An enthusiastic crowd gathered around The Oaks International Grand Prix Field on June 30 in San Juan Capistrano, to enjoy a delicious exhibitor barbecue by Pacific Thyme, and to cheer on 20 competitors in the $30,000 Markel Insurance 1.45-meter Grand Prix. Keri Potter and the feisty 12-year-old gelding, Bitalica owned by Julia Koetting led the victory gallop as the fastest double-clean pair of the class. Potter’s client, Hannah Loly, took the blue in the U25 Jumper Classic, held concurrently with the grand prix.
Course designer Mauricio Garcia of Puerto Rico built the 1.45-meter track, which included a challenging triple combination, double combination and many related lines.
Second to go in the jump-off, Potter rode efficiently, stopping the clock in 39.61 seconds. “I went early in the jump-off and knew there were a lot of fast riders and horses to go after me,” Potter said. “He’s a fast horse, so it was a matter of turns. I was able to make an inside turn at the end of the ring where everyone else went around, and I made sure to make quick and tidy turns.”
Angel Karolyi and Serena Anand’s Brandee were the final pair to attempt the jump-off track. Fast but not quite fast enough to catch Potter, he stopped the clock in 39.67 seconds, finishing in second by only .06 seconds.
Potter and Bitalica are creating a solid bond. “I’ve been riding him for about a year and a half,” she said. “Every horse show I do with him he seems to get more comfortable and confident with me. We’ve clicked and know each other pretty well. He’s very competitive and really fast. He’s probably one of the most talented horses I’ve ever ridden. It’s fun to have the opportunity to ride him.”
Earlier this year during the Blenheim Spring Classic 2, the duo claimed top honors in the inaugural $80,000 CSI*** Gold Tour Grand Prix. Looking forward to the rest of the season, Potter is planning on competing the gelding in Longines FEI Jumping World Cup qualifiers and has the final in Gothenburg, Sweden, as a goal.
Six qualifiers remain in the Markel Insurance 1.45-meter Grand Prix Series, where the top 25 point earners are invited to the Markel Insurance 1.45-meter Series Final at The Las Vegas National CSI****-W.