Penny Brennan and Sun Tzu [Photo Credit: Alison Hartwell Photography]
Penny Brennan of Buhl, Alabama and her own Sun Tzu kicked off the opening week of the Gulf Coast Winter Classic with a blue ribbon in the $5,000 Horseflight Open Welcome besting a field of fifteen horse and rider teams! “That was such a fun class!” exclaimed Brennan. “It was like a horse race! You had a bunch of double clears and they just kept getting faster and faster,” she said.
Shannon Hicks of Lake St. Louis, Missouri and Helen Gilbert’s C’Havinia were the first to go in the order and turned in a clear first round effort in a time of 71.808 seconds. Although their second round in a time of 33.234 seconds beat the time allowed of 40 seconds, their four jump faults would see them finish in seventh place overall.
Dennis Murphy, Jr. of Vandiver, Alabama and Lila Sessums’ Jet followed in the order with double clear rounds in times of 76.313 seconds and 37.938 seconds, setting the new time to beat.
Sydney Luzicka of Albuquerque, New Mexico and her own St. John 10:9 were the next to turn in double clear rounds in times of 68.312 seconds and 32.881 seconds, taking the lead.
Hicks returned to the Grand Prix field, this time in the irons of Helen Gilbert’s Emir D and turned in the next double clear round in times of 72.122 seconds and 33.127 seconds, respectively, and would finish the class in fourth place.
Whitney Boyce-Petrey of New Orleans, Louisiana and Lincoln Case’s Canebrake followed with the next clear round in a time of 77.106 seconds. However, their second round in a time of 50.062 seconds with fifteen faults would find them finishing in eighth place overall.
Dees returned to the field with the next clear first round in the irons of her own Clearwater S and posted double clear rounds in times of 69.987 seconds and 33.828 seconds, respectively, which would earn them a fifth place ribbon.
Brennan and Sun Tzu were the next to turn in double clear rounds. The pair is a force to reckon with each year at the Gulf Coast Winter Classics and it looks as if 2017 will be no exception. Brennan piloted Sun Tzu through the first round fault free in a time of 72.054 seconds. Their lightning fast, clear second round in a time of 29.950 seconds set the new time to beat and would take the lead.
“It was a really fast class!” said Brennan. “There was jump one and then two, then a roll back over the vertical and then another roll back. After the roll back there was a hedge around the gazebo and I swear I cut it so tight I went right through it! There were leaves all around me – that’s how hard I hit it!” she laughed.
“The Horseflight oxer was narrow and square, set on an angle and set up to have the front rail down,” commented Brennan. “It felt like you were jumping into the VIP tent which took the horse’s focus,” she added. “The way it was set, it was hard to slice it but Shannon sliced it and went through it,” she said. “The distance I saw was the angle and we took the tight distance which is not what I meant to do. But if I hadn’t, we wouldn’t have won the class and Sun Tzu is just that brilliant,” she added. “We did a flat out run to the last jump. I walked it in 10 and I think we did it in 8!” she said.
Hicks and Helen Gilbert’s Al Pachini challenged Brennan and Sun Tzu’s round, posting double clear trips in times of 71.383 seconds and 30.858 seconds, respectively, which would find them finishing in second place.
Sydney Luzicka and her own St. John: 10:9 finished with third place honors and Hicks returned for a fourth place ribbon with Emir D. Sara Dees and her own Clearwater S finished in fifth and Dennis Murphy, Jr. and Jet took sixth place. Hicks returned for seventh with C’Havinia and Whitney Boyce-Petrey and Lincoln Case’s Canebrake finished in eighth place.
Dees and Rico S placed ninth and Dominique Damico and her own Canoso earned a tenth place ribbon.
“My horses had a little time off and this was a first class for us for the season and I’m so happy how well we did!” commented Brennan. “And it was great winning one with my Dad here who flew in from Birmingham, England,” she added. Added her father, “It was worth every bit of the journey! Penny was absolutely brilliant!”
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