First up was the $25,000 Grand Prix on Saturday afternoon. I missed the start as I had to work, but still got to see plenty of horses go. It had been raining, so the footing was a little puddle-y; I didn't see that affect any of the horses, but a nearby spectator said one had slipped earlier. I thought it was a tough but fair course. I forget what percentage course designers shoot for, for riders to go clear and make it to the jumpoff, but at this Prix we had five out of 20 make it. Maybe that's a little low? At any rate, in my humble opinion the horse that won was easily the best. He was a gorgeous jumper and went around so smoothly, you would have thought he was negotiating a Short Stirrup Adult Hunter course and not fences nearly as tall as I am. No fighting the bit, or the aids, just glide, jump, glide. VERY impressive! His rider, a young lady, was grinning from ear-to-ear during the victory gallop, which pleased me no end. I get pretty disgusted with equestrians who can't be bothered to show any emotion when they win. Would it kill you to smile, already?
HOLY CR*P! I am sitting here with my mouth on my keyboard. I was just about to write that I had not recognized any of the riders in this GP, and decided to double-check my list. There was one name that suddenly rang a bell so I Googled it... are you ready for this? It was HIM! Michael Morrissey, who whipped the hell out of a horse and made himself famous overnight on the Internet and was sanctioned by the FEI and USEF! I saw him and I didn't even realize it! *FAIL* Well, all I can say is I didn't see any rider beating on his horses - he rode two, one of which was the whipped horse, Crelido - so he must not have, but believe me, if I'd known who I was dealing with I would have had my eagle eyes on and also paid a visit back stage to his barn area. OOH, I am so mad at myself!!! I simply can't stand it!
Seriously, I am so disenheartened and angry I don't even want to finish this post now, but I will. I guess I can't fault myself too badly over not immediately recognizing his name, but I pride myself on things like that so grrr, just grrrrrrr... :-( I'm not surprised Michael was in this GP since it was a smaller one, and I would assume his career has not exactly been stellar since the whipping incident. I think it's safe to say he's definitely in the lower ranks now.
Anyway, I did take photos during the Grand Prix and I have a few to share. All I had was my cell phone camera, so I'm afraid these (and all the rest that I took at the show) are not going to be top-quality. The only decent "horses in mid-air" photos I got are from the GP, I assume because the light is a lot better outdoors. And guess what I just found? Some of Mr. Morrissey riding his second horse of the day, which is not owned by him (Crelido is):
I noticed something interesting when I scanned the list of riders after the class: three of them were young ladies who I also saw competing in the Big Eq classes. I knew this was a trend, Jr. riders running around in Grand Prixes, but hadn't actually seen this before myself. These girls did a good job and one even made it to the jump-off. Unfortunately, her horse decided to throw in a dirty, dirty stop at the liverpool jump, promptly flinging her into one of the jump standards. She didn't hop up immediately which scared us all, but she finally did rise and was able to ride the horse in the victory gallop, so I imagine she was just well-bruised. If I were her I'd be pretty mad at the horse since the fool thing had already jumped the water just fine in the first round, but that's horses for ya!
Next up will be a discussion of the Maclay Region 5 Finals.