Michelle Parker could be forgiven for not going all out in the jump-off for the $25,000 Strongid C 2X Grand Prix during the HITS Arizona Desert Finals. After all, her mount, Reina, had just stepped up to the grand prix level last week.
“I tried to go fast at the beginning and then ride a little conservatively in the middle,” said Parker. “I knew with those fast riders coming behind me I might be beaten, but I got a little lucky.”
But a clean round won the day, when neither Bjorn Ikast on his two jump-off contenders Monte Cristo and Omar Shariff nor Brandie Holloway on Alley Oop could leave the rails in the cups. Parker took the top check back to San Marcos, Calif., today, March 14.
Holloway and her veteran partner Alley Oop came closest to Parker, laying down a snappy round but suffering a rail halfway through to take second, and the feisty Omar Shariff took third for Ikast.
Parker has long been a major grand prix contender during the HITS Arizona circuit, most notably aboard Socrates de Midos, who also took a turn around the grand prix field today. But her newest star isn’t nearly as confirmed, even though she just turned 11.
“She came to me when she was just 7, and she’d had a little bit of a late start because she spent some time as a broodmare when she was younger,” said Parker. “I always knew she was a nice horse, but she was spooky at walls. She would just walk into a ring and look at them.”
But a few years in remedial training got Reina on board, and she started to come into her own the last season, becoming more and more competitive as the year went on. And this year’s HITS Arizona circuit saw the Holsteiner pick up plenty of ribbons for owner Tulla Pinnella, including a double-clear, fourth-placed performance in last week’s $25,000 HITS Grand Prix, the first of her career. She also won the $5,000 Level 8 Welcome Class on Friday.
As a Tucson native, plenty of friends and family piled into the stands at the Pima County Fairgrounds to root Parker on, and she couldn’t have been happier to have her newest grand prix ride rise to the occasion.
“We’re very excited to have a new one,” she said.
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