Ocala, Florida, USA – The fourth day of the 2021 Air Show Jumping Winter Classic featured a morning of ultimate competition with 28 top horse-and-rider combinations taking to the Grand Prix ring. As the first and most prestigious class of the day, the $25,000 Winter Classic Grand Prix brought together veteran international show jumping professionals and young amateurs for the chance to take victory in the highlight class of the week as well as receive the Bling Bling perpetual trophy. In a down-to-the-wire jump off, Chile’s Samuel Parot (CHI) stole the the show as the final competitor to return for the jump-off.
After a competitive first round, ten of the original 28 entries were left to return for the shortened jump-off course. In the final few moments of competition, the lead changed hands numerous times with each rider that followed into the ring. Sharn Wordley (NZL) held the lead on Verdini D’Houtveld Z before besting his own time with Gatsby. Tracey Fenney of Flower Mound, TX, USA, took to the quick track and seated herself in the top position with MTM Dolce Vita on 37.728 seconds. As the second to last rider to return, Colombia’s Gonzalo Guevara (COL) placed himself in an almost unbeatable position aboard Valentine Car after flying through the timers in 36.852 seconds. He appeared to be the sure victor when Samuel Parot (CHI) entered as the final contestant. With a strong partnership and incredibly precise riding, Parot and long-time mount Atlantis clocked in an amazing 35.950 seconds to climb to the top of the podium.
Parot has built a relationship with Atlantis dating back all the way to 2015 and the Zangersheide gelding (Andiamo x Dodana W) is a true show veteran himself at the age of 18 years old.
“Atlantis has not shown in a year and a half,” Parot Explained. “He is older now so I gave him a good amount of time off after the 2020 Olympic Games were cancelled. This is his first show back but I have a well-established connection with him and he knows when he enters the ring that’s time to get to work: to me that work ethic is what makes a champion.”
The veteran jumper admitted that he was concerned about being able to take victory in the final effort with so many quick trips laid down before him.
“Winning is never easy in any class but especially here in America,” Parot said. “Every show you go to you have ten to 20 of the top riders in the country so winning here is fantastic because the competition is so strong.”
He continued, “I thought it would be almost impossible to win after I watched Sharn [Wordley]’s round and even more so after Tracey Fenney went but Atlantis is just fantastic and is known all over the world to be very fast.”
Parot credits his victory to several tight turns in the jump-off phase, which course designer Paul Jewell agrees with.
“Samuel was very tidy on his turns,” confirme Jewell. “All of the horses jumped so well in the Welcome that I felt they could have a bit more of a test today, so the jump-off only offered a couple of options but the speed was all made up in the turns.”
Despite one or two areas that produced a different outcome than expected, Jewell’s course gave way to an exciting returning line up.
“I wanted to make this course a fair test for everybody but also a good experience, and while the first three jumps were all right on track, I was surprised to find jumps four to five rode a lot harder than I expected,” he stated. “Overall though, I think most of the competitors walked away with a positive feeling and I’m very pleased we had a decent group for the jump off because it is always a crowd pleaser.”
Parot plans to give his established partner another rest after his week’s victory but will return to the Air Show Jumping Winter Classic with several other horses to start their season.
“This is the first time I’ve been to this show and so far the experience has been fantastic,” he enthused. “The footing in the rings is very good so the horses jump happy and everyone is nice to be around because they are enjoying themselves.”
Final Results – $25,000 Winter Classic Grand Prix
1) Samuel Parot (CHI) & Atlantis – 0 / 0 -35.95
2) Fernando Cardenas (COL) & Valentine Car – 0 / 0 – 36.852
3) Tracey Fenney (USA) & MTM Dolce Vita – 0 / 0 – 37.728
4) Sharn Wordley (NZL) & Gatsby – 0 / 0 – 37.738
5) Sharn Wordley (NZL) & Verdini d’Houteveld – 0 / 0 – 37.966
6) Kris Killiam (USA) & Cicero HS – 0 / 0 – 41.511
7) Summer Hill (USA) & La Belle SCF – 0 / 0 – 38.6764
8) Erin Haas (USA) & Hagelin – 0 / 0 – 42.1994
9) Ashley Foster (USA) & Stardust – 0 / 0 – 42.2084
10) Molly Kenney (USA) & Executive – 0 / 0 – 42.6924
11) Winn Alden (USA) & Quanita – 0 / 4 – 72.013
12) Camille Maddrix (USA) & Jack Strau – 0 / 4 – 72.4204
Source: Press release by Summer Grace / Air Showjumping
Photo: © Eye Was Here