Temecula, Calif. – June 5, 2022 – The Nilforushan Equisport Tournament (NET) Finals, which was offered in several classes including the EquiFit $20,000 1.40m, the Tack of the Town $2,500 Jr/Am Jumper Classic Low 1.25m and the Pony Suds $1,500 Child/Adult Jumper Classic 1.15m, came to a close Sunday at the Nilforushan Equisport Events’ Temecula Valley National Horse Show. This exclusive opportunity had awarded top horse and rider combinations thousands of dollars in extra prize money all week, and Sunday was no different. For the EquiFit $20,000 1.40m, $42,500 in extra prize money was distributed amongst the NET competitors with Mandy Porter and Beth Bowlen’s Royal Dream – T taking the top prize. Immediately following in the Grand Prix Arena, the Tack of the Town $2,500 Jr/Am Jumper Classic Low 1.25m saw a total pot for the NET Final 1.25 Jr/Am amount to $42,000 with Michelle Berry and Traver’s Girl HS riding to top honors. The Pony Suds $1,500 Child/Adult Jumper Classic 1.15m rounded out the day for the Nilforushan Equisport Tournament Final in which $33,000 was split amongst the qualifiers. Ultimately, it was Calista Lyn and TikTok who claimed the top prize for the NET Final 1.15m. The extra incentive that this tournament offered to all the athletes brought forth great competition to conclude the final week of TVNHS.
The Nilforushan Equisport Tournament (NET) Finals was put in place by Ali and Francie Nilforushan to deepen the playing field further than the traditional horse show classes. Horse and rider combinations can buy into the tournament or be considered a wild card by winning one of the qualifier classes. Not only does the tournament offer bonus prize money but there are also several other perks handed out to those that enter. “The tournament is allowing the people to ride for real money and to offset the entry fee, I’m giving them voutures that they can use on things like clothes. That way entries can jump for a lot of money, it’s basically the poker mentality that I’ve just brought over to the horse world. The voutures are the key because now people that enter are getting helmets, riding boots, horse boots, etc for very cheap to offset the entry fee and the upside is the money they can win,” said Ali Nilforushan on his reason for offering the unique tournament setup.
Porter piloted the ten year old Dutch Warmblood mare to a very clean ride Sunday morning. On the last day of the week, the pair showed no signs of fatigue, finishing comfortably within the time allowed for the first round. The Anderson Lima designed course only saw three make it onto the jump off round where Porter and Royal Dream – T posted a time of 39.139 seconds that proved to be too quick to catch. At the conclusion of the first round, Porter stood alone as the only NET finalist to make it to the jump off, allowing for a shoe in victory to claim the top prize. Coming behind her in second after just dropping one rail in the first round was Cassio Rivetti and Cristal De Menardiere while Michelle Parker and Caccala settled into third.
The $42,000 Nilforushan Equisport Tournament Finals 1.25 Jr/Am saw stiff competition where seven qualified horse and rider combinations advanced onto the jump off round of twenty-four entries in the Tack of the Town $2,500 Jr/Am Jumper Classic Low 1.25m. It was a foot race on the Lima designed seven effort shortened track that included four oxers, one double combination and an over water vertical at the final jump that caused problems for many of the jump off contenders. Coming off a successful win in the ShowMD $2,500 1.20m Jumper Classic Saturday, it was Michelle Berry and Professional Maintenance Systems’ Traver’s Girl HS riding double clear to take home the blue ribbon. Crossing the line just two tenths of a second behind Berry in the jump off was Olivia Esse aboard Oscany, Inc’s Handyman while Dylan Laiken and her own Callao took third. All three podium finishers for the 1.25 Jr/Am Final laid down double clear efforts which made for a stiff and exciting competition.
The last NET Final of the day was the $33,000 Nilforushan Equisport Tournament Finals CH/AA Jumpers that ran concurrently with the Pony Suds $1,500 Child/Adult Jumper Classic 1.15m in the Grand Prix Arena. In a class that saw thirteen move on to the jump off round, four of those horse and rider combinations had also entered into the NET Final. Ultimately, it was Calista Yun and her own TikTok that captured the final tournament blue ribbon of the series. The young pair put together an impressive ride that saw a clear and speedy first round with only one rail coming down in the jump off. Following them was Dylan Laiken aboard her own Everdeen that took the red ribbon and Kennedy Chang rode 44th Parallel LLC’s Coco D’Avril to round out the leaderboard.
The competition seen at Galway Downs over the last three weeks was unmatched. The series saw several first time winners, some multi-ribbon winners, and plenty of great horsemanship to go around.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Mandy Porter – $42,500 Nilforushan Equisport Tournament Finals 1.40m
On how she felt wrapping up Week III with the EquiFit $20,000 1.40m:
“I actually felt really, really good. [Royal Dream – T] has been really good the last two weeks, we’ve been practicing some stuff at home before we came and she’s been unbelievable two weeks in a row. We’re building her back up a bit to get stronger for bigger classes so it was on my radar to do this class.”
On the decision to enter the $42,000 Nilforushan Equisport Tournament Finals 1.40m:
“It was suggested by Ali [Nilforushan]. I knew it was a great idea and a great concept, but I didn’t think I had really shown enough during this week and last week to really do it. But I’m glad he suggested I enter.”
On how she feels about the concept of the NET Final:
“I think it’s a really, really good concept. It just needs to have a little time for people to understand how it works exactly.”
On plans for the summer:
“We go home for two weeks to the new farm. And then we’ll go to The Oaks for a week. We’re planning to stay more local this summer before we head up to Thunderbird in August.”
Michelle Berry – $42,000 Nilforushan Equisport Tournament Finals 1.25 Jr/Am
On her winning mount:
“Well she felt a little tired compared to yesterday after her win [in the ShowMD $2,500 1.20m Jumper Classic], but she’s always on it. She’s a very competitive mare and she takes very little time over the fences so it’s very easy for her to get her legs up and clear.”
On the NET Final opportunity:
“Today I entered right before the class. I was a little more nervous, it put a little more pressure on me because it’s a lot of money. But I had confidence that she would jump really well so I was very excited.”
On the last minute decision to enter to NET Finals:
“Well I talked with my mom and we took a look at the money that was up. I was a little nervous and she was kind of on the fence, but I just decided to enter and hope for the best.”
Calista Yun – $33,000 Nilforushan Equisport Tournament Finals CH/AA Jumpers
On the decision to enter the NET Finals:
“We decided to do this because we thought it would be a fun experience, especially because I haven’t really done something like this and I felt it would just be a good chance to hopefully do well. Ultimately, we felt that my horse would do a good job with it because he’s been moving up. I’ve ridden him alot in the 1.10m and knew he had the scope for the 1.15m so we just felt it was a good opportunity.”
On how she felt going into the class:
“I was a little nervous. I had that feeling like my heart was going to come out of my chest. After a little screw up in the first round we got into the zone. For the jumpoff, I didn’t want to be too risky. Overall I’m just super happy with my horse.”
On the partnerships future together:
“We just started doing the 1.20m together so I’m hoping to continue doing that and maybe more if he has the scope for it.”