James Chawke Steals the Spotlight in $50,000 Blenheim Grand Prix of LA in May

James Chawke Steals the Spotlight in $50,000 Blenheim Grand Prix of LA in May

James Chawke was the star of the show on Saturday, May 11, at the San Juan Capistrano International, as he piloted Daido van’t Ruytershof Z to victory in the $50,000 Blenheim EquiSports Grand Prix of LA in May.

The class was the highlight jumper event of the first week of Blenheim EquiSports competition at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center in Burbank, CA, where the staff has rolled out the red carpet for exhibitors – including the 18 entries in Saturday night’s grand prix.

From the starting field, five horses and riders navigated the first-round, Leopoldo Palacios-designed course without fault to advance to the jump-off in the Equidome Arena. When Chawke entered the ring as the penultimate entry, Michelle Parker and Easy Does It had laid down the time to beat at 36.678 seconds – and Parker had one additional entry still to come.

While Daido van’t Ruytershof Z is a somewhat new ride for Chawke – with the Irish rider having purchased the horse just six months ago – they have already proved to be a winning partnership, and Chawke knew he had the mare’s natural speed on his side when it came to besting Parker’s time. 

“Knowing Michelle [Parker] was coming after me – she’s usually pretty fast – I figured I’d just go as fast as I could,” said Chawke. “[Daido van’t Ruytershof Z]’s very quick, and I kind of did all the steps that I wanted.”

As Chawke flew over the final oxer, the timers flashed 34.824 seconds, putting him just ahead of Parker and ultimately securing him the victory. With Parker’s final entry, Vivalunaika Blue, finishing in 40.585 seconds for fifth place, fourth place went to Jamie Sailor and Atlantic DVZ. Canada’s Vanessa Mannix and her own Kingston took third, and Parker and Easy Does It, owned by Cross Creek Farms Inc., held on to second place.

Of his winning mount, Chawke said, “I’ve been slowly getting to know her and producing her. I’m doing this tour a little bit with her to see what she is and what can she do.”

The 10-year-old Zangersheide mare’s biggest test came last month during the Blenheim Spring Classic 2, where Chawke and Daido van’t Ruytershof Z finished fifth in the $117,000 CSI3* Blenheim Spring Classic 2 Grand Prix. 

“That was biggest that she’s jumped,” explained Chawke. “She’s won a ranking class and was second in ranking class. She’s done a bit. When I got her, I jumped the 1.30m [at the Desert International Horse Park]. It was a good place to get to know her and produce her a bit.” 

While Chawke had originally planned to compete Daido van’t Ruytershof Z at Blenheim EquiSports’ home base at the Rancho Mission Viejo Park in San Juan Capistrano, CA, he kept this week’s show on his schedule when it made the move to the LAEC, and he is glad that he did.