Temecula, Calif. – May 18, 2022 – Show jumping athletes converged in the Grand Prix Arena at Nilforushan Equisport Events’ Temecula Valley National Week I to set the pace for three weeks of elite jumper competition. 26 horse-and-athlete combinations tried their hand at Guilherme Jorge’s (BRA) 12-obstacle course in an attempt to top the leaderboard and claim the victory in the $10,000 1.35m Welcome Stake Sponsored by Tack of the Town. Ultimately, it was Angel Karolyi and S&L Sage to best the field of seasoned competitors.
Of the 26 starters, six completed the course fault free to advance to the immediate jump-off table 2(b) though only five elected to take on the short course. The technical, winding track designed by Jorge challenged riders to navigate difficult questions within a time allowed of 85 seconds for the first round. The impressive course featured careful combinations, a wide, square oxer accompanied by a liverpool, and a blue and white airy plank. The plank was quick out of the turn and proved to be an unfortunate element of the track, keeping athletes from returning to the second round consistently throughout the class.
Karolyi aboard S&L Sage, owned by Imani Mackani, was the second pair to jump a clear first round. The duo followed both Elisa Broz and Volstrups Cody as well as Jamie Taylor and I’m Special, looking to step on the gas pedal to race against the clock and find their spot on the podium with a double clear effort. The 15-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding jumped in textbook form in a blazing fast time of 41.075 seconds to take an early lead and secure the first place finish. Picking up an immediate gallop, they made all of the turns available to them and overwhelmed the competition with their ability to be quick and careful to top the leaderboard.
Broz and Volstrups Cody, the tenth to go in the order, were the first pair to jump both phases without penalty. Broz’s very own 16-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding bravely carried her to the jump-off as competition heated up in Grand Prix Arena to a second round time of 42.923 seconds. Together, they proved their dominance over the pack holding the lead for a brief period of time, but were ultimately bested by Karolyi.
Jamie Taylor and I’m Special, owned by Ali Nilforushan, followed Broz looking to be the next double clear round of the evening and hoping to land atop the podium with her longtime partner. The 9-year-old Dutch Warmblood stallion certainly proved how special he was when he effortlessly carried Taylor to an enthusiastic double clear round. However, the pair was not quite quick enough to catch the top two, finishing on a jump-off time of 44.419 seconds.
Jumper competition at the Temecula Valley National I will continue on Thursday, May 19 in the Grand Prix Arena featuring the $25,000 1.40m Speed Classic which serves as a qualifier for the National Equestrian Tournament (NET). The finals for the NET will take place from June 1-5 during the Temecula Valley National III.
FROM THE WINNERS CIRCLE:
On S&L Sage and their partnership:
“We have had him in the barn for a while and he is owned by Imani Mackani. She rides with us and I have had him since 2020. We know him very well and he is very dialed into our system. I do him on Wednesdays just to make sure that he is riding nice and normally at this show he does this class. He is very consistent.”
On his plan for the ride:
“It did go very well and nicely according to my plan. The horse jumped nicely and easily, he was a little bit on the fresh side so he jumped a little bit at the jumps. It worked out and this level is his comfort zone so there is a little bit of room for error. The jump-off course was very good, he turned really well.
On being back in Temecula:
“This is my favorite show out west. Ali Nilforushan and his team do a beautiful job. They try very hard and every time we come back they improve something. The effort is there and it is really appreciated by the exhibitors.”
On future plans with S&L Sage:
“To keep doing my job with him and hopefully to teach his owner to move up the ranks with her level and experience. He is an older horse, he’s a lovely horse, and he is a great teacher.”