Ride & Drive aboard Acorina. Jenni McCallister and Here I Come cleared an incredible 6' 6" to win the High Jump for the second year in a row. Ashlee Bond and Chela LS took home the blue in the $33,000 Welcome Grand Prix, and Karrie Rufer and Courtown earned the win in the $5,000 1.35m Welcome Stake. World Cup Week also hosted the 4, 5, 6, and 7-year-old Young Horse Jumper Championships.
During Welcome Week, highlights included Team Alberta's repeat win of the Stoneridge Team Championships, the USHJA Child/Adult Regional Jumper Championships, won by Zone 10 in the Childrens and Zone 9 in the Adults, Tatiana Dzavik and Delphine DH's blue ribbon performance in the $33,000 Welcome Grand Prix, and Hope Glynn and Woodstock's stellar achievement in the Oakhaven LLC Grand Prix Hunter Derby.