Thermal, CA (February 27, 2017): As the curtain closed on Week V at the HITS Coachella Desert Circuit, Grand Prix riders and horses took center stage to compete in the grand finale of the week, the $75,000 Osphos Grand Prix.
Thirty riders turned out to test the course designed by Mark McGowan, where four would go clear to challenge the jump-off. The team to beat would prove to be Ashlee Bond of Hidden Hills, California, riding Cornancer, owned by Little Valley Farm.
Bond took home the win in the $100,000 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Thermal qualifier two weeks ago aboard Chela LS. The new mom of a four-month-old daughter, Bond showed no signs of slowing down on her winning streak. All of the jump-off challengers would have jumping faults over the abbreviated course, leaving it all up to speed to conquer the class.
First to return to the jump-off round was Chenoa McElvain of Lemitar, New Mexico, riding Wallstreet RC, owned by Guy McElvain. A rail at the first fence on course, and again at the final fence, would give them eight faults as they crossed the timers in 48.792, settling them into the eventual fourth-place position.
Following McElvain was Tiffany Sullivan from Encino, California, riding Christian Grey, owned by Haley Farms, LLC. Sullivan has garnered several ribbons in the Grand Prix with the powerful grey during the 2017 season. The final fence would again cause the heartbreak, adding four faults as they clocked in at 49.535, eventually giving them the third-place prize.
The rounds kept getting better as Richard Spooner came in riding Cristallo, owned by Show Jumping Syndications Int’l. They took to the course with confidence, but an unfortunate rail at the second fence on course would give them four faults as they crossed the finish. Their time of 44.103 would give them the red ribbon for second place.
The final contender in the field was Bond. A clear round was all she needed to take home the title and the coveted, winner’s share of the prize purse, but surprisingly the dynamite equestrian would too have a rail. All was smooth and the crowd cheered in anticipation as they powered toward the finish, snagging a rail at the last fence— the crowd gasped. Still, their speedy trip in 43.419 would claim the victory.
Will Simpson would round out the top five with La Mirage 16, owned by Aimwell Equestrian Ventures, LLC. One time fault kept them from the jump-off round, but would be good enough for fifth place.
Competition continues at HITS Desert Horse Park as the countdown to the AIG $1 Million Grand Prix on Sunday, March 19 continues. For more information on the AIG Million please visit HitsShows.com.