March 2018 - Fast Draws In Desert Showdown
Written by Kim F. Miller
Tuesday, 27 February 2018 21:25
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Nassar, Madden & Porter take top honors in the last leg of the FEI Longines World Cup League West.

article & photos by Kim F. Miller

It was a small field of 19 that tackled the final leg of the Longines/FEI World Cup Jumping North American League West. But there was plenty at stake with big points to decide which three riders from our league will earn a spot at the FEI Longines World Cup Finals in Paris April 11-15. Well, really two riders. With 58 points going into the Feb. 10 class, Richard Spooner had locked up his spot already.

Winners Nayel Nassar & Lordan get their season off to a fast start.

Beezie & Breitling flew to second, before flying out to Ocala, Florida, for a Nation’s Cup competition the next weekend.

Ironically, it was a guy not even going for the Finals who won the class: Nayel Nassar and his super 14-year-old stallion Lordan had the fastest time among the six pairs to make the jump-off in Alan Wade’s curvy, flowing first-round course. Although the World Cup Finals were never part of Nayel’s plans for the season, he was thrilled to start Lordan’s competition year off with the win and a great warm-up for AIG Million on March 18. The pair won this class two years ago, also as a season starter, and they have a HITS Million victory on their resume, earned at a New York leg of the HITS Triple Crown a few years ago.

The carefully managed, lightly-competed Lordan looked totally on form while enabling Nayel to slice nearly a second off the jump-off track taken by four-time Olympian, two-time gold medalist Beezie Madden and Breitling LS. Beezie flew out from Florida in a points quest for the East League and it’s always terrific to see her ride. Her second place finish in the Thermal class bumped her off the bubble into a comfortable third place standing in the East league, which is entitled to send 7 U.S. riders to Paris. That’s not counting 2017 Omaha World Cup Finals Champion, McLain Ward, who automatically has a spot as defending champion.

Mandy Porter and Milano have been hovering near the top of the West League since winning the Sacramento leg in October. Their confidently executed third place finish at Thermal locked her into the #2 ranking, with expectations to go to Paris “if we’re sure it’s right for Milano.”

Fourth-place finisher was another local fan favorite, Richard Spooner. He rode a complete World Cup newbie, Quirado RC, owned by New Mexico breeders Rancho Corazon, LLC and Guy McElvain. The 18hh 9-year-old looked completely at ease, with Richard able to put enough speed pressure on for the fourth place.

Jennifer Gates & Alex were among the four-faulters.

Nicki Shahinian-Simpson and Akuna Mattata finished fifth, capping a strong first half of the HITS Coachella circuit. Nicki was based in California for many years and returned this past fall to work privately for a family in the Bay Area. She brought Akuna Mattata and the 10 year old mare’s twin sisters with her.

Jamie Barge & Luebbo concluding a consistently strong season with a sixth-placed run.

Jamie Barge and Luebbo continued another very consistent World Cup season and their sixth-place finish finalized a third rung in the League, for another trip to the Finals. They didn’t win any classes this season, but they earned double digit points in four of the six qualifiers they contested. Pretty impressive!

A single time fault kept Canadian Ali Ramsey and Hermelien vd Hooghoeve out of the jump-off. They finished seventh, with Karl Cook and Tembla incurring another heartbreaker single rail, for eighth.

Akuna Mattata & Nicole Shahinian-Simpson continue a strong first-half of the circuit with a fifth place in the World Cup class.

Karl Cook & Tembla.

Richard Spooner is pretty happy about another young superstar. He was fourth with Quirado RC, owned by Rancho Corazon.

Young Amateur Chandler Meadows led Pony Clubbers on a course walk before the Saturday class. Stepping up from the U25 Grand Prix ranks, Chandler and Damian did well in Thursday’s Grand Prix that week, then won Sunday’s $30,000 SmartPak Open Grand Prix.

Mandy Porter & Milano finish third.