Mandy Porter won the class of a lifetime Sunday night when a gutsy jump-off round secured a winning check of $350,000 for her and Abigail Weese’s Milano at HITS Coachella. Mandy and “Cookie Monster” played to win, and beat out five other jump-off combinations that included Olympic Bronze Medalist Cian O’Connor (Ireland) and WEG Gold Medalist Eric Navet (Sweden).
It was an extra special win for the Coachella spectators to see a California girl take the top prize – Mandy is based in San Diego, just a few hours from the show grounds. It was equally fitting for Mandy, who has had a full circle career leading to this moment – she competed in her first Grand Prix in California while attending Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, and then moved to Europe for seven years to learn from the very best and build her professional experience among the show jumping elite.
In 1999, she returned to the West Coast to hang up her own shingle and has been a central figure in the west coast show jumping scene ever since.
Second place went to Tamie Phillips of Alberta, Canada on Cristar – a stallion who the rider brought up the levels herself. The pair also had a double clear performance, but couldn’t quite edge the time set by Mandy and Cookie Monster. As a small consolation, she still goes home with a $200,000 check.
Third place went to the highest-ranked competitor at the event, #34 in the world Cian O’Connor who flew his horses out from Florida just for the final week of HITS Coachella. Cian had a marvelous clear in the first round which ultimately set him up to lead off the speed test – he set a tough precedent, but ultimately proved to be beatable. He too, took home a proper prize of $100,000.Cian O’Connor and Good Luck. PC: ESI Photography/HITS Shows
Andre Thieme and Conthendrix claimed fourth place, and Eric Navet and Catypso rounded out the top five.
It’s a fitting and magnificent way to say goodbye to HITS Coachella – until next year, Thermal, we’ll see you in our dreams. Go Jumping!
AIG $1 Million Results: