SAUGERTIES, N.Y.--Kelli Cruciotti Vanderveen on Isabella Van De Zuuthoeve won the $77,300 HITS Jumper Classic CSI4* on Friday, Sept. 8 against one of the biggest fields seen at HITS this year.
In Friday afternoon’s class, 15 qualified for the jump-off from a starting field of 69 that competed over the course set by Oscar Soberon.
The class was the qualifier for Sunday's $300,000 Grand Prix CSI4*.
Last to go in the jump-off, Vanderveen of Wellington, Fla., went clean and finished just 5/10ths of a second ahead of Victoria Heurtematte on Scarlett Du Sart Z.
“My favorite thing about my horse is the journey that I've gone on with her,” said Vanderveen. “I got her as a 6-coming-7-year-old, and we had a lot of success with her as a 7-year-old in the young horse classes. Then as an 8-year-old, she actually had a tooth abscess that she was out for most of the year with. So we had to start back from the basics and build her back up. This is really the first time that I've felt like we've come together as a partnership at this level. It’s very special, and a big thank you to my whole team, the vets, everybody that's helped Bella along the way. I'm very appreciative for that.”
AFTER BEING the last to go clear in the first round, Vanderveen simply planned for her best effort to see how it played out.
“My horse is just 9-years-old, so she doesn't have the same experience as a lot of these other horses,” said Vanderveen. “I thought the jump-off was really strategically placed. A lot of jumps for other riders fell, and I tried to use Bella's naturally quick tempo to my advantage, and thankfully, it worked out.”
The second to go in the jump-off, Jimmy Torano on Chewbacca set the time to beat at 45.61 seconds, then Heather Caristo-Williams on Celtic Hero BZ beat his time to eventually place fourth.
Seven rides later, the leader changed again, this time to Heurtematte, who finished in 42.69 seconds, then Zanya Rizvi on Exquise Du Pachis was clean in 42.76 seconds to eventually place third after Vanderween's winning round in 42.18 seconds.
“Bella likes to go fast, so it pushes me to be fast as well,” said Vanderveen. “I'm a naturally conservative rider, so I have to let her go on her own speed, which is normally the right speed. She needs a very quick ride.”
“This is actually our first time back since the new improvements here,” said Vanderveen. “I have to say, I'm extremely impressed! The horses jump like air off of the new footing. HITS really thought about everything for the exhibitors, from shade for us to sit under, the beautiful grass, the new jumps. It’s definitely going to be a staple on our calendar next year for sure!”
In Thursday’s $38,700 Welcome CSI4* speed class, 53 competed, with Will Simpson on Chacco P winning with the fastest round of the day.
“We had a beautiful trip coming up here from Ocala and I just love it here in the upstate New York area,” said Simpson. “We had a really good couple of days, and then today was the first day showing. Chacco P jumped really well in the schooling area and I was really excited about the way he jumped the first couple of jumps before we went in the ring.”
“We left for the ring and Chacco P was game on from the start,” said Simpson. “He jumped the triple bar great in nine strides. He did the same counts we walked and he was right on target from the get-go. He likes it here!”
The 34th pair to go in the Welcome class, Simpson finished in 65.28 seconds,
The second and third place riders went soon after, with Rene Dittmer on his final ride, Burlington Riverland, finishing in 68.35 seconds to finish second, with Jad Dana on Itchcock Des Dames following two rides later, and finishing in 68.45 seconds for third.
“Chacco is as brave as can be,” said Simpson. “He’s brave beyond comprehension! The trick is to get him so that he’s careful; he thinks he just wants to go, go, go, and those little tiny pine rails sometimes don't get his attention as much. He was intrigued by the jumps. So, it was a good day for us and our partnership. This is our first time in the new venue, and the footing is great. Everything was spot on and I think Chacco P really felt like being a champion today!”