Susan Artes & California Sunshine Sparkle in $10,000 Speed Classic at Temecula

Temecula, California, USA – April 22, 2021 – Competition was fast and fierce Thursday afternoon as 37 horse-and-rider combos left nothing on the table in hopes of claiming the largest piece of the prize in the $10,000 1.40m Speed Classic during Temecula Valley National Premier 1. Several familiar faces made their way into the Grand Prix Arena, and with only one shot at redemption, the riders gave it their all. Ultimately, it was Susan Artes (USA) and California Sunshine who separated themselves from the rest of the pack taking home the win by a mile.

Mavis Spencer (USA) & Belladonna 42

Coming in hot off of her one, two finish in Wednesday’s $5,000 1.35m Welcome, Mavis Spencer proved she was the one to beat and set an early lead in the class. Mavis Spencer (USA) and her mount, Belladonna 42, showed off their quick footwork and handy turns on Peter Grant’s 12 obstacle course, tripping the timers at a blazing fast time of 70.96 seconds. Stephanie Gershon (USA) and C’est Roberto took note of the tricky fences claiming victims on course and came away from the round with no faults, but her tidiness cost her precious time and she settled in just behind Spencer’s near unbeatable time

Clear rounds were few and far between as the class continued. Eager to earn that top spot on the podium, Artes and her first entry in the class, Laurence Z, kicked it into high gear as they flew around the ring. The duo put Spencer’s lead in jeopardy, but an unlucky rail cost her the coveted position, though her time of 69.53 seconds would have been enough to top the field. Unsatisfied with her first trip around the course, Artes returned later in the class aboard California Sunshine ready to improve upon her previous performance. Executing tighter turns and bolder slices over the fences, she and the eight-year-old Bavarian Sport Horse mare tripped the timers at 70.038 edging out Spencer’s long-standing lead.

Nicholas Choi (USA) & Grand Desert

As the competition neared the end of the line-up, Simone Berg (USA) and Cooper came in at the final hour with a clean and fast round but missed securing the third-place position by mere milliseconds. The class came to a colorful conclusion as Nicholas Choi (USA) and Grand Desert snuck into third place with a time of 76.23 seconds, just barely pushing Gershon out of the top three.

Jumper competition will resume Friday morning with the 1.20m Jumpers at 8 AM, followed by the start of the Junior/AO/AA divisions later in the day. Feature jumper classes this week include the $40,000 National Grand Prix and the inaugural $5,000 NEEd for Speed Qualifier both held Saturday, April 24.

From The Winner’s Circle

Susan Artes

On her mount:
“I bought her as a five-year-old and she had never been off the property; she was homebred. She had never been to a horse show so she was a little difficult in the beginning, but from day one I knew she was the most talented horse I had ever had. She is turning 8-years-old next month actually and this is her first big win. I am really excited about her future. I just knew the first time I rode her and the first day I met her. I am just really excited.”

On her preparation:
“Today’s preparation was interesting. I rode her in the morning and then she went for a lunge so this was the third time she came out today. Yesterday she was too fresh and I got eliminated for making two circles because she was running away with me. She does tend to get a little fresh and she is a chestnut mare. She kind of wanted to run away today too but I decided to take advantage of it. She jumped fence one and bolted and I wasn’t planning on trying to win, but it was a speed class so I just let her go as fast as she was comfortable going and that was the result.”

On Nilforushan Equisport Events:
“It is very much like a European horse show here. It is very intimate and there is music and a happy hour which is socially distanced and everyone is staying far enough apart, but the food is insanely good. I am probably going to gain weight here because I am eating three meals a day. They have really upgraded it this year with the permanent structure for the VIP. The whole place just gets better every year. It is a sold-out horse show so they can’t even accept any more horses. I am really excited to have this venue in Southern California because we have lost some. So gaining this one is a real benefit.”

On her relationship with owner, Alex Fargo:
“I would really like to thank my owner Alix Fargo. She and I have been partners with horses for more than 25 years and we have had some really good horses, but this is our best one yet. So I am really thankful for her, and Max Dolger for finding her for me.”

Final Results – $10,000 Speed Classic – 1.40m

1) Susan Artes (USA) & California Sunshine / Alix Fargo – 0 / 70.038

2) Mavis Spencer (USA) & Belladonna 42  / Georgy Maskrey-Segesman – 0 / 70.961

3) Nicholas Choi (USA) & Grand Desert /  Nicholas Choi – 0 / 76.236

4) Stephanie Gershon (USA) & C’est Roberto / Everado A Hegewisch – 0 / 77.847

5) Simonne Berg  (USA) & Cooper / Berg Equestrian Enterprises LLC – 1 / 78.113

6) Derek Chang 2 (USA) & Chappie / Derek Chang – 2 / 79.726

7) Kendall Gath (USA) & Corale Van’t Glemhof Z / The Equine Platform – 4 / 81.961

8) Alexandra Biederman (USA) & Chazino /  Delong Equestrian Ventures LLC – 5 / 82.14

9) Joie Gatlin (USA) & Italy Hdh / Chandler Meadows – 5 / 82.52

10) Mavis Spencer (USA) & Con Calle / Georgy Maskrey-Segesman – 4 / 67.198

11) Susan Artes (USA) & Laurence Z / Alix Fargo – 4 / 69.539

12) Francie Nilforushan (USA) & My Love Carthago / Ali Nilforushan – 4 / 74.489

Source: Press Release by Olivia Airhart / Temecula Valley National Horse Show /

Photos: © Phelps Sports/ Megan Delisle