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Nayel Nassar and Lordan Rule the $60,000 Grand Prix of California, presented by Equ Lifestyle; Lauren Crooks and Dora the Explorer Earn Top Prize in the Interactive Mortgage Horses 10&U Futurity
Del Mar, CA - Setting an early pace in the jump-off proved to be unbeatable as Nayel Nassar and Lordan stepped up for the win in the $60,000 Grand Prix of California, presented by Equ Lifestyle. Clearly a week for the young and talented show jumpers, Lauren Crooks took the win in the Interactive Mortgage Horses 10&U Futurity.

Nayel Nassar and Lordan

FEI Course Designer Oscar Soberon set the 1.50m track for the thirty grand prix competitors. "I tried to focus more on the verticals rather than the oxers, which I think is playing it on the safe side. The distances are pretty straight forward. I'm not asking a lot of long or short distances. A little bit steady and too long but nothing too extreme. I hope that gives everyone a chance to do well."

When asked about building in this Del Mar location, Soberon went into detail about his plan. "I love this ring. I love the material. I tried to give a different look to all the fences. With the triple, I put brush under the in-and-out but nothing in between. I'm using a lot of rails for number 13 and number 12 is super airy with panels on top, really challenging them. I alternated between super filled and super airy. I always put a big wall, a liverpool, a skinny, planks on top and triple bars, so every part of the course should be a challenge."

Marc Grock was first in and first clean on Moonlite Beach, LLC's Little Gancho. That feat could not be matched for another twenty rides, when Nassar went clean on Lordan. Three more fabulous horse and rider combinations also joined the jump-off: Rich Fellers on Harry and Mollie Chapman's Flexible, Richard Spooner on Cristallo and Will Simpson riding Monarch International's E Unanime de la Haie.

Will Simpson and E Unanime de la Haie

Grock started the jump-off with a fault free yet conservative ride in 40.08. Wanting to put the pressure on the impressive riders that followed him, next to go, Nassar, left out strides in several places and made tidy turns, stopping the clock in 35.43. His strategy paid off, as attempts to be faster made by Fellers and Spooner each scored eight faults. Last to go, Simpson was smooth and without fault but not quite quick enough in 36.11 for second place by less than a second.

Nassar thought the course suited the competition. "I thought he did a good job course wise, it was a solid 1.50m. He had a scopey triple and a couple careful verticals. There was enough in there to keep the riders motivated and to keep them on point."

Nassar bought Lordan as a seven-year-old. Now twelve years old, and returning with gusto from a year off, together they have competed in a World Cup Final and the World Equestrian Games, won the HITS Million in Saugerties and recently won a CSI3*-W World Cup class in Thermal.

Nayel Nassar with Monica Ward of Equ Lifestyle, Blenheim EquiSports' Melissa Brandes and Lauren Davis of EquiFit, inc.

Lauren Crooks and Dora the Explorer Earn Top Prize in the Interactive Mortgage Horses 10&U Futurity
Similar to Thursday's Markel Insurance Grand Prix, the second $7,500 Interactive Mortgage Horses 10&U Futurity of this season's series seemed like another win for Rich Fellers, until Lauren Crooks snapped it away by .059 seconds.

Lauren Crooks and Dora the Explorer

Fourteen of thirty-nine entries went clean over Soberon's course of fourteen efforts, including three double combinations. Once again, several top names were vying for the win in this competitive young horse class.

Michelle Parker and Vancouver 45

Second to return, Michelle Parker and Vancouver 45 set the pace with a quick and clean ride in 39.55. The next seven attempts couldn't catch Parker. Then Rich Fellers stepped into the ring on Leslie Nelson's Coupis. Choosing a tidy track, he left out a stride in the first line and galloped down to the final square oxer, stopping the clock at 38.75 to take over the top spot.

Rich Fellers and Coupis

Lauren Crooks decided to see what the eight-year-old Dora the Explorer, owned by Wembley Farms, Inc., could do. Galloping down the first line, the pair were quite fast early on. Leaving out a stride to the combination and racing to the last fence, she clocked in at a speedy 38.69, taking the blue from Fellers. No other entries could beat those efforts, resulting in Crooks first and Fellers second.

"I bought her in August of 2015, she's my next up-and-coming grand prix prospect," Crooks said of Dora. "This is the first time I have actually tried 'going for it,' so it's really exciting. She's a young horse, so to be able to push her and test her limits was really great."

And Crooks agreed that narrowly edging out Olympian and World Cup Champion Fellers was an added bonus.

Lauren Crooks with Evette and Gregg DeLong of Interactive Mortgage and Blenheim EquiSports' Melissa Brandes

Four more qualifiers are scheduled before the $20,000 Interactive Mortgage Futurity Series Final at Showpark All Seasons, August 31 - September 4, 2016. The top 25 point earners will earn a chance to compete.

Sunday presentations of the SmartPak Grand Champions and High Score Awards will wrap up Blenheim's second World Champion Hunter Rider week. Certainly a week for the record books, the competition continues to be exciting at the Ranch & Coast Classic.

$60,000 Grand Prix of California, presented by EQU Lifestyle

Place - Entry - Name - Rider - Owner - Faults/Time
1. 849 - Lordan - Nayel Nassar - Nayel Nassar - 0/0/35.436
2. 539 - E Unanime de la Haie - Will Simpson - Monarch International - 0/0/36.112
3. 192 - Little Gancho - Marc Grock - Moonlite Beach, LLC - 0/0/40.082
4. 295 - Flexible - Rich Fellers - Harry & Mollie Chapman - 0/8/35.677
5. 823 - Cristallo - Richard Spooner - Richard Spooner - 0/8/36.279
6. 695 - Chacna - Enrique Gonzalez - Enrique Gonzalez - 4/80.032
7. 284 - Saint Quentin - Peter Petschenig - Pam Bilek/Peter Petschenig - 4/80.528
8. 824 - Chivas Z - Richard Spooner - Richard Spooner - 4/80.877
9. 530 - Concorde - Chris Pratt - Epic Stables, LLC - 4/82.824
10. 486 - Parkmore Lux - Hanna Mauritzson - Ritz Fuente, LLC - 4/84.385
11. 523 - Chello Z - Josephina Nor Lantzman - Josephina Nor Stables, LLC - 6/86.510
12. 496 - Juncal - Guillermo Obligado - Woodgrove Farm - 7/87.124

$7,500 Interactive Mortgage Horses 10&U Futurity Series Qualifier
Place - Entry - Name - Rider - Owner - Faults/Time
1. 135 - Dora the Explorer - Lauren Crooks - Wembley Farms, Inc. - 0/0/38.697
2. 293 - Coupis - Rich Fellers - Leslie Nelson - 0/0/38.756
3. 650 - Vancouver 45 - Michelle Parker - Cross Creek Farms, Inc. - 0/0/39.551
4. 694 - Zapzerap - Enrique Gonzalez - Enrique Gonzalez - 0/0/40.515
5. 497- Cofino Fight W - Guillermo Obligado - Woodgrove Farm - 0/0/41.251
6. 320 - Edesa's Basantos - Eddy Sepul - Edesa Horse Promotions, Inc. - 0/0/41.969
7. 698 - Bitalica - Julie Koetting - Julie Koetting - 0/2/49.407
8. 451 - Lorelei - Trudi Fletcher - Linda Smith - 0/4/42.177
9. 464 - Lotta 167 - Karrie Rufer - Morning Star Sporthorses, LLC - 0/4/42.919
10. 356 - Cloud Va - Cara Anthony - Potcreek Meadow Farm - 0/4/45.85

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