Articles: Press Release
Canadian Jill Henselwood Victorious in $75,000 King Shavings Grand Prix
Photo Credit: Cealy Tetley
Saugerties, New York: Canada's Jill Henselwood of Oxford Mills, Ontario captured her 5th major Grand Prix victory this season with the only double clear performance in the $75,000 King Shavings Grand Prix in Saugerties, New York.
Placing second one week ago in the $50,000 Alliance Homes Grand Prix and third the previous week in the $75,000 Big Ben Memorial Grand Prix, Henselwood was eager to earn her way into the winner's circle. Juniper Farms' powerful and talented eleven-year old mare, Callisto, finally captured victory after coming so close in her last two outings.
"Callisto has been in top form for a few weeks now. I went straight to The Capital Classic Grand Prix without a warm up class because she hadn't arrived home from Calgary (Spruce Meadows) in time. She finished third in that competition. I thought I would try the same thing again the next week in Palgrave.no warm up class and go straight into the Grand Prix cold.she was second! I sure didn't want to argue with success.so I did it again. I went straight into the grand prix here in Saugerties and well.she won! It's not the normal way of doing things, but who am I to disagree?" laughed Henselwood.
Of the fifty-six first round competitors, only six managed clean first rounds in American Buddy Brown's tricky and challenging course. First to return for the jump-off, "Stormin' Norman" Dello Joio (Wellington, FL) and the clever gelding Sun God, set the pace with a quick round in 48.92 seconds, but had an unlucky four faults at the very last jump. Second back to challenge, Jefferey Welles (Pound Ridge, NY) and Armani added a little more steam and carved almost four seconds off Dello Joio's leading time finishing in 45.14 seconds, but unfortunately he also had four faults.
Fifth in the order, with no clear rounds ahead of her, former Olympian Anne Kursinski of Frenchtown, New Jersey and her veteran partner Eros laid it all on the line. With a blazing fast time of 44.91 seconds, the crowd held their breath as the second to last jump rolled slowly out of the cups, producing yet another four fault jump-off score.
"When I saw Anne have the jump down and realized that no one had managed to jump clean, I knew what I had to do. First and foremost, I had to jump clean! I changed my plan, slowed everything down and rode for the clear." noted Henselwood. Returning last in the timed round, Henselwood guided her mare to a skillful and calculated clear, clinching the victory and the winner's cheque of $22,500 that went along with it. "Thank goodness I didn't have a jump down, or my strategy would have left me in sixth instead of first! It was all or nothing."
Special Ed, Henselwood's other gifted mount, had an unlucky eight faults today but was eighth in Thursday's $25,000 Grand Prix. "It's so nice to have two athletic and competitive horses. I go into every Grand Prix knowing that either one of them could pop up and win. I'm very fortunate," stated Henselwood, the reigning Spruce Meadows North American Champion.
Henselwood immediately travels to Wadsworth, Illinois to train four of her students who have qualified to compete for Ontario in the North American Young Riders Championships taking place later this week.