The final qualifying leg of the $25,000 Markel Insurance 1.45m Jumper Series was contested Saturday afternoon on the Oaks International Grand Prix Field at the Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park at San Juan Capistrano. Following an exciting five horse jump-off, it was John Pearce leading the victory gallop aboard Cantico, owned by Karen Ball. For the second consecutive week, Savannah Jenkins finished in second; this time, aboard Quitana 11, owned by Georgy Maskrey-Segesman.
John Pearce aboard Chantico. Photo by McCool Photography
Acclaimed FEI 4* course designer Anthony D’Ambrosio (USA) created a technical track that asked riders to demonstrate adjustability around the large grass field. Highlights included the final line, set parallel to the VIP hospitality seating, including a solid 1.45m vertical followed by a strong, forward five-stride to a liverpool oxer, and a quiet eight-stride to a final combination that required riders to push forward through the finish line.
First to cleanly navigate D’Ambrosio’s obstacles was Bjorn Ikast and his horse Castino. Four riders later, Savannah Jenkins matched Ikast, ensuring a jump-off. Lane Clark, John Pearce and Bjorn Ikast, on his second horse, all managed to negotiate the course, fault-free.
Ikast and Castino were first to return to the shortened course and they set the time to beat with a careful and clear round in 48.788 seconds. Moving up in the order, Lane Clarke and Epic Air incurred eight jumping faults as they pressed for time. Up next, Savannah Jenkins completed a quick and clean round in 46.231 seconds but a minor bobble while taking the inside line between jumps five and six left the window open for the final two riders. Former Olympian (CAN) John Pearce and Chantico followed and once-again put on a crowd pleasing performance, tripping the wire a half second faster than Jenkins with 45.738 seconds on the clock. As the final rider of the day, Ikast and his second mount Classini managed to go quicker than his first time but it wasn’t fast enough, eventually landing the pair in third place.
John Pearce aboard Chantico with Melissa Brandes and Robert Ridland of Blenheim EquiSports, Josh Mullens and Lisa Seger of Lisa Seger Insurance (LSI), owner Karen Ball, and Brandon Seger of Markel Insurance. Photo by McCool Photography