Desert Circuit VII Ends With a Thrilling Weekend of Competition Featuring the $50,000 Card Flex Grand Prix

The curtain closed on Week VII of the HITS Desert Circuit as Grand Prix riders took a final weekend of competition to prepare for the AIG $1 Million Grand Prix in Week VIII
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The curtain closed on Week VII of the HITS Desert Circuit as Grand Prix riders took a final weekend of competition to prepare for the AIG $1 Million Grand Prix in Week VIII

March 14, 2016 - The curtain closed on Week VII of the HITS Desert Circuit as Grand Prix riders took a final weekend of competition to prepare for the AIG $1 Million Grand Prix in Week VIII. Riders and horses vied for a winning title in Sunday's $50,000 Card Flex Grand Prix and Saturday's $15,000 UltrOz Jumper.


$50,000 Card Flex Grand Prix

Karl Cook and Tembla on their way to a $50,000 Card Flex Grand Prix win | ESI Photography

Karl Cook and Tembla on their way to a $50,000 Card Flex Grand Prix win | ESI Photography

Desert Circuit VII came to a close on Sunday as riders faced the 1.50 meter course set by Canada’s Danny Foster in the $50,000 Card Flex Grand Prix at the HITS Desert Horse Park in Thermal, California. Many of the riders used today’s Grand Prix as a stepping stone for next Sunday’s AIG $1 Million Grand Prix, the first leg in the HITS Triple Crown of Show jumping.

The day’s impressive lineup of competitors included Chris Pratt, winner of multiple Grand Prix this circuit and Eric Navet, winner of Week III’s $65,500 Wilmington Trust Grand Prix and third in the $100,000 Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Thermal qualifier. The victory would go to Week VI $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix winner, Karl Cook of Woodside, California, and Tembla, owned by Signe Ostby. The class would prove to be an all-out battle between Cook and Lisa Carlsen of Okotoks, Alberta.

Eight riders mastered the first round fault-free to come back for the jump-off. Five of those eight jumped clear around the shortened course with only half a second separating the top two. The shortened course of 8 jumping-efforts included a long gallop from fence one to two, then horses had to navigate a tight roll back and combination.

First to come back for the jump-off was Karl Cook with the first of his two mounts, Basimodo, the first of three jump-off mounts owned by Signe Ostby. They would have four faults, but the fastest four-fault time, finishing sixth in 48.718.

Following Cook was Lisa Carlsen riding Worlds Judgement owned by W.J. Partners. Carlsen was ready to take home the title as she galloped away from the large oxer in the corner to the tight roll-back turn, setting the Great American Time to beat of 46.516 as they crossed the timers, a time that would hold on through the next five challengers.

Mandy Porter of Encinitas, California, with the first of her two rides, Agro Star, owned by Little Valley Farms, gave the rest of the field a run for their money, finishing fault-free in 47.690 seconds, but still Carlsen had the lead. The round would ultimately land Porter and Agro Star in fifth-place.

Karl Cook and Tembla winning the $50,000 Card Flex Grand Prix | ESI Photography

Karl Cook and Tembla winning the $50,000 Card Flex Grand Prix | ESI Photography

Kristen Hardin aboard Firestone, owned by Nicole Teague, was one of the two to perform the tight inside turn to the second to last fence but did not have the time to edge Carlsen out of the lead, crossing the markers in 48.807 seconds and ultimately grabbing the fourth-place finish.

Returning to the jump-off ring for the second time was Cook on Tembla as the battle to top Carlsen on the leaderboard continued. They set a blazing-fast pace, knowing they would have to be quick and clear to contend for the lead. As the crowd cheered, they stopped the clock at 45.135 to capture the lead from Carlsen by more than a full second, putting her ride in second-place.

“It was a really fast jump off and Lisa set a time I didn’t think I could catch, but Tembla really stepped up to grasp her first Grand Prix win, said Cook. “Today’s result was a great way to head into the AIG Million next week.” 

Porter then returned with her second jump-off mount, Ace of Hearts, also owned by Little Valley Farms. Taking all the inside turns, she could not catch Cook’s electric round. They would land in third-place with a time of 47.690 seconds.

The final rider in the jump-off was Eric Navet of Rancho Santa Fe, California, riding Catypso, the third horse in the jump-off owned by Signe Ostby of Woodside, California. After an unfortunate rail at 5b, sealing the win for Cook, Eric took his time through the rest of the jump off, and finished with a four-fault score in a time of 50.085 seconds.

Reflecting on the class and HITS series of shows, Cook said, “I’m really proud of all my horses, especially Tembla. She has made a lot of progress [during the Desert Circuit] and we still have a bit to figure out, but I’m really happy with the progress she has made. The only thing that would have made it better would have been if my mom [Signe Ostby] was here. I’m so lucky to have her support and I’m very grateful for that."

Place Horse Owner Rider/Country Prize R.1 Faults JO Faults JO Time
1 Tembla Signe Ostby Karl Cook $15,000 0 0 45.135
2 World's Judgment W.J. Partners Lisa Carlsen $11,000 0 0 46.516
3 Ace of Hearts Little Valley Farms Mandy Porter $6,500 0 0 47.690
4 Firestone Nicole Teague Kristin Hardin $4,000 0 0 48.807
5 Agro Star Little Valley Farms Mandy Porter $3,000 0 0 51.668
6 Basimodo Signe Ostby Eric Navet $2,500 0 4 48.718
7 Catypso Signe Ostby Karl Cook $2,000 0 4 50.085
8 NKH Quanto NKH LLC Christian Heineking $1,500 0 6 57.476
9 NKH Selena NKH LLC Christian Heineking $1,500 4 - -
10 Farfelu Du Printemps John Madigan Jill Henselwood $1,000 4 - -
11 Cruise Indigo Farms LLC Chris Pratt $1,000 4 - -
12 Kiwi Iron Mark Katie Laurie Ohaupo Jeffrey Fields $1,000 4 - -

$15,000 UltrOz Jumper

Eminent and Mandy Porter on their way to a $15,000 UltrOz Jumper win | ESI Photography

Eminent and Mandy Porter on their way to a $15,000 UltrOz Jumper win | ESI Photography

A field of thirty-one riders jumped for the money in Saturday afternoon’s $15,000 UltrOz Jumper in the HITS Grand Prix Stadium during Week VII of the HITS Desert Circuit in Thermal, California.

Mandy Porter from Encinitas riding Eminent, owned by David Murdoch, took home the blue after nine competed in the stay-in-the-ring jump off. Four of the nine left all the rails up, so speed and tight turns were the ultimate deciding factors.

“Eminent is such a consistent horse, she's always in the ribbons," said Porter. "She’s always in the money and a great horse to have on our team. Huge thank you to UltrOz for sponsoring this class.” .

Course designer Danny Foster from Ontario, Canada, set a galloping course of 15 jumping efforts for the first round set at 1.40 meters. The jump-off included several tight rollbacks that took up time, challenging riders to gallop the length of the stadium between jumps.

First to continue to the jump-off was Tamie Phillips of Calgary, Alberta. riding her own Cat Balou. Phillips set the tone as she blazed from fence two to three, making efficient turns throughout the course on the talented Cat Balou. They crossed the timers with no rails down in 42.344 seconds, which would be good enough for the ultimate second-place finish.

Following Phillips, only a few trips later, was Mandy Porter and Eminent. They flew through the shortened course, galloping through the rollback from two to three and shaving seconds off Phillip’s time to set a new Great American Time to Beat of 39.185, which would stack the leaderboard for the remainder of the class.

Jeff Campf of Canby, Oregon, aboard Chevejo NB, owned by Double A, LLC., was the next to try the jump-off. They laid down a beautifully executed round, but took a more conservative route, crossing the timers in 44.529 seconds, earning them third.

Eight trips passed until the next rider went clear to advance the jump-off. Rich Fellers riding a new mount for him, Coupis, owned by Leslie Nelson of Petaluma, California, proved to be that fault-free round the crowd was waiting for. Fellers soared through the jump-off taking all possible rollbacks and tight turns. A heartbreaking rail at the last fence however, gave him four faults with a fast time of 39.937, landing him the fifth place prize for the day.

Karl Cook riding The Flying Ham, owned by Signe Ostby, was next to make the jump-off. Cook had already been first and second in the day’s $5,000 Electronic Vet Jumper Classic and was hungry for another win. Cook started the jump-off with a brisk pace, but opted for only two of the three inside turns. Although he was clear, his time of 44.711 seconds fell short of the win, landing him with the fourth place finish.

Place Horse Owner Rider/Country Prize R.1 Faults JO Faults JO Time
1 Eminent David Murdoch Mandy Porter $4,350 0 0 39.185
2 Cat Balou Tamie Phillips Tamie Phillips $3,150 0 0 42.344
3 Chevejo NB Double A, LLC Jeff Campf $2,100 0 0 44.529
4 The Flying Ham Signe Ostby Karl Cook $1,400 0 0 44.711
5 Coupis Leslie Nelson Rich Fellers $1,100 0 4 39.937
6 Bert Emily Cohodes Kristin Hardin $800 0 4 41.024
7 Kit Kat Alix Fargo Susan Artes $650 0 4 41.415
8 Hopscotch Poseidon Stables Karianne Boyce-Lockhart $550 0 4 44.830
9 Topaze Blue Blue Tree Farms LLC Amy Hess $450 0 8 43.323
10 Coolaroo Soehnke Theymann Soehnke Theymann $450 1 - -
11 Dacarlos Mattias Ekeroth LLC Mattias Ekeroth - 1 - - 
12 Romeo's Child Joelle Froese Joelle Froese - 3