It's not really clear how some traditions start, nor is it important. What matters is that the tradition withstands the test of time. For the past 35 years, Bud & Marianne Thoman have hosted the Almaden Summer Show at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds in Watsonville. Though Bud no longer trains horses and riders, he and his wife Marianne still enjoy hosting the show once a year, as it gives them a chance to stay in touch with old friends, and meet the new local faces of the sport. This year, Saturday evening's traditional jumper class paid tribute to an old friend, while honoring a relatively new face to the area. Robert Blanchette took the lead in Saturday evening's victory gallop for the $5,000 Julie Gray Jumper Special aboard his own "Cord". Blanchette and wife Tammy moved their training operation to Santa Cruz a year and a half ago and have built an extremely successful business run out of Loma Alta Farms.
Tammy spoke on behalf of the couple when saying:
"We were really pleased with Cord's performance Saturday evening, given that he has just returned home from Spruce Meadows where he competed on the Norcal Team with our student, Clara Burgeles. Robert and I are very grateful for the hard work, effort, and collaboration that Peggy Fackrell, Ben Chisholm, the Thomans, and the Fairgrounds Staff have successfully made at this facility. The improvements have made this horse show one in which all our clients, regardless of their level, may participate at. Not only is this facility convenient for us, but this has always been a family show and having a facility so close to the beach makes it the ideal location to bring the whole family and turn a horse show into a vacation."
This is the second year that Saturday evening's jumper class was dedicated to the late Julie Gray. Julie, who owned and operated Jake's Place with her husband Jake Gray, was a fixture at all of the Northern California horse shows, especially the Almaden Farms Summer Show. She was always present for the Almaden Jumper Special as well as the famous Almaden Golf Cart Decorating Contest that kicks off the evening each year. This year's contest did not disappoint, with themes ranging from "Summertime Christmas" to "Project Cowboy"- all of which provided plenty of entertainment for the crowd in the grandstands.
The excitement was not limited to the Jumper Arena however, as the Main Hunter Arena hosted the conclusion of the Almaden Medal Finals on Sunday morning. The Final Round saw 18 riders tackle Chris Collman's track and compete for the Perpetual Trophy that has been passed down from previous champions, many of whom have gone on to win larger medal finals and eventually become professionals in the sport. Emily Dodge, a junior rider from San Anselmo, had the high scoring trip in the Final Round, helping her to seal the overall win in the three-round final. Trainer Tracey Cotchett stepped in as a "pinch-hitter" for Dodge's trainer Kara Love, and helped coach her to last week's victory.
We begin our second week of showing here in Watsonville tomorrow, with the "Almaden Too Horse Show", managed by Jumping Horse Shows. This week will feature the CCEA Medal Finals as well a second installment of the $5,000 Julie Gray Jumper Classic (1.15m). Friday evening will see excitement in the Main Hunter Ring with the $2,500 Jumping Horse Shows Hunter Derby (3 ft.) which will feature a catered dinner from Sid's Smokehouse in Aptos, dually sponsored by Jumping Horse Shows and CCEA. A few stalls are still available for this week, so please contact us if you are interested in coming.
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