Thunderbird Show Park’s three-week FEI (Fédération Equestre Internationale) circuit drew to a close Sunday Aug. 28 in Langley with riders vying for top placings in several events, the big three being the $15,000 Marbill Hill U25 Grand Prix, the $20,000 tbird Grand Prix and the $50,000 FEI CSI2 (two-star Concours de Saut International) Paladin Grand Prix events.
Aldergrove’s Kassidy Keith, winner of the $5,000 version of the Marbill Hill U25 1.40m event on Saturday, finished in the money on Sunday, fourth in the Marbill Hill Grand Prix, on Fenelon WF.
Fellow Canadians Olivia Stphenson, Aren Ozker and Stell Chernoff took the top three spots.
Stephenson, 16, rode Deister Z to the win, besting a four-horse jump-off.
She acquired her mount as a birthday present the week before, and Deister Z himself was imported less than two months ago.
“This class was probably one of the biggest tracks I’ve ever jumped,” Stephenson said.
“Last week, we jumped in [the U25 division], but we didn’t do the Grand Prix, because we didn’t want to show too many days in a row. This was a bigger, harder track today. I was pretty nervous going into the first round, [but] in the jump-off I was a lot more confident.”
Peter Holmes’ course proved challenging, and just two riders had produced clear rounds more than two-thirds through the start list. But when Keith and Ozker delivered back-to-back clears at the end of the first round, it doubled the jump-off field to four.
Clear rounds remained a rare commodity over the short course, however. Stephenson was the first to jump double-clear, and ultimately no one would catch her.
In the tbird Grand Prix 1.30m, Kyle King and Jamestown were first, Pitt Meadows rider Braden James and GK Caamp were second, and Langley’s Laura Jane Tidball and Juno were third.
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In the Paladin Risk Solutions Grand Prix, 19-year-old Brooke Morin from the U.S.A. and NKH Carrido won their first international Grand Prix.
To win, she had to beat her coach, Langley-based veteran rider Kyle King.
“I was going to be happy either way. Kyle was going to win if I didn’t! I actually said that to him going into the ring,” Morin related.
King was leading the class aboard SIG Chiari. Knowing his track had worked well, his advice to his student was to try to ride a similar track.
She did, for the most part. But a decision to leave out a stride with “Cory” midway through Peter Holmes’ short track would set her apart and to the top of the leaderboard. Morin recorded a milestone victory.
King settled for second, with Jeffrey Fields and Sherlina Ale third.
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