Wednesday, Jul. 24, 2024

King Comes Out On Top In The Country Classic

Kyle King said his mare's experience at Spruce Meadows (Alta.) helped her win the $35,000 Country Classic Grand Prix at the Country Classic Horse Show in Wilsonville, Ore., July 14-18.

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Kyle King said his mare’s experience at Spruce Meadows (Alta.) helped her win the $35,000 Country Classic Grand Prix at the Country Classic Horse Show in Wilsonville, Ore., July 14-18.

Seven horses jumped clean in the first round, and Sharn Wordley set the pace early in thejump-off with what seemed to be an unbeatable time of 40.24 seconds, on Mr. Flanagin. Rich Fellers, who had four horses in the jump-off, tried unsuccessfully to beat Wordley aboard McGuinness, Ketel One, Tulip and Gyro. But King was the only one to best Wordley, putting in a lightening-fast round in 40.03 seconds on Estival, a 7-year-old, American-bred Hanoverian mare by Esbjerg, who is owned by Kathryn Hall. Fellers took third on McGuinness.

“She’s the nicest young horse I’ve ever had,” said King, of San Marcos, Calif. “She just keeps getting better and better.” Estival did the 4’9″ classes at Spruce Meadows, and King said that she really matured from that experience. He will be showing in the Pacific Northwest this summer before returning to California, and he may attempt an embryo transfer from Estival this winter.

New Zealander Wordley, who has been showing primarily in Europe for the past 10 years, has spent the last several months in the United States. He and his partner, Beverly Grundhofer, bought a four-horse trailer, filled it with very nice horses, hired groom Asia Vedders and have been winning all over the West Coast.

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On Friday afternoon, in the Level 8 Jumper Challenge, six of 17 starters jumped clean in the first round. Wordley and Mr. Flanagin, a 14-year-old, Irish gelding by Cavalier, took advantage of being last to go and won with a very efficient track between fences 1 and 2 in the jump-off in a time of 32.83 seconds. Mandy Porter on LioCaylon, a 12-year-old, brown Holsteiner stallion owned by Wild Turkey Farm of Woodside, Calif., took second place with a jump-off time of 33.98 seconds.

In the Country Classic Jumper Speed Derby, Wordley won again, this time on Cody, a 19-year-old full brother to the famous Dutch stallion Mr. Blue. Wordley and the 16.1-hand, gray gelding, purchased from James Fisher of England, put in a blazing round to beat out King on Riptide.

Commissar, owned and ridden by 18-year-old Jacqueline Fleckenstein of Sammamish, Wash., won the modified junior/amateur jumper championship. The 14-year-old, Russian Warmblood gelding was bred by the Lenin Cooperative Farm in the Ukraine for the exhibition cavalry. After the fall of communism, the cavalry lost its financial support and was disbanded. The horses, including “Cosmo,” who was still a stallion, were turned loose to fend for themselves in Siberia. Several years later, the survivors were rounded up for auction, and Cosmo was purchased and imported to the States.

He already had a successful career when he came up for sale again, and Fleckenstein, who is trained by Tami Masters and Jennifer Hansen of Starfire Farm in Lakewood, Wash., saw his videotape. “We went out to see him, and I knew I had to have this horse,” she said. Although he had never been lame, the pre-purchase exam caught several old injuries that deserved rehabilitation. She decided to wait until he recovered and bought the horse of her dreams anyway. Fleckenstein will go to a local university so she can stay with Cosmo and keep showing him as an amateur. She plans on owning him forever and eventually turning him loose again, this time at a lovely Pacific Northwest retirement farm.

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Sallie and Jim Cutler, owners of Hunter Creek Farm, home to The Country Classic Horse Show, celebrated wins with their own horse, Crown Affair. The 9-year-old, Holsteiner stallion scored tricolors in the conformation hunter division with trainer Jeff Campf riding and also in the adult amateur, 41 and over, hunter division with Sallie in the irons. He found his niche with the Cutlers after unsuccessful stints at eventing and dressage, where he was considered too lethargic. Campf took him on consignment to the HITS Desert Circuit in Indio (Calif.) to try him out as a hunter. “I didn’t need another horse,” said Sallie. “But I just fell in love with him.”

Even though he’s a stallion, Cutler shows the quiet horse in the adult amateur ring herself. “He’s a great professional’s horse and a fantastic amateur horse, and that’s a really hard combination to come up with,” said Shelly Campf.

The Country Classic has been held for more than 30 years but has relocated to Sallie and Jim Cutler’s Hunter Creek Farm, on the scenic Willamette River in the middle of Oregon’s wine country. The Cutlers bought the 180-acre property in 1998 after driving by it on the way to the previous Classic location and thinking that the flat but overgrown tree nursery would make an exceptional equestrian park. They were right. A full-size bronze sculpture of a mare and her jumping foal titled “First Jump,” by sculptor Lorenzo Ghiglieri, graces the entrance to the park, which now includes five show arenas, four with all-weather footing, and a large, grass grand prix field. Future plans include permanent stabling for 400 horses and two large indoor arenas for winter shows.

The property spans a busy country road, requiring a horses-only underpass between the grand prix field and the rest of the rings and stabling. The south side of the equestrian park includes the Cutler personal residence and castle-themed pool house along the meandering Willamette River, where a Friday evening pool party is held for exhibitors. The show benefits the Assistance League of Portland, which provides free dental care for children of low-income families.

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