Wordley and Vale Launch the 2009 Jacksonville Winter Series with Big Triumphs
RELEASE: January 15, 2009
AUTHOR/ADMINISTRATOR: By Robbi Meisel
The opening week of the 2009 Jacksonville Winter Series began the new season with international flair as New Zealand native and 2008 Olympic rider Sharn Wordley claimed the first victory at Thursday’s Lucky Sevens Welcome Jumper Stake presented by new sponsor Arlington Toyota.
Wordley said the 11-year-old Westphalian gelding Zorro and he are starting their new year off “quite nicely.” Owned by Filip Amram, Zorro is no stranger to winning, having scored victories in Europe prior to moving to the U.S. “He won some seriously big grand prix over there. He’s one of Filip’s main guys.” Wordley complimented Zorro. Taking on a field of 18 world-class athletes, Wordley was one of only three riders to make the final jump-off round and brought all three mounts with him. Joining him was German-born Wilhelm Genn and Florida-based Megan Edrick.
Renowned designer Pierre Jolicoeur had the honor of designing this week’s challenges. The first-round course was a technical layout of 13 obstacles at regulation 1.35m (maximum height 4'5") with a time allowance of 81 seconds. Riders had to navigate tracks that swept fast into several serpentine turns. “It was a good course,” Wordley said. Returning to the irons after “a nice holiday” in his homeland of New Zealand, Sharn confessed this was the first ride in nearly two months for him. “I competed five in a grand prix back in November, but spent the past month relaxing on the beach back home,” he said.
The pair had a clear and quick run of 75.664. He had clean rides with his Olympic mount Rockville and Epson Pierreville, finishing clean in 79.225 and 72.106, respectively. An abbreviation of the first layout, the jump-off consisted of a mere five horses playing beat the clock. Jolicoeur set a 40 second limit to traverse the length of the arena over six fences, including the double combination of 4AB [vertical – vertical] right before a rollback to the final obstacle. Wordley and Rockville were first out; a slight nick of a rear hoof dashed hopes of a win and left them with four faults in 35.361 seconds. Megan Edrick moved up in the order with the Procedures, Inc., entry, Kandel, to turn in a flawless run of 33.409 and an early lead. Wordley elected to retire second mount Epson Pierreville and returned to the ring with Zorro. The duo certainly left their mark as they burned through the course and crossed the timer clear in a blazing 30.294 seconds leaving only Wilhelm Genn and the amazing little mare Happy Z to create an upset. Close, but not close enough, Genn and Happy went clear in 30.998 seconds.
Official results of the Lucky Sevens found Sharn and Zorro holding the top spot, second went to Wilhelm and Happy Z, third to Megan Edrick and Kandel, fourth to Sharn and Rockville, and fifth to Sharn and Epson “Peanut” Pierreville. This trio of riders would return for Saturday evening’s featured event the $25,000 Privett and Associates Grand Prix.
Other highlights of the week included, making it’s debut at the Jacksonville Winter Series, The Pooch Paddock—the first on-site doggie day care played host on Friday evening to exhibitors with a canine-themed dinner party. Catered by local favorite, Le Pavillion Restaurant, guests enjoyed a sumptuous banquet and had a howling good time. The Pooch Paddock’s CEO [Canine Entertainment Officer] Alison Kratish even provided doggie bags of chew bones and toys that owners could take back to Fido and Fifi.
Week One also saw the crowning of the season’s first hunter champions. Palm Harbor, FL,-resident Mary Eufemia had a pair of championships to celebrate, in the First Year Green Working Hunter riding Paula Pell’s entry Unbelievable and the conformation division with Madison Miller’s Black Pearl. Owner/trainer Sandra Lobel’s Ringo with Amanda Steege in the irons won the Baby Green Hunter section. Over in the pre-green hunter divisions, the three-foot champion was Four Seasons owned by Steve