Matt Cyphert and Hector Victorious in $25,000 CWD Grand Prix

Matt Cyphert and Hector [Photos: Alison Hartwell Photography]

Matt Cyphert of Northlake, Texas and Hannah Donald’s Hector won the $25,000 CWD Grand Prix over a course designed by world-renowned course designer Leopoldo Palacios.

“I think it’s really interesting how the course designers have such different styles. Last week we had Michel Vaillancourt and he is just brilliant and this week to have Leopoldo [Palacios]! Both are amazing and have such unique styles. We’re so lucky and fortunate to have those experiences with the top designers here in Gulfport,” he said.

“Leopoldo used the whole field and you galloped the whole thing. There weren’t a lot of related distances,” commented Cyphert.  Of the fourteen horse and rider teams, only three qualified for the jump off and Cyphert had two in the mix.

Cyphert and his own Lochnivar were first to go in the jump off order and turned in a clear round in a time of 49.811 seconds, within the 60 seconds time allowed, setting the new time to beat. “I was first to go and I thought I was really fast on Lochnivar and thought he was really good. I’m at the in gate discussing strategy with my girlfriend Kelly and I turned to Pedro Tamayo who is my longtime groom and in charge of Hector and said, ‘I don’t think I can go that fast on Hector’. Then Jorge [Ludwig] went in and beat our time! Pedro turned to me and said, ‘Well I guess you have to now’,” he laughed. Jorge Ludwig of Newbury Park, California and his own Lamarque beat Lochnivar and Cyphert’s time with their own 49.042 seconds.

Last to go in the jump off order was Hector and Cyphert. “I’ve had Hector for a couple of years and the Donalds purchased him for their daughter. She did the Young Riders with him last year and then went off to school. So, we just sort of needed him to do something and continue to show,” said Cyphert.

“Leopoldo used a large part of the field for the jump off. There was one set track and we all did the same turns, so I just really tried to let him gallop between the jumps. That was the first time I really called upon Hector and the first time I pushed it with him. He was really good, just wonderful and listening to me, coming back before the jumps. It was a really fast jump off and I went as fast as I could, especially to the last jump which was the CWD jump. When I talked to Jorge after the class, that’s where he thought I caught him,” said Cyphert.

Hector and Cyphert finished their fault free jump off round in a time of 48.207 seconds and took the win! “We will never underestimate Hector again!” commented Cyphert.

“Hector is one of the most athletic horses I have ever ridden and he just covered the ground and jumped out of his skin,” said Cyphert.  “The Donalds are fantastic people and clients and I’m so happy for them,” Cyphert added. “It’s a privilege to ride a horse that nice.”

The class wrapped up with Cyphert taking the first and third place ribbons with Hector and Lochnivar, respectively, and Ludwig taking the second place ribbon with his own Lamarique.

Sun Tzu, owned and ridden by Penny Brennan of Buhl, Alabama, picked up the fourth place ribbon as the fastest four-faulter with a time of 82.213 seconds, followed by Laura Connaway of Little Rock, Arkansas and her own Ceralena, who placed fifth with their four-fault first round in 83.852 seconds.

Sixth went to Sara Dees of Chatom, Alabama and her own Clearwater 5 for their four-fault first round in a time of 84.978 seconds. Holly Shepherd of Grand Bay, Alabama earned a seventh and ninth place ribbon with Deja Krunic’s Belle Clara DKS and Loretta Patterson’s Sky High. Shannon Hicks of Lake St. Louis, Missouri picked up an eighth and twelfth place ribbon with Helen Gilbert’s Emir D and Al Pacini, respectively, while Dominique Damico of Berwyn, Pennsylvania and her own Canoso placed tenth. Brennan returned for an eleventh place ribbon in the irons on her own and Michelle Guardino-Dettelbach’s Mister Money.

“We were thrilled we won the class,” said Cyphert. “And then the craziest thing happened. I got a call from a friend with some terrible news. He told me that Jim Calareso who owned Fox Creek Mobile Equine Outfitters suddenly died of a heart attack this morning,” he said. “We were crushed. We went from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows. Jim was such an icon in Colorado. I’ve known Jim for half of my life. He lived life to the fullest; he loved his friends, vacation and the entire equestrian community. His loss is huge to the Colorado horse community and those that knew and loved him,” he said. “So I am dedicating my win today to Jim. He meant so much to me and others. He will be terribly missed,” he added.

The $8,000 Horseflight Open Welcome took place on Friday and fourteen horse and rider teams tacked the course designed by Leopoldo Palacios. Only four advanced to a second round opportunity. Matt Cyphert and Suzanne Suitles Better Judgement turned in a clear second round in a time of 50.175 seconds, well within the 55 seconds time allowed and set the new time to beat.

Laura Connaway and Ceralena

Laura Connaway and her own Ceralena followed Cyphert and Better Judgement with a clear second round in a time of 48.697 seconds, moving Cyphert and Better Judgement into the second place position.

Penny Brennan and her own Sun Tzu were the next horse and rider team to advance to the jump off round. However, four faults in a time of 46.143 seconds would find them as the fastest four faulter and sitting in third place. Cyphert returned with Hector for their second round opportunity, but four faults in a time of 48.499 seconds would see them finish in fourth place overall.

Fifth was awarded to Dominique Damico and her own Canoso for their first round which suffered one time fault in a time of 86.330 seconds. Holly Shepherd and Hanley Morrison’s SCS Luigi placed sixth after earning two time faults for their first round in a time of 87.199 seconds.

Evan Coluccio of Middleburg, Virginia and EMC International’s Fluttersby placed seventh with their first round in a time of 87.672 seconds which earned them two time faults.

Brennan and her own and Michelle Guardino-Deffelbach’s Mister Money earned an eighth place ribbon after turning in a four fault first round in a time of 82.534 seconds.

Sara Dees of Chatom, Alabama and her own Clearwater 5 placed ninth after a four fault first round in a time of 84.940 seconds and Jorge Ludwig and his own Lamarique placed tenth.

The Arenus Jr/Amateur Owner Jumper Classics 1.20 m and 1.30 m awarded Madison Akins of Bogart, Georgia and her own Chasm Z the blue in the 1.20 m and Lila Sessums of Clinton, Mississippi and her own Jet the win in the Arenus 1.30 m Jr/Amateur Owner Jumper Classic.

Only six riders in the 1.20 m earned a second round opportunity and Akins and Chasm Z were the fastest on the field, turning in a clear second round in a time of 32.341 seconds. Olivia Epple of Palmetto, Georgia and Livhaven Stables’ Corini earned a second place ribbon with their clear second round in a time of 35.446 seconds.

The Arenus 1.30 m Jr/Amateur Owner Jumper Classic had only two horse and rider teams return for a second round opportunity and the first to go in the order, Jet and Sessums, soared fault free over the beautiful grass grand prix field in a time of 33.158 seconds, setting the new time to beat. Second place finisher Heather Zuber of Zionsville, Indiana and her own Phoenix also advanced to the second round. Although their round was fault free, their time of 35.946 seconds would see them finish in second place.

The $4,777 Jumper Classic, always a favorite at the Gulf Coast Winter Classics, saw eighteen horse and rider teams go for the blue. Penny Brennan and her own Japan rode away with the win after turning in lightning fast double clear rounds in times of 72.675 seconds and 32.643 seconds. Lila Sessums and her own Jet earned the second place ribbon after their double clear rounds and second round time of 35.040.

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