Of the 30 horse-and-rider combinations that competed on the grass field at the Del Mar Horse Park in the combined $25,000 Markel Insurance 1.45-Meter Grand Prix and $2,500 Blenheim EquiSports U25 Jumper Classic, 12 completed the course without a fault to return for the jump-off. Twenty-eight-year-old Gonzalo Azcarraga, of Mexico, and his Zalerno, made their mark by stopping the clock in a blazing 41.71 seconds to take the win. Two U25 riders competed in the jump-off, and it was Pablo Vizcaino riding ZZ Top who was victorious.
Scott Starnes designed the track, which included two combinations, a triple bar, a liverpool and several related lines. Of the 12 riders to return, six finished double clean, making for an exciting class until the final ride. First to return, Juan Carlos Martin del Campo and Paddington 92, set the time to beat, with a clean and speedy performance in 43.41 seconds. He held the lead until the eighth pair galloped in, Jaime Azcarraga aboard Verdinale. Fault-free and fast in 42.01 seconds, they took over the top spot.
Eleventh to go, Gonzalo Azcarraga, Jaime’s son, made daring inside turns and used the open spaces to his advantage, to cross the timers in a sizzling 41.71 seconds. Thrilling until the end, last to go Bjorn Ikast and Classini gave it a gallant effort, ultimately finishing in second place by a nose in a time of 42.00.
Gonzalo credited his Dutch stallion with the win. “Zalerno has been with me for quite some time now. He’s a very dependable and fun horse for me. Today was a great day for us, so we are really happy.”
Gonzalo is looking forward to the rest of this season’s competition with Zalerno and his other mounts. “We’ll go back to Mexico and do a few international shows there and see how the rest of the season goes.”
To wrap-up the great day, the Azcarragas also tied for the Romfh Leading Open Jumper Rider Award, both earning a total of 25 points throughout the Showpark Series. Jaime came in to the class with 19 points and Gonzalo with 10. The only chance Gonzalo had to earn the award was with a win, which that he did. His father’s third place raised his points just enough to tie Gonzalo’s score.
Of the two riders who competed in the jump-off for the U25 competition, Kelsey Maloney rode La Coco to a four-fault score in 43.64. Pablo Vizcaino and ZZ Top also had a four-fault score but stopped the clock in 42.81 seconds. The pair’s effort was tops in the $2,500 Blenheim EquiSports U25 Jumper Classic and also earned them a 7th place finish in the Markel Insurance Grand Prix. Vizcaino had a successful two weeks of competition in Del Mar, as the up-and-coming pair also finished 11th in last week’s FEI CSI** $35,500 Gold Tour Grand Prix.