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Lane Clarke and Casseur de Prix Rise to the Challenge in $55,000 Villas at Rancho Valencia WCQ Grand Prix
Held under the lights on Saturday night at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, a clear round didn’t surface until over two dozen horse and rider pairs had taken a shot at Olaf Peterson Jr.’s technical 1.60m course. The night was full of surprises among the entry list of top riders and horses; with several riders running into uncharacteristic issues at a tall vertical that followed a triple bar in three strides. All three elements of the triple combination came down several times, and recent Grand Prix of Sacramento WCQ winners Duncan McFarlane and Mr. Whoopy saw their marvelous round come to an end with a dramatic four faults at the final fence. And the 12+ fault rounds stacked up.
However. There was a shining ray of light in this class, and it came in the form of Lane Clarke.
The tall Australian with piercing blue eyes guided Granville Equine’s Casseur de Prix over the course as only the second clear round of the night (the first went to Nicole Shahinian-Simpson and Imothep.) For Clarke, who has built a partnership with the 13-year-old Holsteiner gelding for the past two years, the pieces all fell into place last night.
Clarke and Casseur de Prix clear the triple bar that caused major problems for other riders
Clarke and Casseur de Prix handled the technical questions with ease and laid down the fastest of four jumpoff times. Simpson and Imothep also had a successful night to become the only other double clear and earn second place. Thursday night’s Welcome Stake winner Karl Cook finished in 3rd with two down in the jumpoff aboard Jonkheer Z.
Doing Right By the Horse
“He gets better all the time,” said Clarke of his horse. “He didn’t struggle even a little bit. He felt easy, loopy and scopey.”
Clarke is well known and well liked on the West Coast circuit for his abiding friendliness and notable horsemanship skills. With training partner Mickey Hayden in Laguna Hills, CA, 26-year-old Clarke has developed a solid business as well as a name for himself in the grand prix ring.
“We do what we think is right by the horse when he’s ready,” Clarke explained. “He jumped great on Thursday, and we thought, we’ll do the grand prix if he feels good. We always try to make sure that the horse is feeling healthy, confident, happy and comfortable, and all those things lined up for Saturday.”
Clarke also described the course as one that he knew would be difficult from the outset. The final jump in the first round required a big effort over an oxer after a technical line on a half stride. The double combination that preceded the oxer tricked some horses into thinking they were done with the course, causing a surprise when that final fence came up.
Simpson and Imothep Step it Up
Simpson’s international experience and remarkable ability to navigate technical questions well showed when she gave spectators the first clear round of the evening. She has only been riding Imothep since this August, and the switch to smaller indoor venues is a new challenge for the attractive 9-year-old KWPN stallion owned by Hyperion Stud.
But Imothep’s talent is undeniable, and the pair rebounded well in Del Mar after a difficult round in Sacramento three weeks ago. The stallion goes in a mild happy mouth bit and Simpson notes that he is a very adjustable ride and has exceptional scope, which helped her navigate the particularly technical portions of the course.
Simpson describes Imothep as a polite, unspooky horse with a bright future.
“These are the first World Cup classes he’s doing indoors,” described Simpson, who also placed second with Imothep in a World Cup class held indoors at Oaks Blenheim in September. “Last night he really stepped in and came up another notch on the ladder. I couldn’t have asked him to do any better.”
Simpson plans to give Imothep time off until the Winter Equestrian Festival kicks off in Florida, where she’ll be located for the winter circuit.
“Where ever the (World Cup) points lay, they lay,” Simpson said. “He’s a really nice horse coming up and starting his career.”
For full results visit www.horseshowtime.com
Top Ten - $55,000 Villas at Rancho Valencia World Cup Qualifier Grand Prix
Rider | Horse | Round 1 faults | Round 2 faults | Round 2 time
- Lane Clarke | Casseur de Prix | 0 | 0 | 68.16
- Nicole Shahinian-Simpson | Imothep | 0 | 0 | 70.81
- Karl Cook | Jonkheer Z | 0 | 8 | 70.49
- Vinton Karrasch | Coral Reef Baloufino | 0 | 8 | 69.28
- Michelle Fellers | Revenge | 1
- Helen McNaught | Lariccello | 1
- Nayel Nassar | Lordan | 4
- Mandy Porter | Con Capilot | 4
- Nayel Nassar | Raging Bull Vangelis | 4
- Jennifer Crooks | SF Uryadi | 4