Friday, May. 24, 2024

Ashlee Bond Makes A Winning Devon Debut In $226,000 Sapphire Grand Prix

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Devon, Pa.—June 1

Thirty years ago, when she was 8 years old, Ashlee Bond came to the Devon Horse Show to try two small ponies. It took her three decades to come back to the Pennsylvania show grounds.

“I literally tried two ponies, and we left,” said Bond. “I was a West Coaster. I knew Devon, and I’d heard amazing things, I just never got over here.”

Ashlee Bond and Donatello 141 met their fans following their win in the $226,000 Sapphire Grand Prix. Mollie Bailey Photos

Bond wasted no time making herself at home in the Dixon Oval this year, riding Donatello 141 to the top of the $226,000 Sapphire Grand Prix of Devon. Bond was blown away by the packed crowd at Devon, and after her victory gallop she spent 15 minutes in the ring chatting with spectators and letting them pet her 12-year-old Westphalian (Diarado—Luna).

Ashlee Bond and Donatello 141 jumped to the top of the class.

“Aachen [Germany] is the only other place that I’ve felt this kind of energy,” said Bond, Wellington, Florida. “Everyone just talked about how incredible the people are, how knowledgeable they are. They were so enthusiastic.”

She was happy to spend time after her victory gallop hanging out and talking to the fans.

“They come here and stand out, and they’re outside for hours watching us,” she said. “They were really appreciative. I think we all are, of being able to have this kind of environment. The average sports get this all the time, but we don’t. It’s cool to give back to the crowd.”

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Twenty-four combinations took a turn around Mexican course designer Anderson Lima’s track, and only three found a fault-free path. Long time Devon competitor Devin Ryan, who finished second with Eddie Blue, said he had expected more riders to join them in the jump-off.

Donatello 141 admired his supporters in the crowd after winning the $226,000 Sapphire Grand Prix of Devon.

“We’ve jumped bigger here in the past,” he said. “Sometimes you could say at the triple [combination] the horses are going through and the crowd is right there on the rail going, ‘Oh, ah, no.’ You wonder if it becomes a mind game for the horse. You have to have a competitor out there. It’s sort of like stage fright. Some of the horses shut down a little bit.”

Bond didn’t even walk the jump-off course. First to go, she laid down a strong round.

Donatello 141 and Ashlee Bond enjoyed their victory gallop after winning the $226,000 Sapphire Grand Prix of Devon.

“I’ve had my horse for six years, so it’s always kind of the same plan: just do what I feel is right for my horse, regardless who’s behind me,” said Bond. “If it’s in the cards, it is, and if not, it’s not. I was just kind of [doing] my own thing.”

Watch their winning jump-off round, courtesy of USEF Network:

Bond said she asked fellow competitor McLain Ward about some striding but didn’t walk the jump-off course herself.

“I usually never walk the jump-offs no matter what horse I’m riding, but specifically with ‘Donnie,'” she said. “He’s so adjustable. I land, and I’m just always pushing him to go as fast as he’ll go. He’s not really trying to run; I’m encouraging him to go faster. I just see where I’m at and do what I feel he can do in that moment, and it’s worked out so far most of the time.”

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Eddie Blue and Devin Ryan claimed second.

Eddie Blue and Ryan left the rails in the cups but finished exactly 1 second slower than Bond.

“I think I was up halfway through, but then he’s not as quick-footed as Ashlee’s horse,” said Ryan of his longtime partner. “He’s a little bit slower. I probably should have taken a risk to the last fence and done a double leave-out and done eight strides versus the nine, but I didn’t quite see it; I didn’t quite believe in it. That’s show jumping.”

Robin de Ponthual and Schuyler Riley claimed third.

Last to go in the jump-off, Schuyler Riley ticked a rail early on with Robin De Ponthual to finish third.

“’Robin’ absolutely loves it here,” she said. “The very first year I jumped him here, I remember I was kind of discouraged because I was on a 4-fault streak. I went to lunch with Laura Kraut, and she said, ‘That means you’re knocking at the door, and soon you’re going to jump clear. And sure enough, I jumped clear. One of my first big clears with Robin was right here in the Dixon Oval. He’s always been brilliant here. He just loves the atmosphere; he knows the crowd is behind every horse/rider combination. It’s kind of unlike anywhere else.”

In addition to finishing fourth in the $226,000 Sapphire Grand Prix of Devon, Raleigh Hiler, on Obora’s Chloe, earned the RIchard E. McDevitt Style Award.
Jessica Mendoza and I-Cap CLZ landed in fifth.

Full Results

The Chronicle will have photo galleries, stories about each day’s competition and so much more on www.coth.com. Be sure to follow us on FacebookInstagram and Twitter to make sure you don’t miss a thing.

Don’t forget to pick up copies of The Chronicle of the Horse magazine. Junior Weekend coverage will be found in the June 12 & 19 issue, and coverage of Senior Week will be in the June 26 issue.

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