Marc Grandia and the 12-year-old Holsteiner gelding Campari FFF (pictured above), owned by Team Rebecca LLC, led the $4,000 Tin Men Supply Advanced division from start to finish at Aspen Farms Horse Trials September 16-18. Sophie Click and her 9-year-old gelding, Tarantino 54, finished second.
For Grandia, the highlight of the weekend was Campari’s performance over the Advanced cross-country course designed by Morgan Rowsell. “We came here looking to improve in the dressage of course, but mostly the cross-country after a disappointing go around the American Eventing Championships,” said Grandia. “I think that we did that. We were definitely in sync out there. And we tried a new bit. I’m feeling confident now going forward.”
Grandia reflected on today’s show jumping round: “The course here is always just a little tricky. The shadows were kind of long this morning. My horse was fantastic, just out of sync in a couple of places. We’ll hope to clean that up before Morven Park.” The pair, who calls the Pacific Northwest home, will leave later this month for the East Coast to compete there.
In the Open Intermediate, Stephanie Goodman and her 12-year old Thoroughbred, Carolina Morning, jumped double clear in stadium to win. Josh Barnacle and Bittersweet 2 and Alexis Helffrich and M Creme De La Creme SE also jumped clear to finish second and third, respectively.
“It was great,” Goodman said after their show jumping round. “It was a little spooky in the ring, but I love this horse and he’s been here before, so it was super fun. Overall a good ride.”
Ultimately it was their clear cross-country jumping performance on Saturday that moved them up from fourth to first. It was Goodman’s favorite part of the weekend.
“It was so fun,” she said. “I thought it was a proper Intermediate track with good jumps. He hasn’t been at this level for a while; it was a blast. He ran fast and was super confident.”
Goodman also won the Area VII Open Training Championships division with Esmèe, owned by Deanna Briggs, on their dressage score of 23.3. Leigh Robinson and Alliance took second, and Jordan Linstedt and CGF Galway Girl, owned by Melissa Mohr, took third.
In the USEA Area VII Open Intermediate Championships, Karen O’Neal and the 8-year-old Warmblood gelding Clooney 14, owned by Annika Asling, won on a score of 38.7. Tommy Greengard and Joshuay MBF jumped clear for second, and Jordan Linstedt and FE Friday, owned by Kiran D’Souza, took third.
“He was good today,” O’Neal said after their show jumping round, where they added just 4 jump faults. “It’s funny because the Wishing Well is always out there, and he always looks at it. I thought for sure he wouldn’t look at it today, but he did! I should have went past that way in the beginning. Spooking has been our biggest nemesis from day one. He’s still young, and he spooks sometimes still, but he’ll keep going now, and it’s getting less and less. I got kind of disorganized when he spooked today, but then I pulled my act together, fixed it, and the rest felt really good. It rode exactly how I wanted it to.”
O’Neal said the best part of their performance was Saturday’s cross-country ride: “He was the best he’s ever been! I cried afterward. He was so amazing. Skinnies aren’t my favorite fences; I don’t like them! And there were 14 of them on that course; a skinny it seemed like everywhere! It made me be very sharp. And he just listened to me. He was great; he did everything I asked. The course was lovely.”
O’Neal and Clooney are now aiming for the 3-star at Spokane Sport Horse Fall H.T. later this month.
In the closely contested Area VII Open Preliminary Championships division, Kelsey Horn and her Oldenburg gelding, Cleared For Take Off, jumped double clear in show jumping to move up from second to first. Jordan Linstedt and Lovely Lola, owned by Lovas Partners LLC, took second, and Amy Haugen and Ebenholtz took third.
Horn shared that the best part of the weekend for her was having “no rails in show jumping. That is always my goal at every show, because show jumping is hard and it causes me stress. I’m working on how to mentally handle that. It’s slowly getting better. Having the confirmation of no rails makes me feel like I’m making progress.”
Despite one rail that dropped them to second place, Jordan Linstedt was thrilled with her mare’s performance in the Championship division: “Lola was fantastic. Unfortunate rail at fence 2–bummer–but after that she jumped like a million bucks. She is so fun to ride, so I can’t be upset about that, and Kelsey had a beautiful round for the win!”
Lizzie Hoff secured the top two spots in the Area VII Jr. Training Championships, with HSH Explosion and HSH Limited Edition, owned by Caroline Martin.
“I had a rough start today with my Prelim horse,” Hoff said after her show jumping rounds. “I broke my finger, so I feel like I didn’t quite ride as well as I could have. But both of my Training level horses really were there for me and helped me out! I’m so happy with them.”
In the Area VII Training Rider Championships, Bryce Meeker and Centerfield Pixel Star won on their dressage score, followed by Karin Batdorf and Wesson in second.
“My horse was brilliant in show jumping” said Meeker. “I didn’t ride as well as I could have, but he did a wonderful job of getting around clean. For me the highlight was definitely cross-country. That’s been a place we’ve had some sticking spots… the water. He finally did it; I’m so excited!”
In Area VII Open Novice Championships, Jordan Linstedt won with the 5-year old mare Liberty R, owned by Amy Itkin, on a score of 21.9. Mary Burke and Valentino placed second, and Madison Flanders and Nobu placed third.
“Liberty got a little bit feisty in show jumping today, but she jumped really, really well,” said Linstedt. “I had an unfortunate rail at 8A–she overtook in the turn, and I set her back and got her a little too close. She’s still very green, and she is a dressage-horse-turned-eventer this year. She absolutely loves eventing. She attacked the cross-country yesterday. She has a great dressage foundation, and is great to ride.”
Linstedt is considering making a trip to the East Coast to compete in the early spring with young horses including Liberty R, as well as her upper level rides. “I’m very fortunate to have wonderful owners who are supportive.”
In the Area VII Jr. Novice Championship, Macy Hale and Ardeo Audacity sailed through a double clear show jump round to win, followed by Kate Gerth and O’Donnell’s Nuit Lilly in second and Piper Hale and Diavolo in third.
“It went really well,” Hale said of her clear show jump round. “I stuck to the plan of going straight and riding every stride and not taking any fence for granted. He, of course, was amazing!”
For Hale the highlight of the Championship weekend was that she: “really loved being here with my team, Rowan Hills Stables, and all the teamwork that we have together. We’re such a family; I’m so grateful for it!”
The title of Area VII Novice Rider Champions went to Amanda Zeddy and her Connemara/Thoroughbred gelding, Johnny’s Sparrow. They qualified for Championships at their first-ever attempt at Novice, and the Championship division was their second horse trials at the level.
“He’s 6 years old,” said Zeddy. “I’m just super proud that he marched around and was very brave for a horse that inexperienced. This was my first time at Aspen Farms, and I thought the courses were super fun.”
In the Area VII Open Beginner Novice Championships, Dr. Crystal McRae and the Hanoverian mare Pursha, owned by Asia Thayer, led from start to finish to win on a score of 20.3. Jessica Heidemann and Barracuda, owned by Sandra Donnelly, took second, and Kady Ellifritz and Yankee Bay took third.
“It was spectacular!” said Dr. McRae of their winning ride. “This is my first season three-day eventing, on a horse I’ve known for a long time and developed a beautiful relationship with. I’m so grateful to Asia Thayer for her wonderful coaching and for trusting me with her fine lady.”
In the Area VII Junior Beginner Novice Championships, Rhys Bentley and Overtime Magic finished on their dressage score of 26.9 for the win. Lindsey Ellis and Sir Winston Churchill finished second, and Olivia Ogan and Hoo Did That finished third.
“The highlight for me was the dressage,” said Bentley. “We always have some kind of issues with dressage like being too tense, so him being really adjustable in the beginning really helped. He was great.”
The pair plans to run their first Novice at Spokane Sport Horse Fall H.T. later this month.
Thanks to generous sponsors, over $30,000 worth of cash and prizes were awarded to top finishers at Aspen Farms Horse Trials and USEA Area VII Championships.