In the end, careful was more important than fast as show jumping took center stage at the Virginia Horse Center on Saturday, April 29. Alexa Lowe-Wiseman and Windsor Farm’s Synapse De Blondel were the only combination to produce a double clear effort, winning the $30,000 Rockbridge Grand Prix and Dubliner Trophy. Out of 14 entries, five returned for the jump-off, with Wiseman qualifying with two mounts.
Synapse De Blondel, a 10-year-old Selle Francais mare, had previously shown with
Wiseman in her first grand prix as a sale horse a year earlier. “My mother negotiated a trade deal with Nicholas Pio to get Blondie (Synapse De Blondel) to stay in the family after the great year we had, so it was my first grand prix with her as ours. It was very special and very exciting for Synapse De Blondel to win.”
Wiseman had the first and last attempt at the jump-off. Her first was aboard Udstrum Du Lys, a green horse who was competing in his first grand prix. Each competitor had a rail down throughout the jump-off when Wiseman entered the arena for her second round on Synapse De Blondel.
“Normally the strategy, if everyone has had a rail, you still have to go fast because if you also have a rail you don’t want to be the slowest 4-faulter. Knowing that I was the last one on course on my chestnut mare that is so careful I actually played it safe and executed a slower, but safe, clear round. It’s nice when you know that you can count on your horse to leave the jump when you are sitting in that position.”
Although completing the fastest round in the jump-off, Colombian rider Andrea Torres Guerreiro took second place aboard her own Fifty Shades, an 8-year-old Westphalian gelding. Torres Guerreiro also owned the third place finisher for Colombia, Christofolini H, a 9-year-old Rheinlander gelding ridden by Manuel Torres.
As a native Virginian, Lowe-Wiseman looks forward to continually supporting the shows at the Virginia Horse Center. “Everyone is friendly, the horse show staff, the ladies in the office, and the stable manager. They do everything they can, including having people to run you up and down the hill in golf carts so you don’t have to walk. The grand prix is special because the crowd shows up at night and cheer you on and it’s all because of the management of the show.”
On Friday, April 28, Maria Shannon won the $3,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby, claiming victory aboard Buble’, a Danish Warmblood owned by Mohammad Attar. The pair rose to the challenge with a score of 169 to claim the Laura Pickett Perpetual Trophy, donated by Rolling Acres Show Stable.
Twenty entries competed over the Paul Jewell designed course in the Wiley Arena. Buble’ — in addition to the reserve champion, Cavallino — were trained by Shannon’s mother, Claiborne Bishop of The Barracks Farm in Charlottesville, VA. Shannon has worked for the farm since 2000 where she competes in the professional divisions.
The Lexington Spring Festival continues at the horse center and will be capped by the $30,000 George L. Olhstrom Grand Prix on Saturday, May 6.
The Grand Prix of Roanoke had a new venue and a new champion for 2016, as Brooke Kemper rode her 12-year-old Holsteiner/Thoroughbred gelding Classified to the top spot for the $25,000 prize Saturday, June 26, at the Virginia Horse Center.
The 12-time winner of the Grand Prix of Roanoke, Aaron Vale, was not part of the field of 11 at the show’s new venue at the Virginia Horse Center.
As a large crowd of spectators looked on, Kemper, of Shadow Pond Stables in Culpeper, Virginia, was clear in her first ride and then clear again in the jump-off with a time of 37.258. She just barely edged out Maryann Charles and FVF Sailorman, who jumped a double clear with a time of 37.279.
Also in the jump-off round was Tyler Smith riding Soho D’Ermisserie, who had a double clear with a time of 41.763, and Gavin Moylan riding Pernod, who had four faults and a time of 35.411.
Maryann Charles and Sailorman
Tyler Smith and Soho D’Ermisserie
Brooke Kemper also rode Classified to a win in the Rockbridge Grand Prix at the Virginia Horse Center in 2015. She was third in the George L. Ohrstrom Grand Prix at the horse center in May. Kemper grew up on her parents’ Kemper Knoll Farm near Harrisonburg, Virginia. Her mother, Darlene, is a riding instructor, while her father, Whit, is a full-time farmer.