Gulfport, Miss. – Mar. 5, 2018 – Shannon Hicks continued her domination of the grand prix field, galloping Emir D to the win in the $25,000 Harrah’s Gulf Coast Grand Prix, capping off Week IV of the Gulf Coast Winter Classic Circuit.
This win marks Hicks’ third straight grand prix victory in just as many weeks.
Sixteen contenders started the week’s feature jumper class designed by Venezuela’s Leopoldo Palacios. The first round challenged entries to navigate 13 numbered obstacles within a time allowed of 90 seconds. Only two horse and rider duos were successful, progressing to the second round.
Matt Cyphert set the pace to beat aboard Hannah Donald’s Hector. The Northlake, Texas resident piloted Hector flawlessly around the jump-off, reaching the timers in a relatively conservative 44.952 seconds. “Hector felt incredible,” commented Cyphert. “He felt confident. He felt in control of his game. After the first few fences, I knew we were going to be clear. And, that’s a great feeling to have.”
Hicks, of Saint Louis, Missouri, was in the irons of Helen Gilbert’s Emir D. The pair blew the time to beat out of the water, posting a clear second round in 40.403 – more than three seconds faster. “With only Shannon and I in the jump-off, it became a bit of a chess game,” Cyphert commented. “I made the decision to be quick and clear, but I may have left the door open for her to be a bit quicker,” he added.
“The jump-off was just fun. I know Matt (Cyphert)’s horse is fast, so I went about as fast as we could go,” she said. “I just let it rip to the last fence and it worked out.”
“But I couldn’t believe how much faster we were,” she added with a laugh. “If I had realized how fast I was going, I may have slowed down.”
Hicks said the sweeping turns and room to gallop made it the ‘perfect jump-off’ for Emir D.
“He’s a high-jumping, big-strided horse. These big courses with long gallops on this field are ideal for him.”
Hicks will remain in Gulfport for the next two weeks of the Gulf Coast Winter Classic. She said this venue is one of her favorite places to show with it’s grass field. She’s hoping to continue her winning ways.
“It’s been awesome, but there’s some pressure to keep up this streak,” she remarked. “I’m a competitive person anyway – I like to go in the ring and win. Now I’m in competition with myself.”
Chase Boggio, of Canton, Georgia, was the speediest of the four-fault rounds aboard Victoria Press’ Quesada D’Elle. The duo took home the third place ribbon. Fourth place was awarded to Grand Bay, Alabama’s Holly Shepherd for her trip with Loretta Patterson’s Sky High.
Apex Equestrian Center’s Oley, ridden by Marissa Degner of Tulsa, Oklahoma took home the fifth place ribbon after sending a single rail tumbling in the first round. An unfortunate four jumping faults left Folsom, Louisiana’s Katherine LeBlanc in sixth place with S & L Farms’ S & L Over The Top.
Meredith Darst’s Quester De Virton, piloted by Wellington, Florida’s Heather Hooker ranked seventh, and Kristina Meyer, of Milton, Florida, was eighth for her round with Marjory Berkache’s ESH Umpeccable. Ninth was awarded to Sydney Swarr of New Orleans, Louisiana, who was aboard High Hopes Farm, LLC’s Carl Loui TSP.
Hicks also claimed tenth place for her round with Gilbert’s Al Pachini, and Bartonville, Texas’ Scott Lenkart was eleventh with Ziezo, owned by Fleur de Lis Farms. Rounding off the top twelve finishers was Grant Seger, of Corpus Christi, Texas with his own Catogi.
Jet and Lila Sessums Triumphant in $5,000 Gulf Coast Jumper Classic
Lila Sessums was named champion of the $5,000 Gulf Coast Jumper Classic after a speedy jump-off round with her own Jet during Week IV of the Gulf Coast Winter Classic.
There were 14 entries in the class, with eight returning to the grass field to ride in the jump-off round. Of those eight, there were seven clear rounds. Clinton, Mississippi’s Sessums was the last to go, navigating Jet to a double clear performance and a blazing jump off time of 34.648.
Second place was awarded to Matt Cyphert of Northlake, Texas, riding Seale Horses, LLC’s VDL Endorado Ryal K. The duo posted a time of 36.828 for their flawless second round. Cyphert also claimed the third place ribbon for his ride aboard the seven-year-old Cobra, also owned by Seale Horses, LLC. The pair stopped the clock at 37.179.
Liz Atkins, of Hampshire, Illinois was fourth for her two clear efforts with her own Good Vision, finishing the jump-off in 37.190. Fifth place was given to Grant Seger of Corpus Christi, Texas, for his 38.837 second jump off with his own High Noon 50. Seger also picked up the prize for sixth after two clean rides with Grey Fox Crossing’s Cantucchini. Seventh place went home with Meghann Harmon of Middleburg, Virginia, who was aboard her own Lord Hugo Warande Z. Michael Kennedy of Newtown, Pennsylvania, was eighth with Kris Hoffman Kennedy’s Gentleman.
Matt Cyphert and Hector Claim Top Prize in $7,500 Welcome
Matt Cyphert rode Hannah Donald’s Hector to a quick double clear performance in the $7,500 Welcome, walking away with the lion’s share of the prize money during Week IV of the Gulf Coast Winter Classic.
Of the 19 contenders, six advanced to the jump off. As the second duo to tackle the shortened course, Northlake, Texas’ Cyphert and Hector laid down a clean effort with a blistering pace of 35.089.
“It was a great day at work,” said Cyphert about his win. “Hector is really coming into his own. We’ve had some growing pains at the grand prix level, just figuring each other out and building a partnership.
“This win feels special. We’re working together and he is enjoying competing and winning as much as I do.”
The Welcome event, designed by the masterful Leopoldo Palacios, proved to be inviting while also challenging, with rails tumbling throughout the course. Cyphert said he felt the course and the field suited Hector’s manner of going.
Cyphert had nothing but praise for the grass field, saying it helps to prepare and build horses and riders. “This grass field is the best field I ride on every year,” he remarked. “You get confident on that field. The footing is perfect and it’s a great place for horses and riders to build confidence and move up. And it’s a great springboard for other classes this spring.”
Gulfport and the Gulf Coast Winter Classics have been a regular stop for Cyphert for a number of years. While he spent much of this tournament at home in Texas – and he was quick to commend his partner Kelley Buringa for her hard work these past weeks at the Winter Classic – Cyphert said the Gulf Coast Winter Classics is a notable stop on his busy schedule.
“I always notice how friendly the community is. The restaurants, hotels – they seem appreciative of the people who come and horse show here in the winter,” Cyphert said.
Hot on the tail of Cyphert was Shannon Hicks of Saint Louis, Missouri. Always a game competitor, Hicks piloted Helen Gilbert’s Al Pachini to a flawless second round. The duo reached the timers in 35.856, a fraction of a second behind the winner. Their performance landed them in second place.
Meredith Darst’s Quester de Virton, ridden by Wellington, Florida’s Heather Hooker, laid down a clean trip across the course. With a relatively steady time of 38.097, the pair finished the with a third place.
With their speedy four-fault jump-off round, Kelley Buringa of Northlake, Texas, claimed the fourth place ribbon aboard her own Lady Bird. The pair reached the finish line in 37.342 seconds.
Fifth place was awarded to Chasen Boggio, of Canton, Georgia. Aboard Victoria Press’ Quesada D’Elle, the pair sent a single rail tumbling, crossing the finish with four faults in a time of 38.604.
Covington, Louisiana’s Breezy Sambola, ranked sixth for her efforts with Dana Waters’ Fons Van T Geyzeven. With an unfortunate eight jumping faults, and an added six faults for time, the pair completed the class with 14 faults in a time of 53.379 seconds.
Hicks, this time in the saddle of Gilbert’s Emir D, finished the class in seventh position after accruing a single time fault across the first round of the Welcome class. Apex Equestrian Center’s Oley, ridden by Marissa Degner of Tulsa, Oklahoma, ranked eighth.