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The $24,999 EcoVerde Grand Prix at Sonoma Horse Park was a smash!‏

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Oh what fun! And how exciting! The Grand Prix at Sonoma Horse Park http://www.sonomahorsepark.com/ on Saturday the 6th of August, 2011, was awesome!

33 horse/rider combinations were entered, quite a big field, including, but not limited to such 'greats' as Helen McNaught, Julie Hancock, Nina Alario, Jill and Jan Humphrey, Allison Kroff, Duncan McFarlane, Mandy Porter, Peter Breakwell, and Lindsay Lamar.

The course proved to be quite difficult, with many horses struggling, and lots of rails down and hooves in the water jump (which is also considered 4 faults). The water jump (Liverpool) appeared to baffle many, especially "Glados", who just cantered right through it as if he was on a cross country course (very cute!).

The first to go clean was the incredibly talented and successful Helen McNaught, aboard "Valois". (Incidentally, Helen won last Saturday's 2011 $30,000 SC Barns Grand Prix/HMI Equestrian Classic I (AA) aboard "Lariccello"). "Valois", owned by John Bramow, is a big, beauty of a bay gelding, very fancy and awesome. Helen, per usual, rode masterfully, with great tact and precision.

Next to jump clean was "Poeme D'Amour", ridden by Patrick Seaton, and owned by Misti Casser. Even though the ride was clean, this horse didn't look very happy or like he was enjoying his job at all.

Third to go clean was the wonderful, passionate, and heart felt ride of "Washington", owned and ridden by Allison Kroff. Wow! This was really wonderful! Allison and this beautiful bay stallion made it look easy! This ride personifies what the sport of show jumping, done right, is all about. The bond between horse and rider, the obvious connection and partnership, the horse willingly and joyfully giving his all, and the rider fully recognizing this, and hugely appreciating and rewarding the effort. There was so much praise and jubilance at the end of this ride that I truly thought that she might fall off! Nice!

Fourth to go clean was the awesome Duncan McFarlane and the brilliant bay stallion "Mr. Whoopy", owned by Simone Coxe. Talk about a fantastic partnership! Wow again! This pair is always so much fun to watch! Mr. Whoopy's talent is profound, his scope and power explosive. His jumping seems effortless, as if he could jump the moon if he so desired, and even that would be easy. He appeared to be completely non plussed by these big jumps, as if they were child's play. And play he does, between every fence. Duncan is an unbelievably skilled and tactful rider, any other would probably be face first in the 'Eurofelt'. But not Duncan. He's like a steady and consistent 'burr' in the tack, allowing this playful and rambunctious behavior as a harmless side effect to a spectacularly talented and successful stallion. Hats off to you Duncan, and...Rock on Mr. Whoopy!

Last to go clean was Peter Breakwell and his 'tried and true' faithful, successful and talented partner "Lucas", owned by No Drama. This ride was,( like the ride in last week's Grand Prix as well), in a word, impressive. Talk about skill, talent, and precision! Again, Peter and "Lucas" conquered this course, making it look easy. "Lucas" has such an effortless style of jumping, with super tight knees and tons of scope and ability.

So, on to the jumpoff.

It would be hard to make a jump off any more exciting than this one! Starting with the first ride of the 5, each ride got progressively better and faster, till the last to ride, beat them all!

In the order of go: Helen and Valois had a rail, ending them in 5th place (Helen and her other mount Caballo placed 6th).

Patrick and Poeme D'Amour ended in 4th place with a rail.

Allison Kroff was thrilled with a clean go, and a time of 38.880 seconds, ending her in 3rd place.

Duncan and Mr. Whoopy also went clean with a time of 38.821 seconds, just 60th of a second faster then Allison, moving them up to 2nd place.

And last, but certainly not least, Peter and Lucas, obviously 'in it to win it'. And they did. With a clean go and a time of 38.221 seconds, they, well deservedly, emerged victorious.

Yee Hah! Way to go you all, and to you all a good night!

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