Temecula, California, USA – April 23, 2022 – Crowds gathered at Galway Downs for the first Grand Prix of the 2022 season at Galway Downs, the $50,000 Hygain Grand Prix, held Saturday night by Nilforushan Equisport Events. A star-studded field of 52 horse-and-rider combinations entered the class, attempting to put their names atop the leaderboard as the first winners of this season during Temecula Valley National Premier I. Of the nine combinations to jump clear in the first round, it was Mavis Spencer (USA) with Carissimo 25 who emerged victorious with the fastest jump-off time to secure the win.
Olaf Petersen Jr.’s (GER) track for the feature class of the week was challenging, with the tallest and widest fences the athletes had seen all week, set at 1.50m, including many challenges to allow the best combinations to rise to the top. Among the intricacies presented on the course were a triple bar oxer, a vertical-oxer-vertical triple combination, a liverpool vertical and an oxer-vertical double combination. The time allowed of 79 seconds also added pressure as it was shortened from the original 90 seconds.
First to navigate all 13 obstacles clear was Laura Hite (USA) with Calypso V/D Zuuthoeve, but it came at the expense of five time faults. It wasn’t until Karrie Rufer (USA) and the Morning Star Sporthorses LLC entry Stern Dei Folletti took to the course that the first clear round was produced within the time allowed. In quick succession, Jamie Taylor (USA) and Ali Nilforushan’s I’m Special guaranteed a jump-off with another clear round and Hanna Mauritzson (SWE) made it three with Ritz Fuente LLC’s Parkmore Lux. Still to add their names to the tiebreaker were Mavis Spencer (USA) with both Carissimo 25 and Con Calle, Keri Potter with Quitana 11, Alexa Leong (USA) with Carlsson 72, Mark Kinsella (IRL) with Doraindo and Robert Blanchette (IRL) with Chardonnay.
First to take to the shortened track, Rufer set the time to beat with a clear round in 36.50 seconds to put the pressure on the rest of the field to come. Taylor came close to the leading time but fell just short and at the expense of a rail down. It wasn’t until Spencer came in on a mission with her first mount and used Carissimo 25’s massive stride to cover ground, keeping all rails intact, coming home in 36.099 seconds. Potter knew what would be required to beat Spencer and took the speed into a new gear with Quitana 11, slicing and maneuvering her way through the course, but pulled the final rail on course, finishing on a score of 4 faults in a time of 34.266 seconds.
With only three to go, Mavis Spencer (USA) returned with Maskrey-Segesman’s Con Calle, a 13-year-old Holsteiner gelding, and secured the second position as well in a clear-round effort time of 36.292 seconds, just two-tenths of a second off her own leading time.
The only pair to come close to catching Spencer’s time was Robert Blanchette (IRL), who, with the 11-year-old Swedish Warmblood mare owned by RTS LLC, found a tiny margin between Spencer’s two leading times and secured second place in a time of 36.256 seconds, slotting Spencer (USA) and Con Calle into third as the class came to a close.
Spencer first showed Georgy Maskrey-Segesman’s 9-year-old Holsteiner gelding one year ago at this very horse show. She identified the pure talent and promise “Curly” showed at a young age and knew if she invested her time in the horse it would pay off. After a year’s worth of progress, her efforts are starting to reflect in her results, having jumped double clear to a fourth-place finish in a Grand Prix CSI 2* at Desert Horse Park in December. Carissimo 25, at only 9 years-old, is learning how to increase his efficiency around a larger track and Spencer sees him taking her to the very top levels. This class marks the pair’s first grand prix win as a partnership.
Mavis Spencer – $50,000 Hygain Grand Prix winner
On her top three finishes:
“Because we’ve all been off for the last two and a half months, everyone is in the same boat with feeling like we’re getting back into the swing of things. I was thrilled with all three of my horses, I thought they jumped great. The fact that Carissimo, who is the youngest, greenest, and has the least amount of experience won is awesome. I’ve never gone that fast with him before. He’s so brave and game, and I think he was really ready to go and be everything we wanted him to be by the end of Thermal, so it’s nice to see even though we’ve been home he hasn’t really missed a beat.“I think this is a fantastic horse show. The footing is great, the course building, the jumps, the atmosphere, all of it. I think for it being my first show back in 10 weeks, I didn’t go into today having a ton of expectations. At the end of the day you have to be realistic about where the horses are. We’ve been home this whole time and this is our first time back at a horse show. It is a ring that isn’t super open and there is a lot of atmosphere with a great crowd watching.”
On her rides:
“Carissimo is a bit younger; he doesn’t have as much experience as the other two. I went in on my first one and had two time faults which is frustrating. This one is a little greener and tends to spend a lot of time in the air, so I wanted to be really efficient everywhere. [Con Calle] is one that has already won earlier this week and won a Grand Prix here before, so he is very comfortable here.”
On Carissimo 25:
“This is maybe his fifth or sixth class at this level, and I think he’s had one down in all of those classes now. He was amazing. My first show with him was here a year ago, and we were very terrifyingly jumping around the 1.30m. So in the last year he’s done 13 shows and I can’t say enough good things about him. He’s the best horse I have ever sat on. I’m so grateful to Georgy [Maskrey-Segesman] and everyone who has believed in him. It’s nice to see him go out there and prove to everyone that he’s ready to play with the big dogs.”
On riding Carissimo 25:
“He didn’t actually always jump so big. I think as he’s gotten stronger and fitter, he’s gotten more comfortable with his shape and how to use himself. When I started, he would jump spectacularly up front but the hind end wouldn’t open up and we’d go straight up and straight down. The rideability wasn’t great yet. The feeling now is unbelievable. I land and laugh sometimes. He’s so brave and has such a big step. I think now is the point where he has to start being quick and competitive at this level, because it’s easier to teach him around this height before we get to the big stuff. I’m excited for what’s to come with him.”
Final Results – $50,000 Hygain Grand Prix
Place / Riders / Country / Horse / R1 Faults | R2 Faults / R2 Time
1) Mavis Spencer (USA) & Carissimo 25 – 0 / 0 – 36.099
2) Robert Blanchette (IRL) & Chardonnay – 0 / 0 – 36.256
3) Mavis Spencer (USA) & Con Calle – 0 / 0 – 36.292
4) Karrie Rufer (USA) & Stern Dei Folletti – 0 / 0 – 36.50
5) Hanna Mauritzson (SWE) & Parkmore Lux – 0 / 0 – 38.129
6) Alexa Leong (USA) & Carlsson 72 – 0 / 0 – 38.820
7) Keri Potter (USA) & Quitana 11 – 0 / 4 – 34.266
8) Mark Kinsella (IRL) & Doraindo – 0 / 4 – 36.998
9) Jamie Taylor (USA) & I’m Special – 0 / 4 – 37.566
10) Tali DeJong (USA) & Vaillant De Belle Vue – 2 / 80.339
11) Kevin Winkel (USA) & Vertige De Galarzacs – 2 / 80.460
12) Mavis Spencer (USA) & Ekarlus BH – 2 / 80.966
Source: Press Release by Tori Bilas / Phelps Media Group for Temecula Valley National Horse Show
Photos: © Phelps Sports / Tori Bilas / Emma Miller