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[San Juan Capistrano, CA] The Blenheim Indoor Arena was bursting at its seams on Friday, September 14th during the $50,000 Blenheim World Cup Qualifier Grand Prix, presented by Summit General Insurance Agency.
Spectators filed in by the busloads and with standing room only, equestrian fans of all ages got to witness the veteran rider Rusty Stewart and his incredible 10-year-old mount Bristol ride a perfect round and win his second consecutive World Cup Qualifier Grand Prix. The pair has been on a roll all season but it takes the perfect pair to stay on their game and post back-to-back World Cup Qualifier victories. Stewart proved his mount was credible just two weeks ago in Del Mar when they posted the only double clear effort in the $50,000 Showpark World Cup Grand Prix. Stewart knew Bristol was just as good indoors and could without question perform just as well. Stewart was right on the money.
Rusty Stewart and Bristol
Local and state wide equestrian enthusiasts chomped at the bit when offered the limited opportunity to walk an FEI level indoor World Cup Grand Prix course with the two-time Olympian and the soon-to-be U.S Olympic Show Jumping coach, Robert Ridland. To kick off the evening's main event, Ridland escorted members of local Pony Clubs, College Equestrian Teams, Big Brother & Sisters of Orange County and many more through a jump-by-jump course description and what to expect during the night's competition. The large jumps did little to intimidate one special fan who got a one on one chance to walk a part of the Grand Prix course with Ridland himself. Once the sun set, the competition was underway.
"I said it would be big," course designer Guilherme Jorge confirmed before the class got underway. "But that's the point. It's a World Cup Qualifier." Riders were asked to pilot their horses through a very technical course that included a 1.55M vertical-vertical combination, a 1.60M wall, and a very wide triple bar and only 82 seconds to clear it in. The nail biter was the triple combination that had riders set up for an oxer with two strides to another oxer then quickly adjust in one stride to a vertical. The crowd cheered ecstatically for each rider that was able to make it through the combination without fault.
Nicole Shahinian-Simpson and Imothep
Nicole Shahinian-Simpson and her young stallion Imothep were the first pair to clear all thirteen obstacles, but with caution comes time faults. Shahinian-Simpson set the standard with one time fault in 84.48 seconds. Nineteen year old Lucy Davis and her thirteen-year-old Holsteiner Nemo 119 had one unfortunate rail early in the course but kicked it into gear and cleared every other obstacle with ease in 78.59 seconds for second place at that point of the competition.
Four rounds to go in the $50,000 Blenheim World Cup Grand Prix, crowd favorite Stewart and the almighty Bristol trotted into the arena with sure confidence. "After walking the course, I knew it was going to be a tough course, but the time allowed was the biggest worry." Stewart piloted his ten-year-old gelding through one obstacle at a time, setting him up for a solid approach eliminating the risk of knocking a rail. Stewart had one scary rub on an awkwardly angled vertical by the in gate but was able to recover and stop the clock for a clear round in 78.11 seconds, moving into first place. "It was a really big track," Stewart confirmed. "But it was a track that you had to have your game on from beginning to end in order to get through it. I could not do this without Bristol. He is so amazing."
Rusty Stewart and Bristol win the $50,000 Blenheim World Cup Grand Prix presented by Summit General Insurance Agency.
No other team could surpass Stewart resulting in no jump-off and Stewart's second consecutive World Cup Qualifier and HITS Millions Grand Prix Qualifier victories. "Rusty (Stewart) is on a roll," course designer Jorge smiled, "it was a great class and a great show. The whole idea was to keep it to the FEI standard. It was a legitimate World Cup Qualifier course and clearly the best man won."
Stewart and his wife Kandi own and run the breeding and training operation at Grey Fox Farm. Bristol, the 10-year-old bay gelding, was the Stewart's first homebred colt and has clearly demonstrated what an amazing program they have created.
Photos © Captured Moment Photography.
Top Ten - $50,000 Blenheim World Cup Grand Prix
Rider | Horse | Round 1 Faults
- Rusty Stewart | Bristol | 0
- Nicole Shahinian Simpson | Imothep | 1
- Lucy Davis | Nemo 119 | 4
- Lane Clarke | Kiss the Sky | 4
- Mandy Porter | Con Capilot | 4
- Karl Cook | ASB Conquistador | 5
- Lane Clarke | Casseur De Prix | 8
- Tiffany Sullivan | Tristan | 8
- Nicole Shahinian-Simpson | Picturized | 9
- Many Porter | Capital One | 9