Week Two of Gulfport offers “Lagniappe” for All!
Gulfport, MS—Feb 22,2007—
Competition heated right back up Wednesday, beginning in the Hunter Divisions where for the second week some of the top horse-rider combinations turned in stellar performances. Phoebe Sheets rode Stowaway for owner Mindy Wurzburg to the Championship in the 1st Year Green Working, while Russell Frey picked up the tri colors in the 2nd Year Green Working aboard Susan Baker’s Tell All. Repeating victory in the Conformation Hunter divisions was Terry Brown riding Tasty for owner Showcase, Ltd and taking top honors in the Regular Working division was South Point Farm’s Renaissance with David Wright in the irons.
A Cajun expression Lagniappe (lan yap), “something extra”, best describes this evening’s exhibitor party! Lookout 49 restaurant, a favorite of both locals and the horse show crowd treated folks to a banquet of cultural taste sensations offering up hot off the grill seasoned steaks along with their famous mashed potatoes, and all the “fixins” guaranteed to help exhibitors sleep well tonight. And to ensure sweet dreams both chocolate and white cakes were dished out courtesy of Nordic Lights Farm in honor of their student Eirin Bruheim’s Sweet 16 Birthday.
“Les Bon Temps Rouler”, the good times continue rolling for Bjorn Ikast of Mexico City, Mexico as he claimed the Lucky Sevens Welcome Stake win this afternoon with partner IZ’s Lifetime, the 16 year-old Russian stallion owned by Bjorn and wife Clara. The speed and agility of the dark bay no doubt aided in securing the victory. “He may not have a big stride but he has a huge heart and sometimes that’s better than stride.” exclaimed Bjorn.
In a preview of events to come respected international course designer Pierre Jolicleur spared no punches with the Classic Company sponsored stakes class, testing the field of 23 competitors with 12 obstacles [requiring 14 efforts] in the first round, but with a generous time allowance of 90 seconds. “It was a very nice course. It walked easier than it rode.” today’s winner commented of the level of difficulty, “It was a fair track, but with nice difficulties like after the triple bar where we had a hard turn into the vertical combination [7AB]. Because you’re riding uphill [to the triple] and you have to push a little bit, then go down hill to the double vertical-which is a short distance. And then they [the horses] were tired towards the end where we had that long line with very delicate fences at the end.” Bjorn finished with a sense of relief. A sense shared by only 8 other horses-3 of which were Bjorn’s mounts. Anchor Man, winner of last week’s opening Grand Prix, had a clear first round time of 87.53, but Ikast elected not to return the sleek bay gelding for the jump off. Ikast explained his philosophy, “My three speed horses only do one big class a week, so we pick carefully and save them for their best.” Anchor Man will return on Sunday to defend his victory of last weekend. The 15 year-old Little Bullet, fondly know as Bully also had a great run going clean in 85.71 the first time out.
The dash for cash round of 7 jumps, asking for 8 efforts, had a time limit of 48 seconds but time would not be the deciding issue this afternoon. Twists, turns, and a little deception awaited the final nine.
“There was the one turn, if you dared to do an inside turn to the double verticals it was right there and I had to do that because Bully has a small stride, where Wilhelm’s has a big stride and Eric Loubet was able to leave some strides out. I can not do that.” Bjorn recalled of his first jump off ride.
The strategy paid off as they went clear in 36.676 and stole the lead from Laurie Jakubauskas who had been in the number one spot with Counterfoil with a second round time of 37.467.
And then came the “horse of the hour” IZ. Ikast already knew this would be the only class the stallion would compete in this week so he was willing to unleash all the gentle giant had. “He’s still so competitive.” Bjorn said of the 16 year-old. “Since I knew I was already leading I said ok, we’ll take a big chance and let him run flat out to #3 vertical [after sharp turn off an oxer] and then again flat out to the triple bar. I saw how fast and thought ok, I don’t need to do an inside turn because we’re still so fast. And with a little bit of good luck and the help of a good horse, I’m here talking with you.”a smiling Bjorn said. The pair stopped the clock clear at 36.437 seconds and claimed the win.
Official results for the Welcome found Bjorn taking both first and second place with I.Z.’s Lifetime and Little Bullet respectively. Third went to Wilhelm Genn riding Chantal for owner Laura Ryan-Barnaclo in a clean 37.091, fourth to owner-rider Laurie Jakubauskas and Counterfoil in a clear 37.467 and rounding out the top five was Eric Loubet aboard Windsor of Le Bocage for owner The Stables at Le Bocage.
The Gulfport Winter Classics continues with more hunter/jumper and Grand Prix action through March 16th. Admission is free and the public is invited to enjoy the exciting competition throughout the week along with another $25,000 Grand Prix each Sunday as well as the race for the of the $10,000 Budweiser High Point Grand Prix Rider, presented to the top rider, calculated by earned points over the five-week series.
For more information or results on the 1008 Gulf Coast Winter Series, please visit www.classiccompany.com or call the show office at (228) 832-0080.