Show jumping returned to Southern California this past week with the National Sunshine Series at HITS Desert Horse Park in Thermal, California. Hailed as the fall season’s premier West Coast boutique show, Nation Sunshine Series I featured thrilling competition in preparation for week two, which features an all-new FEI CSI-5* jumping division.
Rich Fellers, of Wilsonville, Oregon, and the 19-year-old Irish Sport Horse stallion Flexible (Cruising X Safari), owned by Harry and Mollie Chapman, gave spectators a beautiful effort to win Sunday’s $50,000 Sunshine Series Grand Prix. Fellers, a familiar face at the HITS Desert Park, sped through the jump-off course to earn the blue ribbon, a $15,000 check, and a boost of confidence going into next Sunday’s $350,000 Sunshine Grand Prix FEI CSI-5*.
“For me and Flexible, I just wanted to give him one class last week that would be somewhat similar to the beginning of this week,” Fellers said. “I talked to the course designer and it seemed like the Sunday class would be the best class for him.”
Fellers noted that much of the reason that Flexible is still going strong at age 19 is that he tends to go best in his first class. “Many horses, in their first class they’re not so scopey and brave, and they need that first class to get their sights up, but he’s always been pretty aggressive and never really needed that small Friday class to warm up,” Fellers explained.
Of the round one entries, six riders went clear over the 13 effort course designed by Olaf Petersen Jr., of Muenchen, Germany, to secure a spot in the jump-off. First to reenter the ring was Jenni McAllister aboard Here I Come, owned by Legisequine.com, and clocking in at 51.126 the pair took home the first clear round of the jump-off and set the bar for the remaining five riders.
Second in the order, Karl Cook, and Basimodo, owned by Signe Ostby, chased McAllister’s time to beat and they did just that, finishing clean in a time of 45.083 for the lead. The next two entries attempted to follow Cook’s lead and although clear, they weren’t quick enough to take the top spot away from him.
Fellers and his chestnut stallion were fifth in the order and ready to shake up the leader board. Zooming through the course in a quick 42.917, a full two seconds faster than Cook, Fellers staked his claim for first. With just one jump-off entry left, onlookers wondered if Fellers had it in the bag or if the last rider would swoop in for the win.
Cook, on his second mount of the day, Tembla, owned by Signe Ostby, took the final trip of the afternoon knowing what they had to do to win. Cook navigated through the course without a misstep along the way, but finished with a time of 43.217 that wasn’t enough to take first from Fellers and landed him in second.
Third place went to Cook and Basimodo, while fourth place was awarded to Enrique Gonzalez and his own Chacna. Matthew Williams and Valinski S, owned by Wyndmont, rounded out the top five.
Heading into the CSI5* week, Fellers plans to aim Flexible at Thursday’s $65,000 Sunshine Classic and Sunday’s $350,000 Sunshine Grand Prix CSI5*. Next week, the 2012 FEI World Cup Final Champions will finish out their 2015 season at the Las Vegas National Horse Show.
$50,000 Sunshine Series Grand Prix Top 12:
|Place||Horse||Owner||Rider||Prize||R.1 Faults||JO Faults||JO Time|
|1||Flexible||Harry & Mollie Chapman||Rich Fellers||$15,000||–||–||42.917|
|2||Tembla||Signe Ostby||Karl Cook||$11,000||–||–||43.217|
|3||Basimodo||Signe Ostby||Karl Cook||$6,500||–||–||45.083|
|4||Chacna||Enrique Gonzalez||Enrique Gonzalez||$4,000||–||–||46.071|
|5||Valinski S||Wyndmont||Matthew Williams||$3,000||–||–||47.545|
|6||Here I Come||LEGISequine.com||Jenni McAllister||$2,500||–||–||51.126|
|7||NKH Selena||NKH LLC||Christian Heineking||$2,000||4||–||–|
|8||Santos||Carlos Hank Jr||Enrique Gonzalez||$1,500||4||–||–|
|9||Semira De Saulieu||Brookelane Farms||Lane Clarke||$1,500||4||–||–|
|10||Lapsus du Lavoir||Prentiss Partners||Francie Steinwedell-Carvin||$1,000||4||–||–|
|11||Juncal||Woodgrove Farm||Guillermo Obligado||$1,000||4||–||–|
|12||Cash||Heather Nicholson||Olivia Brown||$1,000||8||–||–|