Duncan McFarlane aboard Kathie Cheatham's Eezy was the first rider to clear Danny Foster's course in today's 27 horse $50,000 Rio Vista Grand Prix, and McFarlane never looked back. Only Misti Cassar joined the New Zealand rider in the jump-off. Although Cassar qualified two horses for the jump-off, McFarlane was determined to give Cassar a run for the money. "I wanted to keep the pressure on, but I also wanted to be clean. I didn't want to go too crazy." McFarlane took a very tight line and the big Irish-bred gelding made inside cuts with a cleverness belying his large, lanky frame. The pair stopped the clock in 45.20. "That was a flawless jump-off ride," stated fellow grand prix rider Richard Spooner from the sidelines.
Cassar returned aboard Fahrenheit, a veteran international-caliber horse she has had for a year. "I only did three jumps with him in the warm up because I wanted to keep him calm." She rode an effective jump-off round accruing no faults, but stopping the timers over a second behind McFarlane in 46.35. "He was world class today," said a grinning Cassar.
Cassar then returned aboard Pasadena, who jumps with the power of a 17.0 hand horse wrapped up in a 15.0 hand frame. Cassar had nothing to lose. "I went for it," said Cassar of her effort. Pasadena was on a winning pace, but a rail kept them from the victory. Cassar eased up and the pair finished with eight faults and a time of 48.86. "Her turns are cat-like," said Cassar of the little bay mare.
McFarlane has been in the money during the 2002 HITS Indio Desert Circuit, but this is his first visit to the winner's circle. Thrilled with his win, McFarlane credited his wife, Gry, and Judy Martin for their assistance from the ground. "They give me the pumping up I need and they tell it like it is, good or bad." McFarlane is aiming Eezy for the World Equestrian Games in Spain this fall as he feels the horse is better suited to an outside course than the tight indoor confines of the World Cup.
Danny Foster of Ontario, Canada was pleased with today's course. "This is a World Cup Qualifier and although there was not a huge number of starters it was a good field. I didn't want to lower the standard. In fact, I was delighted with the class. Lots of horses jumped well and had just four faults."
For Agate Records:
1st Eezy/ Duncan McFarlane/
Kathie Cheatham/ 0/0 45.20/ $15,000