Second Week of Jacksonville Winter Just as Action-Packed
RELEASE: January 30, 2008
AUTHOR/ADMINISTRATOR: By Robbi Meisel
The second week of the Jacksonville Winter Series is proving to be just as full of nail-biting excitement as the opening event. Kyle King, now based in Ocala, FL, riding Finnete for owner Robin Cox took top call in Thursday’s Lucky Sevens Open Welcome Jumper Classic sponsored by Ring Power.
King and Finnete, a 13 year-old bay Hanoverian mare found this win especially sweet. “She’s been out of competition for almost a year,” King began. “It just felt great to be back in the ring with her!” Facing a field of 29 determined athletes, KIng was one of only eight to advance to the jump-off round.
So after a series kick-off with the renowned Dave Ballard as course designer, the question is how do you follow that act? Simple. You bring in the great Michel Vaillancourt. Known for his technical tests, he’s sometimes called the “Where’s Waldo” designer as his courses always have that “little hidden trick.” Vaillancourt has long been a favorite of top riders and show managements in the U.S. and abroad. For the Welcome he set a 12-obstacle layout [15 efforts] that when walked appeared fair and straightforward, but true to his nature, the “simplest of tests” became the trick in Round One. The majority of riders acquired at least fpur faults either at fence #4, an oxer with a five-foot spread or at fence #5, a tall vertical [4’6”] set on the outside track. “It was a little short going from #3 [vertical] into that oxer. I think a lot of the horses just miscalculated,” King explained.
Finnete passed the first-round test below the allotted 84 seconds with a clear time of 83.197. “She just got right into it,” King expressed of his partner. “Like she hadn’t been off.” He went on to say the course rode very well. “The management here always takes great care with the footing for us. And what can you say about Michel that hasn’t been said before. His courses always challenge us and bring out our best.”
Heading into the final round of six obstacles and seven efforts, the challenge became one of speed and finesse. The determining factor would be how one came off fence #3—the choice could be an immediate hard right to roll back over the #6 triple bar or take the “scenic route” around and lose precious time. With an allowance of only 40 seconds, most all riders took the challenge. King and Finnete were no exceptions, blazing through the course effortlessly in a clear 33.955 to cinch the win.
Rounding out the top five positions for the Welcome Classic were: in second place owner-rider Sharn Wordley on Epsom with a clear-round time of 34.379; third place went to Hugh Graham with Jamestown for owner Kingridge Stables in a clean 34.383 seconds; the fourth position went to Roberto Teran aboard Distant Star for owner Kingridge Stables with a clear time of 34.597; and completing the fifth spot was Sharn Wordley aboard his own Mr. Flanagan in a clear time of 34.634.
Continuing the thrilling show jumping action, the $15,000 Children’s and Adults Jumper Classic took center stage. The event sponsored by Elements, an architectural and interior designs company, with offices in Tampa and Miami, truly got into the spirit of the event by holding their own competition months ago. Architects and Designers of the firm were challenged to design their own jump with the winner’s jump being constructed and used throughout the Jacksonville Winter Series.
Thirty-eight riders came to play “Where’s Waldo,” and the first round of 13 obstacles [16 efforts] kept Vaillancourt's reputation in tact with almost half falling victim to his tricks. From the 17 survivors came the winner, Alissa Kinsey of Ft. Myers, FL, a self-admitted “one-girl show” with her 11-year-old Hanoverian mare Grisset who cruised through the first round in a clean 75.583 seconds. “I drove five hours just for this class,” an exuberant Kinsey said after her victory gallop. Partnered with “Big Moma” as she’s known at home for “just