The $30,000 Blenheim June Classic Grand Prix, sponsored by Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, had twenty horse and rider combinations take the field on the course designed by Javier Fernandez. With only four riders qualifying for the jump-off, it was the team of Susan Hutchison and El Dorado 29’s Cantano who prevailed for the win.
As the fifteenth pair to enter the ring, Hutchison and Cantano were the last to negotiate the first round course without a fault and advance to the jump-off. The duo joined the company of fifth to go, Australian Harley Brown and Cassiato (Oak Park Group LLC, owner), Joie Gatlin and Camaron Hills Quick Dollar (Camaron Hills Farm, owner), and Lane Clarke aboard McLord’s First John (Mickey Hayden, owner).
Brown and Cassiato were the first to take the shortened track. The veteran pair looked as though they were going to go double clean but the gallop to the final fence caused an unfortunate rail, resulting in four fault score. With a time of 43.514 the effort was good enough for second place overall. Hometown heroes Gatlin and Camaron Hills Quick Dollar were the next to go on the grass. Returning to the field after competing in the 2010 World Cup in Geneva, Gatlin zipped around the course stopping the clock in a speedy time of 39.433. Halfway through the ride, the horse lost his shoe, which may have been one reason he had an uncharacteristic three rails and exited the ring with twelve jumping faults, resulting in a third place finish. Twenty-four-year-old Clarke and McLord’s First John were the third pair to tackle the seven jump-off elements. Also scoring twelve jumping faults, the duo exceeded the 47-second time allowed and added three time faults to their second round score for fifteen total faults and fourth place. In the envious position of last to go in the jump-off, Hutchison and Cantano knew the task at hand was a clean ride. Expertly, yet cautiously, they stopped the clock clean in a time of 47.085, exceeding the time allowed by a fraction of a second, but still earning the best score of the second round.
Course designer Fernandez predicted five clean and clearly made his second round more technical. As seen by the results, not only did rails fall but two of the four horses exceeded the time allowed in the jump-off where time wasn’t a factor in round one.
Riders who earned fifth through twelfth positions dislodged one or two rails in round one. With three mounts in the class, Maurice Beatson occupied the next positions with the three fastest four fault rides. The New Zealand competitor was fifth on Sally Clark’s Zibbibo in a time of 77.580, sixth with his own Jedi Warrior, who stopped the clock at 78.993, and seventh aboard another of his horses, Apollo Van Evendael, in 79.511.
In only his fourth grand prix start, eight-year-old Bristol (Kandi Stewart, owner) piloted by Rusty Stewart had just a toe in the water for an eighth place finish. Leslie Steele and her own Oh My Goodness also had one single rail late in the course earning ninth place honors. Rounding out the last of the four faulters and placing tenth was Canada’s Becky Smith aboard her big, bay stallion, Alicante.
Blenheim EquiSports begins the third week of the June Series on June 23rd at the Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park in San Juan Capistrano. With two more consecutive grand prix events to wrap up the month of June and welcome in July, the $30,000 Copa de Amistad Grand Prix presented by EquiFit, inc on Sunday, June 27th and the $25,000 Red, White & Blue Grand Prix presented by the St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort on Saturday, July 3rd.
1. Cantano – Susan Hutchison (El Dorado 29) 0/83.309, 1/47.085
2. Cassiato – Harley Brown (Oak Park Group LLC) 0/79.037, 4/43.514
3. Camaron Hills Quick Dollar – Joie Gatlin (Camaron Hills Farm) 0/76.240, 12/39.433
4. McLord’s First John – Lane Clarke (Mickey Hayden) 0/81.467, 15/49.699
5. Zibbibo – Maurice Beatson (Sally Clark) 4/77.580
6. Jedi Warrior – Maurice Beatson (Maurice Beatson) 4/78.993
7. Apollo Van Evendael – Maurice Beatson (Maurice Beatson) 4/79.511
8. Bristol – Rusty Stewart – (Kandi Stewart) 4/79.743
9. Oh My Goodness – Leslie Steele – (Leslie Steele) 4/80.825
$30,000 June Classic Grand Prix, made possible by Merrill Lynch Wealth Management
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