The HITS Coachella Desert Circuit in Thermal, California is in full swing. Riders and horses turned out for the grand finale of Week II on Sunday, January 29, 2017, the $75,000 Go Rentals Grand Prix.
The course was set and the crowd was ready to cheer on their favorite competitors to victory. Course designer Florencio Hernandez of Mexico City, Mexico, designed a captivating course for the 34 competitors. Seven would succeed to the jump-off, with three of those jumping double clear for top placings.
The team to emerge victorious was Michelle Parker and Cupilor, a 10-year-old Dutch warmblood by Lupilor, owned by Cross Creek Farms, Inc. As the second to last pair over the abbreviated course, they stopped the clock in 44.163 seconds to top the leaderboard.
Will Simpson garnered 2nd place with The Dude, owned by Nicole Walker. Simpson has been consistently in the top ribbons at the 2017 HITS Coachella Desert Circuit, winning the $25,000 SmartPak Open Prix in Week I, and taking home 1st and 2nd place in the Week II Johnson Horse Transportation Welcome.
Simpson and The Dude entered the ring second in the jumpoff order during Sunday’s class. They put in a great round in 45.224, leaving all of the rails up. Their solid trip would hold up through the next 7 trips of the jumpoff, until Parker came calling.
The final clear round belonged to Tiffany Sullivan aboard Christian Grey, owned by Haley Farms, LLC. As they crossed the timers, the clock stopped at 53.728, not quick enough to take the lead, but good enough for the eventual 3rd place prize.
Richard Spooner and Cristallo, owned by Show Jumping Syndications, International, put down the quickest trip of the four-faulters in 44.792 seconds. Going as the final pair in the order, right after Parker, it looked like a Cinderella win was on the horizon, but a heartbreaking rail at the final fence ultimately put them in 4th place.
Rounding out the top five was Christian Heineking riding NKH Calango, owned by NKH, LLC. They stopped the clock in 45.150 with four faults, which they picked up at the penultimate fence on course. Heineking also earned the 10th place ribbon on the the day with NKH Quanto, owned by October Hill Hunters & Jumpers.