Temecula, California, USA – May 21, 2022 – The rainy California morning took a quick turn as the sun came out to set the scene for thrilling jumper competition on Saturday evening at Nilforushan Equisport Events’ Temecula Valley National I. A total of 40 top-notch jumper athletes united in the Grand Prix Arena for a chance to win the $50,000 EquiFit Grand Prix. Spectators packed the VIP, ringside tent, and grand stands to watch horse-and-athlete combinations try their hand at the towering track designed by Peter Grant (CAN). Girl power was apparent as the ladies filled all three spots on the podium. Ultimately, it was Kaitlin Campbell (USA) and Palina de L’Escaut who raced to the finish to top the leaderboard.
Peter Grant (CAN) set a course that required athletes to apply all of their knowledge and skill in order to advance to the equally technical jump-off track. The incredible group of horses was tested with obstacles such as combinations coming off of blind turns, airy verticals, and to complete the trifecta a towering triple bar set just feet from the in-gate. The gymnastic elements of the track proved particularly difficult for many, leaving riders out of the jump-off round consistently throughout the class as they struggled to maintain power through the turns to cover the spread of the wide oxers. Of the 40 competitors, only five qualified for the jump-off.
Kaitlin Campbell (USA) and Palina de L’Escaut were in it to win it, posting a fault free first round. The duo came back for the second phase in full force as they picked up an immediate gallop making every inside turn available to them. The 13-year-old Hanoverian mare (Perigueux x Gardeulan), owned by SWS Training & Sales, was in perfect sync with Campbell, carrying her across the difficult track effortlessly with a jump-off time of 41.544 seconds. Together they have achieved many great accomplishments including a win in the $35,000 Wellington National Golf Club Grand Prix, a top three placing in the $40,000 Grand Prix at the Desert Circuit IV, and the win in the $37,000 1.45m FEI Power/Speed at the Fort Worth International Horse Show. Adding yet another success to their impressive record, they proved that they are a force to be reckoned with.
Misti Cassar (USA) and her very own, Mylord Cornet (Montender 2 x Cornet Obolensky), went seventh in the order to be the second pair to jump without penalty in the first round. The 12-year-old Oldenburg gelding impressed the crowd with his athletic effort around the track. As the first to return for the jump-off, they pioneered the track laying down a conservative effort to ensure a fault free ride, however, their time did not stay at the top of the leaderboard for long as Campbell quickly jumped ahead leaving Cassar with a second-place ribbon.
Rounding out the podium was Hanna Mauritzson (SWE) aboard Parkmore Lux (Lux Z x Coolcorran Cool Diamond), owned by Ritz Fuente. The 17-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding flaunted his scope and extreme carefulness in the first round as he jumped enthusiastically around the course to put Mauritzson on the board as the third rider to make it to the second phase of competition. Going up against the other riders in the dwindled pack, Mauritzson put on a show for the crowd as they watched with anticipation. The pair tripped the timers as 47.397 seconds flashed on the scoreboard. Though, in their haste to get home quick, they snagged one unlucky rail landing them a third place finish.
Winner’s Circle – Kaitlin Campbell (USA)
On Palina De L’Escaut and the partnership:
“Palina is my best horse and I have had her for almost two and a half years now. I know exactly how she is going to be and she knows exactly how I am going to ride. If we get all of the right distances at the right speed I know she is going to jump clear.”
On Palina’s personality:
“She likes to be alone. She doesn’t like attention, she is very opinionated, but when it comes to the ring she is all business so we tolerate her antics for all of the results that she gets.”
On the plan
“The first round jumped harder than it walked. There were only 5 clear out of 40. I had two horses before her that were a bit greener but at least I had gotten to jump the course a couple of times, so I was lucky that I got to do Palina last today and save the best for last.”
On Nilforushan Equisport Events:
“Our farm is only 5 minutes down the road and we are based in Temecula, California. I work with Alex Wilson at SWS Training and Sales. This is our home show so every improvement that they do is super appreciated just because this is our home base. The shows have really grown here and when we are here it’s very versatile. We have done pretty much every show here since the beginning. Ali Nilforushan has done a super job of improving everything”
Final Results – $50,000 EquiFit Grand Prix
1) Kaitlin Campbell (USA) & Palina de L’Escaut – 0 / 0 – 41.544
2) Misti Cassar (USA) & Mylord Cornet – 0 / 0 – not informed
3) Hanna Mauritszon (SWE) & Parkmore Lux – 0 / 0 – 47.397
Source: Press Release by Bailey Beal / Phelps Media Group for Nilforushan Equisport Events
Photos: © Phelps Sports / Cassidy Klein