Gabriel Rodrigues Honorio and Harley D Win the $30,000 Joan Irvine Smith Grand Prix at Blenheim Fall Tournament
San Juan Capistrano, CA – September 20, 2023 – Twenty-one horse and rider combinations contested Saturday’s $30,000 Joan Irvine Smith Grand Prix at the Blenheim Fall Tournament, but only two riders navigated the course without fault – and only Gabriel Rodrigues Honorio produced a double clear effort to ultimately emerge victorious.
Marina Azevedo set the challenging track for the September 16 featured event at Blenheim EquiSports in San Juan Capistrano, CA, and it was not until Honorio entered the Oaks International Grand Prix Field as the 16th in the order that a fault-free round was produced. Ultimately joining Honorio and his winning mount Harley D in the jump-off was Camilo Rueda on his own Indus van het Keysereyck.
With a clear jump-off time of 44.110 seconds, Honorio and Harley D clinched the win, while Rueda and Indus van het Keysereyck finished in second with four faults in a time of 41.426 seconds. Third and fourth place – both with only one time fault in the first round – went to Australia’s Lane Clarke on Venom and the USA’s Trent McGee on Caracas, respectively.
“The course asked hard questions, and the time was tight enough that it required the riders to take some risks,” said Honorio. “I thought it was a great track. My plan was to just go double clear, and I wanted to be quick enough to put the pressure on the other rider.”
Gabriel Rodrigues Honorio and Harley D were joined in their winning presentation by members of the Irvine Smith family. Photo by McCool Photography
For Saturday’s victory, Honorio and Harley D were presented with the distinguished South Pacific Perpetual Trophy, as well as a Blenheim EquiSports coolerette, a Top Line Design Ribbon Wreaths gift certificate and a Riderzon gift certificate. The win marked the very first grand prix victory for the 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, owned by Honorio’s own Hybrid Horsemanship.
“Harley has been jumping spectacularly,” said Honorio. “This is his first year doing the National classes. I have had the privilege of developing him up the levels, and he really is an exceptional jumper.”
With the fall season in full swing, Honorio and his team have their sights next set on this week’s International Jumping Festival and the $50,000 International Jumping Festival Grand Prix on Saturday, September 23.
For full results of the $30,000 Joan Irvine Smith Grand Prix, click here.
Prior to the start of Saturday’s class, Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley presented a Certificate of Recognition to the Irvine Smith family in honor of Joan Irvine Smith. Photo by McCool Photography
The grand prix was renamed this year in honor of the founder of The Oaks/Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park, Joan Irvine Smith, and prior to the start of the class a special dedication ceremony was held in her honor.
The Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park all began with Smith’s love and deep appreciation of horses and art. She put her dreams into reality and built the Riding Park, commanding excellence in design, construction and environmental preservation. In June of 1996, The Oaks/Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park opened with The Oaks Classic Grand Prix, now the Oaks International, and in classic Smith style, every horse show featured world-class equestrian talent and prize money, community support with art, cultural exhibitions and an elegant VIP luncheon.
Smith legacy continues in the presentation and format of today’s competitive show jumping under the stewardship of Robert and Hillary Ridland. On Saturday, Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley presented a Certificate of Recognition to the Irvine Smith family – including James Swinden, Mr. and Mrs. Russell and Carrol Penniman, Elizabeth Penniman, Rex Penniman, Mr. and Mrs. Morton and Marianne Smith – in honor of Joan Irvine Smith.
Ireland’s Mark Kinsella rode to the top two spots in the $10,000 Markel Insurance Speed Stake. Photo by McCool Photography
During the International Jumping Festival, the PRO Series Leading Professional National Grand Prix Rider Award will also be presented to the rider with the most points earned in grand prix competition. Currently leading the way is Michelle Parker on 56 points, while Skylar Wireman sits in second with 49 points. Full standings are available to view here.