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Katherine Miracle Performs a “Miracle” in the High Amateur-owner Jumper Classic

$20,000 1.50m Classic Win for Uruguay’s Jose Rega

Wellington, FL – January 27, 2007 – The first Saturday afternoon of the 2007 Winter Equestrian Festival at the Palm Beach Polo and Equestrian Club saw a remarkably small field of just 15 riders, albeit a stellar line-up, contest the $20,000 1.50m Classic – and only four combinations were able to answer the first-round questions posed by Luc Musette’s tricky 13-fence course. Interestingly, it was a stand-alone obstacle, an oxer at fence 10, approached off a corner, that proved to be the bogey fence, scalping 40 percent of the field, including: Amy Monrow/Summer Storm, Christine McCrea/Triomphe de Muze, Simon Nizri/Cataro Ask, Sandy Van Dyke/Remonta Eden and Michael Morrissey/Crabamboli.

The generous time allowed didn’t factor into the first-round scores, and McLain Ward and Larioso were the first to keep themselves out of trouble to qualify for the jump-off. Jose Rega, likewise, gave Cinoa a textbook round, followed immediately by Shane Sweetnam and Quidam Junior. Completing the jump-off line-up, 56-year-old show jumping veteran, Debbie Stephens riding the approved stallion Callaway 4.

The jump-off course retained the double combination at the midway point (4a/b), then provided a long gallop to the oxer at five and a sharp rollback to six, but it was the last fence (9) that proved to be the fly in the ointment.

Drawn first, McLain Ward and Larioso produced a supreme effort, but were then stumped at the last, having posted the quickest time by some four seconds over the riders that followed, to finish third.

Rega adopted a more cautious approach with the 17-year-old Cinoa, a Selle Français mare who came to him through the wife of French international Michel Robert four years ago, and their perfectly timed clear round put them into the lead on 42.911 seconds.

Shane Sweetnam’s pace was similarly conservative with Quidam Junior, a hot horse who’s a little more erratic at higher speeds, and as the level of anxiety increased going to the last, it proved their undoing: a four-fault round in 42.751.

Last to go, Debbie Stephens produced a classic round with Callaway 4, maintaining good momentum going into the fences and keeping a level head through to the last. “I got him last year, but he got hurt in quarantine (pulling the muscles in his back) so I didn’t get to show him that much. He had to have quite a long rehabilitation, so I showed him a little in the summer, to get to know him, then gave him the fall off, so he’s really come back strong here. What a nice horse.”

Describing her jump-off approach as “conservative,” Stephens went on to say, “I felt I had a lot of horse under me. Again, don’t know him, haven’t ridden him in too many jump-offs, so I wanted to be as close to the time and beat it, but I was a little too slow.”

A Holsteiner stallion by Cor de la Bryère, Callaway is a blue-blood as far as pedigree is concerned, and is maintaining a dual competitive/breeding career. As Stephens explains, “He loves the girls, so we can’t take that away from him. He’s all man, and knows he’s a stallion, but he’s a real gentleman and real competitive. Very controllable and always listens to his rider, a respectful horse.”

For a delighted Jose Rega, he began by saying, “The jump-off went as planned. I didn’t want to go crazy fast, just put some pressure on her,” laughing and indicating Debbie Stephens standing alongside.

Describing what he felt were the problems during the first round, Rega said, “For me it was the double of verticals, which actually went very well, and then the vertical [fence 10] before the last double that came down the most.”

Breathing a sigh of relief when McLain hit the last fence, Rega admitted, “I knew McLain was very fast, so I had to do something in between, so it was good. I’m so proud of her.” Referring to her age, he praised his mare, saying, “She’s still doing a good job in the ring. We’ve had her since she was 13 years old.” Owned by Victoria d’Agostino, Rega said, “She used to do the High Amateur classes with her, and she always does a good job. She’s great.”

$10,000 High Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic

Earlier, the $10,000 High Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic sponsored by Prestige Saddlery was decisively won by Katherine Miracle riding Madonna.

A member event of the Show Jumping Hall of Fame Junior/Amateur Owner Series, open to all amateur-owned horses who have not competed in any jumper class over USEF Level 8, this first leg saw a line-up of 34 riders over the one-round, one jump-off class.

Once again, Luc Musette built the 12-fence course to the maximum 1.45m, with 1.45m to 1.60m spreads, and although the time allowed was reduced from 83 to 79 seconds after the first two riders, it was sufficiently generous that the 10 riders who qualified for the jump-off had been able to maintain a very comfortable pace throughout without fear of time penalties.

In the unenviable path-finding position in the jump-off, Katherine Miracle, who has been based with McLain Ward since last year, afterwards confirmed that everything went according to plan, “Yes, it absolutely did.” In fact, with her bouncy stride, and scooting between fences, Madonna’s classy clear round set the standard to which everyone following had to aspire as they stopped the clock in 41.93 seconds.

Certainly, the riders immediately following – Cody Auer with Marais, and Carolyn Kelly riding Omona AW, who decided not to attempt the inside track to the double combination (7a/b) – barely got into their stride before incurring eight and four faults respectively.

Although Tracey Weinberg wound up the pace coming to the start with Linda Z, the mare obviously didn’t feel comfortable, because she rattled a rail over the first, then dug in her heels and refused the second, so they finished with a total of 12 faults in eighth place.

Nathalie Johnson and Crocket 16 suffered a similar fate, and although she adopted a more cautious pace at the beginning of the course, she took the inside track to the first element of the double combination a little too tight, and suffered a refusal as a result. With the addition of 13 time penalties, they were relegated to ninth place in the final reckoning.

Piling up the refusals, Ashley Fleischhacker and Lorrain Z – another horse by a Studfarm Zangersheide sire – had been going well until the mare took a dislike to fence six, and their final 20-fault tally left them bringing up the rear in 10th place.

At this point, the quality of Katherine Miracle’s opening round was becoming more obvious, and Lara Gay’s four faults with Campezono, some 10 seconds off the pace, remarkably left them in fifth place.

Much credit should go to Hillary Dobbs, who only took over the ride on Marengo last week, as she produced a great round, spotting all her take-offs with perfection. “It’s my first week in amateurs and my first week on this new horse, so only my third class. We had a couple of others earlier in the week and other than that he’s brand new and this is my first big class on him.” Therefore, crossing the line in 42.192, less than half a second off Miracle’s time, was an extremely commendable performance.

Tracey Weinberg’s second ride, this time with Cromwell, was well judged, apart from the tight turn to 7a which landed them with a four-fault round in 44.106, and last to go, Charlie Jacobs riding Midnight Lady, handed victory to Katherine Miracle when an error in take-off judgement, and a vertical take-off claimed rails at fence three.

Although she was running back and forth between rings, Miracle confirmed that everything had gone according to plan: “Yes, it absolutely did. I was a little nervous going first for sure, because Tracey [Weinberg] was after me and Carolyn Kelly was after me, and Dobbs, so when McLain [Ward] and I went over it, he just said you need to go smooth, be precise and keep going. He said, ‘try not to take back anywhere, just keep going with the pattern of the course.’ He also said ‘to get inside to the in-and-out (double combination) judge your distance a little bit, then go flat out to the last’.”

Miracle said she was very surprised that there was only one other clear round, “Going first sometimes helps because you just don’t know what everyone else is going to do, so you just ride your own course and get it done. It was lucky for me that I didn’t have a rail and that the others had to go fast to catch up with me.”

She also complimented course designer Luc Musette, describing his courses as awesome, “Very flowing but also very tricky. There are a lot of spots where you really need to watch yourself because it sucks you in to go fast when you really need to settle down and set yourself up. This course designer has built to the max every time, which I think is great because it makes you step up, but for the first week it’s also very difficult because the horses are new and they’re like ‘Wow’! But it’s fun to go in there.”

Talking about Madonna, Miracle said, “She’s fantastic. I’ve had her for about three years now and she’s unbelievable. She’s a 13-year-old Indoctro mare and is just brilliant. She’s so lovely to ride because if you keep going fast, it doesn’t matter how fast you’re going, she sets herself for a jump, backing herself up, so you can keep your leg on while she measures it and jumps. She’s so quick, got a great rhythm and awesome balance, which allows you to turn quickly.”

Talking about her move to McLain Ward’s yard last year, Miracle said, “I get a lot of lessons from Barney, which I love, and McLain helps me at the ring. I have to say, McLain has a lot of experience, which is fantastic when I walk the courses. He has so much knowledge of what to do, when. I may walk a course completely different and think I have to do something one way, then he’ll say ‘no, think of it like this,’ and it’s always perfect, exactly what he says, which is amazing.”

Although Miracle will be in Wellington for the duration of WEF, she said she’ll be taking things one day at a time, “because one minute you’re here” holding her hand in the air, “and the next minute you’re here,” dropping it to her knees.

Earning herself an extremely well-deserved second place ribbon, Hillary Dobbs explained that “Marengo came from Normal Dello Joio. I actually didn’t try him, but came down a couple of weeks ago during my Christmas vacation from school and got to know him a little more.”

About watching Miracle’s round: “She was the first to go and I had the good fortune of watching a few others go, so we knew right off the bat that she was on it the whole way. It was so smooth and efficient all the way, and she went inside to the tough double, but we decided as this was my first big class with Marengo, that I should just go smoothly around and try to get to know him a little better before attempting something like that.”

Asked to qualify the difference between riding in junior and amateur classes, Dobbs said, “There really is a difference. The jumps are a little bigger, the courses are much longer and the competition is also more challenging because there are some great amateurs out there, like Katherine who won, and the Jacobs brothers are phenomenal, and there’s just so much competition.”

Currently managing life as a student at Harvard University alongside maintaining a show jumping career, Dobbs explained her plans, saying, “I’m trying to do both right now. I just finished my first semester at Harvard and am here on a little break between semesters and see where it takes me. A lot of my horses are young so I’d like to be partners with them for a while, even after I stop. I’m not really sure what I want to do yet but am really enjoying doing both so far.”

“This was my first week when I was lucky to be on a little bit of an intercession between semesters, so I got to say this whole first week and get to know some of these new horses, but the next couple of weeks I think I’ll just be flying down for the classics because I have classes every Friday. I was even more challenging during my first semester at a new school while trying to finish out your junior career as best you can, so I got used to that the first semester.”

Discussing her fellow amateurs who are also managing student commitments and riding, “My good friend Carolyn Kelly goes to Princeton and she’s been able to do both very well, so I’ll try to get used to it and do the best I can.”

Results of Class 1025 - $10,000 SJHOF AO Jumper Classic II 2a - WEF/PBIEC Inaugural

January 27, 2007

1 722 MADONNA KATHERINE MIRACLE 0.00 71.663 0.00 41.938 $3000


2 1571 MARENGO HILLARY DOBBS 0.00 74.345 0.00 42.192 $2000


3 1473 CROMWELL TRACEY WEINBERG 0.00 72.562 4.00 44.106 $1000


4 659 OMONA A W CAROLYN KELLY 0.00 74.735 4.00 44.137 $700


5 1378 CAMPEZINO LARA GAY 0.00 77.033 4.00 50.075 $600


6 921 MIDNIGHTLADY CHARLIE JACOBS 0.00 73.384 8.00 45.363 $500


7 1728 JOLIE DAME DU MARAIS CODY AUER 0.00 72.227 8.00 46.543 $475


8 1474 LINDA Z TRACEY WEINBERG 0.00 73.119 12.00 59.060 $400


9 2547 CROCKET 16 NATALIE JOHNSON 0.00 71.801 17.00 64.690 $380


10 1234 LORRAIN Z ASHLEY FLEISCHHACKER 0.00 74.410 20.00 63.427 $315


11 397 JACKSON ASHLEY BAKER 4.00 72.401 $315


12 1379 CANNONBOY LARA GAY 4.00 73.022 $315


Rank Num Horse Name NAT R1 Faults R1 Time J/O Faults J/O Time

Results of Class 1001 - $20,000 1.5m Classic II 2a - WEF/PBIEC Inaugural

January 27, 2007

1 161 CINOA JOSE REGA 0.00 81.277 0.00 42.911 $6000


2 635 CALLAWAY 4 DEBBIE STEPHENS 0.00 83.390 0.00 46.083 $4000


3 676 LARIOSO MC LAIN WARD 0.00 77.894 4.00 38.081 $2000


4 2832 QUIDAM JUNIOR SHANE SWEETNAM 0.00 81.799 4.00 42.751 $1400


5 379 SUMMER STORM AMY MOMROW 4.00 79.044 $1200






8 420 MILL CREEK SPARKY TONYA HENNING 4.00 82.549 $800


9 1136 IMPULSIVE SCOTT LENKART 4.00 83.220 $800


10 1720 LENNOX LEWIS 2 LESLIE HOWARD 8.00 79.074 $600


11 2887 CATARO ASK SIMON NIZRI 8.00 83.014 $600


12 3063 CRABAMBOLI MICHAEL MORRISSEY 8.00 83.534 $600


PHOTO CREDIT: Jose Rega steering Cinoa to victory in the $20,000 1.50m Classic © Photo by PMG Pictures/Peter Llewellyn.


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