Temecula, California, USA – May 22, 2021 –The highly anticipated premier event of the week at Nilforushan Equisport Events’ Temecula Valley National I, the $40,000 Hygain National Grand Prix, took place in the scenic venue’s Grand Prix Arena on Saturday evening. Offering an eclectic atmosphere, world-class footing, and an expertly designed course by Brazil’s Guilherme Jorge, the stage was set perfectly for an evening of intense competition among some of the world’s top international jumper competitors. A pack of the top 30 riders took to Jorge’s difficult course in hopes of conquering the track and the competition to take home the lion’s share of the prize. After a hard-fought battle, it was Cassio Rivetti (BRA) and Go Eldor that prevailed taking home the blue.
The 15-obstacle course, featuring several technical lines and fences off of blind turns, asked horse-and-rider combinations to answer some complex questions. A triple combination heading away from the in-gate proved to be the detriment of many of the competitors, as they struggled to leave all of the rails intact.
Though the course proved challenging for most, veteran Nilforushan Equisport Events competitor, Jamie Taylor (USA), was the first to enter the ring aboard Quatar. Her win in the CWD 1.40m Speed Classic on Thursday proved to be the perfect prep for the speedy mount owned by JT Equine LLC as they blazed around the course managing to make it well within the time allowed which proved challenging for some of the field.
It would take nine more trips for someone to prompt a showdown with the then unrivaled Taylor. Cassio Rivetti (BRA) and Bridgeside Farms L.L.C’s 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, Go Eldor were determined to break the streak. The duo was right on Taylor’s tail in the first round and put in the second clear of the evening prompting a jump-off.
Only two other riders would advance to try their hand at the shortened track. Adding his name to the list was 1.40m Speed Classic runner-up Charlie Jones (GBR) aboard his same mount, Gerko III Van De Zeilhoek, owned by Lindsay Maxwell. The fourth and final pair to advance to the jump off was Francie Nilforushan and My Love Carthago The pair laid down an impressive first round aboard Ali Nilforushan’s 10-year-old gelding. Having placed third behind Taylor and Jones in the Speed Classic earlier in the week, Nilforushan was bound and determined to top the leaderboard.
Taylor (USA) again pioneered the shortened course, laying the baseline for the three riders to follow. Though the natural footspeed of the 11-year-old Oldenburg gelding proved to be unrivaled earlier on in the week, course designer, Jorge, was not going to let the riders off easy. A rollback to a vertical off of a blind turn in the middle of the ring cost Taylor the first place podium, but her time of 39.195 would prove quick enough and clean enough to settle into third place.
Rivetti and Go Eldor returned to the ring with a vengeance and a clear path to first place. The Ukrainian-Brazilian Olympic show jumper expertly navigated the tricky track slicing the fences to create the most efficient path to the finish. After a gutsy gallop to the final fence, the pair tripped the timers at a blistering 39.008 which would rocket them to first. Though the pair clocked in milliseconds faster than Taylor, the jump-off proved to hinge on technicalities and not time as Rivetti rode away as the only double clear effort of the evening.
Following what could have been the performance of the evening, Jones attempted to match Rivetti’s path aboard the 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood. Having watched him create the most efficient path on course, the pair pushed the limits, turning tighter and picking up speed wherever they could. Though their hustle to the finish produced a time fast enough to unseat Rivetti at 38.83, their haste cost them an unlucky rail leaving them in second place.
Francie Nilforushan and My Love Carthago were the final pair to take to the course. Coming off of a phenomenal first round the pair were on track to finding a podium position, but two unfortunate rails blocked them from the ribbons as they stepped into fourth.
Cassio Rivetti – $40,000 Hygain Grand Prix winner
On Go Eldor:
“I started riding him in January of this year in Wellington. He was previously one of Bliss Heers rides. She still owns him, but she gave him to me to ride to build up his confidence again at the higher levels. He is doing great and just two weeks ago he was second in the Riders Cup in L.A.”
On his strategy in the Grand Prix:
“We only had four clear rides. Jamie [Taylor] had one rail down [in the jump-off], but I was second to go and knew I had to try to be fast because the other two riders could beat me. I gave it everything I possibly could! He is a super fast horse so you just have to put him in the right spot.”
On showing in the Temecula Valley National I:
“Every time we come here it gets better and better. I was living in Europe for so many years, and it really looks like a European show now. For now, this horse will go home, and then he will come back for the last week here.”
Final Results – $40,000 Hygain Grand Prix winner
1) Cassio Rivetti (BRA) & Go Eldor – 0 / 0 – 39.008
2) Charlie Jones (GBR) & Gerko III Van De Zeilhoek – 0 / 4 – 38.83
3) Jamie Taylor (USA) & Quatar – 0 / 4 – 39.195
Source: Press Release by Olivia Airhart / Phelps Media Group for Nilforushan EquiSport Events
Photos: © Phelps Sports / Emma Miller