DEVON, Pa.--Ashlee Bond on Donatello 141, riding for Israel, won the $226,000 Sapphire Grand Prix of Devon over Devin Ryan on Eddie Blue and Schuyler Riley on Robin De Ponthual in a three horse jump-off on Thursday evening, June 1, at the Devon Horse Show and Country Fair.
Having to go first in the jump-off, Bond laid down a very fast, clean round in 37.29 seconds that proved uncatchable.
Eddie Blue has a very big stride and is deceptively fast, but Ryan steadied him a couple of times, particularly to the last fence, and finished a full second back in 38.29.
Last to go, Riley, who had been second in last year's Grand Prix, had eight faults in 39.32 to finish third.
"I've had my horse for six years, so the plan is always the same, to do what's best for my horse regardless of who's behind me," said Bond. "We know each other inside and out. He reads my thoughts."
Bond said she hadn't walked the jump-off course and never walked jump-off courses with Donatello.
“He’s so adjustable," said Bond. "I land, and I’m just always pushing him to go as fast as he’ll go. He’s not really trying to run, I’m encouraging him to go faster. I just see where I’m at and do what I feel he can do in that moment, and it’s worked out so far most of the time.”
"I PROBABLY should have taken a risk to the last fence and done a double leave-out and done eight strides versus the nine, but I didn’t quite see it," said Ryan. I" didn’t quite believe in it. That’s show jumping.”
Following the presentation of the ribbons, Band walked slowly around the entire Dixon Oval, allowing kids to pat Donatello's head and shaking hands as she went.
"I so enjoy giving back to the spectators," said Bond. "They spend hours watching us, so it's the least we can do. Donatello is a ham."
"I feel this is so rare in our sport," said Bond of the hordes of enthusiastic and knowledgeable spectators that filled the stands and stood eight deep around the ring. "We don't really get this at most shows. Aachen is the only other place I've experienced this kind of energy before. I'm just really appreciative of getting to have this kind of environment."
"Donatello is a love in the barn," said Bond."My 6-year-old daughter can ride him."
Bond said she had competed Devon as a 8- or 9-year-old in the pony division, but she is now 38 and this is the first time since then that she has competed at Devon.
Bond said she moved from California after her daughter was born because she was east competing for half the year and wanted to be in a place where she could spend more time with her family.
She now lives on five acres in Loxahatchee, Fla., but she competes for Israel and has ridden in the Olympics for Israel.
"Israel has always been in my heart," said Bond. "I've been there, and my grandmother lives there. I'm strong in my christian faith, but Israel is God's country."
Raleigh Hiler, 23, who trains with Max Amaya in Colts Neck, N.J., was fourth on Oboro's Chloe with one time fault in 76.59 in the first round.
Hiler is deaf and wears a headset to hear directions while riding.
Jessica Mendoza on Cap CLZ was fifth with four faults in 70.90 and McLain Ward on Callas was sixth with four faults in 74.36.
Ward, who has won the Grand Prix 17 times, was clean to the last fence, but after he jumped the combination clean the crowd erupted into applause as he was heading to the last fence, and Callas must have been distracted because he just brought down the back rail while Ward glanced back as if in disbelief.
The $25,000 International Hunter Derby was held Thursday morning, and was won by Hunt Tosh riding Autograph, owned by Ceil Wheeler, who scored 188 to win over second placed Colin Syquia on Front Page, who scored 185, with Ariana Marnell on Ocean Road third on 183 points.
Front Page and Autograph placed first and second respectively in the first round on scores of 95.5 and 94, but Autograph scored 94 in the handy to move up to first over Front Page, who scored 90 in the handy.
Ocean Road jumped up from ninth in round one on a score of 90 to score 93 in round two and move up to third..
"I'm lucky to have two great derby horses," said Tosh. "Autograph actually won here last year, so to come back and do it two years in a row was even more fun. He had two really great rounds, I was happy with him. He jumped great and then came back in the handy and did really well. So for three days in a row he jumped really well in three classes here."
"There really wasn't too many chances to take an option," said Tosh of the course. "I think it was truly more of a jumping contest. I think you could be tidy and be smart about it, but there wasn't a place that you had to do anything crazy tricky, So really, it was nice for the quality hunters that went in and jumped solid rounds."
"Front Page was fantastic the first round," said Syquia. "I was really pleased. I also went in the middle of the pack a little bit earlier, but he answered every question in the first round. He came back in the handy and was maybe a little late to the first jump on the left turn, but after that he was awesome."