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Lisa Slade

March 15, 2015

Anton Fights His Way To AIG $1 Million Grand Prix Victory

Thermal, Calif.—March 15

When asked to describe his mount, Anton Radio Formula, Jaime Azcarraga didn’t think long about his answer.

“He’s a winner,” he said. “He likes to compete. He’s a tough horse."

And “Anton” was all those things as he topped the AIG $1 Million Grand Prix today, at the conclusion of the HITS Desert Circuit, earning Mexico’s Azcarraga a $350,000 pay day. Anton and Azcarraga had to fight for that victory in a close jump-off, and in the end they won the top placing over McLain Ward on Rothchild with little time to spare. Charlie Jayne picked up third on Chill RZ.

“I think the jumps were high, and it was very technical,” said Azcarraga, who’s based in Mexico City and works for his family’s radio company. “But the ground was good, and my horse was unbelievable.”

The testing first course included a massive triple combination—a triple bar to a vertical in one stride and then two tight strides to an oxer—and a final line of a wide oxer to a skinny upright vertical. Several riders who’d been on clear rounds previously came to grief at that final line.

“I thought the five strides to that skinny was the hardest part,” said Azcarraga. “The horses were getting tired by then.”

Five of the original 43 qualified for the jump-off over Marin Zevedo’s track, including Eduardo Menezes on Quintol and Susan Artes on Zamiro, who finished fourth and fifth respectively. The start list included several East Coast riders who flew in for the event and then many HITS Desert Circuit regulars. Previous HITS $1 Million class winners Andre Thieme and Contanga 3 and Todd Minikus on Quality Girl had two rails each, and FEI World Cup Final winners Rich Fellers and Flexible had two down as well.

Ward had to return first for the jump-off, and he laid down a clear round with Sagamore Farms’ experienced “Bongo.” But he knew he’d left the door just slightly ajar. And when Azcarraga went back in, he walked through that small opening, going through the timers in 41.05 seconds.

“I don’t mind going early [in the jump-off],” said Ward. “He’s a fast horse naturally. The plan I had was a fast round—not crazy, but I wanted to put pressure on these guys. I knew they were all capable of meeting it, but I was hoping the stress might take its toll of them. That’s the round that wins eight out of 10 times. This is what I do for a living, so I make that my game plan. They stepped up today, and that’s what makes it exciting.”

Jayne was on track for a fast finish on Chill RZ, but his final time of 41.31 relegated him to third. “I watched McLain go and didn’t get to see Jaime because he went right before me,” said Jayne. “My strategy was to do one less stride everywhere because he’s naturally a little bit of a slower moving horse. I thought it worked perfectly until I landed from the double and headed to the last fence. When he shifted right in the air and landed, it was a split decision. I went for seven [strides] and didn’t see it, and I pulled, and we did eight, and I think that’s what cost it.”

Both Jayne and Ward are planning to contest the Zoetis $1 Million Grand Prix in Ocala, Fla., on March 23, but Azcarraga isn’t at the moment.

The Olympian splits his time between riding and working, and he’s had the 11-year-old Anglo-European (Marome NW—Todetia, Orville) for about two years. The pair usually compete in Mexican national shows, but they’ve also had successes so far at Spruce Meadows (Calgary).

“We don’t get the chance to compete at this level very often,” he said. “Anton can be a nervous horse. You have to calm him down and walk him a lot so he gets a bit quiet. But I think he was concentrating today and not minding the noise. I think he likes to jump for a crowd."

See results on the HITS website. Want to see pictures from the grand prix

March 14, 2015

Ask Five: What Are You Thinking?

How professional hunter riders can execute perfect trip after perfect trip—with beautiful jumping efforts and never a missed distance—is a mystery to me. And as is how they can remember 12 different courses in a day. We checked in with a few West Coast riders here at the HITS Desert Circuit in Thermal, Calif., to see what's going through their minds in the seconds before a round, and then what they're thinking during those rounds as well. 


March 14, 2015

Vogel's Victorious In R.W. Mutch Equitation Championship

Thermal, Calif.March 13

The R.W. “Ronnie” Mutch Equitation Championship isn’t an easy class to win.

February 25, 2015

UPDATED: USEF Takes Actions On Competition Licensing

At the U.S. Equestrian Federation board of directors meeting on Feb. 23, the organization took several actions towards changing the process of competition licensing.

The federation office will no longer issue competition licenses extending beyond a one-year term, allowing the board time to evaluate the mileage rules and the criteria for issuing and renewing competition license agreements. Existing multi-year license agreements will be honored.

February 24, 2015

Chronicle Seeking Talented Writers

Are you a gifted writer looking for a place to shine? Do you have an exceptional, horse-related story to tell? Do you just want an article published so you can apply for a job? The Chronicle of the Horse is hosting its second annual writing contest, and we want to hear from you!

To enter, all you have to do is the following: Submit a 500- to 700-word ( and yes, you do get bonus points for adhering to the limits) typed article on one of the following topics.

1.  Your most embarrassing moment—involving a horse, of course

February 19, 2015

FEI Suspends Maxime Livio

French eventer Maxime Livio is now provisionally suspended from competing in Fédération Equestre International competitions based on a positive test result for testosterone in a horse, Bingo S, Livio competed in a Thai show jumping competition last November.

Livio is still awaiting an FEI hearing for a positive acepromazine test involving his 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games (France) mount Qalao des Mers.

February 18, 2015

One To Watch: Jennifer Van De Loo Will Canter Down Her First CDI Centerline At The AGDF

Jennifer van de Loo was enjoying her first foray into the FEI levels during the 2014 season—and then she heard about the new division for amateur riders offered at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival. Now the 43-year-old rider is poised for her very first trip down a CDI centerline at this weekend’s Adequan Global Dressage Festival CDI**** in Wellington, Fla. 

February 18, 2015

Ringside Chat: Arden Wildasin's Back Eventing

In 2012, Arden Wildasin was on her way to checking all the boxes she could in eventing—having already contested a CCI** and competed at the FEI North American Junior and Young Rider Championships several times.

February 16, 2015

Francisco Seabra Dies In Cross-Country Fall

Portuguese rider Francisco Seabra suffered a fatal accident while on course at the Rancho Alegre CIC** in Seville, Spain, on Feb. 14. The rider and his mount Aferzysta fell at the final element of fence 10, a water combination. According to reports, the 9-year-old gelding wasn’t injured in the fall. 


February 4, 2015

NCEA Continues Fight To Keep Equestrian An NCAA Sport

Since the National Collegiate Equestrian Association received news last October that the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Committee on Women’s Athletics had recommended dropping equestrian as a sport, the NCEA’s been working to prevent that potential decision. They recently took an even bigger step by naming a new executive director, Dr. Leah Holland Fiorentino, and creating both an Executive Committee and the NCEA Foundation Advisory Council to steer the NCEA committees.

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