Shannon Hicks has hit the jackpot during the Gulf Coast Winter Classic in Gulfport, Mississippi. With a victory aboard Emir D in the $25,000 Harrah’s Gulf Coast Grand Prix, Hicks has earned her third grand prix win in as many weeks.
Sixteen contenders started the week’s feature jumper class designed by Venezuela’s Leopoldo Palacios. Only two horse and rider duos were successful, progressing to the second round.
Matt Cyphert set the pace to beat aboard Hannah Donald’s Hector. The Northlake, Texas resident stopped reaching the timers in a conservative 44.95 seconds.
“Hector felt incredible,” said Cyphert. “He felt confident. He felt in control of his game. After the first few fences, I knew we were going to be clear, and that’s a great feeling to have.”
Hicks, who hails from Saint Louis, blew the time to beat out of the water with Helen Gilbert’s gelding, posting a clear second round in 40.40 seconds—more than three seconds faster.
“With only Shannon and I in the jump-off, it became a bit of a chess game,” Cyphert said. “I made the decision to be quick and clear, but I may have left the door open for her to be a bit quicker.”
“The jump-off was just fun,” said Hicks. “I know Matt’s horse is fast, so I went about as fast as we could go. I just let it rip to the last fence, and it worked out.
“But I couldn’t believe how much faster we were,” she continued. “If I had realized how fast I was going, I may have slowed down.”
Hicks said the sweeping turns and room to gallop made it the “perfect jump-off” for Emir D.
“He’s a high-jumping, big-strided horse,” she said. “These big courses with long gallops on this field are ideal for him.”
Hicks will remain in Gulfport for the final two weeks of the Gulf Coast Winter Classic.
“It’s been awesome, but there’s some pressure to keep up this streak,” she said. “I’m a competitive person anyway—I like to go in the ring and win. Now I’m in competition with myself.”
Chasen Boggio, of Canton, Georgia, had speediest four-fault round aboard Victoria Press’s Quesada D’Elle for third. Fourth place was awarded to Grand Bay, Alabama’s Holly Shepherd for her trip with Loretta Patterson’s Sky High.