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With an impressive entry list of 54 horse and rider pairs, Bond had no lack of competition to contend with in the Sunday afternoon class. Course designer Bernardo Costa Cabral constructed a deceivingly technical course with an unforgiving time, requiring riders to successfully execute a precise plan if they hoped to qualify for the jumpoff.
Bond and Wistful on their way to a clear round. Photo ©Captured Moments
Simon Nizri and Chela LS laid down the first clear round early on, but from there, additional clears were very hard to come by. Riders Paige Beal-Andros and Juan Jose Zendeja both finished clear, but with time faults, and nine other pairs picked up a frustrating single rail.
By the time Bond entered the arena midway through the class, she knew that the course was riding a lot harder than it had walked.
“It was one of those sleeper courses!” she joked. “Rails came everywhere. Bernardo did a good job of using the entire ring and having the course be difficult all over.”
Nizri came in a close 2nd to Bond. Photo ©Captured Moments
By the end of the order, only Bond and Nizri had qualified for the jumpoff, and when Nizri preceded Bond with a rail down in the jumpoff, she knew she was nearly home free.
“I got lucky,” she explained. “I thought I should pick up a good rhythm so that if I did have a rail I could still make the fastest time, but Wistful felt great and jumped clean.”
The Sunday victory marked the first at the grand prix level for Wistful, a 9 year old KWPN mare owned by Little Valley Farm. Based in Hidden Hills, CA, Little Valley Farm is the Bond family's breeding and training operation. Wistful came with decidedly low mileage when Bond purchased the mare from Rusty and Kandi Stewart’s Grey Fox Farm two years ago.
The Stewarts, who have turned heads this year while collecting a string of grand prix victories with the exciting homebred Selle Francis gelding Bristol, operate a busy breeding program in Southern California. They bred Wistful at their farm, but with many horses to tend to, Wistful was allowed to enjoy a leisurely start in life. Kandi didn’t begin her under saddle training until the mare was 6 years old.
However, Wistful was a quick study, and since her addition to the Little Valley string, Bond has formed a solid partnership with the young prospect. 2012 was her first year jumping Wistful in 1.50m grand prix classes, and already they have placed well in several World Cup Qualifiers, including the first qualifier held at the Del Mar Showpark on September 1st, where they placed 2nd to none other than Rusty Stewart and Bristol.
“She’s just one of those horses where you can step her up a level and she needs five to six classes to get the hang of it and then she’s good,” says Bond. “The World Cup Finals is my goal.”
Bond currently sits 2nd in World Cup Qualifier West Coast League Standings, making that goal well within reach.
The West Coast fall World Cup Qualifier season is well underway, with the next qualifier to be held at Del Mar on Saturday, October 26th. With a decisive win under her belt on Sunday, Bond will be aiming for that class with a boost of confidence in her exciting mare.
Top Ten - $30,000 GGT Footing Grand Prix
Rider | Horse | Round 1 Faults | Round 2 Faults | Round 2 Time
- Ashlee Bond | Wistful | 0 | 0 | 48.221
- Simon Nizri | Chela LS | 0 | 4 | 46.006
- Juan Jose Zendeja | Bonius de Laubry | 1
- Paige Beal-Andros | Cassina 39 | 2
- Susan Artes | Zamiro | 4
- Lane Clarke | Casseur De Prixe | 4
- Nicole Shahinian-Simpson | Picturized | 4
- Karl Cook | Banba | 4
- Nayel Nassar | Dunsoghly Junior | 4
- Nick Gegen | Sancerre | 4