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October 18, 2012

Unex Omelli’s Back On The Scene At The Pennsylvania Big Jump

He and his mount Unex Umelli have taken some time off lately, but both are back in top form at the Pennsylvania National.

Harrisburg, Pa.—Oct. 18.

Unex Omelli has been out of major competition for eight months, but he wasted no time getting back in the swing of things at his first big show back. He and British rider Tim Gredley scooped up the top prize in the $40,000 Pennsylvania Big Jump at the Pennsylvania National with a speedy jump-off round.

Of the 36 starters, nine found a clear way around Alan Lohman’s first round track. The start list had plenty of serious partnerships like McLain Ward and Rothchild, Beezie Madden and Cortes C, Kent Farrington and Uceko, Lauren Hough and Quick Study, and the Belgian Philippaerts brothers, Nicola (Cortez) and Olivier (Vadetta VH Mettenhof). The class is a qualifier for this Saturday’s Grand Prix de Penn National CSI-W, and the prospect of collecting World Cup points drew a strong field.

Those second-rounders trended young, with Katie Dinan taking a break from her classes at Harvard University (Mass.) to set the pace with an efficient clear second round on Nougat du Vallet. She finished an eventual third. Christine McCrea couldn’t quite catch up, but she laid down a quick round on Wannick WH for fourth. Charlie Jayne, 26, came out with guns blazing on his London Olympic Games alternate ride Chill R Z. He took a daring turn to put the pressure on the rest of the field, and it worked.

“I was lucky enough to see Charlie go, and I thought I could catch him back to the blue oxer,” said Gredley, 26. “I went tight there. When you have a horse as good as him, it’s easy.”

It doesn’t hurt that Gredley and Unex Omelli have a pretty strong bond. Gredley’s been riding him for 10 years, growing up together in the junior and young rider ranks. When Gredley quit riding for two years to focus on the family real estate business, he gave the ride to Robert Whitaker, but injuries kept the Dutch Warmblood from showing much.

Gredley, a veteran of the 2010 Alltech/FEI World Equestrian Games (Ky.), returned to the show jumping scene in April and has moved his home base from Suffolk, England, to Wellington, Fla.

Gredley thinks his chances look good for Saturday night.

“To be honest, some people find it hard when they’ve raced their horse before a big class, but it actually pumps his blood up. I jokingly said to someone that I want to win both classes, so I’m halfway there!”

For results, visit www.panational.org.

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