Friday, Feb. 23, 2024

Wordley Slips Into The Win At Atlanta Fall Classic III

He negotiates a tricky turn and takes the top check.

The jump-off of the $25,000 EMO Grand Prix all came down to one oxer.
   
Three of the five riders to jump off collected 4 faults at a large, wide oxer off a tight turn, and when Epson Pierreville slipped on the turn, Sharn Wordley had to think quickly.
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He negotiates a tricky turn and takes the top check.

The jump-off of the $25,000 EMO Grand Prix all came down to one oxer.
   
Three of the five riders to jump off collected 4 faults at a large, wide oxer off a tight turn, and when Epson Pierreville slipped on the turn, Sharn Wordley had to think quickly.

“I saw a distance, but my horse slipped, and I had to hold out and add a stride,” said Wordley, 33, a native New Zealander who now calls Ocala, Fla., home. “We were lucky to get over it because it made the jump bigger than it was supposed to be. He was great there to jump that.”

Epson Pierreville snapped his knees up and jumped the oxer flawlessly and went on to finish clean in 36.70 seconds for the win, concluding the Atlanta Fall Classic III, Nov. 14-18 in Conyers, Ga.

Only five of the 29 first-round starters made it to the jump-off, which got tough at the third fence, as riders had to make a tight right to the large bogey oxer after having steadied for a seven-stride left-handed angle between the first two jump-off efforts.

“For me, it’s a testament to the riders’ ability to train their horses well,” said designer Michel Vaillancourt. “That’s my style. I always try to test rideability. It was really designed to show control right to the end. There are enough questions everywhere that eventually one of them will catch up with you.”

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Melissa Rudershausen guided Prins, a 15-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding, to second place with a more conservative jump-off approach, including a controlled, wider turn to the oxer. The duo posted a clear round in 38.31 seconds.

“I stuck to my plan,” said Rudershausen, 20, of Kennett Square, Pa. “I went last, and I decided to just be careful and have a clear round.”

Rudershausen was happy to have jumped clean in the first round as well. “The time was tight, and the lines you had to absolutely do certain numbers in,” she said, as her mother Andra, who travels to shows with her, rubbed down Prins and added more shavings to his stall.

“You had to gallop around the corners and then every line, you had to get your horse back. That was the hard part. You had to keep shifting gears on the course. That’s where a lot of people had trouble.”

Tidbits

•    In other news from the third week of the Atlanta Fall Classic, Taylor Ann Adams, 14, of Eads, Tenn., rode her way to five hunter championships, including the small junior hunter tricolor aboard Lyle, the large pony hunter title with Thank Heavens, and the large green pony championship on Woodlands Sno Patrol. She and Sassafras Creek claimed the small/medium and green pony and medium pony tricolors.

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Adams has been training with, and riding for, Bibby Farmer-Hill and Don Stewart in Ocala, Fla., for a year.

“She’s a worker,” Hill said. “She has a good work ethic. She does her job and follows instructions beautifully.”

“Epson” and Wordley went second in the jump-off, after Sergio Campos and Shakira Do Jacare posted a blazing time (36.30 seconds) but dropped two rails, including at the “gotcha” oxer. Campos finished fourth overall.

Sea Cove and Belynda Bond jumped to third place with 4 faults at the oxer and a time of 41.47. Rounding out the top five were Daniel Geitner and Trading Places, who were gunning for the hat trick after winning the first two grand prix classes of the three-week show series. The duo finished with 8 faults, including a rail at the oxer, and a time of 36.94.

Wordley, who recently was named to the New Zealand elite squad in contention for selection for the 2008 Olympics in Hong Kong, had three rides in the Grand Prix, including Rockville, a 9-year-old Dutch Warmblood he co-owns with Rhonda Gobel and hopes to take to the Olympics. They had 4 faults in the first round, as did Wordley and Mr. Flanagan, a 17-year-old Irish gelding.

It was Epson, who stands only 15.3 hands, who stole the show. “He’s just an out and out jumper,” Wordley said. “He tries to keep everything up. I just try to steer in the right direction and hang on.”

The duo also won the $40,000 Constitution Classic Grand Prix at HITS Culpeper (Va.) on Sept. 2, while Wordley and Rockville placed third in the $100,000 USGPL Invitational Grand Prix at HITS Culpeper on Sept. 30.

Dallas Finn Calvert

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