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Chelsea Jones is Unbeatable in $15,000 StĂ¼bben Grand Prix at HMI June Classic

RELEASE: June 17, 2013

Sonoma, CA - Chelsea Jones exceeded her own expectations on Saturday evening by finishing 1-2 in the $15,000 Stübben Grand Prix during the Sonoma Horse Park’s HMI June Classic.

The 26-year-old young professional qualified for the jumpoff aboard both her mounts, but with five other strong pairs joining her for the second round, she knew that the jumpoff wouldn’t be a cakewalk.

So it was much to her surprise when the cards fell in her favor – not once, but twice.  Early in the jumpoff, she laid down a clean and fast time with Charmeur Van De Begijnakker (“Peter”), and then returned to jump even faster with Nickel de Marsey. Both horses were recently imported to the United States and are owned by Jones’ business partner, Dusty Blackwood. The two trainers have been working together for the last six years under the Full Circle Farm banner, and are based at Sonoma Horse Park.

“What can I say, it was kind of unreal and unbelievable!” Jones exclaimed. “Both of the horses were superstars.”

It was “Nickel” that carried Jones to the top spot of the class. The 12-year-old Selle Francis gelding came to California from Mexico just six weeks ago, and Jones has been regularly campaigning both mounts in other area classics and grand prix classes. The Stübben Grand Prix was the most high profile class to date that Jones has entered with both horses, who were imported by Blackwood as sales prospects.

Jones was confident that if she stayed smooth and out of their way, both horses had the ability to get around the first round track clean. But, when the jumpoff filled out to an order of seven, Jones didn’t expect that she would end up the winner. “Mostly, I wanted to get to know the horses, and so my strategy for the jumpoff was more so getting to know them than trying to win,” Jones explained. “There was a really tight turn from one to two that I wanted to try with both of them, and after I went with Peter I thought that I’d at least given Guy a run for his money.”

“She held my toes to the fire, but she definitely deserved the win,” Thomas said good-naturedly. With a jumpoff time of 33.918, Thomas and Peterbilt were less than a second behind Jones top two times of 33.073 and 33.735.

Thomas had plenty of reason to be happy with his third-placed finish, as the class also served as the $30,000 Paddock Cakes/GGT Leading Rider Series Finale. Thomas had been leading the series, and his Saturday evening finish secured his ownership of the bonus check. “I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to come to Sonoma,” said Thomas, who’s made his first appearances at the Sonoma Horse Park this spring. “I’m not going to miss one from now on!”

Thomas and Peterbilt, a popular home-bred stallion that was raised and trained by Thomas and his parents, Butch and Lu Thomas of Willow Tree Farm, will appear next at Spruce Meadows in Calgary, Canada. The stallion has come back strong from time off in 2012, and Thomas is optimistic about their next steps.

Toni McIntosh, of McIntosh Stables in Woodside, CA, piloted Lexito, a 10-year-old Holsteiner gelding, to two double clear rounds for a fourth place finish, and Eleanor Hellman finished as the top-placing amateur rider in fifth with Alley Oop.

The grand prix was a 'SSG Roar for Four' class, and Jones continued her winning ways by claiming an additional $1,000 bonus for wearing SSG Gloves during the class. The SSG Roar for Four promotion is awards a total of $12,000 in bonus prize money to winning hunter or jumper riders in designated classes wearing any of four different SSG styles specified for the promotion.

As always, the Voltaire Design VIP Berm was full of enthusiastic spectators who cheered on their favorite riders. A catered dinner was offered to all in the VIP, and Sunce Winery poured a selection of complimentary wine.

Sonoma Horse Park’s 2013 season returns in July and August for its most popular weeks of the year: the HMI Equestrian Classic and Giant Steps Charity Classic presented by Gucci.

Top Ten - $15,000 Stübben Grand Prix
Rider | Horse | Owner | Round 1 Faults | Round 2 Faults | Round 2 Time

Chelsea Jones | Nickel De Marsey | Dusty Blackwood | 0 | 0 | 33.073
Chelsea Jones | Charmeur Van De Begijnakker | Dusty Blackwood | 0 | 0 | 33.735
Guy Thomas | Peterbilt | Peterbilt LLC | 0 | 0 | 33.918
Toni McIntosh | Lexito | P2 Capital LLC | 0 | 0 | 34.961
Eleanor Hellman | Alley Oop | Eleanor Hellman | 0 | 4 | 39.758
Mariano Alario | TR 66 | Mariano Alario | 0 | 8 | 37.174
Carol Wright | Taco | Leslie Wright | 0 | 20 | 58.488
Sarah Ballout | Querelle Du Champ De Leyde | 3
Carol Wright | Conejito | Carol Wright | 3
Helen McNaught | Carnutelabryere | Shelly Gambardella | 4