The feature event of the day at the Palm Beach Open, part of the Palm Beach Masters Series held at Deeridge Farm in Wellington, FL, the $10,000 1.40M Jumper class, went to Abigail McArdle and Fanta Light B, owned by Plain Bay Sales.
Course Designer Kevin Giblin saw 28 entries attempt his course. The 11 obstacles in the first round, along with the length of the course that wound around the huge Grand Prix field, tested the stamina of both horse and rider. Only seven were successful in posting clear rounds, and of those only four were able to turn in double clear rounds. None, however, could come close to besting McArdle and Fanta Light B.
McArdle and the little 8-year-old bay mare held off all challengers to their blazing time of 39.370 seconds. Canadian Olympic veteran Mario Deslauriers came the closest with his wife Lisa’s Scout De La Cense, going double clear in 40.064 seconds.
“It was a great day for the Plain Bay crew,” said McArdle. “Today I went out there and gave it a shot and she was so good. She is such a special horse. She has got great style and she is so careful and smart. She just wants to win. I know she is only eight, but she handles everything so well. She is going to be a top horse. She’s a special horse and this is a special venue. Good day!”
Thirteen was a lucky number for Adam Prudent aboard Plain Bay Sales’ Vasco, as that was their place in the order for the $3,000 1.30M Jumper Time First Jump-Off class. The class had 70 starters, but none was able to knock Prudent and his long-time partner from the top spot. Prudent and Vasco finished their course with no faults in 38.356 seconds to win.
“It was such a pleasure coming here and showing on the grass,” Prudent said following his win. “It is always amazing showing on grass, and the horse loves it. I had a great time.”
The top ribbon in the $3,500 1.35M Jumper Time First Jump-Off class went to KEC City Limits with Irishman Willie Tynan in the irons. KEC City Limits, owned by Red Barn Farm LLC, turned in double clear rounds in a time of 31.819 seconds to take the hotly contested class.
The Classic Champions $3,000 7-Year-Old Jumper class was won in impressive style by G-Force and Schuyler Riley. G-Force, owned by Riley’s Wolfstone Stables, traversed the power-and-speed course to finish a full two seconds faster than the nearest competitor, two-time Olympian Daniel Bluman aboard Steven Bluman’s Bibou Du Perron.
“I just love this venue,” said Riley. “I brought my young horses here for the experience. The footing here is just amazing, and the grass field with this kind of environment, there is just no better way to bring up a young horse. These are different jumps and a big impressive tent, and at the top events in our sport this is what you get. So for a young horse coming along to be able to show here you get all that along with nice course designing.”
Oliver McCarthy and Marconedereve won the Classic Champions 6-Year-Old Power-and-Speed competition with the only fault-free effort over both phases of the class.
Created in 2015 by Cynthia Hampton, Classic Champions Tour is specifically for 5, 6, and 7-year-old jumpers and is based on European principles which modernize the show experience for young horses in North America. Created by experienced, specifically-trained course designers, the courses are made to fit horses’ age with adapted heights, types of fences, lines, and turns, all over top-notch footing, which is a trademark of Deeridge Farms. The series gives young horses the opportunity to compete at different shows to develop their experience and it helps them become the future stars they can be.
“My goal is to offer adapted classes and also to educate riders, trainers, breeders, course designers, judges and officials,” said Hampton. “We need a viable structure capable of identifying, selecting and educating future high-level horses. I believe that we can breed and develop future athletes capable of distinguishing our region both at home and on the international stage.”
“We think it’s extremely valuable for young jumpers to get the best education and show experience possible right from the start, which is why we are delighted to include the Classic Champions classes at our shows,” said Lou Jacobs, event co-founder along with siblings Charlie Jacobs and Katie Robinson. “It’s always exciting to watch as young horses start their careers and develop through the levels.”
The Classic Champions young horse classes are non-USEF rated, held in Deeridge Farms’ beautiful grass Grand Prix Ring, and offer $20,000 in prize money. In addition to the general results, the judges of Classic Champions Tour classes will reward one horse per generation with the “Classic Champions Award of Distinction.” The goal being to highlight jumping style, quality of canter and rideability.