Nicole Bellissimo and Casino. Photo Credit ©Sportfot.
Mill Spring, NC – July 1, 2018 – Competition concluded on Sunday, July 1, at Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC), with a swift victory for Nicole Bellissimo (USA) and Casino. The duo rounded out a successful week by finishing first in the $35,000 1.45m Sunday Classic CSI 2*, crossing through the jump-off timers in 42.762 seconds. Second place honors went to Tracy Magness (USA) and John Bartko’s 2008 Belgian Warmblood mare, Intenz Van HD (Elvis Ter Putte x Nabab de Reve), completing their fast-track round in 46.075 seconds, while third place was awarded to Samuel Parot (CHI) and his own Atlantis, a 2003 Zangersheide gelding (Andiamo x Royal Bravour L), after achieving a time of 78.95 seconds in the first round.
The win was the second podium placing of the week for Bellissimo and the Bellissimo LLC’s 2007 Holsteiner (Cassini II x Carano), as the 24-year-old also guided the stallion to a second-place award in Friday’s Tryon Resort $5,000 1.40m Speed Stake CSI 2* class. Of her mount, she explained: “I got him at the end of his nine-year-old year, and he was doing the high-jumper classes out in California. We slowly moved up; I’ve ridden him in several CSI 2*s at this point, and he’s just been a really excellent horse for me. He’s exceptionally careful, and I always have to think a little bit more when it comes to time allowed with him, but he’s gotten quicker about that.”
The first-place result also happened to be the pair’s second blue ribbon of the Tryon Summer Series, with both victories taking place on the Derby Field at TIEC. “The grass is really fantastic,” said Bellissimo. “I think that the most important thing that you can say about a grass field is that you can’t feel that you’re riding on grass. Not once, during either of the weeks, did I feel him slip out there. He jumped really solid rounds. Sometimes when they’re on grass, as they leave the ground they may slip, but with the security of this field, it’s like you’re riding in a sand ring.”
The partnership between the two has grown over the past few years, and getting to know the stallion has given Bellissimo an appreciation for his minimal antics. “He is a stallion,” she elaborated, “so he can be a bit fresh on the ground. But he has an amazing groom, Alex Mullen, and she does an incredible job with him. However, for the most part he’s pretty sweet, and really isn’t too bad. He’s just a really special horse.”
Bellissimo plans to give Casino some time off over the next week, and then will return to the show ring ready to tackle the Tryon Summer V CSI 2* competition. She concluded, “He’ll get his break, and then we will come back for week five and hope for the same result then!”
Elizabeth Smith and Double Gold Come Up with Blue in $10,000 Pony Hunter Classic
Tryon Summer III competition boasted the Pony Spectacular, with pony classes featured throughout the week and many hosted in the George H. Morris Arena to help competitors prep for USEF Pony Finals later in the summer. Friday’s highlight class, the $10,000 Pony Hunter Classic, saw a win for Elizabeth Smith of Spartanburg, SC piloting her own Double Gold after their two-round score of 164. Just behind in reserve was Maddie Tosh aboard Smallwood Mystic for Peacock Ridge LLC out of Milton, GA, scoring 163, while Lauren Lomel (Ocala, FL) and Woodlands Lightning Thief, owned by Megan Galloway, achieved a score of 158 to finish third.
Smith has been riding “Nugget” for three years, but was a first-time competitor at Tryon’s Pony Spectacular. One of 12 called back for a second round, Smith knew she had a lead and said that she knew she had to take advantage of the arena’s space with her trustworthy mount:
“I just wanted to have fun and do what my trainer told me. I didn’t want to panic – I wanted to make sure I was relaxed,” said Smith. “I knew that going into the second round I had to carry a forward pace because the lines were riding a little forward. My trainer always tells me to take a deep breath and have fun no matter what, so I knew I had to give my pony leg, and then stay out of his way and he would take care of me.”
Smith didn’t seek out a palomino pony, she revealed, but fell in love with him and his steadfast nature. “My favorite thing about Nugget is his personality. He’s the same pony every day and he loves me so much, and he’ll get me out of anything I put him in,” said Smith. “But he hates having his tail braided.”
Despite the big atmosphere, Smith commented on Double Gold’s tolerance for the arena’s size and energy, as well as his talent contributing to the win, saying, “In this big arena, I can open up his stride more and he doesn’t get too antsy, so he’s good for this ring. Yes, I’m excited for the win, but it’s all my pony,” she concluded.
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