February 2, 2014--In their first grand prix of the 2014 season, Saer Coulter and Springtime kicked off their year on the highest of notes. They topped a field of 31 in the $50,000 Strongid? C 2X? CSI-W2*, presented by Zoetis, to highlight World Cup week at HITS Thermal. The class was a qualifier for the 2014 FEI World Cup Finals in Lyon, France this April.
The jumps were big, the time was tight and the field was competitive with six of the original 31 advancing to the jump-off. Course designer Olaf Petersen, Jr. of Muenchen, Germany, kept the promise he made after Thursday?s grand prix and built big. ?Olaf does a great job setting according to the field that he has,? said Coulter, who rides for the U.S. and hails from San Francisco, California. ?With six clear, the jump-off was both fun and fair.?
Petersen?s course included 13 obstacles and 16 jumping efforts, including a double combination and an oxer-vertical-vertical triple combination. A clear round didn't come until the eighth ride of the order, and most of the faults arose later in the course with the triple at fence seven and a technical outside line that included fence eight, nine and 10.
Lucy Davis of Los Angeles, California, who also trains alongside Coulter under the direction of Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum and Markus Beerbaum, proved the course could be jumped as the first to ride clear in the irons of Old Oak farm?s Barron. She was later joined by Justin Resnik of Glendale, California, Mexico?s Enrique Gonzalez, Eduardo Menezes for Brazil, Michelle Parker of San Marcos, California and eventually Coulter.
Coulter rode 21st in the original order and she admits it was advantageous to go late. ?I was really lucky to go late in both rounds and watch a lot of the trips,? she said.
Riders agreed that the jump-off left little room for improvising and didn't present many options, but begged for speed. ?The first round was more technical, where the jump-off was all about the gallop,? said Menezes, who was aboard Quintol Mercedes Benz for owner Santiago Hank in the jump-off. ?It's key to know the riders you are setting for and Olaf [Petersen] gets the perfect number every time.?
In the jump-off, riders rode against the time, with five of the six who returned riding double clear. The lead would change three times and first landed with Davis and Barron, who set an early Great American Time to Beat at 43.57 seconds. Resnik and Carismo Z, owned by The Carismo Z Group, LLC, finished with eight faults before Gonzalez and his own Quilebo Du Tillard stole the lead from Davis in 42.49 seconds. It didn't sit for long, however, as Menezes rode the course in 41.46 seconds. Parker challenged on Cross Creek Farms, Inc.?s Clintord, but was one second off the pace in 42.17 seconds.
Coulter returned last and left out a stride between the second and third fences of the course, riding it in seven steps to guide Springtime to the win. Menezes was second and Parker third. Gonzalez finished fourth and Davis fifth, while Resnik was the only contender with faults, landing him in sixth.
Springtime?s career came full circle on Saturday. ?He has done everything with me ? from the highs, all the way to the international level,? said Coulter of Springtime.
The now 15-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding was found as a 10-year-old for Coulter in Holland by Paul and Emile Hendricks where he was jumping at the World Cup level. Coulter was riding in Holland at the time and maintains that she was simply lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time. ?Paul and Emile [Hendricks] were in the crowd here tonight and it was really special to have them here watching him. He [Springtime] has been incredible and I am really lucky to have him.?
Coulter, 22, recently graduated from Stanford University and now focuses her full attention on riding. ?My goal is to qualify for the World Cup Finals and we were here this week to hopefully get it done early and be able to focus on doing well in France.?