The 25th Anniversary of the Gulf Coast Winter Classic Circuit wrapped up after a week of fun filled competition at the beautiful Harrison County Fairgrounds.
Holly Shepherd of Grand Bay, Alabama, in the irons of Loretta Patterson’s Hercules, kicked off the Gulf Coast Winter Classic with a win in the $25,000 EMO Grand Prix and also picked up a second place with Patterson’s Warmachine.
With a first-round time allowed of 84 seconds, only three advanced to the jump off round. Shepherd commented, “The combinations got a little bit tight, and you needed to be able to adjust. It really depended on what size horse and what size step you had to figure out how you’d ride the course and I had to package my horses for the combinations,” she said.
The first round saw Kelly Arvidson of Nashville, Tennessee, aboard Ark Partners LLC’s Oak Groves Celebrity, turn in a clear first round in a time of 74.891 seconds. Shepherd and Warmachine followed with a clear round in a time of 77.540 seconds and she also had the final clear first round with Hercules in a time of 76.891 seconds.
Arvidson and Oak Groves Celebrity were first to go in the jump off round. Their fault-free time in 37.135 seconds beat the 40 seconds time allowed and set the new time to beat.
Shepherd and Warmachine followed and their fault free round in 35.481 seconds took the lead. “I knew I had it in the bag after Warmachine,” commented Shepherd. “I just put the pressure on Hercules to see if he could outrun his ‘big brother’ and he did!” Shepherd and Hercules passed through the timers in 34.104 seconds and won the first Grand Prix of the Gulf Coast Winter Classic’s 2023 season and a second with Warmachine. “He [Hercules] has really come into his own this past year and is really growing up. He’s been a rock star in the Grand Prix lately,” Shepherd commented.
Arvidson and Oak Groves Celebrity placed third and Gianna Aycock of Argyle, Texas placed fourth with Dalman Show Jumping’s Con Sorpresa H as the fastest four fault first round with a time of 72.320 seconds.
Fifth was awarded to Colby Coltrain of Argyle, Texas and Gianna Aycock’s Conquer after earning four faults in the first round with a time of 736.36 seconds.
Katherine Le Blanc of Folsom, Louisiana and David O’Donnell’s MTM Turbojack earned a sixth-place finish after posting a four fault first round in a time of 77.512 seconds, and Shepherd picked up a seventh with Brenda Peurifoy’s Gladjas for their four fault first round in 78.384 seconds.
Le Blanc returned for an eighth-place ribbon with David O’Donnell’s MTM Vinze for their eight fault first round in 71.753 seconds and Trina Green of Corinth, Texas placed ninth with Madison Ann Skarzenski’s Tinito Paulowna Z.
“We had a great day. The grass grand prix field felt great, the weather was beautiful, and the horses jumped well,” said Shepherd.
For more information and results, please visit horseshowsonline.com.