February 8, 2015–Twenty-three-year-old Stanford University student Lucy Davis, riding Old Oak Farm’s Barron, took top prize in the $50,000 HITS Grand Prix CSI-W2*, presented by OSPHOS®, an FEI World Cup Jumping qualifier under the lights in the Grand Prix Ring at HITS Desert Horse Park in Thermal, California, Saturday night.
Davis and Barron were the only horse-and-rider team to go double-clear, and did so in 46.52 seconds, in the two-horse jump-off that started first with Stanford Alumnus Alec Lawler, also 23, on Equine Ventures LLC’s Agamemnon. For her win, Davis earned a $16,500 prize check.
Lawler had a refusal and exceeded the 55 second time limit at 63.34 seconds, placing the pair in second place to earn a $10,000 check. In third was Thursday’s $34,000 HITS Desert Classic winner, Vinton Karrasch on Coral Reef Ranch’s Coral Reef Follow Me II, with the fastest Round 1 time but four faults to keep them from the jump-off.
“I’m very excited. I haven’t been in California much this year, so it’s always great to come back and see everybody, and my horses love it. This is our first show of the year,” said Davis, a student of architecture. “I’ve been at Stanford with Barron and a couple other horses, having a bit of a break after a big year last year. As he showed, he’s really fresh and fit and ready for the year, so it’s a really good start and I hope it continues.”
She said of the two rider jump-off, “I always think that if it’s a hard course like it was, and big jumps, that you should be a little bit rewarded for going clear… I think both Alec and I were really happy that we could get good placings, just by going clear in the first round.”
Davis said it’s her second year riding Barron. “He’s by For Pleasure, and he’s a Belgium Warmblood, now 11. He’s a superstar. I can’t say anything bad about him. His quirkiness is why he’s so amazing. And he has scope, he’s quick, he’s careful, he’s brave – he’s pretty much everything,” she said. Davis is ranked number 10 on the Rolex/USEF Show Jumping list of riders, and Barron is ranked number nine among top horses.
Lawler, who has ridden on teams with Davis for over a decade, since short stirrup, graduated Stanford last June with a B.S. in Earth Systems, and is competing at HITS Thermal for the entire circuit, after returning from shows in Belgium last November.
He said of the first round course, “I was pretty stoked about jumping clear. It’s my first World Cup (qualifier) of the year.”
Of the jump-off he continued, “I had to put a little bit of pressure on Lucy, which I failed to do. Obviously Lucy’s resume is a mile long, so we had to take a chance to number three in the jump-off and I kind of put my horse in an impossible situation.” Explaining further, he said, “It was a forward nine and an inside turn to the skinny jump. I had to get inside sooner because I was a little bit late getting there in the nine. It made me do a little bit of a wiggle and I lost all my momentum and there was no way I could get him to jump the 1.50, 1.55 vertical, from the place [I was] so I had to circle.”
Lawler said while he is not making a serious play for the World Cup, he appreciates the competition. “I’m not really aiming for World Cup Finals, but it’s fun to get a great placing. I’m just enjoying the class – World Cup classes are great – it raises the level of competition in California.”