Shawn Casady piloted Highpoint Farm LLC’s Durango VDL to a win in the $35,000 FEI 1.45m Welcome in front of an electric crowd Friday at the Sonoma International CSI2*, part of the Split Rock Jumping Tour (SRJT).
A field of 61 horses and riders took on Olaf Peterson Jr.’s challenging track with only six advancing to the jump off.
After an easy clear in his first round, Casady was the final rider in the arena, and he took advantage of the 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood’s massive stride to shave seconds off the clock, coming through the timers in a blazing 42.831 seconds.
“Durango has a very big stride. To make the time allowed in the first round I left out strides in a lot of different places, so in the jump off walking nine I knew I’d probably get eight,” Casady said. “He’s a stallion, but now that I’m getting to know him I’m making him more like my buddy. We’re starting to get to the point where we do this together.”
Karrie Rufer and Morning Star Sporthorses’ Georgie d’Auvray EC, who were the first pair to earn a jump off round, set the pace with a time of 43.009 for second place. Nicole Shahinian-Smith secured third place with Akuna Mattata, who is owned by Silver Raven Farms, after two clear rounds and a speedy jump off time of 44.666 seconds.
Rich Fellers is in red hot form at the Sonoma International CSI2*. He claimed his third win of week Friday afternoon in the $5,000 Alimend 1.40m Winning Round aboard Valor Farm LLC’s Burghlington. The pair produced two lovely clear rounds, stopping the clock at 36.102 seconds.
The format of the Winning Round class allows for the top 10 horse and rider combinations to return for a jump off round. Faults from the first round carry over to the second round, where riders aim to achieve the fastest time.
Kaitlin Campbell earned second with her seasoned partner Rocky W after two clear rounds and a jump off time only slightly behind Fellers in 36.162 seconds. Katelyn Denby Edwards and Mountain View West Farm LLC’s Kalina followed in third after stopping the clock on 37.515.
Junior rider Caroline Mawhinney was all smiles as she took a victory gallop with her own Flashback VDS after winning the $1,000 1.20m Junior/Amateur Speed class. Her clean round in 61.217 seconds handily earned the top spot.
Sabine Cooper and her Juweel van Maarle put the pedal down in the $1,000 1.30m Junior/Amateur Speed class, and their faultless 56.951 second trip sealed the deal on a blue ribbon.
“She’s a great little mare. She’s super scoopey-she’d jump a house if you pointed her at it, but she’s a little bit opinionated, so things have to be her idea,” Cooper said. “You have to figure out a plan that works for her, and give her the time and the respect she deserves. She’s a little different, but the quirky ones are the fun ones.”
Lauren Little kept a lid on her nerves to win the StableGuard 1.0m Low Child/Adult Jump Off aboard her Ultra d’Eclipse. Two clear rounds and a jump off time of 35.358 sealed the deal on her successful debut at the level.
“This is my first 1.0m class ever. I’m very thankful. I was very nervous, but it ended up OK and it was a big confidence booster,” Little said.
Susan Artes was the winner of the $1,000 1.20m Power & Speed class with her Mr. Sanchez with a clear round and the best speed time of 32.008 seconds.