The Markel Insurance 1.45m Jumper Series returned to the Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park at San Juan Capistrano on Saturday with twenty-one horse/rider combinations competing on the The Oaks International Grand Prix field. In the end, it was Angel Karolyi and Cooper, owned by Joan Hope, finishing at the top of the leaderboard with Emily Esau-Williams and Crack One, owned by Ixchel Mosley, a close second.
Olympic medalist and world-renowned course designer, Michel Vaillencourt created the 1.45m track that tested riders with tight combinations and challenging bending lines. “I was hoping for four in the jump-off and that’s exactly what we got”, said Vaillencourt. “I tried to build a fair, yet challenging course, based on the competitors that we have here today.”
In round one, Hugh Mutch and his mount, Johnny Cash, were first to navigate Vaillencourt’s course, fault-free. He was matched by the following rider, Lisa McCluskey and Cavalos, ensuring a jump-off. After moving down in the order because his horse threw a shoe, Karolyi and Cooper followed making it three clear rounds in a row. Esau-Willams earned her way through to the second round as the fourth and final rider to go clean.
First to ride in the jump-off, Karolyi and Cooper set the pace with an impressive time of 41.481 seconds, aided by their ability to execute tight turns take a stride out of the final line. Hugh Mutch and Lisa McClusky followed but they were unable to negotiate the shortened course without a rail, each ending up with four faults. That left the door open for Emily Eseau-Williams. However, despite her double clear, she was unable to catch Karolyi, finishing a fraction of a second slower with 41.982 on the clock.
In his post win interview, Angel commented, “Cooper is a new mount for me. We’ve clicked fairly quickly. I qualified him for the Pan American Games and next, I plan to take Cooper and my other horse, April Moon, to qualify for the World Cup throughout the Fall.
The Grand Prix was held currently with the $2,500 Blenheim EquiSports U25 Jumper Classic. Of the seven entries, two riders returned for a jump-off to determine the winner. The title went to Melody Liu and Carnutelabryere owned by Shelly Gambardella.
Saturday’s grand prix was the nineth of thirteen qualifying events in the Markel Insurance 1.45m Jumper Series to be held throughout the Blenheim EquiSports 2019 Horse Show Season, with the Final to be held during The Las Vegas National, November 11 – 17, 2019.
Competition continues next week in Del Mar California at the Showpark Summer Classic featuring the $25,000 Markel 1.45m Jumper Classic and Blenheim EquiSports $50,000 1.50m Grand Prix of Showpark.
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