San Juan Capistrano, CA – Sunday’s $30,000 Markel Insurance 1.40m Grand Prix at the Blenheim Fall Tournament was definitely a class for the record books. In a field of 45 horse and rider combinations, eight qualified for the jump-off.

First and fifth to return, Tina Yates was not only double clean on both of her horses, Highpoint Farm, LLC’s Bowmore VDL (pictured right) and HKC Collection, LLC’s Cicomein VDL (below right), she tied her own jump-off time to the thousandth of a second. Yates finished double first, taking a combination of first and second place prize money for a fantastic finish to a thrilling class.

FEI Course Designer Marina Azevedo of Brazil noted, “I changed the material a little bit today. I tried to use a couple of jumps they haven’t seen. I built the triple combination with solid rails and the last line has the ten-foot rails.”

Azevedo has come to California to work with Blenheim EquiSports for the last three years. “This year they have new materials; it’s nice. I can change every day. I did five days and all the triple combinations I built had different material.”

Although rails fell throughout the course, as predicted the combinations at 7a-b-c and 12a-b caused the most faults. Azevedo also made the time allowed one of the challenging factors on course. Over half the class went over the allotted time of 79 seconds, and three in that group had no rails but finished with time faults: Jill Humphrey and Zanzibar, Saree Gordon-Salanki on Domino and Josephina Nor Lantzman aboard Chello Z.

The Interactive Mortgage U25 Series Qualifier also ran concurrently, a plus for the young riders who have a chance to not only compete against the veterans but earn prizes in two qualifiers. Two U25 riders joined the jump-off, with Zazou Hoffman riding Woodpecker de Villars (owned by Woodacre Stables, LLC) double clean for another U25 victory and fourth in the grand prix.

Hoffman commented accordingly, “I thought the track today was quite technical, but really made for a great class and jump-off. The lines required a very adjustable horse but there were also options for different types of horses which I liked. And the time allowed made us all pick up a good gallop and go!”

The unbelievable jump-off began as many do, with first to go seeking to be fault-free and set the time to beat. Yates did just that, riding the 10-year-old bay KWPN gelding, Bowmore VDL, clean in 35.250.

Hoffman galloped in next, also double clean in a quick 36.099, less than a second slower than Yates, but giving her the automatic lead in the U25.

Fresh off the Olympic tracks in Rio de Janeiro, Brazilian Eduardo Menezes is back in California. He picked up an unfortunate four faults aboard Caruschka (owned by E2 Stables). Australian Lane Clarke piloted the tall and long-strided Balu U (Georgy Maskrey-Segesman, owner) clean, leaving out a stride to fence 8, yet going around fence 9, to finish in 37.035.

Yates returned on her second mount, the 9-year-old KWPN mare, Cicomein VDL. Adding a stride in the first line, yet making tidy turns, the mare covered the ground and tied her barnmate Bowmore VDL to the thousandth of a second in 35.250.

Possibly a little in-the-barn rivalry? The horses will never tell, but the crowd sat silent for a second as they soaked up the moment, and then burst into cheers. With three remaining, Yates was leading, tied with herself on her two talented Dutch bays.

Mavis Spencer and Disco Lady (owned by Neil Jones Equestrian, Inc., pictured right) clocked in at 37.786, but had a rail for four faults, moving them into eighth place in the grand prix and second in the U25.

Similar to Clarke’s ride, Enrique Gonzalez and Chacna left out a stride to fence 8 and then opted to go around fence 9. The strategy almost paid off, clean in 35.360, ultimately third behind the double win.

Last to go, Markel Insurance Grand Prix Series point leader Michelle Parker and Cross Creek Farms’ Cupilor, had the speed yet also had a rail, for four faults in 34.332.

Finishing sixth in the class but with the fastest jump-off time, Parker picked up the SmartPak “Fastest Jumper in the West” Award, earning a $500 shopping spree at SmartPak.

Along with an amazing double win, Yates will also be on the list of names recognized by the South Pacific Memorial Trophy, created by Joan Irvine Smith in memory of her flagship Holsteiner stallion.

Having a different jump-off strategy for each horse, Yates was also surprised to see how the timing worked out. “I have never had that happen before. It’s kind of crazy. I did ride a different track on each horse, so I didn’t at all expect to have the same time on both. It’s incredible!”

Now based in Wellington, FL, Yates and her husband brought their horses to the West Coast for the fall season. They plan on competing in Del Mar and Thermal, and wrapping their tour at The Las Vegas National.

Zazou Hoffman has been hot on the U25 trail this year, demonstrating her award-winning skills aboard several mounts this season. Holding her own over a course that challenged many competitors, Hoffman not only went clear on her only ride in the class, Woodpecker de Villars, she was in the top four in the Markel Insurance Grand Prix and victorious in the Interactive Mortgage U25 Series Qualifier.

“I am hoping to qualify for the U25 Championship at the CP National Horse Show in Kentucky, but I am still waiting to hear if I will get in. Other than that I am planning to do the Interactive Mortgage U25 Final in Las Vegas. Unfortunately, after this year I will age out of U25, but I will keep competing in the grand prix classes,” Hoffman explained. “I have to give huge credit to the people who have been supporting me this year, including Saree Kayne who owns the horse I won on today. And, of course, Dick Carvin and Susie Schroer who are supportive both as trainers and bosses.”

With this Markel Insurance 1.40m Grand Prix Series class and the one at the Colorado Fall Classic both wrapping up yesterday, only one qualifier remains this season. That final class is on Saturday afternoon of this coming weekend during the International Jumping Festival at Blenheim. Quite competitive to date, it is certain to be a grand event.

The Interactive Mortgage U25 Series expanded to include two qualifiers at the HITS Sunshine Series in early November, so with the class on the schedule for Saturday at the International Jumping Festival, there are a total of three classes remaining before the final list of invites for the Championship at The Las Vegas National is determined.

More highlights happening during this week’s International Jumping Festival include the $45,000 Blenheim EquiSports Young Jumper Championships, presented by Fairbanks Valley Farm, the Platinum Performance/USEF Show Jumping Talent Search West Coast Finals, the Zone 10 Horse of the Year Finals – Jumpers (South), the $5,000 Blenheim Jumper Speed Derby, the $5,000 Evet Junior-Amateur/Owner Jumper Classic, Zones 8, 9, & 10 Medal and Adult Equitation Finals as well as double points for the NAL Hunter & Jumper Qualifiers for the Finals at Las Vegas National.

$30,000 Markel Insurance 1.40M Grand Prix
Place – Entry Number – Horse – Rider – Owner – Faults/Time
1. 570 – Bowmore VDL – Tina Yates – Highpoint Farm, LLC – 0/0/35.250
1. 576 – Cicomein VDL – Tina Yates – HKC Collection, LLC – 0/0/35.250
3. 832 – Chacna – Enrique Gonzalez – Enrique Gonzalez – 0/0/35.360
4. 344 – Woodpecker de Villars – Zazou Hoffman – Woodacres Stables, LLC – 0/0/36.099
5. 669 – Balu U – Lane Clarke – Georgy Maskrey-Segesman – 0/0/37.035
6. 217 – Cupilor – Michelle Parker – Cross Creek Farms, Inc. – 0/4/34.332
7. 811 – Caruschka – Eduardo Menezes – E2 Stables – 0/4/35.376
8. 214 – Disco Lady – Mavis Spencer – Neil Jones Equestrian, Inc. – 0/4/37.786
9. 662 – Zanzibar – Jill Humphrey – JH Sporthorses – 1/79.062
10. 650 – Domino – Saree Gordon-Solanki – Tomboy Farms – 1/79.335
11. 812 – Catalina – Eduardo Menezes – E2 Stables – 4/75.594
12. 213 – The Flying Ham – Eric Navet – Signe Ostby – 4/75.685

$2,500 Interactive Mortgage U25 Developing Rider Series Qualifier
Place – Entry Number – Horse – Rider – Owner – Faults/Time
1. 344 – Woodpecker de Villars – Zazou Hoffman – Woodacres Stables, LLC – 0/0/36.099
2. 214 – Disco Lady – Mavis Spencer – Neil Jones Equestrian, Inc. – 0/4/37.786
3. 262 – Dubai – Mavis Spencer – Neil Jones Equestrian, Inc. – 4/76.905
4. 122 – Windoctro – Taylor Siebel – Mountain Home Stables, LLC – 4/80.951
5. 341 – Di Caprio RV – Hannah Heidegger – Monarch International – 8/76.637
6. 340 – Ohlala Z – Hannah Heidegger – Monarch International – 8/78.021
7. 342 – W Zermie 13 – Zazou Hoffman – Woodacres Stables, LLC – 8/78.904
8. 632 – Special Line H – Kaitlin Campbell – Sweet Oak Farm – 8/80.263
9. 633 – Delmonde – Kaitlin Campbell – Triple Bar Equestrian, LLC – 11/81.871
10. 577 – Dakar VDL – Tina Yates – HKC Collection, LLC – 12/78.140
11. 260 – Cornetiero – Taylor Harris – Sarah E. Ryan – 12/86.193
12. 291 – Carletto – Chandler Meadows – Chandler Meadows – 13/79.999