Temecula, California, USA – May 27, 2021 –Coming in hot off of Wednesday’s opening day of top jumper competition, riders returned to the Grand Prix Arena Thursday evening at Nilforushan Equisport Events’ Temecula Valley National II, presented by Interactive Mortgage with their engines firing for the $10,000 CWD 1.40m Speed Classic. 28 horse-and-rider pairs made it their mission to make it around the track the fastest. While all of the competitors raced to the finish at a blistering pace, it was ultimately Guy Thomas (NZL) and Jolander Vant Kloosterhof who found an extra gear, pulling away from the pack to take home top honors.
Veteran Nilforushan Equisport Events’ competitor, Jamie Taylor (USA), was the first to take to Manuel Esparza’s (MEX) 14-effort track. Coming off of her win in the same class during the Temecula Valley National I aboard Quatar, Taylor started off her first of three trips with I’m Special. The duo pioneered the track, and in true Taylor fashion, tripped the timers in a speedy 68.039 seconds and left all the rails intact. Setting the baseline for the remaining 17 trips, riders were crushing the time allowed of 81 seconds as competitors progressively crossed the finish faster and faster.
Immediately following, Susan Artes (USA) tried her hand at the course taking an early lead in the class. Artes (USA) and Alix Fargo’s 10-year-old Warmblood stallion, Laurence Z watched in the wings as Taylor made the class’ debut ride taking note of where to shave off time. Her careful planning paid off as she and the fiery chestnut managed to clock in nearly two whole seconds faster than Taylor with a time of 66.21 seconds. The pair went through the rest of the class with a target on their backs as the team to beat.
Artes continued to hold onto the lead even as the class neared the bottom of the order. Desperate to unset the unchallenged leader, Guy Thomas (NZL) rode into the Grand Prix Arena with a vengeance. Following his debut in the series during Wednesday’s Welcome Stake, Thomas (NZL) was prepped and ready to race with partner Jolander Van’T Kloosterhof. He and the 12-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding owned by Lu Thomas, hinged their success on sheer speed as they blazed around the course. The duo was clocking in milliseconds faster than Artes as they charged the fences. When the pair galloped to the finish, their time of 65.08 said it all. Thomas and Jolander Vant Kloosterhof not only unseated Artes from the podium throne but managed to do it a near full second faster than the previously uncatchable leader.
As the horse-and-rider pairs dwindled, it appeared that no one would be able to lay down a ride as bold and as quick as Thomas’. However, Mandy Porter (USA) and her well-known speed demon, WT Ca-Pow!, were keen on showcasing their natural footspeed. The duo turned it up a notch in hopes of besting Thomas’ mind-boggling time. After having only seen two other riders break into the 67-second mark, Porter (USA) knew it was all or nothing. She and Wild Turkey Farm LLC’s 12-year-old Holsteiner gelding laid it on the table going flat out over all 14 obstacles as they powered to the finish line. While Porter managed to break into the 65-second mark, she was just mere fractions of a second off of Thomas’ time posting 65.80 which would prove good enough for second place. Having been bested twice in the final hour, Artes and Laurence Z settled for a third place finish.
From The Winners Circle
Guy Thomas – $10,000 CWD 1.40m Speed Classic Winner
On Jolander Vant Kloosterhof:
“It is a horse that my parents own. We bought him four years ago for me originally, but we did not get along very well. Leslie, my partner, started riding him and they got along great. She loves the horse and he trusts her. We are expecting our second daughter the day before Thanksgiving so she is not riding right now. I’ve got the ride again and am trying to get comfortable on him.”
On his strategy for the class:
“Really with him, I was more so hoping to get on a good gallop and be smooth because he is a big truck and the tight turns are not our forte yet. I was lucky on fence one and caught two well, and was able to leave a step out in the eight down to the double. The vertical just showed itself nicely back to the five, and I caught the blue oxer really well and was lucky enough to just keep coming to the double and he jumped it great. I had to add one because I did not catch the oxer great at the end as well as I wanted and got a little bit of a slip, but nine and six worked well and then he came home great. I thought we were a lot farther away from the last fence but he had it under control. He was super.”
On his partnership with Jolander Vant Kloosterhof:
“I want us to get more comfortable with each other, smooth things out even more, and see where we can go.”
On his plans for the rest of the series:
I don’t know if we are going to do [the Grand Prix] Saturday yet or not. I think we will talk about it tomorrow and see, but we are also here another week so we still have next week to play with as well.”
On Nilforushan Equisport Events:
“We came here three years ago, and it was great then, but the improvement to now is unmatched. Everything is beautiful. Ali [Nilforushan] is one of my best friends—we grew up together and when he said he was doing this I knew there was only one way it was going to go. It wasn’t going to be the same normal horse show.”
Final Results – $10,000 CWD 1.40m Speed Classic
1) Guy Thomas (NZL) & Jolander Van’t Kloosterhof – 0 / 65.08
2) Mandy Porter (USA) & WT Ca-Pow! – 0 / 65.8
3) Susan Artes (USA) & Laurence Z – 0 / 66.21
Source: Press Release by Olivia Airhart / Phelps Sports for Nilforushan Equisport Events
Photos: © Phelps Sports / Emma Miller