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John McConnell Wins the $25,000 High Prairie Grand Prix
Equestrian Sports Promotions
Local favorite John McConnell won the $25,000 High Prairie Grand Prix on Saturday to claim the first leg of the Colorado Horse Park Triple Crown. Surprisingly the victory cam not on his usual winner Spanish Eyes, but instead on his young horse Lapicolina. It was a day of highs and lows for McConnell when he parted ways from Spanish Eyes after going clear on his eventual winner. McConnell bested 26 entries from nine states, Mexico and Denmark.
“She’s just getting better and better,” said McConnell of Lapicolina, a 12 year old imported Hanoverian mare. The pair has been competing in the grand prix for three years. McConnell continued, “This is her first grand prix win with me. She’s won a lot of Friday classes, welcomes, derbies, but this is the first grand prix.”
Only three riders mastered the first round of 15 efforts that included double and triple combinations set by Olympic silver medalist Michel Vaillancourt, of Ontario. McConnell had paid particular attention to “the water line and the last line,” which did cause problems for many of the competitors.
In the jump-off, perennial winner Bjorn Ikast, from Mexico City, riding Braveheart laid down the gauntlet with a clean round. McConnell went next and was able to shave precious time off the clock to take the lead. Renee Lenkart of Minnesota, knew what she had to do with Oscar, but unfortunately had two rails to give McConnell the victory.
As the winner of the $25,000 Grand Prix, McConnell will try to become the first athlete to win the Colorado Horse Park Triple Crown. He must win the $40,000 AGA Rocky Mountain Grand Prix Presented by Murdochs next Saturday July 16 and the grand finale, the $60,000 AGA Grand Prix of Denver Presented by Dillards and Ariat, on July 23. If he wins all three grand prix on Lapicolina McConnell will earn a $100,000 bonus.
Spectators are welcome for all grand prix. The festivities begin at 5:00 on July 16 and at 4:15 on July 23. Food and equestrian-themed shopping are available on the grounds. Tickets are $10; children under 12 are $5. Free parking. For more information visit www.coloradohorsepark.org or call 303-841-5550.
The Colorado Horse Park is a 501 (c) 3 not for profit organization. The purpose of the Colorado Horse Park is to showcase the history and heritage of the West using the horse as the primary teaching tool through hands-on educational programming, museum exhibitions, competitions, boarding and training, recreation, entertainment and therapy for all ages.