Temecula, Calif. – May 22, 2022 – Junior and amateur riders took center stage in the Grand Prix early Arena Sunday morning for the low, medium, and high jumper classics. The Low Junior and Amateur jumper riders saved the best for last as the final competitors to take to the ring before the close of the Temecula Valley National I. With the $2,500 1.25m Low Junior/Amateur Jumper Classic sponsored by CC Fits serving as a National Equestrian Tournament (NET) qualifier, the riders turned up in top form in hopes of claiming the lion’s share of the prize as well as a spot during week III’s NET finals. In the end, it was amateur rider Alexandra Elardi who took the first place podium aboard Rivaux.
Peter Grant’s (CAN) Grand Prix course from the night before served as the inspiration for Sunday’s classes in the Grand Prix Arena. Elements such as the triple combination set diagonally in the center of the arena, the broad triple bar, and the airy plank jump were all recognizable from the night before. The exciting class saw a total of 39 horse-and-rider pairs take to the USEF Table II.2.b class, though only eight of those combinations moved onto the immediate jump-off.
The contenders were met with several challenges in the first round of the competition, many of which were knocked out of contention for the podium experiencing refusals at an airy vertical coming off of a rollback turn at the far end of the arena. Watching only one other rider advance to the jump-off before her trip, Rowan Smark went in confidently and set the bar for the rest of the class. Smark’s very own 12-year-old Holsteiner gelding, Cava’s Boy, jumped effortlessly around the track making the duo the first double clear ride of the day. They held the lead for the majority of the class until they were ultimately bested by Elardi and her mount, Rivaux.
The pressure was on for amateur rider Katerina Baney who pioneered the first round course as well as the jump-off serving as the first rider to advance on a clear effort. The first of two entries in the class, Baney initially piloted Viking D’eole to an 8-fault finish in the jump-off. Returning for a second attempt, Baney and her 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare, Hallo Lady, were in it to win it and on a mission to catch up with Smark. Having previously jumped the technical track, Baney used her knowledge to her advantage and mastered the course to produce a double-clean round. However, they were not quite fast enough to catch Smark’s blazing fast time and finished with a jump-off time of 49.679 seconds.
Elardi and Rivaux, owned by HH Stables LLC, went last in the order. Smark and Baney remained the only two athletes to jump both phases without penalty. Elardi took advantage of her position in the order, opting to take all of the inside tracks and shaving seconds off of the clock by opening up a gallop on the long approaches. The 14-year-old Selle Francais gelding powerfully covered the ground with his naturally large step to secure the top spot on the leaderboard with a lightning-fast jump-off time of 44.495 seconds.
The NET qualifier action was not contained to the Grand Prix Arena as children and adults alike battled it out in Jumper I in the $1,500 1.15m Child/Adult Jumper Classic sponsored by Ogilvy in hopes of securing their own spot in the tournament finals. In the end, it was Sadie Willoughby and her own 9-year-old Selle Francais gelding, Don Juan Des Isles who bested the pack of 32 entries to take first place honors. The duo ended week I of the Temecula Valley National Horse Show competition on a speedy double clear effort clocking in at 30.593, nearly two seconds faster than the second place finisher, Isabella Holway. Holway produced her own double clear effort aboard HD Horses LLC’s 9-year-old Hungarian Sport Horse gelding, HD Saxo, securing the red ribbon with a jump-off time of 31.905. Rounding out the top three was Meredith Shuhandler and her own 18-year-old Selle Francais mare, Quaprice Normande, with a time of 33.155.
FROM THE WINNERS CIRCLE:
On their partnership:
“I have had him for the past year and he is a really special horse that I am leasing. I am super fortunate to get to ride him. He is certainly the best boy. He is super quirky. He really likes the show atmosphere though and is super competitive.”
On her plan:
“My trainer and I, Suzie [Hutchison], walked the course and I really just stuck to the plan.”
On Nilforushan Equisport Events:
“I love this show, we actually show here regularly so we are always the first to see the changes that Ali and Francie Nilforushan are making to the show grounds. They have done such a great job with the show.”
On the future with Rivaux:
“I would love to keep him for as long as I can. I am just leasing him, but would love to keep him.”