Saturday evening at the Sonoma Horse Park began with a Leadline class of full of future competitors followed by a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem sung by 10-year-old Grace Anne Doyle.
Grace Anne, a local treasure, is also a client of the Giant Steps Therapeutic Equestrian Center. “It was really fun today. I love singing many songs but the National Anthem means so much for our country.” Grace Anne explained. On her love of horses Grace Anne shared that she has been riding since the age of 2 at Halleck Creek and Giant Steps.
National Anthem singer and Giant Steps Therapeutic Equestrian Center client Grace Anne Doyle. PC: GrandPix Photography
The Kelly-Moore Paints Grand Prix course designed by Marina Azevedo, of Campinas, Brazil, provided a challenging test for 36 horse and rider combinations of which seven went clear and advanced to the jump-off.
What could only be described as a thrilling jump off began with Harley Brown and Mylord Cornet setting a blistering pace of 34.92 seconds. Kirstin Hardin and Aran, fifth to jump off, managed to beat the time but had an unfortunate rail at the final fence. As last to go, Mattias Ekeroth and Dacarlos entered the Wells Fargo Arena and set an amazing forward pace and with precision turns as they rode to victory with a time of 31.984 seconds.
Mattias Ekeroth and Dacarlos. PC: Alden Corrigan Media
“Dacarlos is a 9-year-old by Verdi, he is just an amazing horse, with a lot of energy.” explained Mattias. Regarding their pace to the last fence, “the footing is so great here at Sonoma Horse Park and the horse felt so good, everything came up just as it should. It made my day today.”
Mattias thanked his wife Allison for her support and praised his whole team for their efforts. He had high praise for Marina Azevedo, for her excellent course.
“I also want to thank Axel Verlooy.” Mattias added, “We bought Dacarlos from him as a 7-year-old, Axel has done an amazing job and picked all the horses in our string.” Axel also provides support in finding young horses for Mattias to develop along the way.
The team at Mattias Ekeroth LLC was delighted to have Alex Craft win the $250 Sonoma Valley Stables Leading Groom Award.
The Leadline class brought smiles all round. PC: Alden Corrigan Media