Thermal, Calif. – Nov. 3, 2018 – Competition continued at the AON HITS Desert horse Park where high performance riders challenged the $40,200 Coachella Classic, the second class of the FEI CSI3* Division, at National Sunshine I. The field was stacked with 36 horse-and-rider combinations, all in the hunt for the blue ribbon and lion’s share of the prize money.
Four riders made it through the first round without faults and returned to challenge the shortened course.
The first to return for the jump-off first was Mathis Schwentker aboard NKH Carrido. With two rails down, Schwentker would ultimately ride to a fourth place finish with an eight-fault time of 45.16.
The second to return was Kristen Vanderveen aboard Bull Run’s Faustino de Tili. The team would finish with a four-fault time of 41.60 seconds for the third place ribbon.
The pressure was on for Ashlee Bond who had the last two to show in the jump-off. Bond, representing Israel, would jump clear on both her mounts for a one-two finish.
Bond’s ride aboard Chela LS in a fault free time of 43.64 was good enough for second place. “Chela is 14 now. I’ve had her for a long time and I am just rebuilding her from WEG. Today in the first round was the first time I felt like I had put the pieces all back together. I was really, really proud of how she was, double clear and rode really well,” Bond said.
The blue ribbon went to Bond aboard Ereina in a time of 41.54. “Ereina is a mare owned by Poden Farms and Neil Jones Equestrian, Inc. She’s only 9 and a newer mount to me. I started riding her in August and this is our fourth show together,” explained Bond. “I think she is one of those horses who, once she trusts you, she’ll do anything for you. She is super-fast, careful, and wants to just win so being able to ride a horse like that is really special. They were both great.”
Bond explained that the course today was quite big and careful. “I think that some courses suit you better than others. For instance, Chela especially is very scopey so I knew that I could crawl into the triple combination where people were having a lot of problems. The course suited horses with big strides and scope. It asked a lot of questions and today my horse came out really on their game so it was a good day.”
The winner’s circle at the AON HITS Desert Horse Park is a familiar spot for Bond. Along with a slew of Grand Prix titles from HITS Coachella and the HITS National Sunshine Series, Bond also won the $100,000 Longines FEI World Cup™ Qualifier at the HITS Coachella Desert Circuit with Chela in 2017.
FEI competition at the National Sunshine I will conclude Nov. 4 and return for the National Sunshine II which will feature the $100,000 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Thermal CSI3*-W on Saturday, Nov. 10.