Martien van der Hoeven may be just getting to know Zeldenrust Z, but their relationship proved strong enough to generate a commanding victory in the $2,500 CMJ Sporthorse 1.40m Speed Stake, the featured jumper class today at Horse Shows by the Bay.
Van der Hoeven, of Augusta Pines Farm in Spring, TX, went second-to-last with Zeldenrust Z in the 13-horse field and topped speedsters David Beisel and Ammeretto for the blue ribbon by 1.3 seconds.
As the only competitor to accomplish an inside turn late in the course, van der Hoeven made short work of the Michel Vaillancourt-designed track that featured a variety of challenging cutbacks and a long gallop to the final oxer.
"I didn't watch anyone else go. [The turn] was something I walked," he said. "You know, when you're just trying to get to know a horse these classes are great to try a few of those different things. So, if you need to, you know how to do them."
Michel Vaillancourt always does a fantastic job," van der Hoeven continued. "He always seems to have a good feel for the field and who's in it and what he needs to accomplish. And these classes, the 1.40m that Horse Shows by the Bay offers, are really nice."
Van der Hoeven began riding Donald Cheska's Zeldenrust Z, a 13-year-old Zangersheide gelding (Zandor–Idiena), in May. Cheska and van der Hoeven have been good friends and done business over the years, so through that friendship the horse became available and Cheska thought the two would be a good match.
Donald had him for some time and brought him a long, and he obviously did a great job," said van der Hoeven. "It's just me getting to know him and how he goes. I'm thankful to Don and Cara [Cheska] for giving me the opportunity to ride and show him."
During the Horse Shows by the Bay series they've earned ribbons at various heights, but this is their first blue. In fact, as "Z" checked passersby for treats while he walked up from the ring and posed for photographs, van der Hoeven smiled and said, "We didn't bring any treats to the ring. We weren't expecting this!"
Van der Hoeven said this class was their best result so far. "The grand prix classes we've done have been close, just a mistake here and there, 4 faults, 8 faults," he added. "We're just a little bit on the learning curve. Hopefully, this gets us over the hump, and we can have more successes the last two weeks here."
This is van der Hoeven's fourth year at Horse Shows by the Bay, and he stays for the entire four-week Hunter/Jumper series."
We like it here; it's a great getaway," he said. "Obviously, Houston, Texas is extremely hot, so the weather is more enjoyable for us, the horses and the clients. It's very far away, so we come here and camp out, and it allows the clients to come and go and show as they please and enjoy some of the other amenities that Traverse City has to offer."
To watch van der Hoeven's winning round, click HERE.