©Flying Horse Photography. Mandy Porter and Lexito jump to a win in the $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix.
OCALA, FL (March 1, 2014) – When Mandy Porter walked into the Strongid C 2X Grand Prix Stadium on Friday, the crowd expected to see her in the tack of her usual stallion, Con Capilot. This time, however, she piloted a 16.3 hand grey gelding named Lexito for Marguerite McAfee of P2 Capital, LLC. Porter, who hails from Encinitas, California, catch rode for Lexito’s regular rider Toni McIntosh of McIntosh Stables after injury has sidelined McIntosh and earned them a win in the $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix, presented by Zoetis.
“I rode this horse a little last fall for Toni [McIntosh], so I was familiar with him, but I certainly did not expect that we would go in there today and win,” said a pleasantly surprised Porter. “This is a game horse, but doesn’t have a lot of experience at this level – my goal was just to help keep him right and building for Toni.”
Danny Foster of Milton, Ontario set a course of 13 obstacles and 16 jumping efforts. The last four jumps of the original course proved to pose the most difficult task. An oxer-vertical bending line was placed near the in-gate before the course wrapped around the end of the ring to a tall vertical and finished with an oxer. “I think the horses thought they were done after the bending line, so that vertical was difficult for them,” said Porter.
With technical distances and considerable size, the course allowed four to advance to the jump-off from an original order of 35.
Jaclyn Duff of Edmonton, Alberta was the first to best the first-round course as the 13th in the order, aboard her own Pater Noster. She returned first in the jump-off, but had trouble with a right-hand rollback and was eliminated after a fall.
With one grand prix victory already pocketed this season, Francie Steinwedell-Carvin jumped Taunus, owned by Prentiss Partners, in the jump-off. Taunus jumped around happily to a clear round in 54.15 seconds for two time faults. Steinwedell-Carvin isn’t shy about admitting that her goal at this point in the circuit is to save her chestnut gelding for the AIG $1 Million Grand Prix. Alexander Grayton of Preddis, Alberta rode Candy Girl to 54.42 seconds for Grayton Farms, Ltd. and finished with one rail and six faults after two on the clock.
The door was wide open as Porter trotted Lexito into the ring. After an inside turn from the second-to-last fence kept them safe from time faults, a long spot to the final effort cued gasps from the sidelines. “It didn’t feel as desperate as it obviously looked,” said Porter with a laugh. “He likes to go forward, so I didn’t think pulling was in my best interest at that point – I wasn’t worried at all that he couldn’t get it done.”
After a breathtaking finish, Porter and Lexito led the victory gallop with Steinwedell-Carvin and Taunus in second and Grayton in third with Candy Girl. Duff finished fourth with Pater Noster, while Nayel Nassar of Santa Clara, California was the fastest of the four-faulters in round one with his own Lordan, and capped the top five.
With only three more qualifying grand prix left for the AIG $1 Million Grand Prix, it’s crunch time for riders hoping to find a spot in the coveted event. Sunday’s $50,000 Horze Equestrian Grand Prix, presented by Zoetis, will wrap up Week V before attention turns to the final opportunities next week. Visit HitsShows.com to view current preliminary rider standings for the AIG Million.
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