Jonathan Holling and Lion King posted one of only two double-clear rounds in the Red Hills CIC***W show jumping, to win the coveted title on March 11 in Tallahassee, Fla. He stole the win from Darren Chiacchia and Windfall, who’d held the lead from the dressage, when Windfall knocked two rails on Fuzzy Mayo’s course, and Phillip Dutton, who’d been in second place overnight, dislodged one rail aboard Tru Luck. Sarah Hansel posted the only other clear round, on The Quiet Man, to finish 13th.
“This is a little surreal—I never came in thinking I was going to win,” said Holling, who was runner-up last year. “We came out, and, to me, I didn’t feel like we were quite clicking. We were a little lucky on a few fences.”
But Holling’s round appeared nearly flawless, as “Simba” hardly touched a rail. “It was not fun watching Darren have rails down,” added Holling, of Ocala, Fla. “He’s a good friend; we go to the gym together every day, and to win that way was not fun. It was tough to watch, not that I didn’t smile a little bit.”
Chiacchia, who winters in Ocala, said he couldn’t fault Windfall. “It just goes that way,” he said. “He jumped well; he went well. Sometimes you rattle them and they don’t go anywhere, and sometimes they do. He tried his heart out. We just had a little bad luck.”
Windfall and Chiacchia won the CIC***W in 2004, but Dutton won it in 2003 (Nova Top), 2005 and 2006 (The Foreman).
Holling receives the use of a BMW for a year, which is fitting since his wife, Jennifer, had to give up buying a BMW six years ago in order for Holling to purchase Simba. So the car will be hers to pick out and drive.
Kate Luce, 19, captured the win in the CIC*** in her first three-star and only her fourth advanced event. Imtiaz Anees, who’d led from the dressage, had to withdraw before show jumping due to some scratches Extravagance incurred on the cross-country course.
Luce, of Mobile, Ala., had one rail aboard Fox In Flight, an experienced, 18-year-old campaigner, but no one in the CIC*** jumped clear, and the one rail just widened her lead.
“I’m so excited,” said Luce, who trains with Chiacchia. “I knew my horse would do everything, and he was perfect.”
Amy Tryon held onto her lead in the advanced aboard Le Samurai with a clear round, and Emilee Libby moved up into second place with the other clear round of the advanced division, aboard Cahir.
Buck Davidson topped a huge field of 48 competitors in the CIC**, aboard Ballynoecastle RM with a clear show jumping round, and Clark Montgomery/Up Spirit and Karen O’Connor/Mandiba finished second and third, also with clear rounds.