Candice King and Leslie Howard Jump to Victory in the Final Day of The Jumper Classic

More than 5,000 spectators came to watch the final day of The Jumper Classic, presented by Fidelity Investments and Audi of America. Held at the Silver Oak Equestrian Center, The Jumper Classic had their two final highlight classes of the week.

Candice King and Kismet 50 (Tammy Hardy photo)
Leslie Howard and Lennox Lewis 2 (Tammy Hardy photo)

In the $75,000 Fidelity Investments Grand Prix, Candice King and Mark Bellissimo’s Kismet 50 took first place. In the $15,000 Equine Insurance Speed Stake presented by Great American Insurance Group, Leslie Howard and Lennox Lewis 2 were fastest for the win.

Located in the beautiful town of Hampton Falls, NH, The Jumper Classic is New England’s premier equestrian event. This elite level competition attracts the country’s top riders, past Olympians and local equestrians. The Jumper Classic ran from August 8-12, 2012, with top jumper competition.

The Coldwell Bankers Previews Grand Prix Field was surrounded by spectators cheering on the riders in the $75,000 Fidelity Investments Grand Prix. Olaf Petersen Jr. of Munich, Germany, designed the course and only one rider found the clear path to the jump-off. Candice King piloted Mark Bellissimo’s Kismet 50 to the win after a strong, clean round.

There were five four-faulters from the first round and the fastest of those was Leslie Howard on Utah, who finished in 81.572 seconds for second place. Stopping the timers in 82.539 seconds, Peter Leone and Lincourt Gino placed third. Fourth place went to Nick Dello Joio on Rado, who had a time of 84.347 seconds, while Charles Jacobs and Leap of Joy were fifth with a time of 86.034 seconds. Teenager Chloe Reid rode Damascus to a time of 87.347 seconds and just missed the jump-off when they stepped in the water.

King said of the course, “I think for sure the first part was the conditions. We had a big storm last night. We had a lot of heavy rain. It didn’t absorb as well as you would have liked. The footing was good today, but it definitely was a factor. As you go along and the conditions change, it makes for a harder course. Olaf is a great course designer and he knows how to set it. He didn’t set anything too trappy; he just built a nice, big, strong, technical course. I was extremely pleased with it.”

King got the ride on Kismet 50, an 11-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare by Kannan, in May at the Old Salem Horse Show. This is their ninth horse show together. She noted, “When I got her, I was just trying to form a partnership, as we all do. I knew she was a great horse. The Dvorkins and Pine Hollow believed in me and it was nice to have their support and to give me the chance to have the ride on such a great horse. I just took awhile to get to know her and get her in my program so that we could work together. It’s been a fun ride so far.”

Mark Bellissimo recently purchased Kismet 50, and King said that she felt like she and Kismet have “been knocking on the door.” She explained, “We’ve had mostly clear rounds. I’ve had a rail in the jump-off with the winning time four times now. I felt really confident today when we walked the course, on how she felt and the conditions like this. I was excited. The Bellissimos have supported me from the get-go on having the ride on her and they bought her. I’m very fortunate to have them supporting me. We’re having a great adventure with it, so I’m excited.”

Kismet 50 competed at the grand prix level with German Olympian Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum, who is originally from California, and showed with Ray Texel before King got the ride. King also grew up in California, and said she called Michaels-Beerbaum to talk to her about the ride on Kismet 50. King is known for bringing along young horses (two of her former mounts include HH Rebozo, fourth place at the 2010 World Equestrian Games, and Davos, who won the team bronze medal at the Olympic Games in London), so having an established grand prix mount like Kismet 50 is something she appreciates.

“For me, she’s like a hand in glove,” King described. “From the first time I showed her, I felt like I was back at home on her. I’ve been bringing along young horses all my career, so for me to have a horse like Kismet who’s already had a lot of experience under her belt is great. The mare is a winner. She knows the game and we suit one another, so I’m quite excited.”

This was King’s first grand prix win at The Jumper Classic. She said that she has shown regularly here since 1996 and laughed, “I’ve been here a lot of years and I finally won it. I’m usually the consistent one, not the winner here, so I’m very excited. I thank all of my sponsors.”

There were 27 entries in the $15,000 Equine Insurance Speed Stake, and they competed in a faults converted format. Riding out of the third spot in the order, the early leading time was set by Leslie Howard and Lennox Lewis 2, a 13-year-old Oldenburg gelding by Laureatus. They had the all-important clear round and didn’t add anything to their time of 60.718 seconds.

There were some challengers to Howard’s time: Francesca Bolfo and Venus TR were very speedy in 57.765 seconds, but with four faults added, they finished just off the pace in 61.765 seconds for second place. Dana Scott and KM Whatever RV were clear in 64.554 seconds for fourth place. Fifth place went to Peter Leone and Wayfarer, who stopped the timers in 66.205 seconds. Howard went last in the class on her third mount, Zack, and had a faster time of 59.586 seconds but also had a rail at fence four to finish on 63.586 seconds and third place.

“It was a fairly steady pace I had,” Howard said of her ride on Lennox Lewis. “Probably what was so nice for me with him was that inside turn to the fourth jump. For a greener horse it’s a little intimidating, but for him, he knows his job so well. I just sort of pointed him at it and he knew right where he was going. That was probably the place where I could be a little less cautious than others, a little bolder. I found it nicely out of stride and it worked out beautifully. Everywhere else we just sort of stayed on a nice rhythm and kept the jumps up. There were other faster horses, and I knew there would be, but I knew that with luck on your side maybe the faster ones would have a rail.”

This was only Howard’s third time riding Zack, an eight-year-old KWPN gelding by Nebab de Reve. She described, “I really thought he behaved well. I overrode the jump that I was talking about (jump 4) because it is a heck of a slice and awkward for them to see. I think I probably overrode that a little bit which is why he had it down. For the rest, he was great.”

Howard has been riding Lennox Lewis 2 for seven years and says it’s a “great marriage.” She added, “It’s just a great partnership and we think alike now. You know that a 1.35m speed is a fairly easy task for him. Provided luck is on your side, he’s probably going to get it done. But, there are lots of times when luck isn’t on your side. You always have a great feeling when you walk into this type of class with him.”

Howard is a regular competitor at The Jumper Classic. “It’s a beautiful field and we don’t have a lot of grass fields in our country, which is a shame. I think grass fields are by far the best. The grass field is why I come, particularly, but the date change was a good move,” she said.

The Jumper Classic would like to thank their sponsors, exhibitors, staff, and volunteers for another fantastic, successful event and looks forward to welcoming everyone back next year.

Final Results: $75,000 Fidelity Investments Grand Prix

1  Kismet 50, Candice King, Mark Bellissimo: 0/85.397
2  Utah, Leslie Howard, The Utah Group: 4/81.572
3  Lincourt Gino, Peter Leone, Monica Carrera: 4/82.539
4  Rado, Nick Dello Joio, N/A: 4/84.347
5  Leap of Joy, Charles Jacobs, Deeridge Farms: 4/86.034
6  Damascus, Chloe Reid, Chloe Reid LLC: 4/87.347
7  Twisther, Jonathan McCrea, Candy Tribble: 8/84.936
8  Colorado, Jonathan McCrea, Jonathan McCrea: 8/86.540
9  Lyonell, Cara Raether, Trelawny Farm: 11/90.067
10 Secret Love, Charles Jacobs, CMJ Sporthorse LLC: 12/83.928
11 No Worries, Devin Ryan, Barbara Rowland: 12/84.008
12 Roman Saluut, Devin Ryan, Devin Ryan: 13/88.718

Final Results: $15,000 Equine Insurance Speed Stake presented by Great American Insurance Group

1  Lennox Lewis 2, Leslie Howard, Leslie Howard: 60.718
2  Venus TR, Francesca Bolfo, Francesca Bolfo: 61.765
3  Zack, Leslie Howard, Gabriel Coumans: 63.586
4  KM Whatever RV, Dana Scott, Nod Hill Farm: 64.554
5  Wayfarer, Peter Leone, Lionshare Farm: 66.205
6  Arkansas, Hillary Simpson, Palmyra Partners: 67.372
7  Zosja, Devin Ryan, Eagle Valley Partners: 68.091
8  Maestro de Shalimar, Stephanie McComisky, Stephanie McComisky: 68.343
9  Calissandro, Devin Ryan, Devin Ryan:69.271
10 Huapango, Eugenio Garza, El Milagro: 69.629
11 Via Veneto, Paul Halpern, Dammerman & Kamine LLC: 69.936
12 Palio, Peter Leone, The Palio Group LLC: 71.215