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Karl Cook and Banba Simmer in Scarlett's Derby 

Down Hills and Through Grobs the Horses and Riders Went


April 3, 2015 - San Juan Capistrano, CA - Friday of the Blenheim Spring Classic II sparkled with sunshine and the challenge of the $10,000 Scarlett's Jumper Derby - presenting James' Story.  Benefiting the Park Place Foundation for children and teens, the course was a thrill to ride as well as watch.  The celebration continued after the event with an Argentinean barbecue and an evening of great music.

Karl Cook and Signe Ostby's Banba

A jumper derby is often twice as long as the typical show jumping course, asking competitors to clear a number of permanent obstacles that require bravery from both horse and rider.  The class is an ideal match for the mission of the Park Place Foundation, a newly formed group that is just beginning to realize the potential of bringing awareness and connection through gathering at this special event.

Using all the derby elements available, Canadian Peter Holmes designed the track once again this year.  "This is an amazing facility because it has so many natural obstacles.  A grob (a ditch at the bottom of a slope), a water jump, a liverpool, a bank.  A derby like this creates a lot of unknowns with the riders and the horses since they don't compete over this type of course often."

Analyzing the course before he entered, Nayel Nassar saw the challenges.  "I think people are going to have trouble coming down the hill over a vertical that comes up so quickly after. I think that is probably one of the bigger tests of the class."  Sure enough, the vertical was the one jump that Nassar had down, finishing eighth with four faults.    

After twenty-three entries attempted to tackle the course - composed of seventeen efforts and approximately one kilometer long - only four finished clean, two women and two men: Canadian Carly Kist aboard Rockpoint Equestrian's Simba, Bryna Closson on Larkspur Equestrian's Blitz and last year's first and second place winners, Kyle King on SIG White Chocolate and Karl Cook riding Banba (Signe Ostby, owner).

Kyle King and SIG White Chocolate, owned by SIG International, Inc.

The ladies led the way - Kist finished with four faults, while Closson clocked the first double clean in 31.63, ultimately third place.  After battling it out last Spring, this year the tables turned for Cook and King.  Cook had the advantage of going last, knowing exactly what he had to do to beat King's leading time of 27.85.  Shaving off four tenths of a second, Cook claimed the top prize in a time of 27.40.

Cook enjoys the Derby format on the speedy Irish-bred Banba (Cruising x Donhill Silver).  "She's best at the Derbies - this and speed classes.  Derbies require a lot of galloping, you keep going for an hour around the course," the winner said with a smile.

Karl Cook and Banba with representatives of Park Place Foundation and Blenheim EquiSports

Saturday of the Spring Classic II includes the annual Easter Brunch, sponsored by 360 Lacrosse in the morning.  The show concludes with the highlight $40,000 Blenheim Spring Classic II Grand Prix, presented by Orange County Register.  The month of April continues with the fourth week of the Spring Series, including three days of highlight classes: the $25,000 Markel Insurance 1.40m Grand Prix on Thursday, April 9th, the $10,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby on Friday, April 10th, and the $50,000 Blenheim Spring Classic III Grand Prix, presented by EquiFit, inc., on Saturday, April 11th.


$10,000 Scarlett's Jumper Derby - presenting James' Story  

Place - Number - Horse - Rider - Owner - Faults/Time 
1. 903 - Banba - Karl Cook - Signe Ostby - 0/0/27.402
2. 913 - SIG White Chocolate - Kyle King - SIG International, Inc. - 0/0/27.854
3. 450 - Blitz - Bryna Closson - Larkspur Equestrian, LLC - 0/0/31.631
4. 526 - Simba - Carly Kist - Rockpoint Equestrian - 0/4/30.757
5. 237 - Irish 77 - Marc Grock - Moonlite Beach, LLC - 4/110.163
6. 641 - Highland Elegance - Kelly McKnight - Kelly McKnight - 4/110.471
7. 636 - Birhan - Jason McArdle - Alexandria Smith - 4/110.580
8. 654 - Baraka - Nayel Nassar - Nayel Nassar - 4/113.220
9. 494 - Pizzazz - Rebecca Bruce - Rebecca Bruce - 4/119.464
10. 642 - Zan Chin - Kelly McKnight - Jane Hind - 4/123.565

Photos by McCool Photography

Park Place Foundation
Park Place Foundation was formed to promote and embrace a healthy lifestyle for children and teens as they embark into their journey toward adulthood.  We strive to make changes in how we perceive and treat addiction and mental illness through education, increased awareness and sharing the personal stories of peers who have fallen victim to this disease that is riddled by shame, isolation, loneliness and a sense of failure.  We believe that by joining together for this cause we can bring forth a message of hope and healing.

Out of Scarlett's family's love for horses, they chose to have "Scarlett's Derby" be the first step.  For those who get the chance to know her through this event, the Rodriguez, Phillips and Mech families hope that you will join them as they turn these brilliant but short lives into something that changes and touches many young people.  The journey began last Spring with "Scarlett's Derby" and continues this year by presenting James' story.   Committed to finding ways to educate, strengthen and empower this young generation, we hope that, when faced the dangerous choice of drugs, they choose to live "CLEAN".  We challenge you to join us in our "Clean is Cool" campaign.  For more information, email Melissa Brandes or Hillary Ridland .


Blenheim EquiSports
Blenheim EquiSports, an equestrian event management company based in San Juan Capistrano, CA, produces events in three locations: San Juan Capistrano, Del Mar and Las Vegas, NV. The events include USEF "A" and "AA" rated hunter-jumper shows featuring a Longines FEI World Cup? Jumping North American League qualifying grand prix, USHJA International Hunter Derbies, Pony Finals, Medal Finals and more.

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