November 10, 2014–The Hunter Rings at HITS Desert Horse Park took center stage Friday afternoon during Week II of the National Sunshine Series. A fun and relaxed setting was ideal for those waiting to take flight in the $5,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix.
Twenty-seven glided quietly over the course as competitors basked in the sun, enjoying moments of camaraderie about the trip they just finished. The course was set with intentions of giving riders a chance to open up the gallop and show off beautiful styles of jumping.
Owner Laura Strasburg, of Los Altos Hills, California, showcased a tall, leggy, chestnut gelding, Social Hour, who proved to be the most consistent, ultimately taking the win. Arriving just two weeks ago from Europe, Social Hour pleasantly surprised his new owner, and rider/trainer John Bragg, of Rancho Santa Fe, California.
“We love his gentle, kind attitude and willingness to please us,” said Strasburg. “We are all just getting to know him and watching him is a delight – thank you John Bragg for finding me this amazing horse.”
“My gosh, he is a really fun horse, and this Devoucoux Hunter Prix was a change to get to know him,” expressed Bragg, who rode a 85 and 88 for a 173 total. “He is recently imported so I was not sure how he would handle this. He has adapted really well and 2015 is going to be a very nice year for him.”
Jenny Karazissis, of Calabasas, California, rode Tolstoy to an 87 and 85 for second. Third was John French, of Woodside, California, with scores of 86 and 83 aboard Small Talk. Agora Hills, California native, Michael Leon, and Carrera came in with a 83 and 84 taking fourth, while Sophie Verges, of San Francisco, and Cusiena Q rounded out the top five with a 79.5 and 82.
$5,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix
Place Horse Owner Rider Prize Rd. 1/2 Total
1 Social Hour Laura Strasburg John Bragg $1,500 85/88 173
2 Tolstoy Ashley Weiman Jenny Karazissis $1,000 87/85 172
3 Small Talk Catherine Runk John French $700 86/83 169
4 Carrera Pinon West, LLC Michael Leon $500 83/84 167
5 Cusiena Q Elmwood Farm Sophie Verges $400 79.5/82 161.5
6 Freedom Melhill Stables, LLC Michael Leon $325 81/78 159
7 Once Ashley Kaplan Carleton Brooks $300 84/74.5 158.5
8 Casson Kathleen Waldorf Johanna Siefert $275 79/79 158