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World Cup Warm Up: Rusty Stewart & Bristol Speed to Win in $35,000 GGT Footing Grand Prix at Sacramento
Stewart and Bristol skimmed over the top of each jump in the triple combination.
Up against 45 others, Pro Equest Pro Stewart and Bristol made good use of the the one round speed competition, that serves as a warmup for the upcoming $55,000 Land Rover Grand Prix of Sacramento World Cup Qualifier, to be held on Saturday, October 6th. By now Stewart and Bristol's story is well known; the 10 year old Selle Francis gelding is the first grown product of Stewart and wife Kandi's boutique breeding program at Grey Fox Farm in Camarillo, CA. With every win that the pair has produced this year it's apparant that the foal which Stewart raised from birth is solidifying his status as one of the West Coast's strongest grand prix competitiors.
It wasn't an easy battle to the top of the class, with the Heiko Wahlers-designed course built to spec and making full use of the narrow indoor arena at Sacramento. Competition was high-class as well, with riders such as Olympic veterans and 2012 FEI World Cup Champions Rich Fellers and Flexible, Ashlee Bond and Wistful, and Saer Coulter with Victory DA all giving it their best shot over the 12 obstacles.
The great Flexible
However, even Fellers couldn't keep all the rails up; first to go in the order with Flexible, he turned on his characteristic speed before fence one, but an unfortunate rail in the B element of the triple combination relegated America's top finishers at this year's London Olympic Games to an eventual 9th place.
In fact, only 8 clear rounds were produced over the evening, with Wahlers putting riders on notice to pay attention early on in the course. A deceivingly technical oxer at fence 2 came after a very long ride down the long side in 7 or 8 strides from fence one, also an oxer. Indecisveness led to a costly rail for many riders who failed to hold their horses off fence 2 and give it the respect it deserved.
From there a bright yellow wall at fence 3, followed by a sharp left turn to a double combination, a triple bar followed by a small liverpool kept the questions coming for horses and riders. And the time allowed of 78 seconds did give much leeway for wide turns or added strides.
Stewart and Bristol over fence 1
But Bristol, a plain bay with an unassuming jump, ate up every question at a deceivingly fast pace. Stewart looked to be taking his time guiding the Kartouche son over each jump, but when he crossed the finish line clear, his time was a full two seconds faster than Coulter, who finished in 2nd place.
Stewart, who currently stands third in the FEI North American West Coast World Cup Qualifying League, will surely be aiming to overtake Bond and Fellers’ rankings by placing well on Saturday night.
Coulter and Victory DA
Coulter is fresh off a summer of competing across Europe amongst the best show jumpers in the world, but with school now in for the Stanford University junior, she is competing closer to home this weekend under the watchful eye of coach Markus Beerbaum. Coulter’s flawless equitation over each fence also made for a deceptively fast round with Victory DA, a 14 year old Belgian Warmblood mare by Clinton.
Misti Cassar traveled from her base in Thousand Oaks, California to compete in Sacramento, and she was jubilant after completing a clear round aboard her own Poeme D’Amour for third place.
Misti Cassar and Poeme D'Amour have been enjoying success on the West Coast lately
Despite a change in date to earlier in the fall season, the fifth annual Sacramento International Horse Show has not missed a beat in attracting a record number of entries, among them a who's who roster of top ranked riders for its FEI rated World Cup week. The change in date from October to November has meant much warmer weather at the showgrounds, which had dealt with colder temperatures in years past. However, any doubts about the change in date affecting the show in any way have been put to rest, as the West's top riders continure to flock to what is a resounding favorite on the fall show circuit.
Two more nights of featured classes await this weekend, with a Ride & Drive and Six Bar competition scheduled for Friday, October 5th. Tickets are available for the World Cup Qualifier Grand Prix on Saturday evening at 7pmPST, but they have been known to sell out. The Grand Prix will also be streamed live online.
Top Ten - $35,000 GGT Footing Welcomg Grand Prix
Rider | Horse | Faults | Time
- Rusty Stewart | Bristol | 0 | 65.76
- Saer Coulter | Victory DA | 0 | 67.93
- Misti Cassar | Poeme D’Amour
- John McConnell | Katie Riddle | 0 | 70.39
- Alec Lawler | Glen Devon | 0 | 70.71
- Nayel Nassar | Lordan | 0 | 72.02
- Tiffany Sullivan | Tristan | 0 | 75.38
- Lucy Davis | Nemo 119 | 0 | 76.71
- Rich Fellers | Flexible | 4 | 62.65
- Rich Fellers | McGuinness | 4 | 64.00
4th place - John McConnell and Katie Riddle in fine form
5th place - Alec Lawler and Glen Devon
Nayel Nassar, coursewalking here, won last week's grand prix during the SIHS Welcome Week, and was the first clear round in Friday's Grand Prix. His time earned him 6th place with Lordan
Ryan Polli kicking off the evening with the National Anthem
Trophies on display