September 27, 2016 – San Juan Capistrano, CA – The $45,000 Blenheim EquiSports Young Jumper Finals, presented by Fairbanks Valley Farm, was held during the International Jumping Festival. After three rounds where each age group had at least one young jumper go triple-clean, three deserving champions, reserve champions and ribbon winners were awarded and prize checks distributed. Riders that led the victory gallops included Tina Yates, Jamie Sailor and Jason McArdle.
Providing this important stepping stone gives the breeders, owners and especially the up-and-coming jumpers a chance to gain important miles and end the season with a championship. At Blenheim EquiSports the young jumpers, which are the future of our sport, have a unique opportunity to not only compete throughout the spring, summer and fall seasons with no entry fees and discounted stall fees but also to qualify for finals – the Young Jumper Championships Western League and the Blenheim EquiSports Young Jumper Finals – in two locations, on two grand prix fields with tracks developed by two internationally recognized designers.
With courses designed by Olaf Petersen, Jr. , each round invited the young horses to improve through the week. The final day was appropriately the most challenging track, using new elements and demanding just a bit more from horse and rider to earn a clean round.
Tina Yates and Ariana are Faultless in the Five-Year-Old Division
After sixteen entries competed over three rounds, two had a score of zero and advanced to the jump-off. Tina Yates riding HKC Collection, LLC’s KWPN mare Ariana [Cantos x Tolan R] and Keri Potter aboard the Westphalian gelding Jiminy Cricket [Colestus x Cornet Obolensky], owned by Melanie Brooks, each took a turn with these youngsters in the timed round.
Both pairs looked as if they had competed together for years, showing plenty of potential for the future. Yates and Ariana went first and were fast and clear, setting the standard to beat. Potter and Jiminy Cricket were impressively quicker around the jump-off track, but with the pressure on had a rail late in the course for four faults.
Yates loved Ariana from the first moment she rode her, back in the winter in Wellington. “We bought her through the WEF Sport Horse Auction in Florida this year. I think she’s going to be very, very special,” she said. “Taizo Sugitani worked with her and competed at Spruce Meadows, and then she’s come out here with me. I’m really happy that I’ve gotten to help with her development, because I think she could go very far in this sport.”
Thrilled with the mare, Yates mentioned a few favorite qualities. “Her brain is so excellent. She’s just spooky enough to where she studies the fence, but she’s always going to the other side. And she loves to do her job. When she comes out of the ring, she’s not breathing hard, she’s relaxed.”
As for what’s next for the young starlet, she is heading to Del Mar to do some final classes and wrap up her show season. Then she heads back to Florida for some well-earned vacation.
Jamie Sailor and Flashdance are Fabulous in Six-Year-Old Final
As the only six-year-old to go fault-free throughout the three rounds of competition, the flashy chestnut Hanoverian gelding Flashdance [For Edition x Quinar], owned by Felyn Farms, didn’t need to jump-off to earn the tri-color.
Five of the six-year-olds came into the third round with a zero or four faults total. Two went clean, Flashdance and Jamie Sailor’s second ride, Megan Wexler’s Main Defender [Nintender x Cardento]. Since Main Defender carried four faults into the third round, he finished second overall, with a total of four.
Keri Potter rode Jo Cho’s Oldenburg gelding Diabolical C [Diarado x Carousel] clear but finished with two time faults in the final round. They also carried four faults from previous rounds to finish third with a total of six faults.
This is not the first victory for Flashdance. He won both the Young Jumper Championships Western League Final and the Blenheim EquiSports Young Jumper Final in 2015. “He’s really a special horse. I’m so lucky to be able to ride him, and he tries so hard every time. As long as I don’t mess up, we usually do pretty well!” said Sailor with a smile. “He’s definitely ready to go on and conquer the seven-year-olds.”
The fiery chestnut was originally purchased as a hunter prospect, and Sailor has been along for the ride since day one. “I broke him! We bought him off of a video. I started him as a two-year-old, and then we gave him almost a year off and then started him back up as a three-year-old,” she explained. “He did the hunters for a couple of shows as a four-year-old. He didn’t really like that, he likes the speed better, so then he started in the Young Jumpers as a five-year-old, and he’s been amazing.”
She continued, “He’s so in tune with what the rider is doing; he’s so smooth to ride. You just think it, and he does it. And I love that about him. He doesn’t like to touch the fences, so if he does hit one, he’s a little upset after. It makes him cat-like in the combinations. He’s very aware of his surroundings.”
As for what’s next this year, Flashdance may go on to Sacramento and Del Mar, but Sailor plans to give him some time off, ride him on the trail and then prepare for 2017.
Jason McArdle and Elrito Top the Seven-Year-Old Division
Twenty-one seven-year-olds galloped onto the Oaks Grand Prix Field to compete in the first two rounds of the Finals. The top fifteen returned on Sunday, with three having a zero score after completing three rounds.
Jason McArdle piloted two of those three. First, he rode Fairbanks Valley Farm’s Dutch-bred gelding Elrito [Zapatero VDL x Tenerife VDL]. The big bay was once again clean, setting the pace at 43.29.
Mei Mei Zhu had two entries in the seven-year-old section. Triple clean on her big bay Vivalio 3, she had a late rail and a more conservative pace in the jump-off, scoring four faults in 53.48.
McArdle then rode his second Dutch horse, the chestnut mare Elicole [Hamlet x Guidam]. The pair looked as if they would have the time, when they had a slight slip around the corner to the last line. Opting to pull up and re-approach, McArdle finished the round in third place. Notably, Elicole won the Young Jumper Championships Western League just a few weeks ago.
McArdle has developed both of these horses since they were four-year-olds. “They’ve both just been phenomenal all year. And I’m very happy for Elrito, because he doesn’t win as often. He’s just not that fast. Today he was fast, but he’s just a slower type, he jumps a lot of clear rounds but I always have to think of the time allowed with him. Elicole is a much quicker type that doesn’t spend as much time in the air.”
Being a new father, and seeking to support his wife Susan in her new business, McArdle Equestrian, Jason is choosing to stay close to home for awhile. Next in the schedule is two weeks at Del Mar, then the horses will have a winter break. “Maybe we will do one or two weeks of shows at Santa Barbara or Paso Robles. And next year they’ll do the 10 & Under Futurities and the 1.40m classes. That’s the plan with both horses,” McArdle explained.
Plus there are more young jumpers coming along. “I have four four-year-olds that Pam (Buie) bred. They’re all broke, but they’re just starting, so we have all winter to get them ready to show.”
Presenting sponsor and young horse owner Pam Buie of Fairbanks Valley Farm is proud to support a growing program that offers more for up-and-coming talent. “Blenheim EquiSports deserves a real round of applause for making this happen, because no one’s ever done this, it’s breaking new ground. I talk to a lot of people who say, ‘We’re going to bring young horses along now.’ And I think that’s exactly what the purpose is, so I’m very, very happy,” she noted as she stood next to Elrito, one of her winning youngsters. “This win is icing on the cake, but what’s great is that people are bringing young horses along.”
Blenheim EquiSports looks forward to seeing these young horses continue to grow up and gain solid miles through the Young Jumper programs, the Interactive Mortgage Futurity Series, the Markel Insurance 1.40m Grand Prix Series and beyond.
$ 10,000 Five Year Old Blenheim Young Jumper Final
Place – Entry # – Horse – Rider – Owner – Rd 1/Rd 2/Rd 3/Jump-off/Jump-off Time
1. 477 – Ariana – Tina Yates – HKC Collection, LLC – 0/0/0/ 0 -38.082
2. 253 – Jiminy Cricket – Keri Potter – Melanie Brooks – 0/0/0/ 4 -36.740
3. 101 – Laurence Z – Susan Artes – Alix Fargo – 0/4/0/85.486
3. 627 – GOT Attitude – Hap Hansen – Diane Pattison – 0/4/0/88.445
5. 243 – CCF Hibiscus Coast – Natasha Traurig – Cross Creek Farms, Inc. – 0/0/4/85.885
5. 102 – Mr. Sanchez – Susan Artes – Susan Artes – 0/0/4/84.751
7. 448 – Odysseus – Guillermo Obligado – Patty Vasey – 0/8/0/86.875
8. 446 – Gilian VDL – Riccardo Ruggiu – San Juan de Italia – 0/4/4/87.360
$15,000 Six Year Old Blenheim Young Jumper Final
Place – Entry # – Horse – Rider – Owner – Rd 1/Rd 2/Rd 3/Rd 3 Time
1. 328 – Flashdance – Jamie Sailor – Felyn Farms – 0/0/0/83.532
2. 332 – Main Defender – Jamie Sailor – Megan Wexler – 4/0/0/87.105
3. 136 – Diabolical C – Keri Potter – Jo Cho – 0/4/2/89.427
4. 245 – CCF Yasur – Michelle Parker – Cross Creek Farms, Inc. – 4/0/16/82.710
5. 513 – Quick 1 – Tara Ardalan – Tara Ardalan – 4/8/10/89.426
6. 401 – Furano – Humberto Quirarte – Humberto Quirarte – 0/0/22/105.825
7. 443 – Facarole VDL – Riccardo Ruggiu – San Juan de Italia – 12/4/24/95.096
$ 10,000 Seven Year Old Blenheim Young Jumper Final
Place – Entry # – Horse – Rider – Owner – Rd 1/Rd 2/Rd 3/Jump-off/Jump-off Time
1. 370 – Elrito – Jason McArdle – Fairbanks Valley Farm, LLC – 0/0/0/ 0 -43.297
2. 486 -Vivallo 3 – Mei Mei Zhu – Mei Mei Zhu – 0/0/0/ 4-53.480
3. 369 – Elicole – Jason McArdle – Fairbanks Valley Farm, LLC – 0/0/0/ 4 -56.899
4. 261 – Oasis II – Hillary Ridland – Enedino Gonzalez – 0/0/2/89.383
5. 242 – CCF Caramel – Michelle Parker – Dana Nemeth – 4/0/0/82.611
6. 659 – Classini – Bjorn Ikast – Brenda Bottum – 0/4/0/83.777
7. 249 – Eureka – Michelle Parker – Michelle Parker – 0/0/4/83.192
8. 176 – Costena LS La Silla – Nicole Haunert – Lynne Bollinger – 4/0/4/83.835