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 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.”