The Jumper Classic®, presented by Fidelity Investments® and Audi of America, hosted their $12,000 Welcome Stake Thursday at the Silver Oak Equestrian Center. The winner of the $12,000 Welcome Stake was Jonathan McCrea of East Windsor, CT, on Twisther, owned by Candy Tribble and Windsor Show Stables. Located in the beautiful town of Hampton Falls, NH, The Jumper Classic is New England’s premier equestrian event. This elite level competition attracts the country’s top riders, past Olympians and local equestrians. The Jumper Classic runs through Sunday, August 12, with the highlight class, the $75,000 Fidelity Investments Grand Prix, on Sunday.
There were five classes held in the Coldwell Bankers Previews Grand Prix Field Thursday, and the courses were designed by Olaf Petersen, Jr. of Munich, Germany. There were 22 entries in the $12,000 Welcome Stake, and riders had the option to ride their jump-off round immediately following their first round or to return at the end of the class. The $12,000 Welcome Stake was a qualifier to determine the Order of Go for Sunday's grand prix class. McCrea and Twisther rode their jump-off immediately following their first round and were able to lower the winning time to 34.539 seconds with a clear round. McCrea just beat his wife, Christine, who rode Victor E to a clear jump-off in 36.000 seconds. Third place went to Candice King on Louisburg Farm's Whistler. They completed the jump-off fault-free in 37.158 seconds. Rounding out the double clear rounds were McCrea and his second mount Colorado (37.743 seconds) for fourth and Michael Dorman on Seventh Fee in fifth with a time of 39.004 seconds.
McCrea has ridden Twisther, a 12-year-old KWPN stallion by Farmer x Zevenster, for six months and took over the ride from Christine McCrea after the horse had six months off. “I started him up for a little bit and she was supposed to take him back, but thank God she didn't,” he said with a smile. Twisther is a breeding stallion and comes with success as the winner of the “Sires of the World” competition in Lanaken, Belgium, as a seven-year-old. The McCreas purchased him as an eight-year-old, and while Christine had success with him, it wasn't an easy ride for her. Jonathan got the ride on Twisther, and Christine took over riding duties for his horse Victor E.
"Chris had him and she won a bunch of stuff with him, but just never really got along with him. We traded horses,” he explained. “I let him be himself. He jumps in great technique, but he wants to be kind of hunterish. It was a hard thing to learn. Watching Chris and how she struggled with him, it came to me. He doesn't want to go like that. When I flat him at home, it's like trail riding every day. No draw reins or anything. He's super careful, and he tries every time he goes in the ring.”
Despite a new partnership, McCrea and Twisther have won several big classes, including at Spruce Meadows. Coming into Thursday's class, McCrea said, “With him, the plan is always to win. He's good in the brain. He won't come out tomorrow and be running. He'll be the same. I know Twisther is probably the fastest in the barn that we have, next to Romantovich Take One.”
For Sunday's grand prix, McCrea will compete with Colorado and Twisther. He said, “With Twisther, I don't really think he's a top grand prix horse, but he keeps giving me more and more. Saying that, he's been good. The plan is that Colorado will be my top horse on Sunday. Twisther is just a bonus. Today was to win, and Sunday if he makes the jump-off, he'll be hard to beat. That's a different day and a different course.”
Final Results: $12,000 Welcome Stake
1 Twisther, Jonathan McCrea, Candy Tribble: 0/0/34.539
2 Victor E, Christine McCrea, Christine McCrea: 0/0/36.000
3 Whistler, Candice King, Louisburg Farm: 0/0/37.158
4 Colorado, Jonathan McCrea, Jonathan McCrea: 0/0/37.743
5 Seventh Fee, Michael Dorman, Michael Dorman: 0/0/39.004
6 Lincourt Gino, Peter Leone, Monica Carrera: 0/4/34.704
7 Tilghman, Sarah Segal, Horatio Street Ventures: 0/4/36.140
8 Wriomf, Molly Ashe, Jolly Group: 0/4/38.426
Source: Press release from Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.