California Riding Magazine • June, 2011

Winner's Circle

John French and Crown Affair. Photo ©

Ranch & Coast Classic

Just a few highlights at the Ranch & Coast Classic included Friday's (May 13) $10,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby and Saturday's $10,000 1.40M Jumper Classic and $50,000 Grand Prix of California. Competitive until the final horse galloped on course, these three events welcomed well over 100 horses onto the gorgeous grass field at the Del Mar Horsepark.

Speaking of quality, qualifying for the Handy round of the $10,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby required a cumulative first round score of 169 or better. The challenges of the Handy round included a snake vertical, galloping up a hill, a trot jump and galloping down the hill to an oxer option. Although some illustrated classic Hunter style, Yellow Dog Farm's Crown Affair and John French proved their handy prowess, scoring a solid 10 points higher than any other round. The 13-year-old Holsteiner stallion moved up from 10th after the first round for the win.

"I wasn't sure if it was his day after the first round," explained owner Gail Morey. "But he really perked up for the next round, he just loves to be handy!" Second to Crown Affair was Davlyn Farm's Come Monday, with Christa Endicott in the irons. Still green at the Derby level, the mare has a fabulous jump and no doubt will be a recognizable name in the Hunter ranks.

As expected, Venezuelan course designer Leopoldo Palacios challenged riders and horses alike with courses that demanded a technically accurate ride within a tight time allowed. Of the 38 horses who entered the $10,000 1.40M Jumper Classic, 11 were clean and the top five spots went to up and coming young riders. Last to go, Karl Cook aboard Lavito (owned by Signe Ostby) took the top prize away from Paris Sellon on her Orlando LA, when he stopped the clock a mere half a second faster. Coming in a close third, just a half a second slower than Sellon was 14-year-old Kara Chad of Canada on Stone Ridge's Alberto. College freshman Saer Coulter rounded out the top five on her two mounts Atticus and Alberto.

Later that afternoon in the $50,000 Grand Prix of California, nine out of 38 riders managed to navigate the first round without fault, advancing to a true race to the finish jump-off. A number of veteran show jumpers earned a spot in the second round, but none of them were able to beat the blazing double clean trip set by Susan Hutchison aboard the outstanding 11-year-old stallion, El Dorado 29's Cantano. Flying to the final jump-off fence, Hutchison not only managed to be fastest by almost two seconds, she also secured her 15th Grand Prix win on Cantano. "It never gets old," exclaimed Hutchison. "[Cantano] has learned it all now which just makes him so much fun to ride."

An Actual Winners Circle

The Sonoma Horse Park continues to build on its early success with creative value-adds for exhibitors, sponsors and spectators. The beautiful Winners Circle area pictured here is one such example. Created by sponsor Classic Equine Equipment, the elegant structure provides a beautiful backdrop for win shots. Also new to the Sonoma Horse Park Show Series is the CWD Team Challenge, which will be held during the season's biggest event, the Giant Steps Charity Classic in early August. Teams will consist of one professional and one amateur or junior. Each will tackle an eight-obstacle course of either 1.10 meters or 1.30 meters (rider's choice), with one starting immediately after the first crosses their finish line. Knock-downs add two seconds, refusals with a knock-down add four, and the fasted pair wins. Top three finishers receive CWD saddles, bridles and boots, respectively.

Chris Pratt and Cruise. Photo © Patti Newton Photography

Del Mar Doings

Chris Pratt rode Indigo Farms, LLC's Cruise, to victory over a strong field of 31 contenders during the $100,000 Villas at Rancho Valencia Grand Prix of Del Mar, held on Saturday, May 7. The pair finished with no jumping or time faults at 49.824 seconds. Saer Coulter, riding Springtime, owned by Copernicus Stables, LLC, was hot on their heels, finishing clear and less than a second behind Pratt in 50.684. Third place finisher, Nicole Shahinian-Simpson, riding Monarch International's Candle Light Van De Warande, came in at 51.752.

Helen McNaught and Caballo. Photo © Rick Osteen Photography

Other highlights of the 66th running of the Del Mar National Horse Show included the Open Equitation Championship, in which professionals, amateurs and juniors competed against each other. This year, professionals won the day: John French took top honors, followed by Far West Farms' Jenny Karazissis, Canadian Grand Prix rider Darrin Dlin and Tasha Visokay, an assistant trainer at Karen Healey Stables. Del Mar's Five Bar class was another crowd pleaser. Helen McNaught and Caballo cleared a line of 5'10" fences to win the day, followed by Eduardo Menezes, Alicia Foster, Jenni Martin McAllister and Justin Resnik.

Happy Hunting for Sonoma Valley Stables

Hunter Derby success continues for Sonoma Valley Stables. At the LEG Woodside Spring Classic, 44 entries tried the course in the National Hunter Derby and Hope Glynn rode to the top three placings. Chance Of Flurries, owned by Helen McEvoy, was first; Kasimir, owned by Paul Wattis, was second: and Rio Ultimo, also owned by Helen McEvoy, was third. Pictured here are Sarah Draxton and Rienzo, who were the Derby's top placing junior entry. They were also champion in the Large Junior Hunters at the show.

Rodeo Round-Up

The first two rodeos of the 2011 Antelope Valley Youth Rodeo Assn. season have been completed but not without some challenges. The first rodeo of the year, at The Val Shearer Equestrian Center in Hesperia, was postponed due to snow! But not at the rodeo grounds. Many families experienced weather-related travel difficulties from a large winter storm and it was re-scheduled. And, of course, the locals said the weather was perfect in Hesperia that weekend. 

When the rodeo finally did happen, two weeks later, the wind howled and the dust flew sideways so that the poles for the pole bending would not stand up. And by the afternoon the clouds opened up and the arena turned to mud. So goes life in the West. The silver lining? A record number of new kids joined the AVYRA at the Hesperia rodeo.

At the most recent rodeo at the Martin Ranch in Little Rock, the missed pole bending was completed in an early morning slack competition before the start of the regular rodeo. This time the weather cooperated and the rodeo went smoothly with 89 kids competing in 26 events. Upcoming rodeos include a new event at the Tejon Ranch in July.

For complete results and upcoming rodeo schedules visit Report provided by AVYRA's press liaison Ritchie Copenhaver.