Wednesday, Jul. 24, 2024

Whitlock Takes Wire-To-Wire Win At Jackson Hole

Lauren Whitlock led from wire-to-wire to take the advanced win at The Event at Jackson Hole presented by Lexus, Aug. 27-29, at the Spring Creek Equestrian Center in Jackson, Wyo.

Whitlock, Lafayette, Calif., and Kipling, an 11-year-old Thoroughbred, took the lead early with a forward, obedient dressage test that scored 34.35 points.

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Lauren Whitlock led from wire-to-wire to take the advanced win at The Event at Jackson Hole presented by Lexus, Aug. 27-29, at the Spring Creek Equestrian Center in Jackson, Wyo.

Whitlock, Lafayette, Calif., and Kipling, an 11-year-old Thoroughbred, took the lead early with a forward, obedient dressage test that scored 34.35 points.

“It was the best dressage test I’ve ever had on him,” said Whitlock, who has owned Kipling for three years and has campaigned him at the advanced level for the last year and a half. “I’ve been working on the dressage because he tends to get really tense. I was really happy because he usually finishes dressage in the middle-top of the pack. Here, he was relaxed and moving forward through his back.”

Over a twisty, winding cross-country course designed by Capt. Mark Phillips, the pair put in the division’s fastest time (earning just 10 time penalties) to hold onto their lead. Course builder Mick Costello made a few changes this year, including two new water questions. One of those new questions, a downhill bounce into the water, had Whitlock a bit worried, but she said her horse handled it–and everything else on the course–like a pro.

No one could produce a double-clear show jumping round in the advanced division; most riders had rails down, and the few that didn’t had time penalties instead. Whitlock and Kipling entered the ring with a 14-point lead and laid down a clean round with only 2 time penalties.

“I didn’t watch anything but the last two rounds, and they were good,” said Whitlock, who also won this year at the Colorado Horse Park and Galway Downs (Calif.). “I usually get nervous and pick at his face, so not doing that today was a big step for us. He was great.”

Whitlock, a 19-year-old junior at Sonoma State University (Calif.), trains with Mogie Bearden-Muller. She’s undecided about what Kipling will do this fall. Although he is qualified to compete at the FEI World Cup Final in Pau, France, Whitlock may stay stateside for the Fair Hill CCI*** (Md.) with an eye to qualifying for Rolex Kentucky in the spring.

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Donnelly Does Double Duty

Canadian Sandra Donnelly finished on Whitlock’s heels on Willow, a 15-hand, 8-year-old Canadian Warmblood she bought as a 3-month-old. She also won the intermediate division on Buenos Aires, a 7-year-old, homebred Canadian Warmblood.

Donnelly, who handles training and boarding at her family’s Alborak Stable in Calgary, Alta., bought Willow for $1,000 as one of three resale prospects purchased at an auction.

“I never had a budget to buy horses so I bought three foals at the sale. I bought her as a resale project, but I kept her because she never grew that big and she was complicated to ride,” she said. “I committed to keeping her and seeing how far I could go with her. It’s quite exciting to be going advanced with her.”

Donnelly moved Willow to advanced after finishing third at the Colorado Horse Park CCI** in May. Jackson was the pair’s third advanced outing.

Donnelly was in sixth place after dressage, which is the mare’s weakest phase. “We have yet to walk all the way through the walk phase of the test, but it’s improving,” she said. “She’s just getting better and better and getting fun to ride in the dressage.”

They moved up to second place thanks to a clean cross-country round with 12.4 time penalties. A fast show jumping round with one rail down–“at the lowest vertical on the course,” Donnelly noted with a laugh–secured her second-placed spot.

In the intermediate division, Buenos Aires moved up steadily from an eighth-placed dressage score. “He has the potential to do good dressage, but we’re still working on how broke we are. His dressage needs to catch up to his jump,” Donnellly said of the 7-year-old Hanoverian-Oldenburg cross by Bajazzo, an Oldenburg by the noteworthy Thoroughbred dressage stallion Barsoi.

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A clean cross-country round with 4.4 time penalties moved the pair up to third place going into show jumping. They entered the ring Sunday and laid down one of only three double-clear rounds in the intermediate division. That put the pressure to jump clean on cross-country leaders Rochelle Costanza and Enchanted, and the second-placed pair of Leigh Mesher and Smoke Signal. Both pairs had one rail, dropping each down a place in the standings and moving Donnelly and “Bug” into the lead.

Costanza, who had moved from 12th after dressage to first place by turning in the fastest and only double-clear cross-country round of her division, was disappointed about the rail–only the second rail the mare has had in two years, she said–but blamed herself for having lost a stirrup.  “She was just leaping me out of the tack, which is not a bad thing,” Costanza said. “I’m so excited about her cross-country; the show jumping was my fault. She did fabulous.”

Costanza, of Franktown, Colo., is deciding whether to make the 1,600-mile trek to the American Eventing Championships (N.C.) with Enchanted, an 8-year-old Canadian Thorough-bred-Percheron cross, who she broke as a 3-year-old. If she decides against the cross-country trip, she will instead aim the mare, who recently won the Area IX Preliminary Cham-pionships, for a third intermediate outing at the Colorado Horse Park in October.

Preliminary Belongs To Bramley

In the preliminary division, the weekend belonged to Alexis Bramley of Redmond, Wash., who won both divisions on a pair of 6-year-old Thoroughbreds. In preliminary, division 1, Bramley led after dressage on Karen Halverson’s Vincent, an off-the-track Thoroughbred that Bramley has been training for a year and a half.

Riding Vincent in only his second preliminary outing, Bramley took the long option at an angled combination on cross-country. Then, when Vincent’s noseband broke halfway around the course, she had to slow down–two factors that caused the pair to notch 15.6 time penalties and drop to seventh place. But a clean, fast show jumping round, coupled with trouble for the division’s leading riders, lifted the pair back into first place.

In preliminary, division 2, Bramley led from start to finish on Hampton, a horse she purchased as a 3-year-old from a hunter/ jumper rider.  Bramley sang the praises of Vincent and Hampton, both of whom were found with the help of agent Janet Von Pressentin, who also found such notable horses as Amy Tryon’s 2004 Olympic bronze medal partner Poggio II.

“Both horses have a great work ethic and love their jobs,” Bramley said.

With the Spring Creek Equestrian Center listed for sale and event organizer Donna Viehman announcing her retirement after four years at the helm, the event’s future is uncertain. However, former owner Bill Weiss invited judges and officials back for next year, and those involved expect the event to be held again, at least next year, barring any unforeseen circumstances, public relations director Linda Olson said.

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