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ATTACHED PHOTOS

Liz Atkins and Niro 8

Liz Atkins and Niro 8_

Stefanie Collier and Andolin

Stefanie Collier and Andolin

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Liz Atkins and Niro 8 Ride Away Victorious in 1.35m Open Jumpers at Chicago Festival of the Horse

Written by: Devaney Iglesias
Client: Lamplight Equestrian Center http://lamplightequestriancenter.com/
Release Date: 2016-08-03

Wayne, Ill. – Aug. 3, 2016 – Practice makes perfect, and for Liz Atkins and Niro 8, practice went completely as planned. The duo has big plans for the week of competition ahead in the SmartPak Grand Prix Arena, and their preparation included a victory in 1.35m Open Jumpers on Wednesday.

Before the 15-year-old stallion entered the ring, Holly Shepherd and Copycat had just set the time to beat at 37.816 seconds. Atkins and Niro 8 produced an errorless first round, but was one second slower than Shepherd and her Argentine Warmblood.

After a few sharp turns and long strides in the jump-off, Atkins and her bay Trakehner crossed the finish line in 36.731 seconds to secure the win.

“He’s a stallion and, honestly, needs an ego boost on the first day of any horse show,” Atkins said about her grand prix contender. “I have to do a warm-up class or he acts like a 7-year-old. He rides like a speed horse and doesn’t have a lot of natural scope. He’s not a real 1.50m grand prix horse, but he’s enough of an athlete and has enough heart to be competitive.”

The two have been working together for three years and typically compete at the grand prix level, that is, after they’ve gone around a warm-up class or two.

“He’s 15 this year, but he doesn’t know that and we don’t tell him,” Atkins laughed. “I wish every horse at my barn had the try that this horse has. If every horse at the barn had this much heart, I would have a horse in the Olympics.”

The local duo plan to compete in the $25,000 Welcome Stake on Thursday, Aug. 4, as well as the $75,000 Grand Prix on Saturday, Aug. 6. In their minds, it’s home turf.

“This is home for us,” Atkins explained. “All my horses know this ring. We’re here about four times a year. Lamplight is such a nice facility, and Nina has done such a great job making improvements and making it better than it was when she bought it. Plus, it’s 30 minutes away from my barn and I get to go home and sleep in my bed every night.”

Prior to the 1.35m division, competitors navigated around a difficult Leopoldo Palacios-designed course in the 1.30m Open Jumpers. Clocking in a time of 39.745 seconds was Stefanie Collier and Andolin. The pair was the last to enter the ring and, after a double clear jump-off, clocked in eight seconds faster than the previous leader.

“I think the course rode really active from the get go,” Collier said. “Leopoldo always builds that way, though. I always find that he wants the riders to really ride in the beginning of the course. That’s what I felt made it tough, but this horse has a lot of blood. Some riders need to push for that, but he has it naturally and it makes him ideal for a course like this."

The 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood has been working and competing with Collier for about a year and a half. The two train in Sheridan, Indiana, at Collier’s Lane Farm, but often compete at Lamplight Equestrian Center.

“We show here every summer,” Collier shared. “I’ve been coming since I was a kid. It’s a nice facility with nice rings. They always bring in good course designers, and the people are nice. They’ve done a good job of making the show really exhibitor oriented.”

Atkins and Carletta had the only other double clear round of the 1.30m division and rode away with the red ribbon after locking in a time of 47.815 seconds.

Isabelle Potts and Angelica Allegro were two of three riders to compete in the jump-off of the 1.25m Open Jumper division. Although Allegro and her mount Vespringt had the faster time (42.271 seconds), an unfortunate rail sent Potts and Bariton 40 atop the leaderboard. The pair finished double clear in the jump-off in 43.607 seconds to take the win.

Lamplight Equestrian Center and the Chicago Festival of the Horse will be hosting the $25,000 Welcome Stake on Thursday, Aug. 4, at 4 p.m. in the SmartPak Grand Prix Arena.

For more information on Lamplight Equestrian Center's Chicago Festival of the Horse Equifest show series, please visit www.lamplightequestriancenter.com. A downloadable prize list is accessible online.

 

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