Twenty-six riders gave it their all on the Grand Prix Field in the $30,000 Sonrisa Week Sparrowhawk Grand Prix. Julie Cleveland Beam kicked off the class aboard Lancelot over a course designed by Oscar Soberon and never looked back.
In both rounds of the Grand Prix class, Julie Cleveland Beam entered the arena on a mission. Her laser sharp focus could have cut glass, as she sailed around a challenging jump-off at a speedy time of 36.82 aboard Anastasia Stewart’s grey Warmblood gelding. Following Cleveland Beam, only two other riders came out of the jump-off faultless.
Christian Heineking‘s Chaccrobat—one of his three entries in the class —earned second prize. Chaccrobat’s explosive takeoffs catapulted the pair to a clear time of 40.81. Chenoa McElvain atop Wallstreet RC threw down a bold and double-clear ride—her horse gliding above each jump with vigor, never chancing any sort of rub with a jump-off time of 41.40.
Although Julie Cleveland Beam had the challenge of going first in both rounds, she anticipated the riders after her would be fast, so made every effort to maintain a forward pace. Executing tidy and tight turns, angling jumps, leaving out strides, and not allowing herself to slow down at any point on course, Julie knew today was to be Lancelot’s day.
“We’re still working through the kinks, but he’s just been fantastic and we have gained a lot of confidence together in the past couple months. Today I could just feel it in him that he was ready to go for it,” she said.
Hillcrest Farm’s head trainer and professional experienced an especially poignant win today. Cleveland Beam’s win is a huge breakthrough for her career, as well as a moment of personal victory after a tragic loss in her life.
“It’s been since 2006 that I’ve won [a Grand Prix], so this is really special. In 2006 I lost my husband Kevin Cleveland. It was actually a week after his death and we went to Brownland Farm—that was my first ever win. I did the Prix there, because it is what he would have wanted… things are just coming together again for me. Having this horse made it extra special. If you are there for Lancelot, he is 100% there for you and that’s what happened today,” said Cleveland Beam. Her smile was absolutely radiant as she posed for the award photos with an entire team of supporters, grooms, friends, clients, and fellow riders.
The second place recipient, Christian Heineking, was noticeably pleased with Chaccrobat’s first experience in an upper level class. A new horse to the Heineking family, who imported him about 2 months ago, this Sunday marked the Oldenburg gelding’s first Grand Prix.
“I’m still figuring him out. One day he’s calm, simple, and easy, and other days—he’s sensitive.” Heineking enjoyed his third year at HIPICO Santa Fe, “We’ll be back next year. I love this show, because [the HIPICO staff] really work hard to make it better every year.”
Chenoa McElvain’s double-clean third place finish had the young professional and head trainer at Rancho Corazon thrilled. “It was so much fun! It was a really great course that was just challenging enough—we had many clear rounds to make an exciting jump-off. The crowd was really into it today, you could really hear their excitement with clear rounds and bigger jumps. The horses were getting all lit up from the atmosphere of the VIP and it made the day feel really special.”
A nostalgic win for Cleveland Beam, an impressive debut for Heineking’s Chaccrobat, and a fulfilling round for McElvain—the $30,000 Sparrowhawk Grand Prix was a success. Jimmy Campbell, of Sparrowhawk Inc., was thrilled with the class his company sponsored.
“It is so much fun to go out here and see such incredible athletes doing such cool stuff and to have our name associated with it in any way is just a positive! I just love watching these animals and the athletes that ride them,” he said.
The sponsorship of this Grand Prix is important to Jimmy and Sparrow, wife and partner of Sparrowhawk, “Having something of this caliber [in Santa Fe] with this many people and this many people from all over the country and planet, is wonderful. Especially since it’s on a world-class level. This is all about excellence. Our company’s motto is ‘get better everyday’ and that’s what they’re doing here with HIPICO as well. Improving, trying to find ways to make a better experience for the sponsors, clients, competitors, and their ethic of constantly trying to improve is something I identify with,” said Jimmy.
Even after the riders found their way back to the barn aisles, the crowds melted away, and the jump crew dismantled the Grand Prix obstacles—there was still action on the grass. Somehow a fun afternoon at HIPICO Santa Fe always ends in a dog fest. Almost a dozen dogs where whirling around the Grand Prix field, having their own ‘go’ at the course with their owners.