November 18, 2013--Brazilian course designer Guilherme Jorge is brilliant at asking just the right questions for the field. With sixty-six entries, Jorge created a course that tested the technique necessary to tackle tight turns and tidy tracks. It included an interesting option fence - a skinny 1.40m gate 'winged' by a simpler vertical on each side. Heading home as fence 4, the skinny was the quicker choice to rollback to 5a-b; and later going away from the in-gate as fence 10 shaved off valuable time for the tight inside turn and long gallop to the final fence.
"It's a speed class so the idea is to offer the riders different options to be faster. By jumping the skinny at 1.4m the riders took a bigger risk in order to be faster. The top finishers took that risk. I'm happy with the way it worked," Jorge stated.
Along with the option challenge, the combination at 5a-b came down multiple times and several riders met their demise at fence 6, a wide oxer set at the top of the ring. Some stopped while others parted company with their mounts.
Approximately a third of the class rode the course without fault, so to place in the top 12 required a quick and well-planned track. First to impress the crowd was the fabulous Flexible (Harry and Mollie Chapman, owners) with Rich Fellers in the irons. He cruised around in a slick 51.546, which held the lead until Karl Cook came in on Banba [by Cruising out of Donohill Silver], a half-sister to Flexible, and laid down a smoking time in 47.458.
Others such as Andrew Ramsay aboard Shalanno Farms' Welfare (48.929) and Michelle Parker on Cross Creek Farms' Socrates de Midos (49.241) came close but not quite close enough to catch Cook. Fourth through sixth, Macella O'Neill on Milord D'Elle, NKH Barbosa with Christain Heineking and Susie Hutchison with SIG Zuleika , were all within a second of each other.
Daring attempts to turn inside after the skinny created some exciting moments. Jenni McAllister and LEGIS Touch the Sun ended up crashing through the Equ Lifestyle vertical in an effort to turn inside to the last jump. Nayel Nassar and Dunsoghly Junior took out the skinny when they attempted to jump it at a difficult angle, creating a potential issue for jumping it again as fence 10. However, the jump crew rebuilt the entire fence and slipped off to the side just in time for Nassar's approach.
When asked about his winning ride, Cook explained in detail. "I took the track I had walked except I landed off of 8b a little bit more right than I wanted, so the turn wasn't the exact shape I had planned to make the approach to fence 9 easier. Other than that, it was pretty on target."
Successful at the Las Vegas National in past years, Cook is no stranger to the South Point arena. Just last year, he not only won this speed class but also earned a one-two finish in the Saturday grand prix.
The Las Vegas National continues with a final evening of spectacular show jumping on Saturday with sixty entries in the $10,000 SmartPak Winning Round and over forty entered in the $50,000 Markel Insurance World Cup Qualifier.
Top Ten - $30,000 Equ Lifestyle Speed Classic
Rider | Horse | Faults | Time
Karl Cook | Banba | 0 | 47.58
Andrew Ramsey | Welfare | 0 | 48.929
Michelle Parker | Socrates de Midos | 0 | 49.92
Macella O?Neill | Milord d?Elle | 0 | 49.96
Christian Heineking | NKH Barbosa | 0 | 50.46
Susan Hutchison | SIG Zuleika | 0 | 51.45
Rich Fellers | Flexible | 0 | 51.64
Christian Heineking | Chakira | 0 | 52.55
Anne Karrasch | Coral Reef Ajaee | 0 | 52.74
Kristin Hardin | Bert | 0 | 52.85