Tuesday, May. 28, 2024

Obligado’s Day Comes At The $50,000 L.A. International Grand Prix

Competing against Richard Spooner in the jump-off of a grand prix is never easy, but when you go after him at least you know exactly how fast you have to go. Argentine rider Guillermo Obligado had that chance in the $50,000 L.A. International Grand Prix at the Los Angeles International Jumping Festival, Burbank, Calif., Sept. 21-25.

"He was fast, but he went around in one place," said Obligado, who used that information as he sped to the victory aboard his own Carlson.

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Competing against Richard Spooner in the jump-off of a grand prix is never easy, but when you go after him at least you know exactly how fast you have to go. Argentine rider Guillermo Obligado had that chance in the $50,000 L.A. International Grand Prix at the Los Angeles International Jumping Festival, Burbank, Calif., Sept. 21-25.

“He was fast, but he went around in one place,” said Obligado, who used that information as he sped to the victory aboard his own Carlson.

Six horses made it to the jump-off after contesting Anthony D’Ambrosio’s challenging, World Cup-qualifier course. Held at night under the lights of the covered Equidome at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center, the event routinely attracts an enthusiastic crowd, which only adds to the level of difficulty.

Spooner looked to have an unbeatable lead with Oscany Inc.’s Quirino 3 as the crowd cheered him to a clear round and time of 42.44 seconds.

Both Ali Nilforushan on Cellist and Gabriella Salick on Sandstone Laurin went faster, but they each accrued 4 faults from a downed rail. Obligado was able to put it all together as he and Carlson blazed around the course in a time of 40.87 seconds, the fastest time of the night, with no faults.

Although he’s a consistent performer in the grand prix ranks, Obligado had never won a major grand prix before the $50,000 L.A. International. The win was made sweeter by the fact that he owns Carlson, a 13-year-old, Holsteiner gelding.

“I have had him for two years now, and he is a special horse. I was the reserve rider for Argentina in Athens, and I had some strong [CSI] five-star finishes, so we have had some good experience. This is our first big win. When it is your day, it is your day.”

As a young horse, Carlson was imported to the East Coast from Europe. After three years the owners sent the horse back to Europe, and he wound up in Albert Voorn’s yard. Slowly the horse regained his form, and while Obligado was at a show in Valkenburg (the Nether-lands), he spotted the talented bay gelding.

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“I watched him go clean in a small grand prix, and I knew I wanted him,” said Obligado, who didn’t even sit on the horse; he just shipped him to California.

“This horse has unlimited scope. It is very exciting to me to have such a good one. I don’t know if I will do the World Cup Finals next year or the World Equestrian Games. Maybe I can do both,” mused Obligado. “I love showing in L.A.–the indoor, the fantastic crowd and the super course designers. I am looking forward to coming back in November [to the L.A. National].”

Spooner was very pleased with Quirino 3, who has been in the shadows of his more experienced grand prix horses. However, the bay gelding is stepping up and demonstrating that he is a first-string horse.

Salick was just as happy with her 17-year-old gelding, Sandstone Laurin. “He was amazing tonight,” said Salick of the flea-bitten gray. “It was a hard course but a fair course. I took a shot and tried to win, and Laurin really tried.”

Three So Far

Junior rider Lauren Hester earned her third medal finals victory of the year in the USEF Zones 8-9-10 Regional Finals for junior and adult riders. She started out by winning the CPHA Junior Medal Finals and followed it up with a win in the CPHA Foundation, 21 and under, Finals. This summer, she also was part of the Zone 10 team for the North American Young Riders Championships.

“I was called back on top going into the work-off,” said Hester of the USEF Regional Finals. “We had to do a trot jump, and those are the hardest for me. K2 is just wonderful, and it was exciting to win. This is a great boost for going to indoors.”

Hester is no stranger to the indoor finals. In 2001 she won the Stateline Children’s Medal Final at the Capital Challenge (Md.). “My goal before my last junior year was to win one 3’6″ finals,” said Hester, who has now won three and is a strong contender for a national title as well.

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Hester lives in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., more than a two-hour drive from trainer Karen Healey’s barn. “I keep my horses at home, and Karen gives me homework. My whole family is involved with the horses,” explained Hester.

Long-Distance Training

Amateur rider Courtney Cochran also lives a long distance from her trainer, John Bragg. After spending several years in San Francisco, Calif., Cochran returned to Santa Barbara, Calif.

“I just love living in Santa Barbara, and I found a great place to keep my horse. I call John if I have any questions, and I meet up with him at shows.”

The plan seems to be working as Cochran captured the USEF Zones 8-9-10 Regional Adult Equitation Finals for the second year in a row. “I was third going into the final round, and ‘Ziggy’ was awesome,” said Cochran of her 15-year-old, Argentine gelding, Zydec, who she has ridden for seven years.

The work-off was challenging, but Cochran executed the tests with precision. “We had to hand gallop an oxer and then make a tight turn back to a line. The judges instruc-ted us to put as many strides into the line as possible,” said Cochran, who neatly rode the line in seven strides instead of the normal five strides.

When she was named the winner, Cochran was thrilled. “I didn’t expect to win this class two years in a row. Winning once is a huge deal. I get nervous in the finals, but Ziggy was wonderful. I just love my horse.”

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