August 2015 - A Happy Fourth Indeed!
Written by Kim F. Miller
Monday, 03 August 2015 20:08
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Stefanie Saperstein and Cender Van’t Zorgvliet, give Lane Clarke a run for his money in the jump-off, finishing a little slower for a still-impressive second place.

Lane Clarke and MH War Dance fly to the win in the $25,000 GGT Footing Grand Prix.

Huntington Beach Surf Classic sees Lane Clarke on his way to a possible three-peat, plus winning moments for riders and fans.

report & photos by Kim F. Miller

A holiday vibe, high stakes jumping and perfect Surf City weather made the Huntington Beach Surf Classic an ideal place to spend the afternoon of Saturday, July 4. Jim Hagman’s Elvenstar treated fans and friends to a complementary lunch under at crowded spectator tent before the $25,000 GGT-Footing Grand Prix got underway.

With three horses in the hunt, Lane Clarke was hard to beat. He took top honors with MH War Dance, holding off a good threat in the jump-off from Stefanie Saperstein and Cender Van’t Zorgvliet. The field would have been a little bigger if another multi-horse rider, Kristin Hardin, had had better luck the day before. Instead, the veteran Grand Prix rider took a spill while schooling a young jumper over a small fence in the warm-up ring. She broke several bones in her face and spent several hours at Hoag Hospital with friends including Hunt & Jump’s Kathy Hobstetter by her side.

SMax Dolger and Karina 445 go eye-to-eye with the last element of a triple combination that troubled many.

Amateur rider Michelle Kerivan and Colin tackle the course.

Madison Bradshaw and Katina 12 made their trip from Santa Rosa worth while, with just one rail for a third place prize.

Erica Cooper and Nelson T, hailing from Paso Robles.

The GGT Footing Grand Prix Series is attracting a good mix of veterans and up-and-comers. It’s still early in the season, but Lane’s July 4 win keeps him in a three-way tie at the top of the standings, a post he shared with Andrew Kocher and Lauren Hester as we went to press. There’s a long way to go, but seeing Lane win the whole series for a third consecutive year is something we wouldn’t put past him.

There was an equal amount of fun and excitement in the hunter ring, with the Grand Prix Hunter Derby on Friday as a highlight. Veteran horseman and course designer Rob Gage put his hunter hat on and built a challenging course – one of its three options being a tight roll back. After the first round, Jamie Taylor and Kristy Miller ended with five points separating them, prompting a second round. The second round displayed great handiness from both, with Jamie and Jager taking home the blue ribbon and Kristy with second place.

Thanks to West Palm Events for a terrific show and a fun time. It’s great to see the Huntington Center Park Equestrian Center sparkle as the venue for this event. Driving down Goldenwest Ave., just a mile or so in from the beach, the Center fits into a recreational hub that includes youth baseball fields, a Frisbee golf course and oodles of open space and various recreational activities within Huntington Central Park. It’s exciting to have horse sports right in the middle of all that and especially when the sport is presented in such an inviting manner to those who might stumble upon it.

Lane celebrates the win with some of his biggest fans: wife Jennifer Reese Clarke, DVM, their adorable daughter and longtime coach Mickey Hayden, far right.

Soehnke Theymann and Concept 4.

Course designer Rob Gage did double duty as judge of the Leadline class in which -- surprise, surprise -- everybody was a winner!