Temecula, California, USA – May 27, 2021 – Coming in hot off of Wednesday’s opening day of top jumper competition, riders returned to the Grand Prix Arena Thursday evening at Nilforushan Equisport Events’ Temecula Valley National II, presented by Interactive Mortgage with their engines firing for the $10,000 CWD 1.40m Speed Classic. 28 horse-and-rider pairs made it their mission to make it around the track the fastest. While all of the competitors raced to the finish at a blistering pace, it was ultimately Guy Thomas (NZL) and Jolander Vant Kloosterhof who found an extra gear, pulling away from the pack to take home top honors.
Veteran Nilforushan Equisport Events’ competitor, Jamie Taylor, was the first to take to Manuel Esparza’s (MEX) 14-effort track. Coming off of her win in the same class during the Temecula Valley National I aboard Quatar, Taylor started off her first of three trips with I’m Special. The duo pioneered the track, and in true Taylor fashion, tripped the timers in a speedy 68.039 seconds and left all the rails intact. Setting the baseline for the remaining 17 trips, riders were crushing the time allowed of 81 seconds as competitors progressively crossed the finish faster and faster.
Immediately following, Susan Artes (USA) tried her hand at the course taking an early lead in the class. Artes (USA) and Alix Fargo’s 10-year-old Warmblood stallion, Laurence Z watched in the wings as Taylor made the class’ debut ride taking note of where to shave off time. Her careful planning paid off as she and the fiery chestnut managed to clock in nearly two whole seconds faster than Taylor with a time of 66.21. The pair went through the rest of the class with a target on their backs as the team to beat.
Artes continued to hold onto the lead even as the class neared the bottom of the order. Desperate to unset the unchallenged leader, Guy Thomas (NZL) rode into the Grand Prix Arena with a vengeance. Following his debut in the series during Wednesday’s Welcome Stake, Thomas (NZL) was prepped and ready to race with partner Jolander Vant Kloosterhof. He and the 12-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding owned by Lu Thomas, hinged their success on sheer speed as they blazed around the course. The duo was clocking in milliseconds faster than Artes as they charged the fences. When the pair galloped to the finish, their time of 65.08 said it all. Thomas and Jolander Vant Kloosterhof not only unseated Artes from the podium throne but managed to do it a near full second faster than the previously uncatchable leader.
As the horse-and-rider pairs dwindled, it appeared that no one would be able to lay down a ride as bold and as quick as Thomas’. However, Mandy Porter (USA) and her well-known speed demon, WT Ca-Pow!, were keen on showcasing their natural footspeed. The duo turned it up a notch in hopes of besting Thomas’ mind-boggling time. After having only seen two other riders break into the 67-second mark, Porter (USA) knew it was all or nothing. She and Wild Turkey Farm LLC’s 12-year-old Holsteiner gelding laid it on the table going flat out over all 14 obstacles as they powered to the finish line. While Porter managed to break into the 65-second mark, she was just mere fractions of a second off of Thomas’ time posting 65.80 which would prove good enough for second place. Having been bested twice in the final hour, Artes and Laurence Z settled for a third place finish.
Final Results – $10,000 CWD 1.40m Speed Classic
1) Guy Thomas (NZL) & Jolander Van – 0 / 65.08
2) Mandy Porter (USA) & WT Ca-Pow! – 0 / 65.8
3) Susan Artes (USA) & Laurence Z – 0 / 66.21
Source: Press Release by Olivia Airhart from Phelps Sports
Photos: © Emma Miller