Gulfport, Miss. – Feb. 11, 2018 – The $25,000 Dominos Grand Prix closed out a successful Week I at the Gulf Coast Winter Classic today and awarded 17 year old Isabella Bleu Baxter of Wright City, Missouri, the blue ribbon for her winning ride in the irons of her own Caroquados T. “I started leasing him in December and have ridden in two grand prix with him and won them both,” she said.
Baxter’s trainer, Shannon Hicks of Lake Saint Louis, Missouri riding Helen Gilbert’s Ypsilon was first to go in the order and turned in the first clear round in a time of 69.806 seconds, within the 84 seconds time allowed. Hailey Rogge of Lafayette, Louisiana riding her own Zine Dine, followed with the next clear round in a time of 72.536 and insured there would be a jump off.
Baxter and her own Jahil followed with the next clear round in a time of 60.202 seconds, qualifying for the jump off round. “I liked watching Shannon go, duplicating it and trying to one up it a bit,” commented Baxter. “I think it’s more comforting to watch her ride the course which helps me to figure it out and do it well,” she added.
Hicks followed Baxter in the order with Helen Gilbert’s Emir D and qualified again for the jump off after posting a clear first round in a time of 71.572 seconds.
Rogge returned to the arena, this time in the irons of TopLine Sporthorse International, LLC’s Flame Van De Dassenloop with another clear round in a time of 73.291 seconds, advancing to the jump off round.
Hicks and Helen Gilbert’s Al Pachini followed with the next clear round in a time of 66.423 seconds which advanced them to the jump off. Hicks noted that Pachini had colic surgery last April and he has just begun to get back into form now.
Baxter followed as the last to go with her own Caroquados T. The pair turned in a fault free round in a time of 71.092 seconds, pitting student against teacher for the jump off round.
Course designer Nancy Wallis of Lambertville, New Jersey set the jump off round time allowed at 45 seconds. Hicks commented, “Nancy built the course well especially considering the weather. She did a super job and although it rained, it was warm. And the footing really held up well,” she added. “The course was perfect for the opening week here at the Gulf,” she said.
Hicks and Ypsilon were first to go in the jump off order, turning in a clear round and setting the new time to beat at 41.598 seconds. Rogge and Zine Dine followed, but four jump faults in a time of 42.966 would finish them in sixth place overall.
Baxter and Jahil followed in the order and turned in a fault free round in a time of 42.402 seconds which wasn’t quite fast enough to take the lead from Hicks and Ypsilon and would move them to second place for the time being.
Hicks returned to the ring, this time with Emir D. Their fault free time in 40.506 seconds took the lead. “Emir is my stand by,” said Hicks. “He never lets me down, ever,” she commented.
Rogge and Flame Van De Dassenloop followed and turned in a fault free round, but their time of 44.529 seconds would award them with a fifth place ribbon.
Hicks and Al Pachini followed but opted to not complete the course which would finish them in seventh place overall.
Baxter sat in the enviable last to go spot with Caroquados T. The pair turned in a clear round in a time of 39.874 seconds, beating Hicks’ time and securing the win.
“She kicked my butt!” said Hicks. “As much as I like to win, it’s almost more fun as her trainer watch her win,” she added. “Watching all of the hard work and effort we’ve put into this and seeing the success on the horses we chose pay off makes her win very rewarding to me,” she added.
“We couldn’t do it without Shannon,” said Isabella’s mother Terrilee Baxter. “I always thank Shannon first because it’s not going to happen without her,” she said.
Isabella has aspirations to qualify for the Young Riders with Caroquados. Her dedicated parents stay with her in their camper on the show grounds and will be there all six weeks. “I’m a senior in high school and do my school work online,” she said.
Not only did Isabella win the blue ribbon in today’s $25,000 Dominos Grand Prix and place fourth, she also won the Jr. Hunter Championship with Helen Gilbert’s White Lightning and was Reserve champion with Helen Gilbert’s Billy Graffiti. In addition, Baxter won the Jr. Rider bonus in the Classic Derby. “The weather may have been a bit rainy this week, but it certainly didn’t rain on our parade!” said Terrilee Baxter.”
Shannon Hicks and Al Pachini Win the Opening Week $7,500 Welcome
Week I of the Gulf Coast Winter Classic kicked off with the $7,500 Open Welcome on Thursday and seventeen horse and rider teams competed for the win.
The first round was set with a time allowed of 83 seconds and ten advanced to a second round opportunity. Shannon Hicks of Lake St. Louis, Missouri, in the irons of Helen Gilbert’s Emir D were the first to go clear and turned in a clear second round in a time of 39.577 seconds, well within the 44 seconds time allowed and set the time to beat.
Hailey Rogge of Lafayette, Louisiana, in the irons of Top Line Sporthorse International’s Flame Van de Dassenloop followed with the next clear round in a time of 30.0028, but eight jump faults in a time of 42.339 would see them finish in eighth.
Isabella Bleu Baxter of Wright city, Missouri, riding her own Caroquados T, followed with the next clear round in 80.699 seconds, but one time fault in the second round with a time of 44.397 would see them finish in sixth overall.
Kelsey Maloney of Atlanta, California, riding Maloney Pony’s La Coco followed with double clear rounds. Their second round time of 39.912 seconds gave them the lead and set the new time to beat. However, they would finish them in third place overall.
Hicks and Helen Gilbert’s Al Pachini were the next to go clear and advance to a second round opportunity where they clinched the lead with their fault free round in 37.037 seconds, now holding the first two places and moving Maloney and La Coco to the third place finish.
Riders tried to beat the leading time but jump faults in the second round filled the card until Michael Tokaruk of Germantown, Tennessee, and Mattie Hatcher’s Cristiano took to the arena. The pair turned in double clear rounds and their second round time in 43.389 seconds awarded them a fifth place ribbon.
Hicks was the last to go in the jump order, this time in the irons of Helen Gilbert’s Ypsilon and the pair turned in double clear rounds posting a second round score of 40.958 locking in the fourth place finish.