Cornet’s Cobalt and Andrew Ross Produce Only Clear Effort to Win $24,500 Horseflight Jumper Classic

Another week came and went as the HITS Ocala Winter Circuit concluded its fourth week of competition on Sunday. Pulling off a hat trick as the only combination to post a double-clear effort, Andrew Ross and Cornet’s Cobalt quickly became the combination to take top call in Sunday’s featured event – the $24,500 Horseflight Jumper Classic. 

Ross was one of 27 competitors to contest Martin Otto’s final track but one of the few entered in the class without multiple mounts to contest. Otto challenged the field on the event’s final day and produced a jump off lineup of only four horse-and-rider combinations consistent of Ross, Harold Chopping, Tim Maddrix, and Caelinn Leahy. While each had managed to finish fault-free across the first track, Otto’s expert design left only Ross and his 11-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding (Cornet’s Prinz) clean throughout the short course. 

“A track like today really suits my horse well because, where there were options, I was actually holding him for the leave out,” Ross explained. “He’s very brave, and pretty careful, but very big strided. Most of the time I just do the jump off striding in the first round because it's more suitable for him.”

Without much competition across the short course, Ross changed his original plan for the jump off to something a bit more conservative. 

“For the jump off my original plan was to leave out the stride from the Horseflight jump to the one stride combination,” he detailed. “I know my horse could easily get there in six strides  but whether he was able to leave up the second element of the combinations would’ve been the risk. When I heard that I was the only clear round,I switched my plan to do seven strides which got tight for me because of his big step, but we wiggled our way through.

“There were a llot of bending lines to combinations with striding options today,” he continued. “I thought that was a good choice by the course designer considering how many good horses and riders were on the field.” 

Leahy clocked in the quickest four-fault time of the jump off with Steve Schaefer’s 16-year-old Irish Sport Horse mare (Guidam), Zarkava. The pair easily had the winning time as they stopped the clock seven seconds ahead of Ross’s time of 39.41 seconds, but an unlucky rail would cost them the class. Maddrix produced another top time as he and Lynne Skaryak’s 10-year-old Warmblood mare (Qualandro Z), Quina Blue PS, landed two seconds behind Leahy in 34.52 seconds but once again, a downed obstacle landed them instead into the third place position. 

Junior and amateur competitors rose to the occasion over the course of the day as a wide variety of classics brought out their best performances. Events in the Grand Prix ring kicked off promptly in the morning with the $5,000 Parlanti Co Junior/Amateur 1.45m Jumper Classic.

Jamie Alnwick posted a lightning fast jump off time of 35.94 seconds with no faults added to take that class’s top call aboard Scott Keach’s 10-year-old Australian Warmblood mare (Kannan), Wild Kat. Then it was on to the $2,500 Pyranha Junior/Amateur 1.25m Classic which boasted 22 contenders. Madison Kondracki ticked off another win, this time with her own nine-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare (For Romance), Pure for Romance.

Just under a dozen athletes lined up next to contest for the win in the $5,000 Signature Brands Junior/Amateur 1.35m Classic, however Amy Shafmaster and her 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Cannabis Z), Infante SK, were the only pair that were able to come home without penalty. 

Olivia Brown and Electra put on an electric performance to become the chart toppers in the $10,000 Peterson & Smith Junior/Amateur 1.15m Classic out of a whopping 42 contenders. The original field dwindled down to a healthy jump off number of 17, but Brown and her 15-year-old KWPN mare (Dulf Can Den Bisschop) flew over the short course and landed clean in 33.96 seconds.