San Juan Capistrano, CA
- Blenheim EquiSports once again hosted the much-anticipated, prestigious ASPCA Maclay Regionals Region 8, West at the Blenheim Fall Tournament. Set in the indoor arena on a warm Saturday evening, the class featured thirty-six junior riders who had qualified throughout the year; each with the hopes of advancing to the competitive Finals held at the National Horse Show in Lexington, Kentucky on November 2nd.
Esteemed judges George Morris and Scott Fitton were present to evaluate the young riders as they tackled veteran course designer Skip Bailey's intricate track layout. Using the entirety of the indoor ring, the course featured multiple challenges, including a curved hay bale jump used twice throughout the course; a shallow serpentine line requiring pace and adjustability; several tricky bending lines and sharp rollbacks, and two double combinations.
The fence decorations varied from straightforward to sophisticated. Right from the start the bushy green vertical at fence 1, as well as the colorful oxer at fence 2 caused refusals, as did fence 8, a vertical out of a bending line going towards the in-gate.
After the culmination of the jumping phase, riders returned in three groups for the flat phase in reverse order of preference. Judges Morris and Fitton asked all three groups to demonstrate a walk, trot, sitting trot, canter, reverse at the walk, return to the trot, sitting trot, and finish at the walk. Group C returned first, followed by Group B and finishing with Group A.
No work-off was required. After stellar jumping and flat performances, the top call was awarded to Sydney Hutchins (Elvenstar, trainers) aboard Gaudi. Second place went to Emily Maclean (Devon Gibson/Karen Healey Stables, trainers) on San Francisco. Rounding out the final spot in the top three was Savannah Dukes (Karen Healey Stables, trainer) on Chincharro Z.
Sydney Hutchins and Gaudi, pictured with (l-r) Melissa Brandes of Blenheim EquiSports, George Morris, Ecole Lathrop, Archie Cox, and Elvenstar trainers Katie Gardner, Jim Hagman and Kay Altheuser
Hutchins elaborated on her winning strategy in preparation for the class. "Our barn prepares Tuesday before this final with a big lesson at seven or eight o'clock at night. We set a course with the parameters of this indoor ring and treat it like the finals."
Pleased with the attractive gelding owned by Taylor Harris, Hutchins indicated that she had been riding Gaudi for two show seasons and that she will be taking him East for the Finals in November.
After September 21st, when all eight regional finals are complete, the number of qualified riders for the National Championship from each region will be determined. Approximately the top fifteen riders from tonight's competition will qualify.
2014 ASPCA Maclay Regionals Region 8, West
Place - Rider - Horse - Trainers
1. Sydney Hutchins - Gaudi - Elvenstar
2. Emily Maclean - San Francisco - Devon Gibson & Karen Healey Stables
3. Savannah Dukes - Chincharro Z - Karen Healey Stables
4. Mitch Endicott - Stanley F - Christa & Mike Endicott
5. Miela Gross - Exquisite - Emily Esau Williams
6. Halie Robinson - Barolo W - Elvenstar
7. Morgan Dickerson - Quieri - Karen Healey Stables
8. Pilar Flournoy - Acomulado - Mark Bone
9. Alexandra Ladove - My Boy Balu - Robyn Stiegler
10. Michael Williamson - Long Island Ice Tea - Patty Ball
Photo courtesy of CapturedMomentPhoto.com