Saturday, May. 25, 2024

Barron Blazes His Way To The Top Of The $350,000 Sunshine Grand Prix

Thermal, Calif.—Nov. 9

Lucy Davis and Barron have won all over the world together, and today they returned to the place where it all began to take home another big check. They topped the $350,000 Sunshine Grand Prix at the HITS Desert Horse Park, the site of their first show together nearly three years ago.

“We always like to come back here for the big events,” said Davis, who’s from nearby Los Angeles. “Barron seems to always perform really well here. We usually come from school after having a break, and he always does well.”  

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Thermal, Calif.—Nov. 9

Lucy Davis and Barron have won all over the world together, and today they returned to the place where it all began to take home another big check. They topped the $350,000 Sunshine Grand Prix at the HITS Desert Horse Park, the site of their first show together nearly three years ago.

“We always like to come back here for the big events,” said Davis, who’s from nearby Los Angeles. “Barron seems to always perform really well here. We usually come from school after having a break, and he always does well.”  

Davis beat out Jonathan McCrea and Special Lux for the win, and Paris Sellon took third on Adare. Andres Rodriguez’ SF Ariantha pulled two rails in the jump-off to finish fourth.

“He’s been with me now three years and has progressed a lot,” said Davis, 23. “I was just saying earlier how he’s become a lot more rideable, so I had to learn how to ride him as he adjusted. Our first show was actually HITS a couple winters ago, and there was a lot of hopping and circling. Every time I come back and he puts in an amazing round it reminds me how far he’s come.”

Go Behind The Stall Door with Barron to get to know this special horse.

The 22-horse start list included plenty of heavy hitters who flocked to Thermal for the competition, and most will be staying west for the Las Vegas CSI-W next week.

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McLain Ward and Rothchild, who won on Friday, pulled two rails in the first round today, and Beezie Madden’s Simon took a pole down as well. Kent Farrington brought Uceko out to score the fastest 4-fault trip, and Rich Fellers and Flexible ticked two as well.

Four riders found a clear way around Alan Wade’s first round track. Sellon, who rode on young rider and Prix des States teams with Davis, served as pathfinder in the jump-off.

“It’s always hard to gauge what you need to do when you go first,” said Sellon, 23. “I just wanted to have a nice double clear and be smooth and efficient. My horse performed exactly as I wanted him to.”

McCrea set out to outrun Sellon, and set the crowd gasping with a hard rub at the last fence.

“When there’s only four in the jump-off, no one’s going for second place,” he said. “My plan was to go slightly quicker than Paris early in the course, and I got a little lucky at the last fence. But everyone needs a little luck.”

Davis used Barron’s natural footspeed to shave a full second off McCrea’s time and take the win. 

Davis is finishing her final quarter at Stanford University (Calif.), but she’s already thinking beyond graduation. She and Barron have represented the United States twice at the Furusiyya Nations Cup Final (Spain), the Alltech/FEI World Equestrian Games (France) and numerous Nations Cup teams, and she’s hoping to add an Olympic Games to that list with next year’s competition in Rio de Janeiro.  

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This is the first year that HITS President Tom Struzzieri put on a five-star competition in the late fall; last year the new two-week series culminated in an FEI World Cup Qualifier. He admitted he’d have preferred a bigger turnout than 22 for the five-star grand prix. 

“The whole thing is an investment in the sport,” said Struzzieri. “A business person might look at this and say that it’s not a terrifically brilliant idea to have this this week, but I don’t see it that way at all. If we’re going to have a business 10 years from now it’s incumbent upon us to do what we can to raise the bar, make the events as good as they can, try to entice the situation so that the two beautiful ladies to my right, who started out riding here on ponies and juniors and now are serious riders and now of course are excelling, we want to continue to find people like that to help promote the sport. We feel like it’s been one of our responsibilities.” 

Want more Sunshine Series II? How about tour of the barns, complete with fall and Halloween-themed tackrooms. 

We have coverage of the $100,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby, and don’t miss our story about Lauren Hough swapping over to the hunters for that class.

Catch up with Rothchild’s big win in yesterday’s $100,000 Coachella Valley Classic. 

Check out the Nov. 23 & 30 issue of the Chronicle for full analysis of the competition. 

Find full results at ryegate.com. 

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