McLain Ward and Couletto K James Take First in $30,000 Open Jumper Class at 2009 WIHS, CSI****-W
RELEASE: October 22, 2009
AUTHOR/ADMINISTRATOR: By Jennifer Wood and Lauren Fisher
It was another exciting day of competition at the 2009 Washington International Horse Show (WIHS), as the schedule featured four jumper classes for amateur-owner, junior, and open jumpers on Thursday. The highlight class of the day was the $30,000 Open Jumper Time First Jump-off class, and Olympic Gold medalist McLain Ward of the United States took the top prize on Couletto K James. Andres Rodriguez of Venezuala and Da Vinci were victorious in the $20,000 Open Jumper Gambler's Choice Costume class, presented by Honeywell International, Inc.
Earlier in the day, Lillian Hahn won the Amateur-Owner Time First Round on Lucky One, and Navona Gallegos on Drossana took first place in the opening Junior Jumper Time First Jump-off class.
This week's courses are designed by Guilherme Jorge of Brazil. In the $30,000 Open Jumper class, 30 horses went to post in the first round. There were six clear rounds that returned for the jump-off, with the first horse in the ring setting the pace. Rodrigo Pessoa of Brazil and new mount Night Train, owned by Double H Farm, were double clear and stopped the timers in the jump-off in 30.45 seconds.
Next in, Hillary Dobbs of the United States and Quincy B had a fast time of 31.17 seconds, but a rail put them into fourth place at the end of the class. Jill Henselwood of Canada's Silver-medal Olympic team followed with Bottom Line, owned by Bradon Construction. They were clear in 32.44 seconds to finish third. Ireland's Shane Sweetnam on Zamiro, owned by Spy Coast Farm, LLC, had eight faults in 32.00 seconds for sixth place.
The eventual winner, Ward and Couletto K James, owned by Katie Dinan, LLC, were able to leave strides out, thanks to the horse's large stride, and a sharp turn to the final vertical helped them bring the winning time down to 29.42 seconds for the win.
The final pair in the class, Marilyn Little-Meredith and Raylyn Farms, Inc.'s Ragrusa H, had eight faults in 30.48 seconds for fifth place.
Ward was given the ride on Couletto K James for the WIHS and next week at the Syracuse Invitational Sporthorse Tournament, but the horse has been showing recently with his owner, junior rider Katie Dinan.
"I was a little nervous. I hadn't ridden him in a while, and Katie has been cleaning up with the horse. She was third in the small grand prix at South Hampton, third at Saugerties and you know, I didn't want to get shown up by a 15-year-old whipper snapper, so I wanted to make sure that we had a nice round," Ward joked. "I was lucky the way the jump-off played out. I didn't want to run him before the grand prix, but it wasn't super fast and he turns great, so I just tried to make tight turns and it worked out well. I think I did one less in a couple of places, and it just kind of averaged out a little bit ahead."
Although it has been seven years, Ward has had the ride on Couletto K James before. He rode the talented gelding for three years and said that now he is "a little more experienced, a little more clever." Ward added, "He has had a few miles under the hood now. He has always been a great, great horse, and it's very exciting for Katie's future. It is a pleasure to get to ride a great horse again."
For his win tonight, Ward was presented with the Ben O'Meara Memorial Challenge Trophy.
The last class of the night was the entertaining costume class for the $20,000 Open Jumper Gambler's Choice. While quite a few riders had a chance to catch the winning point total, it was Andres Rodriguez dressed as Sherlock Holmes and the seven-year-old Oldenburg gelding Da Vinci that scored the highest amount of points with the fastest time. Their clear jump over the Joker fence raised their total to 1,400 points, and their time of 56.31 seconds gave them the win. Margie Engle of the United States and Hidden Creek's Pamina L (57.60 seconds) and the U.S.'s Todd Minikus on Olinda (59.43 seconds) finished second and third.
Rodriguez, a 25-year-old from Venezuela, competed for five years in Europe with the Pessoa family before moving to the United States three years ago. This is his first time competing at the WIHS. He said of his win, "It is always good to win a class in a four-star (competition) with all of the big riders like Rodrigo (and) McLain. McLain was riding Goldika, which was one of the favorites."
His plan for the Gambler's Choice class, where riders make their own course, was to have the same jumps as Minikus, but to cross the finish line faster. That course of action worked. He remarked, "For the big joker I thought if I went in a straight line I could have a chance of having it down, so I just turned pretty tight to the big vertical and it was good."
Rodriguez said that although Da Vinci is young, "every time he goes in the ring he tries very hard," and while his second mount is his grand prix horse, Da Vinci "deserves equal if not more attention than the grand prix horse."
As the winning rider, Rodriguez was given the Crown Royal Trophy, donated by Crown Royal, and the Sue Ann Geisler Memorial Trophy, donated by the WIHS, for his winning horse.
A $2,500 Amateur-Owner Jumper class began the jumper competition this afternoon with the win going to Lillian Hahn and Lucky One. The class was held in a Timed First Round format, and Hahn and Lucky One had the fastest of only three clear rounds to take top honors with a time of 59.400 seconds. Benjamin Simpkins and Astro Z earned second place after jumping clear in 64.404 seconds. The third-place award went to Marley Goodman and U-2 with the only other clear round in a time of 70.736 seconds.
Hahn is a 23-year-old rider from Tryon, NC, and has trained with Vick Russell for 10 years. Lucky One is a 10-year-old Swedish Warmblood gelding from Denmark. "I love him," Hahn smiled. "Every single girl that rides, from short-stirrup up to the ponies to the junior hunters, they dream about getting to the High Amateurs before the Open division and he is such the horse to take me there. He has taught me everything; he is so amazing."
Hahn explained her strategy in Thursday's class, stating, "I wanted to ride forward, and I just wanted to make sure that I gave him a really clean round. He is such a big horse. He is 18.5 hands high, but he can turn like an itty-bitty horse. These speed classes are his forte, so it's great."
This is Hahn's second year showing Lucky One at the Washington International Horse Show, and Thursday's victory followed a solid third-place finish in the first class of the Amateur-Owner Jumper division last night. "He was amazing yesterday and he was just unbelievable today," Hahn acknowledged. "Last year he was good, he has been in the top ribbons every year, but this is the first class that we have won here, so that is very exciting."
"It is so incredible to see all of the amazing top riders and top horses here," she added. "You have already won once you have gotten here, so it is incredible to compete with the most unbelievable riders and trainers and horses from all over the country; it is a real honor."
Hahn was honored as well, with the Cover Story Perpetual Trophy, donated by Rolling Acres Farm.
The next class of the afternoon was the $2,500 Junior Jumpers with the winning round going to Navona Gallegos and Drossana. Six of the original 20 entries in the class went clear to jump-off, and Gallegos and Drossana had the faster of two clear jump-off rounds in a time of 39.072 seconds for the victory. Reed Kessler and Flight earned the second-place honors with their clear jump-off round in 39.805 seconds. Third place was awarded to Samantha Harrison and Santika with the fastest four-fault round in 39.424 seconds.
Class winner Navona Gallegos is 18 years old and from Santa Fe, NM. She rides with California trainer Karen Healey. Gallegos leases Drossana from owner John Huggins, and noted that the 12-year-old Westphalian mare is "very large and has kind of a tough mouth," but explained that she is very scopey.
This is Gallegos' first time competing at the WIHS. "I love it. I haven't been anywhere like this before, and it is really impressive," she smiled. "I have done indoors before, but this was my first year doing jumpers indoors. I did Harrisburg, but this is amazing. Being in the city is very different; it gives you a lot of adrenaline."
"My jump-off strategy was basically to gallop," she continued. "There was so much space in between one and two, and the second to last two jumps. I decided to gallop and go around instead of trying to slow down and fit it in before the turn."
Gallegos was presented with the Eleanor White O'Leary Memorial Perpetual Trophy, donated by Mr. and Mrs. Robert Ashton Hill and Miss Linden Joan Hill.
For more information and full results, please visit www.wihs.org