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Jonathan Corrigan and Loughnavatta Indigo Take Top Honors in $70k Ingles Grand Prix CSI 2*

Jonathan Corrigan and Loughnavatta Indigo. Photo Credit ©Sportfot.

Mill Spring, NC – October 6, 2018 – Jonathan Corrigan (IRL) and Loughnavatta Indigo secured first place in the $70,000 Ingles Grand Prix CSI 2* in the first “Saturday Night Lights” of the 2018 Tryon Fall Series presented by Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport at Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC).

Corrigan and Loughnavatta Indigo, a 2009 Irish Sport Horse gelding (Luidam x VDL Arkansas) owned by Twin Oak Stables, Inc., crossed through the timers in 42.216 seconds in the jump-off to rise as the winning combination. Subsequently, Lauren Tisbo (USA) and Jeleena De Muse, a 2008 Belgian Warmblood mare (Tornedo FCS x Chin Chin) owned by Tequestrian Games, LLC., placed second with a jump-off time of 42.97 seconds and Darragh Kerins (IRL) aboard Ringwood Zebo, a 2009 Irish Sport Horse gelding (Califax x Ringwood Audacity) owned by Samantha Rice, took third place on the podium with a final time of 43.88 seconds.

With a class of 34 entries and only seven competitors moving forward to the jump-off, Corrigan and Loughnavatta Indigo rose to the top of the leaderboard. “I have a tendency to go a little bit too fast in the jump-off, so today I tried to be a little smoother and tighter and not pull on the reins or kick as much and it worked,” the Irishman remarked.

Corrigan bought the nine-year old gelding last autumn. “I jumped him here in the 2* last year and that was his first night class. He was little green, but he jumped clear. Since then, he’s improved a lot, and even jumped his first 5* a couple of weeks ago.”

Detailing his nine-year-old mount, Corrigan continued, “He’s a good horse. He’s got a lot of personality, more personality than any other horse I’ve had. He might look plain, but he’s very sensitive and a very good boy. We might do the 3* next week or we will wait and do the 5* the week after that.

“It’s a great atmosphere here because everybody comes out, horse people and non-horse people alike. The crowd really focuses on you and people come to spectate and have a good time,” concluded Corrigan.

For full results from the $70,000 Ingles Grand Prix CSI 2*, click here.

For more information on TIEC, please visit www.Tryon.com.

Team Germany Clinches the Challenge Cup

Marcus Ehning riding Comme Il Faut. (FEI/Jim Hollander)

USA finishes second ahead of Brazil in third 

Marcus Ehning was the hero of the hour when clinching the Challenge Cup for Germany at the Longines FEI Nations Cup™ Jumping Final 2018 in Barcelona (ESP) riding Comme Il Faut. Team-mate Philipp Weishaupt produced a foot-perfect pathfinding run from the lovely mare Asathir, but when Hans-Dieter Dreher left two fences on the floor with Berlinda and youngest team member Maurice Tebbel had a fence down and a time fault with Chacco’s Son, then all the pressure was piled on Ehning’s shoulders. He knew exactly what he had to do because he’s done it so many times before.

“I had to go clear to win the class. This last 20 years I’ve been doing the sport I’m used to the pressure. Especially this year I had a few rounds where I had to be clear and I was lucky I was clear, but I hope that will change and that in future years the pressure is on someone else!” — Marcus Ehning (Team Germany)

Of the seven competing nations there were two with just three team-members, Canada who started out that way in the first round of the Final and USA whose numbers were reduced when Jessica Springsteen and RMF Zecilie were a late withdrawal. But Alex Granato really rose to the occasion by steering Carlchen W through a foot-perfect round. So when all the US had to count was a double-error from Andy Kocher and Kahlua and a single time fault from Lucy Deslauriers with Hester, then their nine-fault total was good enough for runner-up spot.

That time fault was costly, however, because Deslauriers was the last of the five riders chasing down a €50,000 bonus on offer to anyone producing clear rounds. If she had been just that little bit faster, she would have had it all to herself.

Brazil lined up third on 10 faults ahead of Spain with 15, Canada with 16, Great Britain with 20, and the United Arab Emirates on a big score of 40 faults.

The Germans had mixed feelings about their success. The competition was open to the teams that did not qualify in the first round for the top-eight Final. Philipp Weishaupt said it was tough to miss the cut by such a narrow margin when time was taken into account after four teams completed with an eight-fault scoreline. “We missed out by less than a second, and it wasn’t so easy to keep the motivation up today. We put our breeches on in the hotel and came out to jump tonight but all the other teams had their jeans on. But we knew we had to do it and we knew we had to try our best,” he added.

Ehning, who along with Tebbel was a member of the German team that claimed bronze at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2018 in Tryon, USA two weeks ago when their team-mate, Simone Blum, also took the individual title with the lovely mare DSP Alice, is one of the world’s most admired horsemen. He had the crowd spell-bound as he cruised at high speed around the track to bring glory to his country once again.

When asked how he prepared to go into such a pressure round, he explained that Comme Il Faut had been jumping too high in the practice arena, so he schooled him over small fences to get him to jump lower which would allow them to take on the course at greater speed.

“Especially at the first fence I wanted him to be fast. The time was a bit tight… but if you can flow with him then you just have to follow him and he makes it very easy for the rider; he’s a very clever horse!” — Marcus Ehning (Team Germany)

Meanwhile, his Chef d’Equipe described the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ series as “the biggest thing we have in our sport! All of our different stakeholders are fighting for it: the breeders, supporters, owners, the riders, the Chefs’ d’Equipe, the Federations, everybody. It’s something special to be in a team, to fight with a team, to lose or win together for your country. I love this!” Otto Becker said.

Result here.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Media Relations and Communications Manager
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

Italy and Austria Top Thrilling First Round, but Sunday’s Decider Will Be Whole New Ball Game

Julia Houtzager-Kayser and Sterrehof’s Cayetano Z. (FEI/Lukasz Kowalski)

“We won already!” said Austrian Chef d’Equipe Marcus Wallishauser after his team shared top spot with Italy at the end of the first round of competition at the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ Final 2018 at the Real Club de Polo in Barcelona, Spain. But there’s still a long way to go before the new champions are crowned on Sunday afternoon when the top eight teams return to the arena for the second and deciding round.

The Austrians and Italians collected just a single time fault each, and with just four faults apiece Sweden, Belgium, and The Netherlands have also made the cut along with the Irish who picked up five faults. But it came down to the combined times of team riders to separate the Swiss, French, Germans, and Americans when they all completed with eight faults on the board.

And when the calculations were done it was the Swiss and French who were signed up for Sunday afternoon, while the Germans and Americans will join Canada, Great Britain, Brazil, the UAE and host nation of Spain in the Challenge Cup for those that didn’t make it.

Wallishauser’s team booked their tickets to Barcelona when winning the Europe Division 2 qualifier in Budapest (HUN), but they were not hot favourites even though that victory in August was a convincing one when they trounced the opposition with a zero score.

“For us to be in the final is already perfect – now we just need to focus like we did today and let’s see what we can do!” said the Austrian team manager who is hoping that Roland Englebrecht (Chambery), Julia Houtzager-Kayser (Sterrehof’s Cayetano Z), Felix Koller (Captain future 3), and Max Kuhner (PSG Final) can continue this run of great form.

But as Italian anchorman, Lorenzo de Luca, pointed out, the next challenge from Spanish course designer Santiago Varela is going to be considerably more testing.

“There’s still a big day ahead – Sunday is going to be huge!” — Lorenzo de Luca (Team Italy)

He picked up four faults with Ensor de Litrange but was under absolutely no pressure when last to go because team-mates Luca Marziani (Tokyo du Soleil) and Riccardo Pisani (Chaclot) had both jumped clear while Bruno Chimirri (Tower Mouche) clocked up just a single time fault. So that was all they would have to put on the board when the best three scores were taken into account.

“It was a very good night for Italy; my team all jumped great so I didn’t have to jump but I decided to bring my horse in to let him see the fences. We are going to celebrate tonight but we will still be focused for Sunday, I promise you!” de Luca added.

In stark contrast to the Italian rider, Irish anchorman Darragh Kenny had no room for error when he came into the ring. With five faults already on the board, another four would leave his team well outside the qualifying zone, but he kept a cool head to steer Balou du Reventon through the finish with nothing to add. “Our goal was to get into Sunday; that was the most important thing for us so we were very happy we did that. We have a great team and we’re all working really well together so I think we should do well. We’ll go out there trying to do our best and see what happens, that’s for sure!” he said.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Media Relations and Communications Manager
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

Fabio Leivas Da Costa and Tosca De L’Esques Ride Home with Blue at Tryon Fall Series

Fabio Leivas Da Costa and Tosca De L’Esques. Photo Credit ©Sportfot.

Mill Spring, NC – October 4, 2018 – Fabio Leivas Da Costa (BRA) and Tosca De L’Esques took the victory in the $35,000 1.45m Horseware Ireland Welcome Stake CSI 2* to kick off Tryon Fall 2 at Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC). Leivas Da Costa and the 2007 Selle Francais mare (Cardento x Apache D’adriers) stopped the short-course timers in 38.03 seconds to secure the win, while reserve honors went to Santiago Lambre (BRA) and Dingeman, a 2008 Dutch Warmblood gelding (Nintender x Darnels), after their 38.03 second jump-off performance. Third place was awarded to Marilyn Little (USA) with Clearwater, a 2007 Holsteiner gelding (Clearway x Come On), who cleared the jump-off in 39.671 seconds.

A field of 43 horse-and-rider pairs toured the first-round course with 19 entries returning to test their luck on the jump-off track set by Peter Grant (CAN). Before riding the jump-off, Leivas Da Costa and his team observed previous competitors and set goals. “We talked before the class and set a time goal of 37 seconds. We actually earned 38 seconds, but still earned first,” Leivas Da Costa explained.

Leivas Da Costa, concerning his mount, stated, “Tosca De L’Esques has a big heart. She is willing, and tries as hard as she can. She never says, ‘no,’ she just says, ‘where do I go next?'” He continued, “She has a really huge stride and is a fast, forward horse. She really fights for us.”

For more information on TIEC, please visit www.Tryon.com.

Elliot, Libby, Stutes, Smith Selected for Jacqueline B. Mars National Competition and Training Grants

Sydney Conley Elliot competing at Great Meadow International. Photo: Shannon Brinkman Photography.

Gladstone, N.J. – Oct. 4, 2018 – The United States Equestrian Team (USET) Foundation is pleased to announce this year’s recipients of the Jacqueline B. Mars National Competition and Training Grants: Sydney Conley Elliot, Emilee Libby, Frankie Thieriot Stutes, and Tamra Smith. The grants are awarded to eventing athletes who have been identified as having an impressive record and potential to represent the United States in future international competitions. These four riders will be traveling to the East Coast to attend The Dutta Corp. Fair Hill International CCI2* and CCI3* Oct. 18-21 in Fair Hill, Maryland.

Elliot, of Bossier City, Louisiana, has been diligently training and competing with her partner of five years, Cisko A. The talented pair earned themselves a spot on the Tier 2 Training List after they performed the only double-clear cross-country round for the U.S. Nations Cup team at Great Meadow International in The Plains, Virginia, in July.

“It is such an honor that we have all the support from Mrs. Mars and the USET Foundation,” Elliot said. “It means a lot to up-and-coming riders who are trying to get where they need to go and especially for me being so far away and removed from the eventing community. It is such a huge help.”

She continued, “This is going to be our second go at Fair Hill. The last time we ran around [Fair Hill International] was leading up to Kentucky in 2016 so we’re hoping to improve upon the dressage and again have clean cross-country [rides] and hopefully no time [penalties] or rails in show jumping. That would be lovely. I feel like with the help of Phillip Dutton and Erik Duvander, we should be able to put our best foot forward. A lot of us could not do this without the help of the USET Foundation. The support they give all of us and the horses is absolutely incredible.”

Libby, of Temecula, California, made her mark on the eventing scene when she jumped around a CCI4* at just 18 years old before moving to California to source and develop top event horses.

She brought her current mount, an 8-year-old Belgian Warmblood named Jakobi, through the ranks and her dedication to his training recently paid off as he moved up to Advanced Level in May.

“I’m blown away,” said Libby. “I’m so, so happy. It kind of feels like a weight lifted off my shoulders. Doing what I’m doing now, I will be able to come to the East Coast and compete. I was a little bit indecisive originally a few months ago on whether to just come out for Fair Hill or come out early and run at Plantation. My gut was telling me to come out early and run on the grass and spend a few weeks conditioning back here on the East Coast before going, but it was going to be hard to do because I have a business back home and I have horses in training.”

Libby continued, “[The grant] is a huge, huge help. I would like to say a huge thank you to Jacqueline Mars and the USET Foundation for this opportunity. These grants are wonderful to have available to riders in the United States. I’ve had [Jakobi] for a few years now and we have quite the relationship. I think he is going to be more than ready.”

Stutes of Occidental, California, has had immense success at the CCI3* level with two top four finishes aboard her partner Chatwin, a 10-year-old Oldenburg by Contendro. The gelding, who Stutes has had since he was coming 6 years old, has never had a cross-country jumping penalty in 16 FEI starts.

“I feel incredibly honored to be chosen for this grant,” said Stutes. “It’s hard for me to even express my gratitude to the USET Foundation, Mrs. Mars and the US Equestrian (USEF) selection committee for their support and belief in Chatwin and me.”

She is especially looking forward to competing at Fair Hill International as it will give her an idea on whether she and Chatwin are ready for the CCI4* level.

“Having done Bromont and Rebecca Farm, I feel like Fair Hill is the next step in deciding whether or not we’re ready for a CCI4* next year or if we should stay at the CCI3* level longer since neither of us have ever contested a CCI4* and Chat is still just 10,” said Stutes. “Additionally, it’s an opportunity to compete against the best riders and horses in our country and see how we measure in terms of our competitiveness amongst them.”

Smith, of Temecula, California, also received the Jacqueline B. Mars National Competition and Training Grant in 2017 and is excited to see where the opportunity takes her this year with her horse, Mai Baum. The talented pair won the Fair Hill International CCI3* in 2015.

“Firstly, being able to have the opportunity to have the financial support is huge. We’re out on the West Coast so we travel all the way East and we have already been here for a month. It takes a significant amount of time, money and effort to come out here. [The grant] really enables us to financially be able to handle it a little bit easier. It is wonderful. It not only helps solidify that what you’re doing is on the right track, but it helps offset the costs of spending three months out here.”

In regard to Mai Baum, a German Sport Horse gelding, she said, “I feel like he has a really bright future and I’m super lucky to have him as a horse in my string. He won Fair Hill in 2015 and then had an injury, but he has come back even stronger and better. I’m super excited to now be able to go to Ocala and show what we’ve got.”

Having the support of the USET Foundation as well as Jacqueline Mars is also something that Smith is grateful for as she continues on her path towards representing the United States at the highest levels of eventing.

“It is tremendous. Their support not only helps you make yourself believe that there are people behind you, but it also helps as my goal is to ride on the United States Olympic team, so to have the USET Foundation and Jacqueline B. Mars support that is just one step closer to getting to where we are trying to go,” Smith expressed. “We want to try to be the best and get the U.S. team even better, so to have their support is unexplainable. I’m so grateful for it.”

Smith also expressed her gratitude for the USET Foundation’s support as she received another grant from Jacqueline B. Mars that will allow her to travel to Boekelo, The Netherlands with her mare, Fleeceworks Royal, to compete on the Nations Cup team.

“I just want to thank them not only for Mai Baum’s grant but also for the grant given to Fleeceworks Royal. I am so grateful for everything,” she said.

Make sure to follow these athletes as they compete at The Dutta Corp. Fair Hill International CCI2* and CCI3* Oct. 18-21 by visiting www.fairhillinternational.com.

For more information on the USET Foundation, visit www.uset.org.

Contact: Rebecca Walton
phone 561.753.3389 fax 561.753.3386
rjw@phelpsmediagroup.com

US Olympic Committee Announces Best of September Finalists for Team USA Awards

Laura Graves and Verdades (Shannon Brinkman Photo)

Colorado Springs, Colo. – The United States Olympic Committee announced finalists for the Team USA Awards presented by Dow, Best of September, which recognize the outstanding achievements of Team USA athletes from last month. Fans are invited to vote for their favorite athletes and teams at Awards.TeamUSA.org through midnight Monday, Oct. 8.

A total of eight sports – including basketball, equestrian, Para-equestrian, paratriathlon, shooting, triathlon, volleyball, and wrestling – are represented among the 13 finalists across men’s, women’s and team categories. The finalists’ collective accomplishments tell the inspiring story of U.S. Olympic and Paralympic athletes year-round.

In addition to Dow, the presenting sponsor, the Team USA Awards are supported by Dick’s Sporting Goods and USG.

SEPTEMBER FINALISTS

Male Athlete of the Month

Matt Anderson (West Seneca, New York), Indoor Volleyball
Named best opposite at the FIVB World Championship, finishing as the second-leading scorer and second-leading attacker and helping lead Team USA to its first world championship medal – a bronze – in 24 years.

Mark Barr (Davis, California), Paratriathlon
Capped his undefeated season with a gold medal in the men’s PTS2 at the ITU Paratriathlon World Championships.

G’Angelo Hancock (Colorado Springs, Colorado), Wrestling
Earned the gold medal in the 97 kg. division of the Pytlasinski Memorial International after pinning 2016 Olympic champion and three-time world champion Artur Aleksanyan in the semifinal in 27 seconds.

Vincent Hancock (Eatonton, Georgia), Shooting
Won his fourth world championship title in skeet shooting at the ISSF World Championships, tying the world record in qualification by shooting a perfect 125-125 targets, and tying the finals world record by missing only one target.

McLain Ward (Brewster, New York), Equestrian
Aboard Clinta, anchored the U.S. Jumping Team at the FEI World Equestrian Games, helping Team USA win the gold medal in a jump-off to qualify for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.

Female Athlete of the Month

Caitlin Connor (Winnfield, Louisiana), Shooting
Won her first career international gold medal in skeet shooting at the ISSF World Championships, edging six-time Olympic medalist and U.S. teammate Kim Rhode in the final, 57-56.

Laura Graves (Geneva, Florida), Equestrian
Aboard Verdades, claimed the grand prix special individual silver medal and the team silver medal at the FEI World Equestrian Games, becoming the first U.S. dressage combination to lead the FEI Dressage World Rankings.

Rebecca Hart (Wellington, Florida), Para-equestrian
Earned the bronze medal in the individual test and silver in freestyle at the FEI World Equestrian Games, marking the first-ever WEG medals won by a Team USA para-equestrian individual rider.

Allysa Seely (Glendale, Arizona), Paratriathlon
Earned the gold medal in the women’s PTS2 division at the ITU Paratriathlon World Championships, completing her season sweep of the ITU World Paratriathlon Series.

Katie Zaferes (Hampstead, Maryland), Triathlon
Finished third at the ITU World Triathlon Grand Final, capturing the ITU World Triathlon Series overall silver medal.

Team of the Month

USA Women’s World Cup Team, Basketball
With just two practices with its complete, 12-member team, won its third straight world cup title – and 10th overall – at the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup, becoming the second women’s basketball team to qualify for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.

U.S. Jumping Team, Equestrian
Won a historic gold medal at the FEI World Equestrian Games in a thrilling jump-off against Sweden – marking the first world title for the U.S. since 1986 – and secured a national team quota spot for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.

U.S. Men’s World Championship Team, Indoor Volleyball
Earned a historic bronze medal at the FIVB World Championship, marking the first world championship medal for the U.S. in 24 years.

SELECTION PROCESS
Each National Governing Body may nominate one female, one male, and one team per sport discipline. An internal nominating committee selects finalists to advance to the voting round. Votes received from NGB representatives and select members of the media account for 50 percent of the final tally, with the other half determined by online fan voting via Awards.TeamUSA.org.

From the United States Olympic Committee Communications Department

New Champions to Be Crowned and Scores to Be Settled at Sizzling Spanish Showdown

Felipe Amaral and Premiere Carthoes BZ, pictured at the qualifier in Ocala, Florida (USA) earlier this year. (FEI/Shannon Brinkman)

Like the annual gathering of the clans, Jumping riders from all around the globe are descending on the beautiful city of Barcelona in Spain for this week’s Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ Final 2018. For the sixth year in succession, this celebration of all that’s best in team sport takes place in the quietly sophisticated surroundings of the Real Club de Polo, venue for Jumping at the 1992 Olympic Games.

But coming just two weeks after the FEI World Equestrian Games™ (WEG) in Tryon, there’s an extra edge to it this time around. There are points to be made, scores to be settled, and muscles to be flexed, especially for the countries that had high hopes going to the USA last month only to have them dashed when the pendulum of sporting fortune didn’t swing in their direction.

The defending Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ champions from The Netherlands didn’t make it onto the Tryon podium but they did manage to claim one of the six qualifying spots for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. And Chef d’Equipe Rob Ehrens clearly means business again this week, bringing three of his Tryon team – Marc Houtzager, Frank Schuttert, and World No. 1, Harrie Smolders – along with Leopold van Asten and Maikel van der Vleuten.

The Swiss looked set to carry off WEG gold but had to settle for fifth in the final analysis, although the individual silver and bronze medals collected by Martin Fuchs and Steve Guerdat demonstrated their super strength and commitment.

Guerdat’s loyalty to the Nations Cup format is second to none, and the London 2012 individual champion will be back in the ring this weekend giving it everything he’s got along with Paul Estermann, Bryan Balsiger, Arthur Gustavo, and Barbara Schneiper. We won’t be seeing the newly-crowned individual world champion Simone Blum, but her Chef d’Equipe, Otto Becker, will be keen to follow up WEG team bronze with a strong result from another formidable German side that includes Hans-Dieter Dreher, Marcus Ehning, Maurice Tebbel, Andre Thieme and Philipp Weishaupt.

And the Irish will be there. The reigning European Champions missed out on a ticket to Tokyo when finishing seventh at the WEG – “We will be trying to try to erase the bad taste that our result in Tryon has left,” said team manager Rodrigo Pessoa, after confirming his selection of Shane Breen, Anthony Condon, Darragh Kenny, Billy Twomey, and Michael G Duffy last week.

The real tension may well be between the Americans and Swedes. It took an edge-of-the-seat jump-off to separate them in the battle for world championship gold, and it would be very sweet revenge if the Swedes could turn the tables this time out.

So Henrik Ankarcrona has selected Jonna Ekberg, Peder Fredrison, Stephanie Holmen, Irma Karlsson, and Erica Swartz who will be on a mission. American confidence should be at an all-time high, however, and although Laura Kraut is the only member of that gold-medal-winning Tryon team to be called up again this week, she and her compatriots Lucy Deslauriers, Alex Granato, Andrew Kocher, and Jessica Springsteen should have an extra spring in their step.

A total of 15 nations – Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UAE, and USA – will line out when the first round of the Final gets underway at 20.00 local time on Friday evening. Teams go in order of the draw that takes place Thursday evening, and only the top eight nations will qualify for the series title decider on Sunday afternoon.

The remaining sides will compete in Saturday night’s Challenge Cup, and with €1,700,000 in prize money on offer, it promises to be a superb weekend of sport. It will be another interesting one for America’s Lucy Deslauriers as the 19-year-old will compete against her father, Mario Deslauriers, who will line out for Team Canada and who was just 19 years old himself when setting a record, that still stands, as the youngest ever rider to win the coveted Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping trophy back in 1984.

Following an agreement announced last year, Longines became the brand new long-term title partner of the FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ series, and after 13 qualifiers on three continents, this 109th season of Nations Cup Jumping is coming to a thrilling climax.

It’s going to be spell-binding so check out the full entry list here.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Media Relations and Communications Manager
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

Brooke Kemper and Sara Taylor Capture Featured Class Wins at Culpeper Finals

Brooke Kemper and CLASSIFIED. ESI Photography.

The HITS Culpeper Summer Series at HITS Commonwealth Park has come and gone for 2018. It was a beautiful week to close out the season in the Heart of Virginia’s Horse Country with great weather, blue ribbons and the Horseware Ireland Grand Circuit Champion awards claimed at the Culpeper Finals.

The featured classes in the Grand Prix Ring kicked off with the $5,000 Open Welcome where Tracy Magness would start her week with a win aboard INTENZ VAN HD. Magness and “Candy” crossed the timers in 35.043, over a full second faster than the second place recipient.

Magness’ victory put an exclamation mark on her season at HITS Culpeper, marking her eighth blue ribbon in a featured Open Jumper class, and securing the Horseware Ireland Grand Circuit Championship in the Open 1.40m Jumpers. Jumping to second place would be Jennifer Brennan aboard MAC, finishing in a four-fault time of 34.024. Third place would be awarded to Cian McDermott, taking the reins aboard NEWCASTLE in a four-fault time of 35.565. Danny Mahon would take home the fourth place award aboard CHOPPER 5, followed by Randy Johnson in fifth aboard his own CAMPARO.

A field of 21 would take to the course Friday afternoon in the $10,000 Johnson Horse Transportation Prix. Top honors would be awarded to Marylisa Leffler aboard LUMINOUS, soaring to the finish in 31.147. Second place would be awarded to Magness and INTENZ VAN HD in a time of 31.276, followed by Johnson and JADE VAN DE START with a time of 32.872 to claim the yellow ribbon. Jason Berry would capture the fourth place ribbon aboard QUANTOS in a time of 33.598. Rounding out the top five in the Prix would be Tamara Morse and RAVENNA ADELHEID Z in a time of 34.135.

Top honors in the $2,000 Marshall & Sterling Children’s and Adult Jumper Classic was Wendy Libert and PAPILLION PEANUT.

Bari Michelle Friedman and CAPITOL II would take home top honors in the $2,500 Pyranha Junior/Amateur-Owner/Amateur 1.20m Jumper Classic.

Taking home top honors in the $5,000 Summit Joint Performance Junior/Amateur-Owner/Amateur 1.30m Jumper Classic was Ginny Gale and EVENSONG. Gale and EVENSONG also captured the Horseware Ireland Grand Circuit Championship in the Jr/A-O/Am 1.30m.

Tamara Morse and RAVENNA ADELHEID Z would soar to a blue ribbon finish in the $7,500 Junior/Amateur-Owner/Amateur 1.40m Jumper Classic. This dynamic duo would also take home the Horseware Ireland Reserve Grand Championship in the Jr/A-O/Am 1.30m Jumpers and Champion in the Jr/A-O/Am 1.40m Jumpers.

The excitement of the featured jumper classes at the HITS Culpeper Finals would continue on Sunday with the $20,000 HITS Open Prix. Taking home top honors, by over a full four seconds, would be Brooke Kemper and CLASSIFIED. Soaring through the timers in a fault-free time of 34.442 would secure the win in the final Open Prix of the HITS Culpeper Summer Series. Riding home with the second place ribbon would be Ashley Foster and DALIANTE M in a time of 39.612. Marylisa Leffler and LUMINOUS would take home the third place ribbon for their jump-off rider, finishing with a four-fault time of 38.340. Taking home the fourth place ribbon would be Magness and INTENZ VAN HD, followed by Laura Gaither and GARDA in fifth.

In the Hunter Rings, riders competed for blue ribbons and points toward the Hunter Prix Finals at the 2019 HITS Championships, in Saugerties, New York. The Devoucoux serves as the qualifying class for the Diamond Mills Hunter Prix Finals and similarly the Platinum Performance serves as the qualifying class for the Platinum Performance Hunter Prix Finals.

First up in the Main Hunter Ring on Saturday afternoon were those competing in the Devoucoux Hunter Prix. Taking home the blue ribbon and lion’s share of the $1,500 purse was Sara Taylor aboard CARLOTTA. Taylor rode to scores of 88 and 86 for a total of 174 between her two rounds. Riding to second place was Megan Bennett aboard MARGO with scores of 82 and 83 for a two round total of 165. Taking home the third place ribbon was Katie McAfee for her ride aboard CAPPUCCINO with scores of 68 and 70 for a two round total of 138.

Junior and Amateur riders took the stage next for the $1,000 Platinum Performance Hunter Prix. Taking home top honors would be Carley Gray aboard her own UNIQUE CAR. Chelsea Director and her own URBAN would follow to be awarded the second place ribbon.

The Constitution Classic also featured the Culpeper Equitation Classic where Junior and Amateur riders have the option to compete at either the 3′ or 3’6″ fence height.

Taking home top honors was Madison Smyth whose trip was described by the judge as “smooth as silk.” As first to go in the class, she put the pressure on the following riders. In second place was Jacqui Needle, followed by Lauren Miller to take home third place.

For more information, visit HitsShows.com.

Cheltenham Festival: No Horsing Around

If ever in doubt about the popularity of horse racing and the excitement it evokes in enthusiasts, bookmakers, and pundits, it is important to note that even with six months to go for the Cheltenham Festival, punters are already analysing horses and jockeys, looking for the next big bet.

March 12th will see the commencement of the four-day festival that is considered one of the top racing events in the entire world. Cheltenham Festival, in comparison with the Grand National, is more local with few international entries. It also has more hurdle races unlike the flat tracks of other competitions. These differences make Cheltenham a lot more challenging and thrilling for jockeys as well as bettors who have more than 25 races to place bets on, increasing their chances of winning.

Altior

Punters are eagerly awaiting March 13, 2019 to see Altior in action at the Cheltenham Festival. With odds of 6/4, he is already a favourite among bookmakers to win the all-important Queen Mother Champion Chase. Altior dominated the Champion Chase during the festival in 2018 coming in first and had won the Arkle Chase year before that. With speed and stamina both evident in every stride, punters need to keep a keen eye on this one as he is bound to perform spectacularly in 2019 as well.

Samcro

Samcro has been one of the most debated horses in the competition. Whether he will run in the Gold Cup or should he wait out another year, everyone associated with horse racing has been discussing his future and second-guessing decisions taken by the owners. Nevertheless, he remains a favourite when it comes to the Arkle Trophy with 5/1 odds and the RSA Chase with 8/1 odds, both of which are undoubtedly favourites when it comes to betting. Trained by the legendary Gordon Elliott, Samcro won the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdles in 2018 in a remarkable manner, making him the one to look out for.

Midnight Bite

The “big one” at the Cheltenham Festival is the Gold Cup. A dream win for every jockey, trainer, and horse, it is hotly contested, on the field and in the stands. For a punter too, this is the ultimate race to partake in at the festival and Cheltenham betting offers for 2019 are already looking positive with options that can add to the winnings. The nine-year-old Midnight Bite is presently the favourite with 5/1 odds having come in second at last year’s Gold Cup. He is followed closely by Presenting Percy, another horse that has proven its popularity, and Native River, both of whom are listed at 6/1 odds.

Commander of Fleet

Not ignoring some of the other races that are part of this institutional festival, Commander of Fleet is among bookmakers’ choice for winning the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at 16/1 odds and also the Champion Bumper with 25/1 odds. The “smaller” races are an excellent opportunity for bettors to further their winnings and with limited horses running, they require less analysis, which is a big bonus. But, do keep in mind that Cheltenham is an experience that not only consists of racing but also dance, music, food, and even shopping, so make sure you enjoy every aspect of this great festival.

Game Winner on Course for Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Success?

Source: HR_Nation via Twitter.

Game Winner is the horse to watch at the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, heading into the showdown at the beginning of November with a 100% record in his three races. Bob Baffert has a potential star in the two-year-old, with the veteran trainer aiming to secure his first win at the event since 2013.

The American horse does have the strongest credentials entering the meet, although, with only three races under his belt, it’s difficult to predict the outcome at the Churchill Downs. Both Endorsed and Mind Control will be out to dethrone the leading contender for the crown. Therefore, while he may look one of the best horse racing bets with odds of 7/4 at William Hill, it may be worth waiting before committing to a punt on the race, given there is ample time for the prices to alter before the fences are opened.

Game Winner only took to the track for his first race during August in the Maiden Special Weight at Del Mar. He was not considered the favourite for his debut as Dueling was present in the field. However, Baffert’s charge quickly made a statement in his bow over six furlongs, dominating the meet to win by five-and-three-quarter lengths ahead of Dueling. The two-year-old’s display did not earn him the respect of the bookmakers for his next outing in a Grade One meet at Del Mar.

His stable-mate Roadster was the leading contender for the Del Mar Futurity, but Game Winner was able to brush aside him, along with the rest of the field, to claim his second career victory by one-and-a-half lengths. Baffert put his charge forward for the American Pharoah Stakes in his first race over a mile at Santa Anita. With Joel Rosario in the saddle, the bay colt was able to clinch his first major triumph, defeating his nearest rival, Gunmetal Grey, by four-and-a-half lengths. Game Winner has improved at every race, although bigger challenges lay ahead for the two-year-old.

Mind Control made his debut in July at a Maiden Special Weight at Delaware Park. He was off the pace in his first outing, finishing behind Call Paul at Delaware Park. However, the two-year-old was able to bounce back in his second meet – this time competing at Monmouth Park.

Gregory Sacco’s charge controlled the race and was able to secure the victory by a comfortable margin to get off the mark in his career over six furlongs. Mind Control faced his first major test at the Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga. He was not considered the favourite for the event but produced a brilliant effort to defeat the perceived leading contender, Mucho, displaying the pace down the stretch to claim the win by three-quarters of a length.

Sacco’s charge along with Endorsed will be the challengers to Game Winner. Endorsed has only competed once in his career, which came in August at Saratoga in a Maiden Special Weight. He produced an accomplished display to defeat Ahead Of Plan by a neck, setting up a potential challenge for Game Winner along with Mind Control at the Churchill Downs at the beginning of November.