ELLENVILLE, NY (June 1, 2001)--Marilyn Little, 19, of Frederick, Maryland, riding Pico de Gallo, bested a field of 42 horses today to win the $15,000 Open Jumper Prix at HITS Catskills II in Ellenville, New York. Little's time was almost two-and-a-half seconds faster than second place Tracy Bartko and Argus. Pico de Gallo, an eight-year-old gelding from Brazil, brought home $4,500 for Little who owns him with Raylyn Farm. "He has the biggest heart of any horse I've ever ridden," said Little. "You can make mistakes on him and he still tries to jump clear." Buddy Brown of Wellington, Florida, designed today's course. The $15,000 Open Jumper Prix is held in the Grand Prix Field on Friday each week of the six-event HITS Catskills summer series of horse shows.
For Round One, Brown set a 13-jump course that included a vertical-oxer double combination at Fence No. 4, an oxer-vertical double at Fence No. 9, a Liverpool at No. 12, followed by the final jump, a vertical-oxer double at Fence No. 13. Time Allowed was set at 88 seconds, but dropped to 85 seconds after the first two riders. Conducted under Table II.2.a/b today, riders with clear first rounds had the option to immediately ride a Jump-Off or return for a Jump-Off after the last rider in Round One. Nine riders had clear first rounds, and of those, five elected to jump-off immediately while four chose to return. The jump-off course asked the riders to re-jump Fences 1, 6, 7, 8, the double at 13, and introduced a new jump, Fence No. 14, a 5' vertical, at the finish. Time Allowed was 47 seconds.
The five riders who elected to jump-off immediately were Olympian Nona Garson of Lebanon, New Jersey, on Edward Himself who had a rail in 45.249 for sixth; Laura Steffee of Novelty, Ohio, on Perle who had four faults in 42.609 for fifth; Misti Cassar of Thousand Oaks, California, riding Pasadena who jumped clear, but had five time faults finished seventh; Tracy Bartko of Hughesville, Maryland, on Argus went clean in 42.866 taking the lead, but ended up in second place; and Garson on Wildana who had a rail plus 12 time faults for ninth place. Both Cassar and Garson incurred time faults when they jumped 13B and passed the timers for Round One, slowed down, then realized there was one more jump, No. 14, with a different set of a timers, which they couldn't get to within the Time Allowed at that point, though both cleared it.
Four riders returned for their jump-off and to challenge Bartko's lead. Megan LaMaze of Orinda, California, on Elfee was clear in 43.985 for fourth place; Michael Dorman of Jamison, Pennsylvania on Cobra de Jarred was clean in 43.016 earning third; Marilyn Little and Pico de Gallo were next and went clean in 40.98 for the lead and they held onto it for the win; last to go was Tricia O'Connor of Westford, Massachusetts on Furiostos Treasure who went all out to win, but incurred 12 jumping faults in 43.115 for eighth place.
"I was a bit nervous," said Little, "because for the past two weeks in the Grand Prixs I've been falling off. I've been at school for the past year and I haven't ridden as much so I'm making mistakes that I shouldn't be making. The first round today was good. I came out and felt very confident. After the first four jumps I knew it was going to be all right." Little, a sophomore at Lake Forest College in North Carolina, is majoring in Communications with a minor in Eastern Religions and will be studying in Florence, Italy, next year. Little said that it was her mother, Grand Prix rider Lynne Little, who advised her to come back for the Jump-off because Pico needed a chance to catch his breath and Marilyn needed time to think. "I have a tendency to stop thinking and that's when I start making mistakes," said Little. The break gave her time to plan a Jump-Off strategy. "The timers were set so far back from the first jump, and afterwards there was a tight turn, so I opted to just gallop to the first jump. It was a triple bar, it was a freebie, and so I went flat out to that. Consequently my turn back was a little wider but I had an advantage, I was already a second ahead when I got to the second jump. After that I actually took a bit more time, was a little more careful. I squared up some of the oxers and took my time to the double."
Little said that she had jumped Brown's courses before and likes the way he designs. "He got rails without just making it huge. He just presented different rider problems, so it was the riders who had to really 'doctor' the course."
"I was pleased with the way it turned out," said Brown. "It was very jumpable. It was careful in places where they had some poles down but I don't think it was unfair. None of the horses struggled, which is what I was pleased with." Asked why he adjusted the time in Round One, Brown said, "The first two went and I didn't think they were hustling at all. They both went clear, which made me think that obviously the jumping is going to be easy for them, so I put a little bit more of a factor in it by making the time a little bit tighter. I didn't set a big course, nothing was five-foot except that last jump in the jump-off." Regarding the last jump and second set of timers that two riders almost left out, Brown said, "I think those two riders looked up and saw the timers and just assumed they were done--which they weren't. That was their own little mistake, their mental error. It wasn't meant to be a trick, it just turned out that they forgot." Brown added, "The ones that are planning to go Sunday that showed today are probably pleased to have a positive round before they come in on Sunday. Sunday will certainly be tougher than this."
$15,000 Open Jumper PRIX, June 1, 2001
HITS Catskills II, Ellenville, New York
Course Designer: Buddy Brown
Pl#/Horse/Rider/Owner/Prize Money/Rd 1 Faults/J-O Faults & Time
1/Pico de Gallo/Marilyn Little/Raylyn Farm & Marilyn Little/$4,500/0/0-40.98
2/ Argus/Tracy Bartko/M&M John Bartko/$3,300/0/0-42.866
3/Cobra de Garred/Michael Dorman/Caroline Lloyd/$2,250/0/0-43.016
4/Elfee/Megan LaMaze/Stoney Hill/$1,500/0/0-43.985
5/Perle/Laura Steffee/Sierra del Sol Investment/$1,200/0-4/42.609
6/Edward Himself/Nona Garson/Kamine Family & Nona Garson/$900/0/4-45.249
7/Pasadena/Misti Cassar/Misti Cassar/$750/0/5-51.085
8/Furistos Treasure/Tricia O'Connor/Cloverlea Farm Inc./$600/0/12-43.115
Number of horses who competed in this class: 42
Class Prize Money: $15,000
HITS CATSKILLS 2001 SHOW JUMPING ACTION:
HITS Catskills I, May 23-27
HITS Catskills II, May 30-June 3
HITS Catskills III, July 18-22
HITS Catskills IV, July 25-29
HITS Catskills V, August 1-5
HITS Catskills VI, August 29-September 2
May 27 $100,000 EMO Grand Prix 1pm
June 3 $100,000 Nevele Grande Grand Prix 1pm
July 22 $100,000 Avis Grand Prix 1pm
July 29 $100,000 Cosequin® Grand Prix 1pm
August 5 $100,000 Nevele Grande Grand Prix 1pm
September 2 $100,000 Rio Vista Grand Prix 1pm
July 22 Taste of the Hudson Valley For Exhibitors Only 2pm-4pm
July 29 Kids Day 11am-1pm