Mid-seventies, sunny skies and bleachers packed with an audience was the backdrop to today’s $35,000 Apollo Jets Grand Prix that welcomed twenty-five horse and rider teams to the world renowned grass grand prix field on a course designed by Assistant Olympic Course Designer, Manuel Esparza of Mexico City, Mexico.
Andy Kocher of Ocala, Florida and Eagle Valley Partners’ Ciana, winners in Friday’s $10,000 Horseflight Open Welcome, returned to the winner’s circle today in the $35,000 Apollo Jets Grand Prix. Kocher also received a $5,000 gift card toward future Apollo Jets Charter Jet Travel, compliments of Brian Hillen, the Official Jet Charter Consultant for the Gulf Coast and Classic Companies.
The first round time allowed was set at 86 seconds which saw ten horse and rider teams advance to the jump off round.
“I loved Manuel’s course,” commented Kocher. “I thought it was going to be a course where a lot were going to be clear, but I think that was the goal. He wanted nine or ten. It was a beautiful day and a great crowd,” he continued. “It really turned out perfectly,” Kocher added.
“The most challenging part of the first round was the Horseflight jump to the Sidelines jump. Those two were toward the end of the course, the horses were getting a little tired, and going away from the gate you really needed to put your leg on. Then, they would be too strong for the Sidelines jump,” commented Kocher.
Kocher was the first to go in the jump off round in the irons of Postage Stamp Farm, LLC’s Prof De La Roque. Although their time of 45.725 seconds beat the time allowed of 62 seconds, they pulled a rail giving them four jump faults. “I was trying to be careful and not go with a lot of speed,” he said.
Amanda Comley of Waller, Texas in the irons of Joshua Tabor’s Cancum 2 followed Kocher in the jump off round. A rail at the second fence in a time allowed of 49.926 seconds would see them finish in tenth place overall.
Holly Shepherd of Grand Bay, Alabama was next to go in the irons of Loretta Patterson’s Silverstone. They posted a clear round in a time of 49.996 and moved to second position behind Kocher.
Fleur de Lis Farms’ Ziezo, ridden by Scott Lenkart of Bartonville, Texas, followed up with a four fault jump off round in a time of 45.900 seconds which would put them in eighth place overall.
Kocher returned, this time in the irons of Ciana. “Since I was too careful the first time, I came at it with more speed this time,” commented Kocher. “There was this little girl, maybe 3 or 4 years old, at the end of the arena with her grandparents,” said Kocher. “I walked by before I started my jump off round and she was saying ‘1 2 3 takeoff! 1 2 3 takeoff!’ Her grandparents tried to hush her and I looked at her and said, ‘Okay, 1 2 3 takeoff!’ and I just went,” he said.
Take off they did as they turned in the fastest, fault free jump off round in a time of 44.991 seconds. “After I was awarded my blue ribbon, I rode over and gave it to her,” he said. “She looked really happy,” he added.
Nicki Wilcox of Parker, Colorado, in the irons of her own J.E.S. Quito, followed Kocher and Ciana. Although the pair went clear, their time of 51.671 seconds would have them finish in fifth place overall.
Honorway Farm’s Leander, ridden by Leann Kelly of Valatie, New York, turned in the next clear jump off round in a time of 45.956 seconds which moved them up to a third place finish.
Crowd favorite Lochinvar, owned and ridden by Matt Cyphert of Northlake, Texas, also turned in a clear round in a time of 45.725 seconds. Not quite fast enough to beat Kocher and Ciana, their time would find them finishing in second place overall.
Shepherd returned to the jump off round, this time in the irons of Patterson’s Triompf. A heartbreak rail at the final fence earned them four faults in a time of 43.688 seconds and a sixth place ribbon overall.
DS Holdings, LLC’s Capricello 2 and Frank Owens of Windcrest, Texas were last to go and also suffered a rail at the final fence in a time of 47.742 seconds which would see them finish in ninth place overall.
“Ciana is a great horse,” said Kocher. “She won the second week in Pensacola and the Welcome this week. She just did her first FEI class and did some of the ranking classes in the Nations Cup,” he added. “This course looked really nice to her,” he said.
“Ciana is nine years old and belongs to Karen Cobb. She owns most of the horses I have ridden over the past year and a half,” Kocher said. “I have about eight showing here right now and some down the road at friend’s farm. We just got four more in and we’ll have more next week,” he added. “I sold a boat load of horses here last year,” said Kocher. “I actually sold more than half a million in horses here last year and no doubt, we will be selling a more for the rest of the circuit,” he added.
“I am very pleased with how the Apollo Jets Grand Prix went today,” commented Brian Hillen of Apollo Jets. “The crowd was amazing, the riders and horses were extremely talented and the grand prix field was beautiful,” he said. “I think Bob and Janet did a super job ordering up the beautiful weather we had and I am extremely thankful for the opportunity to sponsor this world class event,” Hillen added.
The Gulf Coast Classic Company is a USHJA’s Members Choice Award winner, recognized for producing top quality show jumping events in the United States. For more information on Gulf Coast Classic Company and its exhibitor-friendly, top quality hunter jumper events, please visit them at www.gulfcoastclassiccompany.com.
All sponsorship, marketing and press inquiries should be directed to Lisa Engel, Sponsorship, Marketing and Public Relations Director, at email@example.com.
See you at the ring,
The Classic Company, Ltd.
Phone/FAX: (843) 768-5503
Post Office Box 1311 Johns Island SC 29457