Thermal, California, USA – January 30, 2021 – Riders hailing from eight nations took to the Grand Prix Stadium at the Desert International Horse Park to compete in the $36,600 Great American Jump-off Challenge CSI 3*. Of the seventeen horse and rider combinations, six advanced into the tiebreaker of the 1.45m contest and in the end, it was Canada’s Beth Underhill (CAN) and Count Me In that claimed the top spot with a jump-off time of 30.75 seconds. Count Me In is a fourteen-year-old Hanoverian gelding by Count Grannus out of Sunshine and is owned by Sandy Lupton and Rob Cazwell.
Second place was awarded to Mavis Spencer (USA) aboard Georgy Maskrey-Segesman’s Belladonna 42 (Clearway x Vita 24), a twelve-year-old Holsteiner mare, with a jump-off time of 32.48 seconds. Katie Laurie (AUS) and Cera Caruso (Casall x Belcam Cymphony) produced the fastest jump-off time at 30.52 second but had an unfortunate rail which earned them the final podium position. Cera Caruso is a thirteen-year-old Australian Warmblood owned by Carissa McCall.
The riders were tested against a twelve obstacle course built by Alan Wade (IRL) that had three combinations and multiple rollbacks. “I thought the course was very well built. It was a prompt enough time allowed that you couldn’t take it for granted,” explained Underhill. “My plan was to be smooth and keep him relaxed because we have a long circuit ahead of us. I thought the course was very well built.”
Underhill and Count Me In have a resume of impressive titles including reigning Canadian Champions after the finals in September. “This is Count Me In and I have been riding him since he was six and he is fourteen, so a long time. His owners, Sandy Lupton and Rob Cazwell are wonderful supporters. They have been with us along the whole journey,” continued Underhill. “He is just a wonderful horse. He is very careful, naturally and very quick as well. In the jump-offs, I have to be careful that I don’t go too fast because he is always anticipating my next move.”
The pair will continue showing at Desert International Horse Park during Desert Circuit before they head back home to compete on the Canadian Circuit. “He will continue and do the Grand Prix next week and stay jumping in the FEI throughout. We are gearing up for the grand finale during the final week and we are hoping to keep on an upward trend and peak at that particular week,” voiced Underhill. “We really love being out here. The management does a fantastic job. It is such a picturesque horse show and we are always made to feel very welcome here. It is currently one of our favorite stops.”
Source: Press release from Desert International Horse Park
Photos: © ESI Photography