[Del Mar, California] With the picturesque sunshine of Southern California as a backdrop, Eduardo Menezes and Calvada bested 36 other competitors on Saturday afternoon as the only double clear round to win the $60,000 Grand Prix of California, sponsored by Equ Lifestyle and presented by Ferrari & Maserati of San Diego, at the Showpark Ranch & Coast.
The Del Mar Showpark baked under a bright, hot spring day with fans decked out in hats and other types of self-made shade all around the huge grass grand prix field. Sixteen jumping efforts over the first round course left five clear over the fences and four in the jump-off for course designer Oscar Soberon of Guadalajara, Mexico.
“It was nice. It was a fantastic course. I like when the courses are a little tougher and you have less people in the jump-off. I went second in the jump-off and I knew I had Enrique and Karl behind me and they’re very fast, so I tried to go as fast as I could without risking that much to go clean,” said Menezes of Calavda, his partner of two years.
Menezes and Calvada clear fence 9 on course. Photo ©Dr. Piper Klemm
Menezes and Calavda are coming off of another double clear ride last weekend at the Del Mar National Horse Show, where they finished 2nd in the $100,000 Grand Prix of Del Mar.
With 87 seconds allowed for a 540 m course, riders had to be efficient to clear the 13 jumping obstacles without fault. Second place finishers Karl Cook and Jonhkeer Z, who recently returned from an 11th place finish at the Rolex/FEI World Cup Final in Gothenburg, Sweden, was also complimentary of Soberon’s design.
“It was a good course for the people who were in it,” he commented. “It had some wide oxers and some rollbacks, so you had to be good on it- a rollback to a skinny after a big oxer, you have to bring your horse back up onto its haunches. I think it tested the horse as well.”
Jumping in the California sun - Cook and Jonkheer Z clear the triple bar. Photo ©Dr. Piper Klemm
Fence 1 was a rampy oxer, around the outside to a cutout wall at Fence 2, which had imposing structure. Fence 3, a tie-dye oxer with a liverpool came down more than any other fence, almost always at the front rail. A right-turn roll back led to a vertical at 4, which was hit many times and only left the cups once, followed by four strides to 5AB, a tight single stride vertical to a wide oxer. A right turn from there brought riders to the Equestrian Lifestyle Magazine vertical at Fence 6.
Turning left, the riders rode back up the ring from a wide oxer at 7 to 8ABC, an oxer two strides vertical to a one stride vertical. Not surprisingly, Fence 8 came down many times as well. From there, the riders jumped a square solid oxer at the far end of the ring. This was a fuzzy green jump that seemed like a hunter jump with a couple striped rails on top. With the long gallop and big effort, many horses were strung out after landing from 9.
Fence 10 was the next big problem spot on course, causing fault for 12 riders. The skinny oxer was the first of a line to Fence 11, a purple oxer three short strides away. All of this happened a short right-hand turn after many horses were feeling fresh from Fence 9. Turning left from 11, the triple bar oxer at Fence 12 directly across the ring from the in-gate came up quickly.
Fence 13 was an airy black jump with three planks. Many riders walked six steady strides between the triple bar oxer at Fence 12 and Fence 13. However, after the big effort, many horses landed with a lot of impulsion and were difficult to get back in time for the plank. Several riders continued forward for five strides, which seemed to be successful. It seemed like many riders assumed that their horses would be fatigued by that point in the course, but most seemed fresh and pulling through the entire line.
The audience groaned of heartbreak several times as Rusty Stewart, Susan Artes, and Ben Asselin all had beautiful rounds only to have the final fence come down. Josephina Nor-Lantzman had already made it through several trouble spots on her striking gray gelding Chello Z when he threw a shoe out of the combination and she pulled up.
Peter Petschenig, who finished third on Saint Quentin said, “Both rounds were very nicely built- rhythmical, difficult enough for few clear rounds, and the best people in the jump off- everyone deserved to win. Petschenig, who rides Saint Quentin in a hackamore, is all praise for the 11-year-old bay gelding, “he was clear in 4 grand prix [classes] in a row, he’s just amazing, he is a fighter and he does the best he can.”
In the jump-off, Petschenig went first and took four faults when a rollback proved to be too tight. Menezes laid down a clean ride that was also five seconds faster, putting the pressure on both Gonzales and Cook.
Enrique Gonzales and Quilebo du Tillard, a 9-year-old Selle Francis gelding, had to settle for fourth with eight faults in the jump-off. “When we walked, we actually thought [the course] was too nice. There were faults in all of the jumps, which means the course was balanced and very well built. In the jump-off, we had an early rail, at the first fence, so it was not a good way to start, but at the end, it was a good sport of show jumping today.”
Cook had a single rail in the jump-off to finish second with Jonhkeer Z. “It was his second class back (since the World Cup Final), he showed in a 1.40 m class a few days ago,” Cook explained. “He’s healthy, he’s feeling great and we’re just trying to keep going where we started in the World Cup.”
Menezes takes a spin in a Ferrari after the class. Photo ©Captured Moments
Top Twelve - $60,000 Grand Prix of California
Rider | Horse | Round 1 Faults | Round 2 Faults | Round 2 Time
- Eduardo Menezes | Calavda | 0 | 0 | 46.117
- Karl Cook | Jonkheer Z | 0 | 4 | 47.792
- Peter Petschenig | Saint Quentin | 0 | 4 | 51.715
- Enrique Gonzalez | Quilebo Du Tillard | 0 | 8 | 47.434
- Lane Clarke | Casseur de Prix | 4
- Ben Asselin | Makavoy | 4
- Saer Coulter | Don VHP Z | 4
- Ashlee Bond | Wistful | 4
- Rusty Stewart | Bristol | 4
- Jonathan Asselin | Showgirl | 4
- Susan Artes | Zamiro | 4
- Michelle Parker | Socrates de Midos | 4