Wednesday, May. 29, 2024

Monte Cristo Claims The Grand Prix De Santa Fe

Bjorn Ikast knows Monte Cristo’s strengths. “He’s not always the fastest, but he’s very good when the tracks are big,” Ikast said.

Fortunately for Ikast, speed wasn’t essential to winning the $40,000 Las Campanas Grand Prix De Santa Fe on June 28 in Santa Fe, N.M.

“There were only three in the jump-off, and I was first to go, so I went for the clean round. It worked out well for me,” Ikast said. “It was a nice big track. The footing was good, but it had rained a bit, so it was a little slippery. We had to be a little conservative in the turns.”

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Bjorn Ikast knows Monte Cristo’s strengths. “He’s not always the fastest, but he’s very good when the tracks are big,” Ikast said.

Fortunately for Ikast, speed wasn’t essential to winning the $40,000 Las Campanas Grand Prix De Santa Fe on June 28 in Santa Fe, N.M.

“There were only three in the jump-off, and I was first to go, so I went for the clean round. It worked out well for me,” Ikast said. “It was a nice big track. The footing was good, but it had rained a bit, so it was a little slippery. We had to be a little conservative in the turns.”

John Pearce—who had two rides in the jump-off—watched Ikast and Monte Cristo jump their way to a slower clear round. Pearce knew what he had to do.

“He was pretty slow, so I thought I’d just make a couple of good turns,” Pearce said. “But it had been raining quite a bit during the grand prix and while the footing was quite nice, it got slippery. I almost fell down on [Chianto] and had one down. The second horse [Sylvester] wasn’t dealing well with slipping and sliding in the ring and had three down.”

Ikast’s patience won the day and the top check, and he placed sixth on Day Dream and seventh on Brave Heart as well. He won the class in 2008 on Brave Heart and was second in 2007 on Monte Cristo.

The Grand Prix De Santa Fe show, June 25-28, is the brainchild of grand prix rider Guy McElvain, and this was its sixth year. The show takes place at the Las Campanas residential community, with one grass ring and solely jumper classes.

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“They make it very special; it’s just a beautiful show,” Ikast said. “They get very good crowds, and the show was sold out with horses.”

The show donates its proceeds to equestrian and social services charities in the Santa Fe area.

Ikast had a good weekend in Santa Fe, also winning the Master’s Choice class on Friday night aboard Omar Shariff. The class is unusual—10 riders compete in a knock-down-and-out format. The trick to the class is that as each rider enters the ring, he or she indicates one fence to be raised. If it’s jumped clean, the prize money increases by $100.

By the time Ikast and Omar Shariff prevailed with the last clean round, all of the jumps stood at 5’6″.

“It’s very crowd friendly and fun for the riders. And I think the horses get more and more relaxed every time they come in the ring,” Ikast said.

Ikast has had Omar Shariff for two months, having bought him from Allison Kroff.

“We’ve been watching him a long time and always liked him. He’s 13, but he’s a great horse,” Ikast said of the Dutch Warmblood (Indoctro—Ischmiran). “I hope he’ll come back to the grand prix. He seems happy and good; Allison did a great job with him, and I’m happy to have him.”

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On the other hand, Ikast has had Monte Cristo for eight years, bringing the Danish Warmblood along from a 7-year-old in the 1.30-meter division to the grand prix. Ikast laughed when he recalled that Monte Cristo has been second place in 15 grand prix classes.

Ikast and his wife, Clara, stopped at the Santa Fe show on their way from their Mexico City, Mexico, home base to the Colorado summer circuit in Parker and Estes Park.

Pearce will join them there. The Toronto, Ont., native usually spends his summers at the Spruce Meadows (Alta.), venue, but he decided to make a change this year.

“I thought it would be some great mileage for these horses without putting too much pressure on them,” Pearce said.

Pearce is in a rebuilding phase for his string, since former ride Archie Bunker was sold, veteran Urioso suffered a career-ending injury, and Champagne retired. “I’m into a new group of horses now,” he said.
Chianto (Carano DVH 521—Prisara Von Harknag DR89), who placed second in Santa Fe, is a 13-year-old warmblood Pearce has been riding for 11⁄2 years. “He’s a good consistent horse who keeps getting me in the ring,” Pearce said.

Sylvester is younger, at 10, and Pearce has high hopes for him. “He’s a little inexperienced, but he’s got a lot of jump and is very brave, so we’ll see what happens with him. I’m excited because I’ve got some nice young horses coming up,” he said.

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