It’s a Sizzling Finale at the Atlanta Summer Classics with the Return of "The Queen of Speed"
RELEASE: June 22, 2009
AUTHOR/ADMINISTRATOR: By Robbi Meisel
The finale of the Atlanta Summer Classics proved to be a hot week for Brazilian-born Sergio Campos. Beginning with Thursday evening’s victory for the Longwood, FL-based pro in the Classic Equine Equipment sponsored Lucky Sevens Welcome Jumper Stake.
Longwood Equestrian Center’s owner Campos partnered with the Millcreek Stables’ entry Millcreek Early Morning bested 21 first-round horses on a snaky 12 obstacle–79 second allowed layout by renowned course designer Michel Vaillancourt. “He [Michel] set two lines with a half stride, but this was a riders course. You had to make quick decisions and unfortunately the ones who didn’t had a rail or other troubles,” Campos said. Given their clear-round time of 71.497, it’s safe to say Campos was both thinking and quick. Campos’ assessment of the tracks was a plausible explanation as to why only four horses returned for the jump off.
Campos also gives a lot of credit for the win to the eight-year-old mare. “I’ve been working with her since she was a four-year-old, and basically I was the first one to ever show her. It’s a pleasure to bring her to this point—this far. She’s a thinker too,” he said.
But in the final round, questions switched to which of the four horses could combine speed with agility and stop the clock cleanly first. With a time allowance of 52 seconds, rider Blythe Marano aboard the Riverview Farm, LLC-owned Urban had the added pressure of returning first, but a cool head and quick hoof landed the pair clean in a time of 44.408. Next in was the Renee White owned Arnado with rider Karim Ghaibi, who started well but had an unfortunate rail near the end of the course, leaving them with four faults in 45.044. “It was a pretty straightforward course, only one inside turn, so it was a little bit of a horse race,” chuckled Campos. A race he and Early Morning won by three seconds with a clear time of 41.010. “Can’t wait for the prix this weekend!” exclaimed the happy winner on his walk back to the barn.
Friday evening was dedicated to fun, food, and funding with the annual Outback Steakhouse Charity dinner and silent auction to benefit Hope Clinic, a local organization that provides affordable health care to area residents in need. But what’s dinner without a floorshow? Well a dozen brave individuals who entered the Trainers Equitation Medal class guaranteed that. After a traditional round over fences came the lighthearted under saddle. The judges had already spent a majority of their day outside in the heat, so they were more than ready to develop some creative judging. Riders endured a stirrupless sitting trot, rising trot, and canter only to then be asked to dismount and remount, again without the aid of stirrups. There was some inventive methods used, such as standing on top of a roll top jump or climbing the fence rail and leaping. From here the group was narrowed down to four survivors for testing; the kicker came when the judges required the riders to swap mounts. After a few moments of horse introductions the shifts occurred and clucking over the jumps began. When the dust and laughter settled, it was Florida’s Clair Kellner as the ultimate survivor of the night. Second place went to Selby Merritt, third place to Britiani Brown, and fourth place to Jennifer Ramsey.
The Outback Steakhouse $25,000 Grand Prix was the main attraction on Saturday evening. While the thrills of show jumping always puts spectators on the edge of their seats, this evening would turn into an emotional roller coaster for 16-year-old Sarah Owen of Hendersonville, NC. Owen held her breath when Shakira do Jacare, the 12-year-old Brazilian-bred mare dubbed The Queen of Speed, reunited with former owner-rider Sergio Campos entered the Olympic Grand Prix arena with the intention of reclaiming her title. The pair were 21st out of 23 on the initial order of go and only seven had succeeded in going clean at that point, among them l