It’s a battle down to the wire for the leading grand prix rider title.
It’s a long haul from Gulfport, Miss. to Mexico City, Mexico—30 mind-numbing hours, to be exact.
But after the final day of the five-week Gulf Coast Winter Circuit, Bjorn Ikast and his crew faced that journey to their home base with renewed energy and spirits in the wake of Ikast’s victory in the $25,000 Budweiser Grand Prix at the Gulf Coast Sunshine Classic V, March 12-16.
As the jump-off for the $15,000 Brownland Farm Summer Mini Prix shaped up, it developed into a duel between Richard Rinehart and David Jennings.
They each qualified two mounts for the finale of the Brownland Farm Summer show, July 4-8 in Franklin, Tenn. But as the two traded perform-ances, Rinehart emerged victorious on Rolling Hill Farm’s Yukon Cornelius with the only double clear.
It couldn’t exactly be classified as maternity leave, but the two months that Santina H recently took off for an embryo-transfer procedure evidently served her well.
The mare’s first trip back to the show ring since last April netted a win in the $25,000 Blue Ribbon Grand Prix at the Blue Ribbon Summer I Horse Show, June 20-24 in Waco, Texas, with Whitney Owens aboard.
Tracy Fenney and her 11-year-old, Dutch Warmblood S&L Willie bested a trio of jump-off challengers in the $30,000 Pin Oak Charity Horse Show Grand Prix II on April 1 near Houston, Texas.
"Willie is just happy to go and do whatever!" Fenney said of her partner of six years. "He acts like the course is a playground to him, and he just has a good time out there. It helped that all the jumps were inviting to jump, but he was pretty much on for whatever I asked him to do."
Only two of 17 horses went clean on a deceptively challenging course in the $10,000 Thanksgiving Show Grand Prix. In the end, by just over 2 seconds, Belynda Bond and the Belgian-bred gelding Sea Cove edged out fellow Texas trainer Mike McCormick aboard Remington in Waco, Texas, Dec. 3.
His name means "one who makes merry" in Spanish, and at the $30,0000 Pin Oak II Grand Prix, the young horse Parrandero lived up to the moniker as he and JohnPerez topped a field of 26 at the Pin Oak Charity II in Katy, Texas, Mar. 30-Apr. 3.
The victory marked just the fourth grand prix start for Parrandero, an 8-year-old gelding by the Holsteiner Contender. "It was simply the right moment and the right horse," said Perez, 30, a Colombian native who lives in Mexico City. "He was jumping incredibly and turning really well. The turns made the difference here, I think."
Meagan Nusz, 17, and her big, black gelding Pikeur's Xstatic delivered the weekend surprise at the $25,000 Dallas Harvest Grand Prix on Nov. 6, conquering a formidable field of mostly veteran jumpers at the Las Colinas Equestrian Center in Irving, Texas. Among the nearly two dozen competitors was Nusz' longtime idol Tracy Fenney, who rode Naboo, S&L Willie and Grace to second, third and seventh, respectively.