Thermal, California, USA – November 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 (IRL) 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 (POR) 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 (USA) 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 CSI 3* 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 seconds.
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.
Final Results – $100,000 Great American Insurance Group Grand Prix
1) Lorcan Gallagher (IRL) & Cana van de Blom – 0 / 0 – 44.81
2) Simonne Berg (USA) & Cooper – 0 / 4 – 46.67
3) Jamie Taylor (USA) & Quatar 0 / 13 – 57.021
Source: Press Release from Tori Bilas for Desert International Horse Park
Photos: © ESI Photography