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Gaby Salick wins Memorial Day Grand Prix

"I went as fast as I thought I could," said Gaby Salick of her jump off ride aboard Gredo la Daviere at the $25,000 Memorial Day Classic Grand Prix (May 25, 2009). "I figured I would finish about third since I went second in the jump off and there were twelve." What Salick did not bargain for was the win, and she was thrilled. "I’ve never won a grand prix at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center and there are always the best crowds." Even more gratifying for Salick was the fact that her parents were in attendance and her four month old daughter, Eleanor.

After returning from time in Europe, Salick decided to focus on developing a jumper training business at her family’s ranch. Although she was pregnant with her first child, she wasn’t expecting four months of bed rest. "I am kind of re-building my business and figuring things out, but I really want to focus on jumpers." Salick’s pregnancy proved good timing for her 15 year old gelding Gredo la Daviere. The horse jumped for Greece at the 2004 Olympics (Athens) and after Salick purchased him in 2007 she struggled with soundness issues. Her pregnancy related bed rest served Gredo la Daviere well and the pair have jumped several grand prix courses in the past months. "After ‘our’ maternity leave he has come back fit and fresh," laughed Salick. "Today’s course was a lovely track and very friendly."

Scott Starnes designed the course and the class served as a selection trial for the Zone 10 Young Rider team, so there were a number of juniors and amateurs in the field. In addition, some professionals brought their young horses as well. For Jenni Martin-McAllister and her husband, Steve, they found the class very inviting for their young, up-and-coming grand prix horses. Although Martin jumped clear on both, she posted time faults aboard Union Jack. However, with Maloubet du Rouet she finished 9th with a jump off rail coming out of the vertical-vertical combination. "This was a good class for our horses and we have always liked showing in L.A. Now we are based here and it is even better for us."

Ray Texel piloted Waldman Doo (Janice Aron, owner) to second in front of the sell out crowd, and Nicole Shahinian-Simpson was third with Toyster Gold (Ilan Ferder, owner). Out of the 30 horse field, twelve jumped clear which gave the audience an exciting jump off and all twelve ribbons went to jump off riders.

On Sunday evening all eyes focused on the Large Oval where the ASG USHJA Hunter Derby took place. Thirty-nine horses and riders faced off over the first round course which had them jumping in and out of the ring. An enthusiastic audience was on hand to cheer for the brilliance of the hunters, and the tables on the LAEC Terrace were filled as spectators enjoyed a catered dinner, as were the ASG and Charles Owen representatives in their own VIP tent.

The top 20 returned for the Handy Round, which once again had horses jumping in and out of the ring, and they finished over the hedge in the middle of the ring. Professional Mark Purcell told Course Designer Michael Roy Curtis about a stage prop company near his barn that specializes in plants and trees for movie and television sets. "I just thought that a natural hedge would be really great for the Derby," said Purcell. Curtis agreed and all the hunters jumped it in style. "It was a little intimidating at first, but my horse jumped it great both times," said Ali Leopold who rides for Philip Klipa’s Marlay Farms. Leopold finished reserve champion aboard Neverland (Gina Groth, owner) a First Year Hunter.

Jenny Karazissis piloted Forbes (Tonia Cook Looker, owner) to a solid first round and sat fifth going into the Handy Round. She pulled out all the stops and won the round and the overall championship. Leopold and Neverland were second, Kylee Arbuckle and Valor (Oscany, Inc., owner) were third, and Keri Kampsen and King’s Ransom (Karen Lucian, owner) rounded out the top four. "It was an exciting class," said Lucian "and the Derby is a great thing for the hunters." Lucian shows in the adult hunters and equitation with King’s Ransom and her second horse.

In the equitation, Rachel Thurman proved that hard work and consistent riding yield excellent results. Aboard her seven year old gelding Vermeer, Thurman won a very large Maclay class and also the WCE, a 3'6" jumper medal for junior and amateur riders. She was the "Chel" part of the third place Marchelmar team in the Memorial Day Equitation Challenge, and earned her own third place finishes in both the USEF and CPHA Foundation classes. "He tries really hard and is a lot of fun, the sixteen year said of her horse. She trains under the watchful eyes of Jim Hagman and Linda Cooper. Although not a "big name" junior rider, Thurman proved that she could hold her own and that judges will reward excellent riding.

A youngster to watch is Olivia Champ. Fresh out of the Pony Hunter ranks, Champ made the move to a horse and won the Onondarka Medal during the Memorial Day Classic. She is quickly becoming a show ring veteran by riding at WEF in the winter with Jeffrey Welles and Peter Lombardo, who is based at the Hansen Dam Equestrian Center. Champ is looking forward to the Onondarka Finals hosted at the end of the year at the Los Angeles National.

For complete results and additional stories on the 2009 Memorial Day Classic, please visit the Langer Equestrian Group website at: http://www.langershows.com.


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