The $25,000 ProElite National Grand Prix took place on Thursday, December 17, the final day of the ESP Holiday III Show at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC). Thirty-eight entries took on the first course of 13 fences, designed by Mauricio Garcia Ballesteros (PUR), in the International Arena. In the end, Erynn Ballard (CAN) and Ilan Ferder’s Classic Penny proved to be the fastest in the 16-horse jump-off. Thursday’s classes concluded the ESP Holiday III Show, but competition will begin Friday, December 18, for the first day of the ESP New Year’s Show, which will finish on Sunday, December 20.

“[Classic Penny] was amazing. These classes in between the big ones are so nice to make a young one up,” commented Ballard. “It was a nice opportunity for her to be in a big ring in a big class, and it’s a super nice win for her resume. I thought the course was really fair. There were plenty clear, but you had a huge group of horses in it, and some really big names. Our horse is only eight and moving up, so for her it was a step up and she handled it beautifully. She’s very fast.”

Sixteen riders representing five different nations successfully conquered the first round and took their turn at the trimmed, seven-fence jump-off. The fourth entry, Darragh Kenny (IRL) and Oakland Ventures LLC’s Go Easy De Muze, were the first clear round, closely followed by Kent Farrington (USA) and Orafina, owned by Kent Farrington LLC. An additional 14 riders qualified for the jump-off, including Paul O’Shea (IRL), Grace Debney (USA), Jessica Mendoza (GBR), Wilhelm Genn (USA), Nicholas Dello Joio (USA), Jonathan McCrea (USA), Rebecca Conway (USA), Christian Coyle (IRL), Santiago Lambre (MEX), Riley Newsome (USA), Hilary McNerney (USA), and Ramiro Quintana (ARG).

Watch the winning ride from Erynn Ballard and Classic Penny:


“I didn’t see [Jessica Mendoza], and I did so many strides from fence one to two,” Ballard explained regarding her jump-off. “If you counted, Darragh [Kenny] did seven strides and I did ten, so I didn’t think I could win because I did ten strides. I figured I would just stay going smooth and teach her how to go fast, but even when she adds strides she’s moving so fast. You’re not slowing down, so I think she’s just so fast [that it helped us to win today].”

As the fifth-to-last to go, Ballard and Classic Penny, a 2012 Norwegian Warmblood mare, were up against a clear leading time of 37.87 seconds from Mendoza and Casanova 499, who had held the frontrunner spot for eight trips. Slicing more than a full second off the leading pair’s time, Ballard and Classic Penny kept all the rails up and crossed the finish line in 36.74 seconds to jump to the top of the standings and eventually capture the win.

“Ilan [Ferder] makes the plans, but I think you’ll see her start to step up and do some of the FEI classes, the speed classes, and probably some 1.50m grand prix classes,” remarked Ballard on her upcoming plans with the horse at PBIEC. “I have a huge amount of respect for the show manager, David Burton, and his team, and I think from June on they’ve done a phenomenal job. There’s no place I’d rather be!”

Fractions of a second behind Ballard, O’Shea and Eye Candy Jumper’s Chacanntus (Chacco-Blue x Kannan) took home second place after stopping the clock with no faults in 36.99 seconds. Debney and Temple Equestrian LLC’s Zarina De Vidau received third place with a jump-off time of 37.78 seconds.

At the onset of the week on Tuesday, Ramiro Quintana (ARG) and Hemerald-Balia, owned by Orpen Horses, led the pack in the $10,000 1.40m Open Stake, presented by Elite Horse Transport. A field of 28 entries contested the first-round track, and 12 advanced to the jump-off without leaving the ring after a clear ride. Of that group, five finished the class with no faults to their names. With a fault-free time of 40.05 seconds, Quintana and Hemerald-Balia earned the blue ribbon to start the week with some momentum, followed by Jessica Mendoza (BGR) on Carly Day’s Casanova 499 in a time of 40.75 seconds. Aboard Go Easy De Muze, owned by Oakland Ventures LLC, Darragh Kenny (IRL) jumped to third position with a clear time of 41.32 seconds.

The final class on Wednesday in the International Arena was the $5,000 1.35m Classic, sponsored by Palm Beach Equine Clinic. Mauricio Garcia Ballesteros (PUR) designed a first-round course consisting of 12 efforts that tested 24 riders representing seven different countries. Nine horse-and-rider combinations successfully cleared the course and continued on to the shortened jump-off track. Coming out on top was Grace Debney of Hampden, MA, and Temple Equestrian LLC’s Darc Kiss Z, who stopped the timers without faults at 32.52 seconds to win the class. Right behind the winning pair was Catherine Pasmore of Eindhoven, The Netherlands, with Pasmore Show Stables’s Celesta Z in a fault-free time of 33.88 seconds. Third-place honors went to Caitlyn Connors of Media, PA, on Don’t Worry Z, owned by Caitlyn Connors LLC, who put in a clear time of 34.45 seconds.

On Thursday in the International Arena, 18 competitors tried their hands in the $2,500 Medium Junior/Amateur Jumper Classic, presented by Equiline. Proving to be a difficult course, only four pairs from the original group continued on to the jump-off, with only two horse-and-rider duos finishing without a single fault. Devon MacNeil of Wellington, FL, took the blue ribbon riding her own Cajo in a time of 38.43 seconds. Not far behind, Natalie Thornell of Loveland, OH, and Snow White, owned by Loveland Equine Investments, were just slightly off the pace and finished in a time of 40.66 seconds to claim the runner-up spot. Donovan Ross of Wellington, FL, and Halo Capital’s Magic were right on track for second with a time of 39.18 seconds, but took third place with a total of eight faults.

For the full results of the $25,000 ProElite National Grand Prix, please click HERE.

Jennifer Bliss and Sugarman Claim Top Honors in $2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby

On Wednesday afternoon in the E.R. Mische Grand Hunter Ring, a group of horse-and-rider combinations competed for the blue ribbon in the $2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby, presented by Wanderers Club. Robert McGregor created a first-round track that consisted of 10 fences and offered four high options. Jennifer Bliss, of Loxahatchee, FL, and Harris Hill Farm, LLC’s Sugarman led the way and captured victory with the highest score in both the classic and handy rounds.

“In the first round, I tried to just really keep a nice gallop the whole way around,” commented Bliss. “This horse is really light and fun. I can trust him and just gallop around, so I tried to do that the first round. The second round, I had my plan with the inside turns and just tried to stick to it and be as smooth as possible.”

Bliss and Sugarman jumped to the top of the leaderboard in the first round with a score of 84 and four high option bonus points to tout 88 points. As the final pair to jump in the handy phase, the duo continued to show off over an additional course, which included a trot jump and inside turn options. In the end, Bliss and Sugarman held onto the top spot with a handy round score of 84 and four high option bonus points to match their earlier points and win the class with a total score of 176.

“I thought the course was great,” noted Bliss. “It was a little extra challenge being at this hour with the changing light and keeping the horses focused at this time, but this is always a fun ring to ride in and I thought the course was really nice!”

Following Bliss in second place was Krista Goossens of Crossriver, NY, on Aquitaine Equine’s Premium Blend. The pair earned a first-round score of 86 and 83 points in the handy round to finish with 169 points. Third-place honors went to Hayley Iannotti of Boca Raton, FL, aboard Carriage Hill Farm’s Czar Du Mesnil. Iannotti and Czar Du Mesnil received a score of 84 in the first round followed by 80 points in the handy round to conclude with 164 points.

For the full results of the $2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby, sponsored by the Wanderer’s Club, please click HERE.

No spectators or outside media are allowed on-site at this time, but friends and family can view all classes via our SGL live stream HERE.