Gulfport, Miss. – Feb. 19, 2018 – Shannon Hicks of St. Louis, Missouri swept the jumpers during Week II of the Gulf Coast Winter Classic. In addition to winning the $5,000 Gulf Coast Classic Welcome with Helen Gilbert’s Ypsilon and a fifth place with Helen Gilbert’s Al Pachini, she went on to win the $25,000 Nutrena Grand Prix in the irons of Helen Gilbert’s Emir D on Sunday.
“Helen is the greatest owner of all time,” commented Hicks. “She understands there are highs and lows, she is really happy if I’m happy with the horses and of course that the horses are healthy,” she said. “Helen loves when her horses win, but it’s more about the journey than the results.”
Fifteen competed in the $25,000 Nutrena Grand Prix on the beautiful grass grand prix field over a course designed by Canadian Michael Vaillancourt and only three turned in clear rounds to advance to the jump off. The four faulters were also invited back for the jump off round. “This was a good opportunity for my student Isabella [Bleu Baxter] because she is just getting going and doesn’t always have the chance to practice jump offs,” said Hicks.
The first round time-allowed was set at 85 seconds. As the first horse and rider team to go, Hicks and Helen Gilbert’s Al Pachini earned four faults in the first round in a time of 75.056 seconds. As the first to go in the jump off round in a time of 42.626 seconds, within the 52 seconds time allowed, they finished in fourth place. “I took it conservatively with Al Pachini,” she said.
Laura Connaway of Little Rock, Arkansas rode her own Quite Funny and was the first to go clear in a time of 80.963 seconds. They continued that in the jump off round with a time of 47.774 seconds and with no faults, set the time to beat.
Hailey Rogge of Lafayette, Louisiana and her own Zine Dine were the next four fault pair to advance to the jump off. The pair earned another 4 jump faults and with a total of eight in a time of 44.555, would finish in seventh place overall.
Isabella Bleu Baxter and her own Caroquados T, winners of the Week I $25,000 Domino’s Grand Prix, earned four jump faults in the first round in a time of 78.750 seconds. The pair received an additional four jump faults in the jump off round for a total of eight faults in a time of 44.283 seconds.
Kelley Buringa and her own Ladybird followed with a four fault first round in a time of 81.193 seconds. They went clear in the jump off round in a time of 44.573 seconds and finished in fifth place overall.
Connaway returned to the arena with the next clear first round with her own Ceralena in a time of 80.787 seconds. Their clear jump off round in a time of 47.324 seconds moved them to the lead position with the new time to beat.
Hicks and Al Pachini were the last to turn in a clear first round in a time of 78.959 seconds. They continued that momentum in the jump off round, going clear in a time of 46.136 seconds and took the win. “Laura [Connaway] was really good and I while I went pretty conservatively with Al Pachini, I needed to go a bit faster on Emir and be clean,” commented Hicks.
“It was a good course,” Hicks added. “While it wasn’t especially tough, if you did one thing wrong, the jump was going to come down. The riders were dropping rails all over the course, which is a good sign that it was designed fairly and the designer was not trying to eat you alive,” she said.
“Gulfport is my all-time favorite circuit,” said Hicks. “The weather was lovely and if I had to fault it, it may have been a little hot,” she laughed. “It was a little breezy which made it perfect and the crowd was great,” she added.
Hicks Kicked Off Week II with a Win in the $7,500 Welcome
Shannon Hicks rode Helen Gilbert’s Ypsilon to the win in the welcome besting seventeen horse and rider teams. Only four horse and rider teams progressed to a second round opportunity.
Isabella Bleu Baxter and her own Jahil were the first to go clear in a time of 71.458 seconds. Their second round earned them four faults in a time of 39.041 seconds would see them finish in third place.
Whitney Boyce-Petrey of New Orleans, Louisiana and Lincoln Case’s Canebrake followed with the next clear first round. However, their second round earned them 16 jump faults and 23 time faults which would see them finish in fourth place overall.
Kelley Buringa of Northlake, Texas, and her own Ladybird was the next clear round and four faults in their second round in a time of 38.680 seconds saw them finish in second place.
Hicks and Ypsilon sat in the enviable last to go position, turning in double clear rounds in times of 73.831 and 41.256 seconds which won the class.
The fastest of the four faulters, Hicks and Helen Gilbert’s Al Pachini, finished fifth overall and Catherine Zaunbrecher of Lafayette, Louisiana and her own Leonardo earned a sixth place ribbon for their four fault first round in a time of 66.460 seconds.
Copperhillporthorsesales.com’s Felix BC, ridden by Nicki Mathen of Austin, Texas, placed seventh for their four fault first round and Laura Connaway and her own Ceralena earned an eighth place for their 71.376 second first round.
Hailey Rogge of Lafayette, Louisiana, rode Christian Rogge’s Flame Van De Dasseni to a ninth place finish and Connaway and her own Quite Funny wrapped up the class with a tenth place ribbon.
The Gulf Coast Magnolia Classic III begins Wednesday, Feb. 21 and features the $1,500 USHJA Pony Derby on Friday, Feb. 23.