Del Mar, CA -
It was an unusual morning in Del Mar when the skies opened up with a torrential downpour early in the show day. Although classes were delayed, the footing in the Grand Prix Field was fabulous for the $40,000 Racing Festival Grand Prix, presented by SmartPak. With a demanding course set by Argentina's Ivan Tagle, six out of thirty-six horse and rider combinations jumped clear. The only double clean, Manuel Alvarez and Manolito Fortuna, took the top prize.
Manuel Alvarez and Manolito Fortuna
This time of year Blenheim EquiSports welcomes the international flair that the Mexican show jumpers and their families bring to Southern California. Today these competitors dominated the grand prix, with approximately half the entries and all of the jump-off riders hailing from south of the border.
Tagle felt that the highlight class should be challenging from beginning to end. "This is the grand prix, the most important class of the weekend and the prize money is very good. The difficulty is from #1 to #13 on every course. The footing is perfect and the horses are jumping incredibly well," he explained. "I predict six or eight will be clean."
With six going clear, Tagle accomplished his projected jump-off goal. Of the 13 numbered elements, every jump came down at least once. One of the course's trickier aspects was the broken lines from fences four to five to six - a skinny vertical to a wide liverpool in a tight seven strides to an oxer in another broken seven strides. One or more of the three elements in this line caused rails to fall a total of 20 times. Australian Lane Clarke and Brazilian Josephina Nor Lantzman, who have both had a successful grand prix season, each had the first element of the triple combination down at 8a for a score of four faults. Time faults also plagued a handful of the competitors.
Of the course, winning rider Alvarez had this to say, "It was really nice. I think the designer did a great job - technical but nothing too scary. There were rails all over the course."
Early on in the class, Patricio Pasquel and Candela were clean, followed by Alejandro Vizcaino on Nick des Hayettes Z. About halfway through, two more joined the all-male jump-off group, Fernando Martinez on Guillermo Zabriano's Chepepe La Escondida and Alejandro Vizcaino's second horse, ZZ Top. Sealing the deal of six participants in the jump-off didn't happen until the last few horses came to play. That's when Manuel Alvarez and Manolito Fortuna and Eduardo Sanchez Navarro aboard Alfie both went clear.
While racing for the clock, all the jump-off riders except one pulled a rail somewhere on course. Ultimately, it wasn't the scorching fast rides that ended up on top, but the careful double clean that earned the win for Alvarez.
"My plan was exactly that. I saw the three horses before me - so I went fast enough but without pushing it too hard," Alvarez explained. "He's a new horse, this is only his fourth grand prix, so I didn't want to push him too much. But I think he did a great job. He was fast enough to put some pressure on the next riders and it worked out."
Alvarez will compete in Southern California for one more week and then return to Mexico to prepare for the trials for the Central American Games in a month.
This coming week's Showpark August Festival wraps up a fabulous three weeks in Del Mar. Highlights include a Markel Insurance 1.40m Grand Prix, the Youngster U25 Classic and a 1.35m Jumper Classic, presented by CardFlex Financial Services.
Manuel Alvarez celebrates the grand prix win with his family
$40,000 Racing Festival Grand Prix, presented by SmartPak
Place - Number - Horse - Rider - Owner - Faults/Time
1 - 792 - Manolito Fortuna - Manuel Alvarez - Manuel Alvarez - 0/0/48.220
2 - 812 - Chepepe La Escondida - Fernando Martinez - Guillermo Zambrano - 0/4/42.128
3 - 887 - Candela - Patricio Pasquel - Patricio Pasquel - 0/4/43.705
4 - 775 - ZZ Top - Alejandro Vizcaino - Alejandro Vizcaino - 0/4/46.588
5 - 777 - Nick des Hayettes Z - Alejandro Vizcaino - Alejandro Vizcaino - 0/8/46.293
6 - 956 - Alfie - Eduardo Sanchez Navarro - Eduardo Sanchez Navarro - 0/16/57.025
7 - 859 - Charielle - Rodrigo Lambre - Mario Onate - 4/71.682
8 - 948 - Zandor - Luis Alejandro Plasencia - Luis Alejandro Plasencia - 4/72.640
9 - 778 - Cassina 39 - Paige Beal-Andros - Fairway Farm - 4/72.951
10 - 450 - Semira de Saulieu - Lane Clarke - Charlotte Gadbois - 4/73.008
11 - 791 - Spirit Magic - Manuel Alvarez - Manuel Alvarez - 4/73.210
12 - 811 - Pacifico - Fernando Martinez - Lorenzo Cue - 4/73.467
Photo courtesy of CapturedMomentPhoto.com