Texel leads the way on the road to the WEG in Spain

Mild weather greeted spectators and participants alike to Del Mar Horse Park for the initial rounds of show jumping that will decide who will represent the United States Equestrian Team at the World Equestrian Games in Jerez, Spain in September. The venue, just outside San Diego, California, hosted one round on Saturday, July 20, and then a Nations' Cup-type performance of two back-to-back rounds on Sunday. While ribbons were presented to the winners of the daily competitions, the scores are cumulative: faults will be carried over from every round, with the final tally coming from three additional rounds next weekend.Mild weather greeted spectators and participants alike to Del Mar Horse Park for the initial rounds of show jumping that will decide who will represent the United States Equestrian Team at the World Equestrian Games in Jerez, Spain in September. The venue, just outside San Diego, California, hosted one round on Saturday, July 20, and then a Nations' Cup-type performance of two back-to-back rounds on Sunday. While ribbons were presented to the winners of the daily competitions, the scores are cumulative: faults will be carried over from every round, with the final tally coming from three additional rounds next weekend.

Story originally posted by: Cindy Hale

Mild weather greeted spectators and participants alike to Del Mar Horse Park for the initial rounds of show jumping that will decide who will represent the United States Equestrian Team at the World Equestrian Games in Jerez, Spain in September. The venue, just outside San Diego, California, hosted one round on Saturday, July 20, and then a Nations’ Cup-type performance of two back-to-back rounds on Sunday. While ribbons were presented to the winners of the daily competitions, the scores are cumulative: faults will be carried over from every round, with the final tally coming from three additional rounds next weekend.
That site will be a little further north at The Oaks in San Juan Capistrano. However, in the words of announcer Bill Kehler, "The road to Spain runs through Del Mar." Abysmal performances here would surely nix the hopes of anyone hoping to make the WEG team.

Seven horses jumped clear in the first round on Saturday, but it was Kimberly Frey of Hume, Virginia on Bergerac who took the blue ribbon for being clean with the fastest time.

But how things changed on Sunday! Just before the trials began, venerable course designer Leopold Palacios and grand prix stalwart Hap Hansen treated spectators to a discussion of the course.

Both noted that the line of fences 6, 7 and 8, which was a vertical of red planks to the twenty-foot water jump to a Liverpool oxer of white poles, was most tricky. "There are six or seven strides from the vertical to a very wide water, then to the Liverpool, where the horse will be tempted to look down at the water," Hansen said.

He proved quite the prognosticator, as it seemed that any rider who had to really push or over-ride to the water was then unable to collect their horse sufficiently to keep from catching a rail at the Liverpool.

Only four riders went clean in the first round. They were Margie Engle on Hidden Creek’s Perin, Leslie Howard on Priobert de Kalvarie, Schuyler Riley on Ilian and Norman Dello Joio on Glasgow. After a lunchtime break, the exhibitors returned to jump the same course once more. Some of the horses and riders seemed to have benefited from the first round, perhaps reconsidering strategy. Others appeared a bit taxed or weary, as they struggled to keep up rails or stay within the time allowed, a brisk seventy-five seconds that did not permit any dawdling on course.

Ultimately, there were six clear rounds this time. Four of the fault-free trips belonged to Lauren Hough and Ray Texel, who piloted both their mounts to perfect rounds. Hough rode Clasiko and the exuberant chestnut Windy City, and Texel guided the mare Fleur (she of the constantly pinned ears) and the stallion Lexicon. Also clean were Alison Firestone aboard Casanova and Peter Wylde and Fein Cera.

With time on course the deciding factor between riders with equal faults, Leslie Howard aboard the Belgian warmblood gelding Priobert de Kalvarie wound up the winner for the day. Allison Firestone on Casanova took second and Norman Dello Joio on Glasgow were third.

However, in overall standings going into the final three trials next weekend, Lauren Hough on Clasiko is leading the way with a three-round total of a mere four faults. Ray Texel and Lexicon are second with five faults and Beezie Madden and the consistent black stallion Judgement are tied for third with Nicole Shahinian-Simpson and her stallion El Campeon’s Cirka Z, both with eight faults. Rounding out the top placings are five combinations tied for 5th with 12 faults each–Molly Ashe and Kroon Gravin, Engle and Hidden Creek’s Perin, Howard and Priobert De Kalvarie, Texel and Fleur, and McLain Ward and Viktor.

As he heads to the Oaks with two solid horses, Ray Texel reflected on Palacios’ course. "It’s all about finesse," he said, noting that he didn’t find the course too difficult or technical, adding, "I think Leo’s courses are always good for both the riders and the spectators because it’s easy to see who the better riders are, who is up to the test."

When asked what his plan is as he prepares for next week, Texel paused, smiled, and said, "I’m just going to stay focused and keep on target."

Full results can be found at: http://www.uset.com/archive/classes.cfm?showID=1021