Gras Fun Highlights Third Week of the Gulf Coast Winter Classics
Gulfport, MS — February 27, 2011—
Exhibitors at the Gulf Coast Winter Classics got a taste of Mardi Gras along with scrumptious local cuisines during week three, courtesy of the fine folks from Harrison County. Serving well over 1200 pounds of crawfish (boiled right on the spot), 500 pounds of shrimp, 400 pounds of spiced blackened chicken, another 400 pounds of fried catfish and more extras than a small army could consume. Friday evening’s party even had a mini Mardi Gras float that show co-chairman, Janet McCarroll, created with her golf cart to toss the infamous beads and special treats from. And to top the night off live music kept toes tapping. “Southern Hospitality” is this community’s heritage and one they relish sharing with exhibitors each year.
“Tis the season!” laughed co-chairman Bob Bell adding, “Every year this is the party we all anticipate most and every year Mike McMillan [Director of the Harrison Co grounds] just seems to outdo himself again. Great food and fun, that’s our reputation here.” After having seconds or even thirds, many took to the dance floor swaying the night and extra calories away.
Kicking off our third week, like the weather the heat of competition continued to rise in the hunter rings. Aiken, SC based Daniel Geitner garnered two division Championships for owner Robin Hughes, first in the High Performance Working with Living Color and then aboard Zo Doro in the Green Conformation section.
While Jetset and rider Jordan Siegel of Flower Mound, TX claimed the Tri Colors in the Performance 3’6-3’9 Working section for owner Castle Point Farm, LLC. Over in the Performance 3’3 Working division top call went to The Admiral owned by Jamie Jarvis and piloted by Kingwood, TX based Will Roberts and for the 2nd Year Green Working hunters Sarah Young of Belleville, IL rode Select for owner Carrie Quirin to the Championship spot.
Mr. Paul Jewel of Lambertville, NJ created terrific flowing courses for the hunter competition this week. “I always enjoy being at the Gulf Coast.” Jewel said and added, “We’ve had some phenomenal talent here in the opening weeks and still have the big Derby to come.” And in a prelude to the $10,000 USHJA Hunter Derby coming up, this week’s USHJA National Hunter Classic spotlighted 25 finely tuned horse and rider combinations. This week’s victors were The Admiral steered by Will Roberts for owner Jamie Jarvis.
Results of the USHJA National Hunter Classic:
The Admiral with Will Roberts for owner Jamie Jarvis
Moving to the jumpers, Manuel Espraza Perez of Mexico City, Mexico took over the course designing duties and got right to work testing the talents on hand in Friday afternoon’s Lucky Sevens Welcome. Sponsored by The Farm House this event saw a field of 24 professional riders and promising juniors vying for dominance over the course. In the end it was Jay Land of Alpharetta, GA partner with Nepal taking the win. “A tough, but fair course.” Land commented.
Sunday morning began the Jumper Classics on the spacious grass field. The Meter 1.20 Junior- Amateur Owner Classic boasted over 40 entries, with the victory going to Veronica (Niki) Martin of Carmel, IN and mount Hobby de la Cense. Next up was the $10,000 Meter 1.40 Junior-Amateur Owner Classic where Flower Mound, TX resident Erin Nelson and the Lazy Creek Ranch Holdings, LLC owned Inside Out bested a field of nearly 20 others to capture the win. In the NAL/WIHS Children’s Jumper Classic it was local rider Paige Coughlin paired with Tobias (owned by Andrew Kocher) taking the top honors.
The main event of the weekend was Sunday’s Adequan sponsored $25,000 Grand Prix where an excited audience lined the sides of the lush grass ring to cheer on their favorite horses. Manuel Espraza Perez produced an 81 second limited course that tested riders not only in the technical aspects, but their stamina as well.
“The course rode really quick-everything came up quick; the turns, the jumps, it all came up quick.” commented today’s only clear round and big winner Devin Ryan of Long Valley, NJ. The 13 obstacle [16 efforts] layout tested the adjustability and scope of the athletes with 2 tough combinations, and a series of wicked turns throughout the track, such as the hard right rollback twist off the #3 vertical to the #4 skinny vertical. And then there was the “Triple Threat”, the combination at 12ABC- wide oxer to vertical-to-vertical out angled straight to the end gate.
“It wasn’t necessarily the height of the fences or how scopey the horses were, I think it was just executing each line. There were a lot of related distances out there that made it very technical and in that aspect made it all just come up quick.” Ryan shared his perspective on how he managed the only clear ride. “There were really good, competitive horses out there, just a series of misfortunes for them.” He touted confidence in 10 year-old partner No Worries, the Selle Francais gelding owned by Barbara Rowland. “I thought for my horse in particular it [the course] was a little bigger than last week and he noticed it half way through and it made him wake up and I think that’s what helped him jump a clean round. Also, he’s a very fast horse as it is- he’s often wanting to go when I’m not ready for him to go, so because things came up quick it actually helped keep him in line-in check a little bit. He is a bit of a speedster and a naturally fit horse, that’s sort of his niche.” a grinning Ryan said.
Ryan and No Worries triumph is a bit more personal as last year’s Gulf Coast Winter Series is where No Worries entered the Grand Prix level for the first time, “I’ve been riding him since he was 3 years old, I broke him for Barbara Rowland and I feel lucky that I got this ride. I rode with her daughter in Pony Club and then life goes on- I go off to work with others and when I came home to start my own business I ran into her at Napa Auto Parts one day. She said she needed to get her horse broken, I stuck onto her for about 6 months and finally she said ok you can break him! And here we are together still.” Together they’ve built a stellar career- National 6 Year Old Champion in the Young Jumpers to numerous top placings and Grand Prix wins.
Ryan admitted that sadly he’ll be departing the Gulf Coast at 5AM Monday morning to fulfill commitments in Florida, but was quick to say “I’ve had a blast here! It’s such a great show; all the people are really nice. And it’s a great place to develop horses, you can train and show them in a national standard grand prix where they can get out there and learn the height, learn the length of a course, and the endurance of it all. It’s a great field and wonderful event. I’ll miss being here.”
Official Results of the $25,000 Adequan Grand Prix:
No Worries with Devin Ryan for owner Barbara Rowland 0 Faults 75.666
The Gulfport Winter Classics continues with more hunter/jumper action through March 13th . 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 afternoon.
For more information or results on the 2011 Gulf Coast Winter Classics please visit www.classiccompany.com or www.horseshowsonline.com or call the show office at 228-832-2745.