San Juan Capistrano, CA
- Celebrating the first day of summer in style, the Blenheim EquiSports June Classic III show culminated with the $30,000 Markel Insurance Grand Prix. In a stellar return to the grand prix stage, Marc Grock rode Jerrie Calandra's Caretol to a decisive win in a thrilling jump-off.
Marc Grock and Caretol
With a talented field of riders, several with two or more mounts, FEI course designer Catsy Cruz of Mexico designed a challenging yet inviting track. "The riders in this class are mixed because some are more experienced riders and horses, but we also have some new riders and new horses moving up. So the difficulty of this track is that it is a little bit technical," she explained, "I have a line [fence 8 to 9ab] that is a long distance towards the in-gate to a combination of verticals that is very delicate and the distance inside is a little short."
Twenty-eight horse and rider combinations galloped onto the field including June Classic I Grand Prix winner Josephina Nor Lantzman, Spring Classic II Grand Prix Winner Lane Clarke, Paso Robles Grand Prix Winner Lauren Hester, hotshot Kristin Hardin, Francie Steinwedell-Carvin with her newest rides, Michelle Parker competing on two of her Cross Creek Farm mounts, young and talented Zazou Hoffman, Northern California trainers Maja Lindemann, Jeffrey Fields, Mattias Ekeroth and more.
With the specific line that Cruz mentioned proving to be the most tricky, accruing faults sixteen times during the class, a competitive group of ten entries did complete the course without fault.
Kicking off the jump-off in speedy style, Kristin Hardin aboard Nicole Teague's Firestone went clean and set the pace by stopping the clock in 43.74. Maja Lindemann answered that challenge by going clean on Wulfric (Nicola MacMahon, owner) in 43.72, just barely taking the lead.
Maja Lindemann and Wulfric
Josephina Nor Lantzman was also clean on her newest horse Unlimited in 44.99, not quite fast enough to take the lead. Next in, Marc Grock riding Jerrie Calandra's Caretol, picked up a strong pace and never looked back. Shaving almost a second off Lindemann's leading time, Grock stopped the clock in 42.90. Five more competitors attempted but none could match the gallant effort made by Grock.
Beaming with pride and admiration for both his sponsor and his horse, Grock was ecstatic. "You know, I just want to say 'thank you' to my sponsor Jerrie Calandra. I have a group of horses that are amazing. And it means a lot to me," he said, and continued on about Caretol.
"We bought him from Ludger Beerbaum. He's eleven years old and I've had him a little less than a year. He's not a beauty queen, but he's the sweetest horse on the planet. He has jumped more clean rounds than many horses I've had over my lifetime. He tries every single class."
Aside from all the thankfulness, Grock was truly glad to be in the winners circle after a number of years, and having competed against some top show jumpers. "It's nice. It's been really fun to have a special horse like this. Especially when the sport is really driven by younger individuals now. I didn't think that I would really be able to have a shot at it again. It's a completely different sport than when I did it before, it's been a big learning curve." he explained. "This is my first grand prix win with him and my first grand prix win in years. There were a lot of fast horses and a lot of fast riders. I'm pleasantly surprised, you might say. It's exciting to get back in there."
Marc Grock and Caretol celebrate the win with owner Jerrie Calandra, Troy Christiansen, Melissa Brandes, Brandon Seger and John Bragg
The Blenheim June Series comes to a close this coming week, with the Red, White & Blue Classic. Hunter highlights include a CPHA Pre-Green Hunter Stake, a $5,000 3'3" Hunter Classic and a $5,000 Pony Hunter Derby. And the $30,000 Markel Insurance Grand Prix will once again highlight the jumper action, this time on Saturday afternoon.
$30,000 Markel Insurance Grand Prix
Place - Entry Number - Horse - Rider - Owner - Faults/Time
1. 237 - Caretol - Marc Grock - Moonlite Beach, LLC - 0/0/42.900
2. 222 - Wulfric - Maja Lindemann - Nicola MacMahon - 0/0/43.724
3. 844 - Firestone - Kristin Hardin - Nicole Teague - 0/0/43.747
4. 758 - MH Wardance - Lane Clarke - MH Warbucks - 0/0/43.963
5. 527 - Unlimited - Josephina Nor Lantzman - Josephina Nor Lantzman - 0/0/44.999
6. 342 - Cupilor - Michelle Parker - Cross Creek Farms, Inc. - 0/4/43.093
7. 341 - Clintord - Michelle Parker - Cross Creek Farms, Inc. - 0/4/45.851
8. 518 - Desdemona - Nathalie Manning - Idyllic Imports - 0/8/47.221
9. 159 - Umbra 34 - Zazou Hoffman - Paris Sellon - 0/12/44.188
10. 160 - Wan Architect - Francie Steinwedell-Carvin - Dick Carvin - 0/14/62.689
11. 451 - The Governor - Mattias Ekeroth - Mattias Ekeroth - 4/80.990
12. 188 - Bybalia SMH - Jeffrey Fields - Stal Minion - 4/81.323
Photos by McCool