Friday, May. 31, 2024

Camaron Hills Shanroe Shows The Way At HITS Desert Circuit IV

Joie Gatlin gets the ride and starts winning right away.

In 2006, a pregnant Molly Talla sat out the FEI World Cup Final and handed the reins of Camaron Hills Shanroe to Richard Spooner, who rode the talented Irish gelding to 18th at the Final in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
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Joie Gatlin gets the ride and starts winning right away.

In 2006, a pregnant Molly Talla sat out the FEI World Cup Final and handed the reins of Camaron Hills Shanroe to Richard Spooner, who rode the talented Irish gelding to 18th at the Final in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

This year, it’s Joie Gatlin’s turn. Talla, pregnant again, gave the ride on Camaron Hills Shanroe to her this winter. Gatlin and Shanroe promptly started winning, and during the HITS Desert Circuit IV, Feb. 19-24 in Thermal, Calif., they added the win in the $50,000 Torneau CSI-W to their resume together.

Shanroe and Gatlin were the only ones of the 19 starters to post a clear round. Gatlin found Dave Ballard’s course demanding from the start. “Even jump No. 1 was challenging, a very short approach off the right lead, and then a blind turn to No. 2, so you needed to know right where you were on stride,” Gatlin said. “For sure it was technical, with a lot of blind turns. You really needed to make sure your horse was with you and rideable, and that you’ve done your homework on the flat so that they’re prepared for anything you ask them to do.”

Gatlin and Shanroe started off on the right foot together, winning the $125,000 Desert Circuit II Grand Prix on Feb. 3. “I’m very grateful and very thankful to have the ride,” said Gatlin.

With the 19 World Cup points she earned, Gatlin stands seventh in the West Coast World Cup standings. The top three U.S. riders from the West Coast qualify for the final. Since standings leader Guy Thomas rides for New Zealand and Chris Pratt—third in the standings—rides for Canada, Gatlin has a shot at qualifying. There are three more World Cup-qualifiers left in California in March, in Thermal, Del Mar and San Juan Capistrano.

California riders aiming for the FEI World Cup Final—to be held Apr. 24-27 in Gothenburg, Sweden—have enjoyed riding in the new indoor arena at HITS Desert Circuit. Course designer Ballard sees the new indoor as part of a welcome and long-overdue change.

For many years, most of the U.S. World Cup-qualifiers have been contested in large outdoor rings in California and Florida. This simply did not prepare riders for what they faced in the finals, held in tight indoor rings. “Tremendous things have been done out here, as well as on the East Coast,” he said. “North America is really trying to compete with the Europeans.”

As the fastest four-faulter, Mandy Porter rode Summer to second behind Gatlin in the CSI-W. But she wasn’t gong to be beaten two days later, when she guided Summer to the top of the $50,000 Strongid C 2X Grand Prix with the only clear jump-off round.

Porter has complete faith in Summer’s abilities, so she saw nothing during her course walk that was beyond the Belgian mare’s scope. “Summer and I know each other so well, I wasn’t really so concerned with a particular spot,” she said. “People were having a little trouble with the five-stride line to the in-and-out. It was quite scopey coming out, and I think a lot of horses were quite surprised at how big the last oxer was. With Summer, it’s just a matter of putting a little more leg on and telling her she has to jump a little harder.”

Porter, one of three clear in the first round, found the jump-off track very much to her liking. “It enabled us to be pretty smooth and just keep on a bit of a gallop,” she said. “That’s a better track for us instead of hard, sharp turns and stopping and starting. It’s good if I can just get her on a good flow and keep going.”

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Porter, riding second in the jump-off, might have opted for a careful clear. But, “I was going fast, because Richard Spooner was behind me,” said Porter, laughing. “That’s a given. If Richard Spooner’s behind you, you have to go fast.”

When Quirino 3 pulled two rails early in the jump-off, Spooner pulled up and left Porter on top.

Crown Affair Conquers

Crown Affair caught Gail Morey’s eye two years ago during the HITS Desert Circuit and she bought him. This year, they combined forces to take the amateur-owner hunter, 36 and over, championship at HITS Desert Circuit IV and place second in the amateur-owner hunter classic.

“I tried him and it was just a really good fit,” she said. “I’d admired him before that. I thought he’d be the horse for me. He makes it fun.”

Morey, who trains with Wendy Carter and Missy Froley, owns Yellow Dog Farm in Menlo Park, Calif. Why Yellow Dog Farm? “I have two yellow Labs at home,” said Morey.

Parris Cozart Collins relocated to California from Virginia a few years ago and has found the atmosphere
much to her liking. “It has been more fun coming to the West Coast because people are so friendly and welcoming,” she said. “I’ve really enjoyed showing out here.”

Collins, who trains with Jeff Katz and Bud Wolf, left her amateur hunter at home for the Desert Circuit. Her trainers found plenty of horses for her to ride, however, and it paid off in the win in the Marshall & Sterling adult amateur hunter classic aboard Bridget Twomey’s Bombay. They were also reserve champions in the adult amateur, 36-45, division.

“I sat on the horse for the first time the day before the class, and he just ended up being a superstar,” she said. “I love to catch-ride. It brings me back to intercollegiate days when you had to hop on a horse and figure it out just like that.”

Collins, class of ’93, spent her collegiate days at Hollins University in Roanoke, Va., where she was on the school’s Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association team.

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Polar Star Navigates To Wins

After 21⁄2 years together, Conor Perrin knows Polar Star well. That close relationship paid off with the win in the Marshall & Sterling children’s hunter classic and the children’s hunter, 14-17, tricolor.

Perrin, 14, trains with John Bragg and Nick Hanness. He lives in Orange, Calif., just south of Los Angeles, and started riding about seven years ago. “Where we live, there’s a little riding facility,” he said. “My mom decided to put us in a riding camp, and from there I started showing ponies. Then I got my first horse, and then another horse, and then I got Polar Star.”

Perrin’s mother also rides, showing in the adult amateurs. Occasionally, when the children’s and adult divisions combine, or in classics, they go head-to-head. “It’s fun to compete against her sometimes,” he said.

Ashley Pryde, 15, made a big move that paid off. Last year, she started riding with Archie Cox and Peter Lombardo at their Brookway Stables near Los Angeles. Since Pryde lives in Medina, Wash., it’s quite a commitment. She flies from her home near Seattle almost every weekend to take lessons or show. The travel paid off when she rode her Truly to win the large junior hunter classic.

“It’s hard,” she said. “I do my homework on the plane and whenever I get a chance.”

But Pryde said that her riding has improved tremendously. “What Archie did is taught me sportsmanship, how to cooperate, and when times are tough, how to get through it,” she said.

Cox also took Pryde shopping on the East Coast last fall, where she found Truly. The elegant bay gelding had been a consistent winner in the professional divisions with Scott Stewart and in the juniors with Alexandra Stathis.

Matt Hinton

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