San Juan Capistrano, California, USA – June 26, 2021 – Following a month of successful grand prix results, Braden James (CAN) and Iceman finally answered all the questions to win the $25,000 Markel Insurance 1.45m Grand Prix, presented by The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel, on Saturday, June 26, during the Blenheim June Classic III.
Hailing from Canada, James has been knocking at the door of a win in the Markel Insurance 1.45m Series this June, and he secured it on Saturday as he and Iceman sailed over the final red Markel oxer set on the Oaks International Grand Prix Field at the Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park in San Juan Capistrano, CA.
Watching the victory were many of Blenheim EquiSports’ partners and sponsors from within the local community, all invited to enjoy a mixer and Blenheim’s top equestrian sport in-person for the first time in a year and a half.
From a starting field of 16 entries, the gathered spectators saw only James (CAN) and Iceman and Trent McGee (USA) and his own Boucherom successfully navigate the first-round, Oscar Soberon-designed course without fault to advance to the jump-off.
As the first to return, Trent McGee (USA) and Boucherom flew across the track in 37.707 seconds, but a rail down on course left the door open for James.
Knowing a fault-free effort would secure the blue, James delivered a steady round with his eight-year-old stallion stopping the clock in a clear 46.255 seconds for the victory. Third place with three time faults in the first round went to Jeffrey Fields (USA) and Sherlina Ale.
“I have a newer string of horses that I’ve had for just a couple months now, so I’m just starting a partnership with them,” said James, who finished second in the Markel Insurance Grand Prix held during the Blenheim June Classic I. “Coming into the [Blenheim June horse shows], none of them had jumped 1.45m, so this has been a great series to really produce them. I’m reaping the rewards now for taking my time!”
Saturday’s class marked the seventh of 15 qualifying events in the Markel Insurance Series, with riders contesting the classes all season long before the top 25 riders are invited to compete at the finals, to be held at the Las Vegas National Horse Show in November.
For Saturday’s win, James earned 17 points toward the Markel Insurance Series standings, and the 27-year-old rider now sits firmly among the contenders for the year-end finale event.
“This is a nice way to finish off [the June shows]!” said James. “Today’s course I thought was excellent. It wasn’t massive, but the time played a huge factor. Everything was very fair to the horses, and I think all the horses actually came out better than when they started.”
For the win, James was presented with a Shady Lady face covering, a $50 Topline Design Ribbon Wreaths gift certificate and a Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel gift bag, as well as his share of the prize money.
James was additionally named the Equ Lifestyle Boutique Best Jumper Style Award winner and was presented with a $500 Blenheim horse show credit and a $100 Equ Lifestyle Boutique gift certificate.
Final Results – $25,000 Markel Insurance 1.45M Grand Prix Classic
1) Braden James (CAN) & Iceman – 0 / 0 – 46.255
2) Trent McGee (USA) & Boucherom – 0 / 4 – 37.707
3) Jeffrey Fields (USA) & Sherlina Ale – 3 / 84.935
Source: Press release by Blenheim EquiSports
Photos: © McCool Photography