Temecula, California – April 30, 2022 – As Saturday evening got underway, spectators gathered by the Grand Prix Arena to watch the week’s biggest class of Temecula Valley National Premier II, the $50,000 Mastermind Grand Prix. With a start list of 54 elite horse-and-rider combinations, the stakes were high and the crowds were ready for a thrilling class. Olaf Petersen, Jr. (GER) designed the track for the keynote event, in which riders attempted to jump a clear first round and qualify for the jump-off, where speed would ultimately decide the fate of each contender. As the sun set and the class drew to a close, it was Joie Gatlin in the winner’s circle aboard Uccello De Will.
The course was packed with challenges from the start, including an incredibly careful plank that many pairs had trouble with, plus an oxer-vertical-oxer triple combination early on, a vertical-oxer double combination, a triple bar oxer and a tall liverpool vertical to finish the course. With 13 numbered obstacles and 16 elements in total, the course was taxing and many horses lacked the endurance required to power through the entire round within the time allowed of 82 seconds.
First in the ring and first to clear the track was Angel Karolyi (VEN) with MSH Dream Girl, making light work of the course and coming home nearly two seconds within the time allowed. It would be quite a few rounds, however, until a jump-off was guaranteed, with several coming home on only one rail and additional time faults. Keri Potter (USA) rode to the second clear round on Hannah Loly’s Quitana 11.
Soon after Misti Cassar (USA) and her FEI World Cup Finals™ mount Mylord Cornet delivered another clear round to make it three heading into the midway break. The time allowed proved to be tight, with many accumulating extra seconds on the clock and sliding them further down the results list. Still to add their names to the list in the second half of the order were Laura Hite (USA), Savannah Jenkins (USA) and Joie Gatlin (USA).
The course was shortened and the six jump-off contenders went head-to-head for the win. Karolyi, first to go, tried to set a quick pace but struggled with the rollback to the combination on the jump-off track.
Next to go, Keri Potter (USA) picked up the speed with the 16-year-old Holsteiner mare Quitana 11 and raced home in 37.151 seconds, but with one down toward the end of the short course. Knowing a clear round would put her high in the ribbons, Cassar took a conservative approach to each fence to treat it with care, proving successful and coming home on just two time faults in 49.219 seconds, taking the lead with three to go.
Hite pulled an early rail on course and increased her pace accordingly, knowing Keri Potter (USA) had a very quick four-fault round, ultimately coming home in 38.104 seconds and sliding into third at that point. Jenkins also opted for the rather conservative approach, going around several obstacles that past riders had gone inside, but carried a quicker speed, hoping to top Cassar as the first double-clear ride, but Comrado pulled one rail for a score of 4 faults in 43.925 seconds, meaning Gatlin could claim the win with a clear round.
Joie Gatlin (USA) came in and studied the course, then directed the 13-year-old Warmblood gelding, owned by Oakland Ventures LLC, to the first fence with a forward momentum but not yet a full gallop. She opted to take the inside turns, knowing the consequences were steep if she was to drop a fence on course. As she efficiently navigated the course, Uccello De Will stayed careful and did not touch a rail, standing up to the pressure and ultimately clearing the course in 40.887 seconds and taking the win. Cassar and her 12-year-old Oldenburg gelding Mylord Cornet dropped into second place, while Potter rounded out the top three.
Joie Gatlin – $50,000 Mastermind Grand Prix winner
On Uccello De Will:
“He’s relatively new to me. I got him in the fall of last year and he wasn’t fit or anything so we spent the first six months getting him fit. I brought him out this year at the Desert Circuit and we did some classes in January. He jumped great; I ended up clean with a time fault in our last Grand Prix and then with the virus we’ve been at home training and practicing. This is our second Grand Prix back after the virus. He was right on tonight. He’s been around the world. His passport is unbelievable. He’s jumped at Aachen, Dubai, Falsterbo, just some of the biggest shows in the world. Darragh Kenny sent him to me to ride. He was an extra horse that they had, and Darrah and I have a nice relationship. He said I could have him. I don’t have to sell him or anything, I can just have him to ride. It’s been wonderful.”
On the course:
“Olaf [Petersen] Jr. is a master course designer. He’s one of my favorites because he always gets the horses jumping better. Nobody ever gets scared, they get confident. It was challenging. There were a lot of numbers; some of those lines were very horse-specific, whether you did a nine or eight. I was fortunate that my horse has an enormous stride and scope so I was able to leave the steps out, which I needed to to make the time allowed. I was a whisker under. He did everything I asked him to. He was really on it today.”
On her jump-off mindset:
“I had my plan and I just wanted to stick to it. It worked out beautifully. I knew I could gallop up from one to two and I got there waiting. I haven’t done many jump-offs, and I wanted to do the inside turn but I got a little stuck there. As soon as I lined out he was forward to five (b), he turned back beautifully to the orange [double], then he got the seven nicely and I was able to really come forward to the last two jumps. Coming to the last one I thought, ‘I gotta go for it. No pulling on the reins now.’ He was long and he stretched and he did a great job for me.”
About Nilforushan Equisport Events:
“We’ve come back now when we could with all the other things going on in the world. It’s wonderful to see the improvements. There’s so much atmosphere and I think the horses really like it. [Uccello De Will] is an old-timer; the atmosphere is great for him. He showed off a little bit. The new rings, the great footing, great course designers, and they feed you and treat you really nice. They do a great job. We enjoy coming to the show.”
Final Results – $50,000 Mastermind Grand Prix
Place / Rider / Country / Horse / Owner / R1 Faults / R1 Time | R2 Faults / R2 Time
1. Joie Gatlin (USA) & Uccello De Will / Joie Gatlin / Oakland Ventures LLC / 0 | 81.417 / 0 | 40.887
2. Misti Cassar (USA) & Mylord Cornet / Misti Cassar / 0 | 81.07 / 2 | 49.219
3. Keri Potter (USA) & Quitana 11 / Hannah Loly / 0 | 78.88 / 4 / 37.151
4. Laura Hite (USA) & Calypso V/D Zuuthoeve / HF Farms LLC / 0 | 79.79 / 4 | 38.104
5. Savannah Jenkins (USA) & Comrado / Savannah Jenkins / Proper 12, LLC / 0 | 81.70 / 4 | 43.925
6. Angel Karolyi (VEN) &MSH Dream Girl / Marnell Sport Horses / 0 | 80.12 / 8 | 43.92
7. Kristen Holwick (USA) & HHA Padden / Kristen Holwick / 2 | 83.004
8. Carma Z / Harley Brown (AUS) / Harley Brown Equestrian, Inc. / 3 | 84.21
9. Susan Artes (USA) & California Sunshine / Alix Fargo / 3 | 84.89
10. Hanna Mauritzson (SWE) & Parkmore Lux / Ritz Fuente LLC / 4 | 77.70
11. Kevin Winkel (USA) & Vertige De Galarzacs / / Morning Star Sporthorses / 4 | 79.95
12. Saree Solanki (ISR) & Azuro 108 / Tomboy Farms / 4 | 80.86
Source: Press Release by Tori Bilas \ Phelps Media Group for Nilforushan EquiSports
Photo: © Phelps Sports