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 kick-off of the 2017 Lexington Spring Premiere is quickly approaching and athletes are preparing for the $3,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby which will take place on Friday, April 28 at 5 p.m. The Virginia Horse Center will host the Lexington Spring Premiere Horse Show from Wednesday, April 26, to Sunday, April 30, immediately followed by the Lexington Spring Encore from Wednesday, May 3, to Sunday, May 7.
The derby competition will take place in Wiley Arena, an outdoor ring stretching 130 feet by 300 feet with footing composed of Kruse Cushion ride. The country’s top horse and rider combinations will compete over Paul Jewell’s hunter course to demonstrate their style during two rounds to win the Laura Pickett Perpetual Trophy, donated by Rolling Acres Show Stable.
The derby has been a tradition at the Virginia Horse Center for years and most recently it was Virginia native Jason Berry aboard Cobalt Blue R, a Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Oak Ledge Farm, who claimed the title in 2016.
Combinations participating in the Green or High Performance Conformation Hunter Divisions during the Spring Premiere and Encore will be eligible to qualify for the $7,500 Huntland Conformation Hunter Challenge Series. In an effort to promote the growth of the Conformation Hunter divisions in Virginia horse shows, the Challenge Series was created and sponsored by Dr. Betsee Parker and Huntland. Qualifying winners must compete at the Upperville Colt and Horse Show where the champion and reserve will be crowned.
New this year for the Lexington Spring Festival is the Trainer Incentive Program, offering one free stall per barn for a trainer-owned, professionally ridden show horse. This program is geared to help professionals in the process of developing young horses for competition.
Moving into the Lexington Spring Encore, the $15,000 Virginia Horse Center Hunter Classic will take center stage on Friday, May 5th at 5 p.m. Any horse participating in at least one of the hunter divisions at Virginia Horse Center is eligible to enter.
Unique to this class, $12,500 will be awarded in Classic prize money, while the remaining $2,500 in the form of a Jr./Amateur bonus, sponsored by Dorna Taintor, for the top six scoring Juniors or Amateurs.
Returning to the Wiley Arena, hunters will complete a Regular Classic Course over a minimum of 10 fences set at 3′ or 3’5″ for the first round. Only the top 12 scoring horses will qualify to compete in a second Classic round over a shortened course.
The Lexington Spring Premiere and Lexington Spring Encore are two of the biggest events of the spring for the Virginia Horse Center. In addition to the $3,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby, the Lexington Spring Premiere is a World Champion Hunter Rider Event and features the $30,000 Rockbridge Grand Prix. The $15,000 Virginia Horse Center Hunter Classic takes center stage during the Lexington Spring Encore, followed by the $30,000 George L. Ohrstrom, Jr. Grand Prix.
The Virginia Horse Center will once again host two grand prix show jumping events in the coming weeks. The $30,000 Rockbridge Grand Prix will take place on Saturday, April 29, and the $30,000 George L. Ohrstrom, Jr. Grand Prix on Saturday, May 6.
During the Lexington Spring Premiere on Saturday, April 29, the $30,000 Rockbridge Grand Prix will be held in the Coliseum at 6:30 p.m., where riders will vie for the coveted Dubliner Trophy donated by Margaret Price. Declarations to the show office are due no later than 6 p.m. on Friday, April 28th and the entry fee is $500. Both Grand Prix classes held during the Lexington Spring Festival are eligible for inclusion on the Rolex/USEF Show Jumping Ranking List.
Last year, Mary Lisa Leffler rode Bling Bling to a double clear and top honors. “It’s just one of my favorite events,” she said. “The hospitality of the Virginia Horse Center is second to none. They try so hard during the evening grand prix and they really put on a good horse show. The best part of the whole thing last year was that my sister drove my parents down, so they finally got to see their horse compete. Having them there and winning was great!”
The pinnacle of the Lexington Spring Encore will be the $30,000 George L. Ohrstrom, Jr. Grand Prix also in the Coliseum at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 6. Declarations are due no later than 6 p.m. on Friday, May 5.
Last year Colombia’s Manuel Torres piloted Christofolini H, a Rheinlander gelding owned by Andrea Torres Guerreiro, to victory. “For us, it is one of our favorite shows of the year,” Torres said. “We love the crowd, the facilities, and the stabling — the horses are very relaxed here. We come every year and we really like it. They always pick really good course designers to come and do these two weeks of competition, so it is very exciting for us to come to the Virginia Horse Center.”