Horseback Riding Lessons, Hunters Jumpers Equitation, Calabasas California

Jenny Karazissis and Michael Endicott Produce Wins at the
Blenheim June Classic I

RELEASE: June 16, 2010
AUTHOR/ADMINISTRATOR: By EquestriSol for Blenheim EquiSports

Photo by Flying Horse Photography (Martel and Jenny Karazissis.)
Photo by Flying Horse Photography (Martel and Jenny Karazissis.)

The hunters were stellar on a surprisingly cool Saturday in San Juan Capistrano. Forty-one competitors galloped around the $10,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby course with 14 returning for the Handy Round. Jenny Karazissis piloted Martel (Star Lane Farms, owner) with poise, winning both rounds for the top prize.

The first round included 11 efforts, with four 4' options. The course flowed smoothly, not too many trouble spots, although quite a few rails fell literally knocking several top horses out of the running for a ribbon.

Since this was a 2010/2011 qualifying class, new rules were in effect. Each 4' option jumped is automatically awarded one point, so up to four points were added to both sets of judges scores.

Young amateur Melissa Doddridge, who had three entries in the class, went early on Best Man and scored a total of 179 and the lead until reigning champion's Crown Affair (Yellow Dog Farms LLC, owner) with John French in the irons came along 12th in the order, scoring a total of 181. Several horses tied in points, Forbes (Tonia Cook Looker, owner), a top Derby mount piloted by Jenny Karizissis tied with Doddridge and Best Man at 179. Bentley, also ridden by Doddridge, and Two Goals Farm's On Top with Keri Kampsen both earned 178. Then came Martel. Trotting in 32nd in the order the handsome chestnut ridden by Jenny K wowed the crowd and the judges with his style. With scores of 96 and 95, the pair totaled an impressive 191, 10 full points above the leader. John French also rode his First Year Green Hunter, Truman (Mary Sweeney, owner), beautifully for the second highest score, a total of 184.

The handy round included a trot jump, four 4' options, a hand gallop to an oxer option and a bounce at the end by the in-gate. Fourteen horses returned, since the 12th spot was shared by three horses with a 166 score. Shadows on the jumps and the long gallop to the oxer caused some surprising rails and refusals in this round. Although certainly talented hunters, Forbes, Best Man, Bentley and Catani moved down in placing due to challenges on course. However the top three remained strong and their scores reflected the solid rides—the king of the Hunter Derby, John French was third on Crown Affair with a total of 369 and second on Truman with 371. Certainly if he's king, Jenny K is queen of the Hunter Derby and she earned her crown on Martel, topping the class with a grand total of 397.

"It was amazing," beamed Kosti, Jenny's husband and partner. "Like watching Touch The Sun and Bernie Traurig. Kudos to her for coming back after the ride on Forbes didn't go well."

"Kosti reminded me to let it go," Jenny chimed in about her ride on Forbes and ensuing win on Martel. "This was Martel's first start in a Derby. I'm thankful that trainer Jim Hagman and the Horrigan family let me ride him."

The Blenheim Racing Festival at Del Mar Horsepark in late July offers yet another $10,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby.

Nineteen horse-and-rider teams were eager to negotiate the Linda Allen designed course for Sunday's $30,000 Blenheim June Classic Grand Prix presented by Royal Champion, but in the end it was the double-clean trip by Michael Endicott and David Robinson's S.F. Shakira that clenched the win.

Tenth to go in the order, Endicott and his white mount S.F. Shakira were the second pair to have a fault-free trip in the first round, following Susan Hutchison and her partner, El Dorado 29's Cantano, who were the first to go clean. With rails falling in every round following, it appeared as if the jump-off would consist of only two horses, until the second to last entry, New Zealander, Maurice Beatson and his own, Apollo Van Evendael, presented the crowd with the third and final clean round.

First to maneuver the shortened jump-off track were Hutchison and Cantano. The well-matched pair strategically zipped around the course and turned in a blazing time of 40.323, well under the 48 seconds allowed. Unfortunately for Hutchison, the top rail of the airy gate on course came down to give the team four faults. Next, Endicott conservatively rode S.F. Shakira without a fault over the seven efforts in a time of 47.506. Last to try in the jump-off, Maurice Beatson and Apollo Van Evendael strove to surpass Endicott and S.F. Shakira but fell short, also lowering the height of one jump. The error put the duo into third place with a final time of 46.379.

Endicott commented, "My horse is a double-clear horse, but she's not a bullet. It was nice being behind Susie [Hutchison]. Running down 'Hutch' isn't impossible but it is really hard to do. She's so slick and that horse is very fast."

Occupying the fourth through 12th positions were riders who had at least one or two rails in the first round. Australian Harley Brown turned in a fast time with his World Cup mount, Cassiato (Oak Park Group LLC, owners), but clipped a rail halfway through, making the team the fastest of the four faulters for forth position overall. Both Endicott and Beatson each had three mounts in the class and managed two ribbons a piece in the top six positions. Finishing fifth with four faults was Endicott aboard Nicolas Nierenberg's Santiago followed by Beatson in sixth with his partner, Jedi Warrior.

Well-known hunter rider John French switched gears and took to the jumper course aboard Barbara Chapin's River Bird and had just one rail for a total of four faults and a seventh-place finish. Rounding out the four fault rides for eighth position was Lane Clarke aboard McLord's First John (Mickey Hayden, owner).

Built by Linda Allen, the course tested the rider's eye and demanded an accurate ride. In the first round, horses and riders jumped 13 numbered obstacles for a total of 16 efforts.

Blenheim EquiSports begins the second week of the four-week June series on June 16th in San Juan Capistrano. During the month of June and continuing into July, Blenheim EquiSports offers Grand Prix events each weekend. The $30,000 Blenheim June Classic Grand Prix made possible by Merrill Lynch Wealth Management takes place Sunday afternoon at the Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park. Bring the family for a fun-filled day of show jumping and a kids day with pony rides, bounce houses and more.

Blenheim EquiSports, an equestrian event management company based in San Juan Capistrano, CA, produces over 30 events per year in three locations: San Juan Capistrano, Del Mar and Las Vegas. The events include 18 USEF "A" or "AA" rated hunter-jumper shows featuring several World Cup Qualifying Grand Prix, USHJA International Hunter Derbies, Pony Finals, Medal Finals and more. Visit www.showpark.com for more details.

Source: USEF Network

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Nick Karazissis Los Angeles Professional Horse Trainer