Reed Kessler and Cylana made a big mark in Paris over the weekend, taking second in the feature class of the Saut Hermes au Grand Palais CSI (France). They finished fractions of a second behind Ludger Beerbaum and Chaman to take second in the Grand Prix Hermes on April 14.
That start list included plenty of U.S. riders (Kent Farrington and Uceko ticked a single rail in the jump-off for ninth) and international heavy hitters as everyone squeezed in a final show before they head to Sweden for the Rolex FEI World Cup Final. An extra stride to one fence in the jump-off kept Kessler from the top spot.
"Second place is still fantastic and, particularly, it gives me confidence for the World Cup Final in two weeks,” said Kessler, 18. “My mare has been jumping all winter in the large arena in Palm Beach, so this was about getting her used to a smaller space, which is what it will be like in Göteborg. This performance at the Grand Palais has allowed me to find my marks."
Watch the jump-off:
Check out full results from Paris.
Stateside, John Pearce and Chianto led the victory gallop in the $50,000 Orange County Register Grand Prix over Saer Coulter and Springtime at the Blenheim Spring Classic III in San Juan Capistrano, Calif. Nick Haness laid down a serious handy round to move up from fifth to first in that show’s $10,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby ahead of Jenny Karazissis and Victory Road. (See results from that show.)
Todd Minikus and Quality Girl topped the day in Wellington, Fla., in the $25,000 Spring II Grand Prix at Equestrian Sport Production’s ESP Spring II ahead of Lauren Crooks and C’est Ci Bon 4. (See full results from that show.)
In Omaha, Neb., Christian Heineking took first and second in the $50,000 RFDTV Grand Prix, riding River Of Dreams to the win and taking second on NKH Selena. It’s his second year in a row winning at the event.
At the Wellington CDIO in Wellington, Heather Blitz stepped Paragon into the spotlight by winning the Grand Prix (71.02%) and Grand Prix Special (72.31%). That pair also helped Team USA 1 win the day over USA 2 and Canada 1 in the Nations Cup, but controversy meant those official team results took some extra time to sort out.
Team Europe filed a protest with the appeals committee shortly after Mikala Gundersen’s ride on My Lady questioning the scoring of that pair’s one-tempi changes.
"We agreed that it was handled in a rider-friendly manner,” said Lorraine MacDonald of the appeals committee. “It was an unfortunate situation, but the appeal was a non-appealable situation. The final decision rested with the President of the Ground Jury, Linda Zang. It ended in an amicable situation where everyone was clear with what happened, and the judges' final decision was upheld."
Blitz joined with Grand Prix pair Shelly Francis and Doktor and small tour competitors Kimberly Herslow on Rosmarin and Caroline Roffman and Her Highness O on Team USA 1.
Other winners included Cesar Parra who rode Van The man to the top of the Grand Prix Freestyle (74.37%); Canadian Christilot Boylen and Dio Mio who won the Intermediaire I freestyle (75.50%) and Intermediaire I (73.78%); and Herslow, who earned the highest Prix St. Georges score of the day in her first senior Nations Cup competition (72.07%). (Check out full results.)
Watch an interview with Blitz and Herslow:
In the last hurrah in Florida for the spring, eventers contested the Ocala Horse Properties International Three-Day Event (see results here). Lauren Kieffer, who’s had the ride on Karen O’Connor’s mount Veronica this spring, put the partnership together to claim victory in the CCI**, moving up from a tie for third to win with a clean show jumping round. Buck Davidson rode Santa’s Keeper to second—Davidson and Kieffer were actually tied, but Kieffer had stopped the cross-country timers just 1 second closer to the optimum time than Davidson, giving her the blue.
Jessica Phoenix had led the CCI*** from the dressage phase and the cross-country with Patras VR, but a rail and a time fault in show jumping dropped them to fifth. Phoenix also claimed third with Erodium.
Leslie Law led from start to finish in the CCI* with Tout de Suite, finishing almost 10 points ahead of second-placed Nicole Doolittle on Tops.
Out on the West Coast, Katy Groesbeck claimed the CCI** at Twin Rivers Horse Trials (see results here) in Pasa Robles, Calif., when the leader after cross-country, Erin Kellerhouse, dropped three rails in show jumping. Mackenna Shea led from start to finish in the CIC*** on her Landioso, adding just time penalties to her dressage score to defeat Zachary Brandt on Cavallino Cocktail.
Other events taking place over the weekend included FENCE April Horse Trials (N.C.) (see results), Plantation Field April Horse Trials (Pa.) (see results) and St. Johns Horse Trials (Ariz.) (see results).