Desert Circuit III offers nearly $700,000 in prize money to be awarded in the Jumper Divisions. The thrilling, and high-dollar week of competition brgan with the $50,000 Brook Ledge Welcome Stake on Wednesday and continued with the $65,500 Wilmington Trust Grand Prix on Thursday.

$50,000 Brook Ledge Welcome Stakes
Desert Circuit III got underway with the $50,000 Brook Ledge Welcome Stakes in the Grand Prix Ring at HITS Desert Horse Park in Thermal, California. Course designer, Bernardo Cabral, of Carnaxide, Portugal, set a course of 15 jumping efforts, with seven riders in a field of thirty-two, advancing to the jump-off to compete for the blue.

The course included several bending lines, rollback turns and three double combinations. Keeping the rails up proved to be the challenge for many exhibitors competing in Wednesday’s big money class.

Chris Pratt and Concorde, owned by The Epic Group, LLC, rose to victory in the race to beat the clock in the jump-off. The equestrian from Lake View Terrace, California, added another win under his belt after claiming first in the Desert Circuit II $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix. Second-place went to Karl Cook of Woodside, California, riding Signe Ostby’s Basimodo and finishing third was Jill Henselwood of Oxford Mills, Ontario, and Quidam Blue, owned by Juniper Farms and Equitop Farms.

First to go in the jump-off was Susan Hutchison and Ziedento, owned by St. Bride’s Farm. They powered through the first few fences, and ultimately finished in 42.305 seconds with four faults, after an unfortunate rail at the skinny vertical mid-course, landing them in seventh-place.

Enrique Gonzalez, of San Diego, California, was next to test the shortened course on his first of two mounts in the jump-off, his own Feline VIII. Gonzalez claimed the first clear attempt of the second round, crossing the timers in 44.185 seconds.

Third in the order was Lisa Carlsen and World’s Judgement, owned by W.J. Partners. It looked as though they might steal the lead from Gonzalez, but a heartbreaking rail at the second-to-last fence landed them just out of the top five for sixth-place.

Gonzalez returned to contend for the win, this time with Chacna. They clocked in in a fault-free 42.054-second round, beating his prior round and now holding the first and second spots. The next three would be too fast though, ultimately putting Gonzalez in finishing fourth and fifth.

Henselwood and Quidam Blue followed Gonzalez with precision and speed, galloping through the course to finish clear in 41.734 seconds and move into the top spot.

Excitement in the stands began to rise as Pratt and Concorde entered to contend for the prize, with two speedy horses left in the order, it was still anyone’s game. They shaved time off the clock, taking an extremely tight turn after a vertical to the last bending line. The crowd awed as Pratt and the powerful bay thundered towards the finish. Concorde rubbed the rail at the second-to-last fence, but by fate’s design it did not fall—they clocked in at 40.104 seconds to take the lead.

Last in the order was Cook and Basimodo. They sped towards the finish, conquering fence by fence with the crowd on the edge of their seats to witness who would claim the title. They crossed the timers in a fault-free 40.643 seconds, just a fraction behind Pratt for second-place.

$65,500 Wilmington Trust Grand Prix
Course designer, Bernardo Cabral of Portugal, set a formidable course in Thursday’s $65,500 Wilmington Trust Grand Prix. The well-represented class of riders from the United States, Mexico, Egypt, France and Mexico tried the course that tested the skills of each horse and rider.

Many valiantly-ridden rounds went, but after ten trips, spectators were still waiting for the first clear round. The 16 effort course included several bending lines, challenging oxers and a triple combination mid-course that began with a triple bar.

With no clear round to speak of, the course seemed to be untamable until French equestrian Eric Navet, entered the ring to prove that the course could be conquered. Navet, now riding out of Panileuse, California, and Catypso, owned by Signe Ostby, navigated the course with confidence, setting the standard halfway through the order of go.

Three more challenged the course, but none could keep the rails up until Lisa Carlsen of Okotoks, Alberta and her own Parette. They powered through the course without any jumping faults, clearing fence after fence as anticipation rose from the crowd. Clean over the last fence, whistles turned to sighs as they crossed the timers in 81.096 seconds, just a fraction over the time allowed of 81 seconds. The effort ultimately landed them third-place.

A jump-off did not seem to be on the horizon as the order winded down but Wednesday’s $50,000 Brook Ledge Welcome Stake winner, Chris Pratt, changed that. Last to test the course, the equestrian from Lake View Terrace, California, and Indigo Farm’s Cruise, went clear in the first round to make it two for the jump-off.

Navet and Catypso returned first to contend for the win. The shortened course required weaving through other fences to make it to the mid-course combination that included a triple bar to a vertical. They clocked in at a fault-free 40.144 seconds.

Pratt had one final chance to claim the class from Navet. Clearing fence after fence, the outcome looked to be measured by speed, but a heartbreaking rail at the liverpool vertical secured second-place for Pratt; he then retired from the course.

Fourth-place in the class was Delaney Flynn of Scottsdale, Arizona, and Quite Quick, owned by Irish Rose Stables. They finished the first round as the fastest of the four-faulters in 77.686 seconds. Finishing fifth was Tamie Phillips and Cat Balou. They crossed the timers just behind Flynn in 77.803 with four jumping faults.

$50,000 Brook Ledge Welcome Stakes
Place/Horse/Owner/Rider/Prize/R.1 Faults/JO Faults/JO Time
1 Concorde/The Epic Group, LLC/Chris Pratt/$15,000/-/-/40.104
2 Basimodo/Signe Ostby/Karl Cook/$11,000/-/-/40.643
3 Quidam Blue/Juniper/Equitop Farms/Jill Henselwood/$6,500/-/-/41.734
4 Chacna/Enrique Gonzalez/Enrique Gonzalez/$4,000/-/-/42.054
5 Feline VIII/Enrique Gonzalez/Enrique Gonzalez/$3,000/-/-/44.185
6 World’s Judgment/W.J. Partners/Lisa Carlsen/$2,500/-/4/39.242
7 Ziedento/St. Bride’s Farm/Susan Hutchison/$2,000/-/4/42.305
8 Cornancer/Little Valley Farms/Ashlee Bond/$1,500/4/-/-
9 Flexible/Harry & Molly Chapman/Rich Fellers/$1,500/4/-/-
10 Firestone/Nicole Teague/Kristin Hardin/$1,000/4/-/-
11 Granit S/John Anderson/John Anderson/$1,000/4/-/-
12 Christian Grey/Haley Farms, LLC/Tiffany Sullivan/$1,000/4/-/-

$65,500 Wilmington Trust Grand Prix
Place/Horse/Owner/Rider/Prize/R.1 Faults/JO Faults/JO Time
1 Catypso/Signe Ostby/Eric Navet/$19,650/-/-/40.144
2 Cruise/Indigo Farms, LLC/Chris Pratt/$14,410/-/4 RET
3 Parette/Lisa Carlsen/Lisa Carlsen/$8,515/1/-/-
4 Quite Quick/Irish Rose Stables/Delaney Flynn/$5,240/4/-/-
5 Cat Balou/Tamie Phillips/Tamie Phillips/$3,930/4/-/-
6 Quidam Blue/Juniper/Equitop Farms/Jill Henselwood/$3,275/4/-/-
7 Feline VIII/Enrique Gonzalez/Enrique Gonzalez/$2,620/4/-/-
8 Acita/Nayel Nassar/Nayel Nassar/$1,965/4/-/-
9 Edesa’s Basantos/Edesa Horse Promotions/Chris Pratt/$1,965/4/-/-
10 Terrific/John Anderson/John Anderson/$1,310/4/-/-
11 Ace of Hearts/Little Valley Farms/Mandy Porter/$1,310/8/-/-
12 Black Jack/Danielle Lambert/Guy Thomas/$1,310/8/-/-