Mandy Porter & Milano Master $40,000 Aon Grand Prix at Temecula Valley National Horse Show

2018. Temecula Aon GP Mandy Porter & Milano PMG Elaine Wessel

Temecula, California, USA. – June 2, 2018 – Equestrian competition resumed at Galway Downs for the second-to-last day of the Temecula Valley National Horse Show series Saturday, with Mandy Porter adding to her recent streak of wins aboard Milano and WT Ca Pow! by securing the victory, a third place finish and the main share of the purse in the $40,000 Aon Grand Prix as the week’s big winners. Across the showgrounds, the Grand Hunter Arena played host to the first half of the Amateur-Owner divisions, concluding with Amy Gallagher and Knockout in the early lead in the Amateur/Owner 3’3″ 36 & Over Hunters thanks to a series of strong performances over fences and in the hack, while Sarah Hellman and Not To Worry finished the day ahead of the rest in the Amateur-Owner 3’3″/3’6″ 18-35 Hunter division.

During the $40,000 Aon Grand Prix, the highlight class of the week, Olaf Petersen, Jr.’s (GER) 16-effort track looked to be the most technical grand prix design of the three-week series, asking horses and riders to maneuver the sweeping 1.50m course within a tight 84-second time allowed. Fence 12, a liverpool oxer serving as the penultimate obstacle of the track, proved to be the bogey fence of the afternoon, with a sizable portion of the field clipping the front rail. Of the more than 30 hopeful entries, only an elite five pairs qualified for the jump-off with clean and clear first rides, led by Kenneth Vinther and his own Colicchio, Thursday’s $20,000 EquiFit 1.40m – 1.45m Jumper Classic champions, as the first pair to successfully leave the course intact.

Porter and Abigail Archer’s Milano, last weekend’s winners of the $60,000 KindredBio Grand Prix, followed suit to ensure a jump-off, and Shawn Casady aboard Highpoint Farm, LLC’s Durango VDL added their names to the list shortly thereafter. Solidifying herself as the best bet statistically to win, Porter navigated her second ride of the class, the Wild Turkey Farm, LLC’s Week II $30,000 Voltaire 1.40 – 1.45m Speed Classic champion WT Ca Pow!, to a clear round, while the final challengers of the evening, Lindsey Archer and Rhys Farms’ Jarpur, rounded out the talented field of short course contenders.

2018. Temecula Aon GP Kenneth Vinther & Colicchio PMG Elaine Wessel

Kenneth Vinther (USA) & Colicchio

Knowing that a skilled and accomplished pack of competitors would be chasing them down, Vinther and Colicchio completed Petersen, Jr.’s lengthy 9-fence jump-off course in a brisk time of 46.876 seconds, riding to a fault-free trip to set the bar high for the remaining duos. Though Vinther and Colicchio looked to have completed the tightest rollback turn possible from fence 5b to fence six, followed by a bold gallop to the final oxer, Porter and Milano quickly snatched away the early leaders’ hope of victory with an even faster clear trip in 45.873 seconds, one whole second quicker. Casady and Archer attempted to surpass Porter and Milano’s breakneck time, and although they left all the rails in the cups, they were not able to make the time.

2018. Temecula Aon GP Mandy Porter & Milano PMG Elaine Wessel 2

Mandy Porter (USA) & WT Ca Pow!

Guaranteed the win, Porter returned to the Audi Grand Prix Arena with the reins aboard WT Ca Pow! to determine which of her mounts would nab the top spot. Adding the fifth and final double-clear trip of the night, Porter and WT Ca Pow! crossed the finish line in a more conservative 47.734 seconds to clinch the third place overall. Sandwiched between Porter’s two top placings was owner-rider Vinther and Colicchio, who maintained their status to finish as the reserve champions.

2018. Temecula Aon GP Cel Mandy Porter & Milano PMG Elaine Wessel

Mandy Porter (USA) during the awards ceremony

From the Winner’s Circle

Mandy Porter – $40,000 Aon Grand Prix Champion

On the $40,000 Aon Grand Prix course:
“I think the track was a little trickier than we have seen here previously. The oxers were a little wider and there were a couple of careful spots you needed to be aware of. The jump-off also had some long runs which often aren’t what makes me the most comfortable, but I am trying to get better at it and I thought Olaf [Petersen, Jr.] did a nice job and there was a good number in the jump-off.”

Olaf Petersen, Jr. – $40,000 Aon Grand Prix Course Designer

On his course design:
“In the 1.40m Jumpers I could see that we had some really strong horse-and-rider combinations, and we had a nice result with 11 pairs in the jump-off, so now was the time to raise up the level a little bit, which is the target now in California. With a course like this [in $40,000 Aon Grand Prix], I didn’t give them much time to think in between fences. I really want them to have a plan when they come in. I think everything will be difficult with the narrow jumps, light rails, the challenge of the triple bar with the solid rails – the horses won’t really be able to see the middle – and the triple combination, but I don’t think that I built the triple combination in a way that will be too challenging on this track. It is my hope that we have nice, fluid riding and good sport.”

On his opinion of the Temecula Valley National Horse Show:
“This is the nicest show that I have ever been to, and I have been in California 25 years. There is amazing footing – one of the best I’ve seen – and they really take good care of it and maintain it well. The size of the ring is very nice and compact for a grand prix, and the jumps are nice and more narrow than normal jumps, which for me reflects the more modern aspects of our sport. You can see it in Aachen, on the big field, where there are some narrow jumps because the horses jump more carefully. Also, as a course designer, it gives me more opportunities to design a good course.”

$40,000 Aon Grand Prix

Place / Rider (Country) & Horse / Owner / R1 Faults / R2 Faults / JO Time

1. Mandy Porter (USA) & Milano / Abigail Archer / 0 / 0 / 45.873
2. Kenneth Vinther (USA) & Colicchio / Kenneth Vinther / 0 / 0 / 46.876
3. Mandy Porter (USA) & WT Ca Pow! / Wild Turkey Farm LLC / 0 / 0 / 47.734
4. Shawn Casady (USA) & Durango VDL / High Point Farm LLC / 0 / 0 / 48.718
5. Lindsey Archer (USA) & Jarpur / Rhys Farms / 0 / 0 / 48.742
6. Shawn Casady (USA) & Cicomein / HKC Collection LLC / 4 / 80.066
7. Michelle Parker (USA) & Cupilor / Cross Creek Farms Inc. / 4 / 80.506
8. Mitchell Endicott (USA) & Ideal de la Hasse / Alex Trubey / 4 / 81.248
9. Natalie Dean (USA) & Chacco’s Goldy / Natalie Dean / 4 / 81.330
10. Shota Ogomori (JPN) SIG Rooney IV / SIG International / 4 / 82.776
11. Molly Talla (USA) & Complete Luck / Molly Talla / 4 / 83.531
12. John Pearce (CAN) & Firestone S / Nicole Teague / 4 / 83.650

Source: Press Release by Rebecca Walton / Phelps Media Group for Temecula Valley National Horse Show

Photos: © Phelps Media Group / Elaine Wessel