Ainsley Vince 3rd Place Finish at Villarboit Grand Prix

It all came down to experience Sunday at Halton Place as three veteran Canadian Equestrian Team members claimed the top three placings in the $40,000 Villarboit Grand Prix at the Canadian Country Classic.

In a crowded jump-off field of 10 horses, Hugh Graham of King Ridge Stables (King,ON) guided grey Canadian Sport Horse gelding Executive Privilege 3E to victory in a time of 31.10 seconds; hot on his heels was Beth Underhill (King, ON) who went first in the jump-off and stopped the clock at 31.88 seconds.

Finishing in third spot was Ainsley Vince of Milton who blazed around the course on Freida in the fastest time and seemed poised for victory until her mount Frieda, downed a heartbreak rail on the last fence of the course.

“It was a tough enough course – I was surprised – and technical enough,” said Graham, who also took fourth place with Canadian Sport Horse gelding Fifth Estate 3E.

The class was a showcase for the show jumping talent emerging from King Ridge Stables’ breeding operation: 10-year-old Executive Privilege 3E was the first foal born in the King Ridge program, out of Galaxy by Class Action, two horses that Graham previously rode.

Fifth Estate 3E is also by Class Action, out of Alley Cat. Roberto Teran (King, ON) also made Sunday’s jump-off round with King Ridge’s Grand Finale 3E, a talented young Canadian Sport Horse mare that has dominated the Jump Canada Young Horse Development Series in the seven and eight year classes this year.

“It’s been a long haul, a lot of work and a lot of training. It’s nice when you get results like today,” says Graham, who’ll return to Halton Place for next week’s $40,000 SWISSCAN Grand Prix on Sunday, September 5th.

Beth Underhill was delighted with her mount Quelqu’un de la Musardiere’s second-place finish, as it was the 10-year-old gelding’s first grand prix.

“He’s a horse owned by one of my students (Christopher Cullen, also of King. ON), who has been working and gave me the chance to ride him. It’s a great opportunity,” said Underhill. “He was very solid in his first round of the grand prix, the times were close and he did everything I asked of him. I couldn’t be more thrilled.”

Underhill praised the course, designed by David Ballard, as offering a learning curve for young horses, while still presenting a challenge for more seasoned horses.

Ainsley Vince said Frieda, a nine-year-old Sachsen-Anhaltiner mare by For Future “is very fast and good on the turns, but still a hair green.” As well as Sunday’s third place finish, Vince and the agile little (15.3 hand) mare claimed first place in Friday’s Open Welcome and Vince has high hopes for the horse, owned by the KMA Group. “This is the fifth year I’ve been riding Frieda, who was purchased as a youngster, and I’m very excited about her.”

Second in the Open Welcome was Roberto Teran, (King, ON) on Grand Finale 3E and third was Chris Sorensen, (Caledon, ON) on SS Bobby.

Halton Place owner Timur Leckebusch has been pleased with the response to Week One’s classes.

“It’s been fantastic. We’re actually sold out of stalls,” said Leckebusch, who has devoted two decades to turning the 200-acre former hog farm into a premier European-style   show jumping venue. “It’s taken a lot longer than I thought it would, but Halton Place is at the point where it’s looking good enough for me to say I’m proud of it.”

Although a World Cup Qualifier had originally been planned for the Canadian Country Classic, after a crowded schedule that included a new FEI class at Spruce Meadows, Alberta and a new $1 million grand prix in Saugerties, New York, Leckebusch decided to cancel the big class and instead increase prize money in the amateur and hunter divisions. He said the move to do so has been so positively received, he plans to do the same in the future, helping to build the development of the   sport below the elite level, concentrating on enriching the pot at the grassroots of the sport for rising talent – both rider and equine. Leckebusch also wants to create events that will be inviting to the general public, not just the equestrian crowd, to build greater awareness for horse sport.

Highlights of Week Two of the Canadian Country Classic (Sept 1st – 5th) will include Saturday’s Team Charity Challenge at 1:30 p.m. and Sunday’s $40,000 SWISSCAN Grand Prix at 2 p.m.


$40,000 Villarboit Grand Prix (Aug 29th)
Rider – Horse – Town – Results
1. Hugh Graham – Executive Privilege – King. ON – 0: 0 – 31:10 secs
2. Beth Underhill – Quelqu’un De La Musardiere – King. ON – 0: 0 – 31:88 secs
3. Ainsley Vince – Frieda – Milton. ON – 0: 4 – 29:12 secs
4. Hugh Graham – Fifth Estate 3E – King, ON – 0: 4 – 31:96 secs
5. Neil Babcock – Campino – King, ON – 0: 4 – 32:67 secs

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