Del Mar, CA – July 20, 2014 – A host of talented equestrians came out to play on a crystal clear afternoon at the Showpark Summer Festival, closing out a busy week of competition. Twenty-seven entries vied for the top prize in the $30,000 Summer Festival Grand Prix, presented by Mary’s Tack & Feed, on an intricate course designed by Venezuela’s Leopoldo Palacios.
Featuring a technical layout with many related distances that covered every corner of the Grand Prix Field, the course required accuracy and adherence to a set track and deliberately short distances. Palacios wanted this course to reflect a higher level of difficulty in comparison to Friday’s Markel Insurance Grand Prix.
“The class on Friday was 1.40m. This is 1.45m. I have a lot more spread today; I treated Friday as preparation for today,” Palacios explained. “Most everything is set at maximum height. It’s a technical course with difficult fences in difficult positions.”
Fences 5a-b, fence 9 to triple combination 10a-b-c, and final fence 13 fell many times, in several cases a reflection of the tight distances in the track. Palacios predicted these tests, saying, “The line of the triple combination always catches some. I also think the double with its color and position will be challenging. The lines will require an accurate track or the riders will produce faults.”
However, the standout element of this class was the time allowed. Given a speedy 76 seconds over a 13-effort course, nearly half of the class had time faults. It looked to be a race to the top between the time-faulters until the 20th in the order stepped in the ring.
Aboard Guillermo Zambrano’s Chepepe La Escondida, Fernando Martinez produced the first clear round of the class in a time of 72.66.
Martinez was the single clear until the fourth-to-last entry, Gabriella Salick on her own Centuria 2, made it a jump-off with a clear round in a time of 73.50.
The jump-off included some of the most technical components of the courses. With a sizzling clear jump-off in a time of 36.43 seconds, Martinez laid down quite a challenge for Salick. She proved up to the task, flying around in a time of 35.13 to take home the win. Martinez earned second on Chepepe La Escondida and third, with just a single time fault, on Acardi (Lorenzo Cue, owner).
An elated Salick elaborated on her quick time as she raced to another ring to assist a client. “The time was difficult for me, because I’m normally quite slow. My horse is little with a small stride, so I really focused on trying to be neat with my turns,” she said of her first round. “I think I made up the time in the jump-off down the last line, because I thought I was slower than Fernando everywhere else!”
Today’s win with Centuria, an eight-year-old mare Salick has had since she was a foal, was especially sweet because of the audience waiting for her. “I was so happy because my husband and both my daughters were here today. It was the best!”
More Showpark excitement to come over the next two weeks, beginning with the 2014 West Coast Junior Hunter Finals on Monday and Tuesday, followed by the Showpark Racing Festival and Showpark August Festival. Highlights include a $10,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby, the $40,000 Racing Festival Grand Prix, a $10,000 Youngsters U25 (under 25) Classic and a $25,000 Markel Insurance 1.40m Grand Prix.
$30,000 Summer Festival Grand Prix, presented by Mary’s Tack & Feed
Place – Number – Horse – Rider – Owner – Faults/Time
1 – 236 – Centuria 2 – Gabriella Salick – Gabriella Salick – 0/0/35.130
2 – 732 – Chepepe La Escondida – Fernando Martinez – Guillermo Zambrano – 0/0/36.435
3 – 729 – Acardi – Fernando Martinez – Lorenzo Cue – 1/76.344
4 – 777 – Cassina 39 – Paige Beal-Andros – Fairway Farm – 2/77.054
5 – 704 – Paloma – Keri Potter – Melanie Brooks – 2/77.380
6 – 417 – Chello Z – Josephina Nor Lantzman – Josephina Nor Stables, LLC – 4/71.433
7 – 755 – Manolito Fortuna – Manuel Alvarez – Manuel Alvarez – 4/73.368
8 – 754 – Spirit Magic – Manuel Alvarez – Manuel Alvarez – 4/74.898
9 – 745 – Candela – Patricio Pasquel- Patricio Pasquel – 4/75.105
10 – 746 – Carnaval – Patricio Pasquel – Patricio Pasquel – 4/75.685
11 – 654 – Go For Me – Santiago Vallarta – Santiago Vallarta – 6/77.308
12 – 631 – Chatinue – Mario Onate – Mario Onate – 7/82.035
Photo courtesy of CapturedMomentPhoto.com