Thermal, Calif. – Nov. 13, 2021 – Saturday night hosted the highlight event of Week II of the National Sunshine Series at the Desert International Horse Park as the $100,000 Great American Insurance Group Grand Prix, presented by G2 Insurance, took center stage in the Grand Prix Arena. Thirty-seven athletes came out to contend for the biggest purse of the week over the difficult 1.50m track designed by Manuel Esparza (MEX), with only four advancing to the jump-off. In the end, Ireland’s Lorcan Gallagher emerged as the only double-clear effort aboard Cana Van De Blom to take the win and the lion’s share of the prize money.
Esparza set a technical track for the week’s highlight event, using the spacious Grand Prix Arena to test the horse-and-rider combinations with various challenges. The course began with a wide triple bar and featured a tricky oxer-vertical double combination early on before pairs had to tackle an airy liverpool oxer, a vertical-vertical-oxer triple combination, and a delicate plank vertical headed straight toward the in-gate as the second to last jump of the course.
The first to navigate the track fault-free was Simonne Berg (USA) and Cooper, jumping clear within the extended time allowed of 88 seconds. Several rounds later, a jump-off was guaranteed when Jamie Taylor (USA) and Quatar jumped a second clear round. Gallagher was the third to put in a clear round, with the fourth and final clear coming immediately after as Luis Sabino and Argan De Beliard secured their spot in the jump-off.
First to jump clear in round one, Simonne Berg was first to take on the short track, which had been shortened to include seven obstacles, including the A and B elements of the triple combination and finishing with the Great American Insurance Group oxer on the VIP side of the arena. Finishing on 4 faults, Berg clocked in at 46.67 seconds, leaving the door open for a clear round to take the lead.
Jamie Taylor was next to jump off with Quatar. After an unfortunate fall for Taylor from Quatar in the first round of the $30,000 FarmVet Grand Prix on Thursday, she was hungry for a win since she opted not to jump off with her earlier mount in that class. She ran into trouble at the second fence, however, when she tried to jump it on a slice and Quatar refused, adding 4 faults to their score and a time of 57.021.
Lorcan Gallagher (IRL) was eager to improve upon his third-place finish in the prior week’s $101,000 Marshall & Sterling FEI Grand Prix CSI3* with Cana Van De Blom, but he also knew a clear round would put him in the top two. While the Irishman didn’t give the jump-off track everything he had, he put in an efficient clear round and took the lead with a time of 44.081.
Luis Sabino (POR) was the final entry to take on the jump-off, knowing he had to be clear and faster than Gallagher’s time in order to take the win. Using his horse’s naturally large stride, he galloped around the first turns and cut back sharply, but had an unfortunate miscommunication mid-course with Argan De Beliard and was subsequently eliminated.
Earlier in the day, individual gold medalists were crowned in each of the six sections of the Markel/USHJA Zone Jumper Team Championships after the three rounds of competition came to a close in the Grand Prix Arena. In the Children’s Jumpers, Zoie Brogdon and Emilon jumped off in the fastest time to secure the gold medal and the sole rider to jump clear over all rounds, including the jump-off. Viola Mitchell and Future V/D Silverhoeve won the gold medal in a jump-off between two tied riders on a total score of 4 faults.
Brooke Mostman and Herma were the 1.20m-1.25m Junior gold medalists as the only pair to finish on a score of 4 faults. The 1.20m-1.25m Amateurs forced a jump-off between two riders tied on 4 faults, but ultimately Marnye Langer and Legis Air topped the two-horse jump-off for gold. Grace Belmont continued her winning streak by topping the 1.30-1.35m Juniors in a tiebreaking jump-off with Ipsylon B, and Shannon J. Pfeifferbaum and Secret Crush were the gold medalists in the 1.30-1.35m Amateurs.
On Friday, athletes entered their younger mounts in the $10,000 Interactive Mortgage 10 and Under Jumper Futurity series. Featured during both weeks of the National Sunshine Series and extending through the two weeks of the Desert Holiday circuit, this class has a reduced entry fee of only $100 and is open to horses aged 10 and under. Topping the 39 entries and 11 double-clear efforts was Christopher Fellers and Dawsons Gold, who secured the win by nearly three seconds.
The National Sunshine Series wraps up at the Desert Horse Park on Sunday, November 14, with the $15,000 1.35m Open Classic in the Grand Prix Arena and the USHJA Hunter Team Challenge in Hunter 4. Hunter/jumper competition returns to Desert International Horse Park in just two weeks for the start of Desert Holiday, a two-week competition featuring CSI5* and CSI2* show jumping competition, USEF premier hunters, and the culmination of the Major League Show Jumping Tour.
FROM THE WINNERS CIRCLE
Lorcan Gallagher – Winner, $100,000 Great American Insurance Group Grand Prix, presented by G2 Insurance
On Cana Van De Blom:
“She’s very careful; we were a bit unlucky last week but she placed in the CSI3* Grand Prix. She’s got a great mind, she’s very easy to work with, and she makes my job quite easy. She belongs to Hot Horses LLC, who train with with Craig and Tina Yates at Highpoint Farm. At the beginning of the year, Tina was expecting their third baby and asked me to step in and help with the riding, so I started riding the horse at the end of April. We did a little bit on the east coast during the summer and this is my last trip over to California. The horses will go to Florida after here for the winter in Wellington and we’ll aim her for some of the FEI weeks there.”
On the course design and jump-off plan:
“Walking the course, it was a little tricky. The way [Manuel] built this week, the courses were good but they did ride a bit challenging. I think we saw that in the number of clears; the other night there were only a couple out of 65 horses. Same with tonight – it was big and built to height, but I think it was a fair task for the amount of money being offered. When I walked the jump-off, I wasn’t sure if the inside turn would be faster, so I changed my plan after watching the first two because it looked like the slower option and the first two had a rail. I thought first and foremost I should be clear. That way the guys behind me have to beat me rather than me making a mistake.”
Viola Mitchell – Individual Gold Medalist, 1.10m-1.15m Adult Amateur Section of Markel/USHJA Zone Jumper Team Championships
On Future V/D Silverhoeve:
“My horse is very special. I lease him from my trainer and I actually haven’t ridden him in three months because I’m in college at the University of Washington. He is a little speed demon and basically as long as you keep a rhythm he will be faster over the ground than anyone else. He scurries across the ground and picks up his legs and puts them down again. He’s a really brilliant guy in the show ring and he loves it. He truly loves this sport with every ounce of his little body. “
“I love it here. I’ve been all over the West Coast and back to Kentucky Horse Park this year and this is my favorite venue to show at. I came here to have fun this week, so I’ve gone above and beyond my fun!”
$100,000 Great American Insurance Group Grand Prix, presented by G2 Insurance
Place / Horse / Rider / Country / Owner / R1 Faults | R1 Time / R2 Faults | R2 Time
- Cana Van De Blom / Lorcan Gallagher / IRL / Hot Horses LLC / 0 | 81.970 /
- Cooper / Simonne Berg / USA / Berg Equestrian Enterprises LLC / 0 | 85.492 /
- Quatar / Jamie Taylor / USA / JT Equine LLC / 0 | 81.664 /
- Argan De Beliard / Luis Sabino / POR / Sigma Stables LLC / 0 | 84.797/
- Cortechico / Shawn Casady / USA / Tiffany Sullivan / 4 | 79.865
- Alanine de Vains / Cassio Rivetti / BRA / Lindemann Barnett Sporthorses / 4 | 81.993
- Atena De L’Ermitage / Lisa Carlsen / CAN / Susan Stevens / 4 | 82.25
- Gerko III Van De Zeilhoek / Charlie Jones / GBR / Lindsay Maxwell / 4 | 82.466
- Sherlina Ale / Jeffrey Fields / USA / Sahana Ganesan / 4 | 82.647
- Daisy 920 / Cassio Rivetti / BRA / Delaney Batter / 4 | 81.993