June 2018 - Spry Septuagenarian
Written by photos & report by Kim F. Miller
Thursday, 31 May 2018 19:45
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Del Mar National not acting its age!

photos & report by Kim F. Miller

Celebrating its 73rd year during three weeks of competition April 17-May 6, this illustrious show proved itself a spry septuagenarian. To those of us around long enough to have “DEL MAR!!” be the pinnacle of our show calendar as juniors, it’s delightful to have the event still be something truly special in these very different times. Exhibitor and fan-posted photos and videos on the Del Mar Arena jumbotron were one of my favorite modern era touches, and they reflected the wide-spread excitement.

Can’t decide which horse I have the bigger crush on: Steffen Peter’s new mount, Suppenkasper (right), or Nick Wagman’s Don John (left). Finishing 1 & 2 in the Grand Prix Freestyle, they were both beautiful to watch.

Can’t decide which horse I have the bigger crush on: Steffen Peter’s new mount, Suppenkasper (right), or Nick Wagman’s Don John (left). Finishing 1 & 2 in the Grand Prix Freestyle, they were both beautiful to watch.

We began this year’s Del Mar experience by volunteering on the Friday of Dressage Week. Completely perfect volunteer coordinator Carol Tice promised we’d get plenty of steps in while helping the show run smoothly. In my eight-hour stretch as a test runner and score poster, I logged 22,611 steps, or 8.6 miles! Though I’m not sure that offset the calories taken in from the irressitible spread of goodies in the volunteer tent. Kudos to the troops who make volunteering a regular part of their life. I enjoyed my so-far one day thoroughly, learned a lot and got to watch some fantastic horses, riders and judges from a different perspective than usual.

Saturday’s Evening of Musical Freestyles was magical from the start, with Sioux Munyon’s beautiful Belgian draft horses bringing officials and sponsors into the ring, to the end, when Steffen Peters helped his U.S. Team star Legolas meet a big crowd of adoring fans on the midway after a fun and meaningful retirement ceremony.

The following Saturday, May 5, the $100,000 Grand Prix of Del Mar took place just a few hours after Justified won the Kentucky Derby. I think the level of excitement as nine jump-offers sliced turns and sought Indy 500 speeds was just as high as that experienced in Kentucky. Plus, no funny hats required! A sold-out crowd enjoyed the festivities presented by Pacific Sotheby’s International Realty Equestrian Division.

The Land Rover Extreme Celebrity Trail Challenge was a hoot as a warm-up act, followed by presentation of several awards. Mandy Porter earned the Del Mar Style of Riding Award sponsored by Fred Bauer and Karen Healey; Zazou Hoffman received the Open Jumper Championship Trophy given in honor of much-missed John Quirk; and Judy Martin received the Harry Forbes Sportsmanship Trophy for her many contributions to jumping riders and horses over many years.

Sorry we were not able to witness all the accomplishments in the other rings throughout both weeks. And, we heard Western Week that kicked off the Del Mar National was terrific, too! See you next year!

Sioux Munyon’s Belgian beauties bring in the VIPs for the Evening of Musical Freestyles.

Legolas owner Akiko Yamazaki received a surprise from Hailey Sullivan. The artist and Mary’s Tack & Feed team member presented this lovely drawing of Legolas.

Steffen Peters helps Legolas greet his many fans cued up after the retirement ceremony.

Kenneth Vinther & Colicchio were a very impressive third.

Red hot Mandy Porter & Milano were last in the jump-off, but a rail put them into the 8 slot.

Anna Buffini and Michelle Reilly perform a lovely Pas de Deux with Sundayboy and Umeeko.

Four Winds Farm owner Akiko Yamazaki addresses the appreciative crowd during Legolas’ retirement ceremony.

Grand Prix of Del Mar winners Michelle Parker & Cross Creek Farms Inc’s Cupilor were the speediest and cleanest of many speedy cleans!

Richard Spooner’s neck reining skills came in handy to win the Land Rover Celebrity Extreme Trail Challenge aboard Xander 2.

Ashlee Bond may not have won the Trail Challenge, but she may have had the most exciting ride!

Carly Anthony and Neil Jones Equestrian’s Clochard were spectacular for a 2nd place finish.

West Palms Events Dale Harvey confers with Joie Gatlin, who walked the audience through Olaf Peterson, Jr.’s, 1.5M jumping track before the riders tackled it.

Fantastic Foxfield Drill Team gets the festivities off to a good start.