Kelli Cruciotti Captures First Grand Prix Win in $100,000 Sapphire Grand Prix of Devon

29. May 15 | 8:31 | By | Category: INTERNATIONAL NEWS

29 May 2015

Beginners luck or youthful indiscretion can be used when a young person takes home a major victory, but none of those correctly describe Kelli Cruciotti. Hard working, determined – those are the best adjectives to describe the 17-year-old athlete who won her first grand prix with Chamonix H during Thursday night’s prestigious $100,000 Sapphire Grand Prix of Devon.

“I can’t believe it. This is actually my second grand prix with her,” expressed Cruciotti at the end of the night. “She’s unbelievable. She’s the best horse I could learn to do this on. It hasn’t sunk in at all.”


Kelli Cruciotti and Chamonix H


In front of a packed house, Cruciotti navigated a seven-horse jump-off to claim the first major win of her budding career and to be the youngest rider to ever win the historic event. Course designer Michel Vaillancourt narrowed down a field of 28 entries, which included Olympians such as McLain Ward, Peter Leone and Beat Mandli, to just seven riders for the tiebreaker. A triple combination caused problems for a number of competitors in the first round, but for two of the youngest riders in the class, as well as one of the youngest horses, it never caused an issue.

The first rider to return for the short course was hometown hero Callan Solem of Chester Springs, Pennsylvania, with Horseshoe Trail Farm’s VDL Wizard. The pair set the pace to beat with a clear round in 41.534 seconds. Aaron Vale soon one-upped them with Equi-Sport LLC’s E.S. Finou 4 with a faultless round in 40.606 seconds.

Devin Ryan entered the Dixon Oval next with one of the youngest horses of the night: the 8-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding Cooper. They took over the top spot when they made it around the course in 40.058 seconds. The duo did not top the leader board for long though when Cruciotti and Chamonix H galloped into the ring. With tight turns to each obstacle, the pair became the ones to beat with a blazing time of 38.678 seconds.

“Going in to the jump off Peter [Wylde] said go medium and nice,” noted Cruciotti. “Luckily, everything just kind of showed up off the turn. I turned back really tight to the double, and she really came through for me. I came out and Peter was like, ‘that was a nice medium!'”


Kelli Cruciotti and Chamonix H


Kaitlin Campbell’s effort to beat Cruciotti was thwarted when she tried to catch the time on Rocky W but had a rail in the combination for four faults in 39. 892 seconds. Another young rider, 18-year-old Michael Hughes, was up next with Christina Fried’s MacArthur. They proved that there is no shortage of young talent when they raced through the timers in 39.498 seconds to take over second place. Alison Robitaille was the last to compete with Mr. & Mrs. Bertram Firestone’s Cassinja, and while they took home the Richard E. McDevitt Style Award at the end of the night, a rail in the combination would have them earning sixth place.

When Cruciotti returned to the returned to the center of the Dixon Oval to accept the Celeste McNeal Harper Perpetual Trophy, it was with a mixture of joy and shock. The young rider, who graduated high school last week, is not new to the sport, having earned multiple top placings in the hunters and equitation, but she only competed in her first grand prix two weeks ago during the Kentucky Spring Classic, and she had no expectations of leading Thursday night’s victory gallop.


Kelli Cruciotti and Chamonix H

“I think my goal was just to have a nice round, just a nice maybe four fault round,” smiled Cruciotti. “I didn’t really have any expectations. When I made the jump-off, I didn’t have much to lose. It’s amazing to win at a show like this. It’s just unbelievable. I’m lucky to be here.”

Cruciotti and Chamonix H worked hard this winter developing their partnership and gaining experience during the Winter Equestrian Festival. They took home the top prize in the $25,000 Artisan Farms Under 25 Grand Prix during the second week of the circuit, represented the United States as part of the winning Junior Nations Cup Team, and closed out the circuit with a third place finish in the $50,000 Artisan Farms U25 Grand Prix Finale.

“I think [the U25 classes] are a nice medium step,” said Cruciotti. “It’s higher than the junior jumpers, but it’s not quite as big as the open classes. You get to really do a lot of different things there: the lights, the grass. I think that really helps in this kind of situation.”

Another product of the U25 and junior programs in the United States is second place finisher Michael Hughes, who became a professional just this year after aging out of the junior divisions.


Michael Hughes and MacArthur


“It’s amazing,” said Hughes. “The last time I had MacArthur here he was a bit spooky. So this time we got him a little bit quieter, and he was so much better. I did him under the lights in Florida. I have to watch; he gets a little bit of bit spooky with the shadows.”

It was not just young riders that were successful during the evening’s highlight event though. Devin Ryan’s 8-year-old mount Cooper proved what the Young Jumper Championships do for the development of a horse.


Devin Ryan and Cooper


“He won the 7-year-old classes in here last year,” explained Ryan. “I’ve brought him here since he was a 5-year-old. The atmosphere, the ring and the crowd – it’s never bothered him. Any ring he’s stepped into he’s always been really brave and game and wanting to go. I just started moving him up the levels this year into the grand prix. The only reason I planned on doing him tonight and actually not my older horse is because I know his mentality for it and the crowd and everything. It doesn’t faze him. I didn’t feel I was over facing him.”

Earlier in the day, the Young Jumpers competed in the Dixon Oval beginning with the 5 Year Olds, where Taylor Flury and Catanisa Saflo Z took home the blue ribbon for the second day in a row. In the 6-Year-Old Young Jumpers, Jaime Auletto piloted Ecamorka win, and in the 7 & 8-Year-Old Laura Chapot had the fastest clear jump-off effort with BEC Hugo.


Laura Chapot and BEC Hugo

The young riders and young horses that highlighted the $100,000 Sapphire Grand Prix of Devon will have two more opportunities to compete this week on Friday and Saturday night. For more information about the Devon Horse Show and Country Fair and complete results please visit

1    236    CHAMONIX H     KELLI CRUCIOTTI     0    75.318    0    38.678
2    1399    MACARTHUR     MICHAEL HUGHES     0   76.454    0     39.498
3    1019    COOPER     DEVIN RYAN     0   77.319    0   40.058
4    1565    E.S. FINOU 4     AARON VALE     0    77.090    0     40.606
5    1129    VDL WIZARD     CALLAN SOLEM     0     75.791    0    41.534
6    1569    CASSINJA     ALISON ROBITAILLE     0    75.843    4     39.269
7    167    ROCKY W     KAITLIN CAMPBELL     0    76.315    4    39.892
8    1346    BEEZIE     HAYLEY BARNHILL     1    78.869

1    424    CATANIA SAFLO Z     TAYLOR FLURY          0    0    68.841
2    423    CARRASCA Z     TAYLOR FLURY     0    0    0    71.690
3    1014    FAME     DEVIN RYAN     0    0    0    71.923
4    1366    CORNETTO     DEVIN RYAN     0    0    0    72.377
5    1016    ROYAL SALUUT     KELLY ARVIDSON     4    0    4    71.046
6    425    COSMEA Z     ALISON FLURY     4    0    4    73.322
7    1006    FELIX     JOELLE REDMOND     8    0    8    68.947
8    1015    LASINDER HPF     DEVIN RYAN     8    0    8    72.34

1    1130    ECAMORKA     JAIME AULETTO     0 29.912
2    1013    E-BOY W     DEVIN RYAN     0 30.245
3    1550    EXPLOSIVE     BRIAN FEIGUS     0    31.054
4    950    CHIARA MIA     KATHERINE DINAN     0    31.108
5    1017    ELISCO DE BEAUFOUR     DEVIN RYAN     0    75.669    0    31.809
6    1022    EDDIE BLUE     DEVIN RYAN     0    72.230    0    32.524
7    1471    EDORADO     JAMES FAIRCLOUGH     0    72.365    0    33.330
8    1532    Chacco too     KEVIN BABINGTON     0    35.753

1    173    BEC HUGO     LAURA CHAPOT     0    0    0    68.850    0    29.475
2    272    RIO CACHET     HAYLEY WATERS     0    0    0    72.800    0    32.025
3    948    DIBATSJA     KATHERINE DINAN     0    0    0    72.915    0    32.751
4    268    NEMESIS 11     SETH VALLHONRAT     0    0    0    72.925    0    33.579
5    1020    DIDAM     DEVIN RYAN     0    0    0    73.250    4    29.983
6    949    ANGELINA 317     KATHERINE DINAN     0    1    1    74.297
7    1266    CONBALOU     SETH VALLHONRAT     0    1    1    74.304
8    1560    DIDO     SARAH MIDDLETON     4    0    4    68.133



Maggie Jayne Has All the Answers in $25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby   

By: Emily Riden

Maggie Jayne and The Answer trotted into the $25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby as the tenth in the order, took over the lead and never relinquished it, riding to the win Thursday afternoon at the Devon Horse Show.


Jayne and the 8-year-old gelding earned scores of 90 and 87 from the two judging panels, which, coupled with four high option points, gave them a first round score of 185. Thirty-two combinations followed Jayne and The Answer in the first round, including last year’s winners, Kelley Farmer and Mindful, and 2013 winners Tori Colvin and Inclusive, but none were able to touch the leading score.

Maggie Jayne and The Answer

Second in the first round went to Sandy Ferrell and Meralex Farm Inc.’s El Primero with a total from the two judges of 180.5 points, while Jennifer Alfano and Helen Lenahan’s Miss Lucy rounded out the top three with 180 points.


The top 12 combinations returned for the technical handy round, designed by Alan Lohman, which included numerous options for riders to display their horses’ handiness. Liza Boyd perhaps did that nearly as well as anyone. Finishing in the eleventh place position after the first round, Boyd and Sterling were the second to return for the handy round, and Boyd took a risky turn that paid off big time.


“I had nothing to lose,” Boyd said. “I was actually the only one that did the inside turn to the oxer. I made that decision when I walked the course, I just knew. I knew I had to go for it. We all go for it. If you are sitting in 11th and you know you have a horse that can do it, you go for it.”


Boyd and Sterling, owned by Pony Lane Farm, landed from the oxer set as the sixth fence and made an extremely tight turn to the oxer set as fence seven.

Liza Boyd and Sterling

Boyd continued, “It seemed nearly impossible, but that horse is amazing. I don’t know how he did it. He made it, and it honestly seemed easy. I don’t think I would have even tried it on Brunello. A couple weeks ago in Tryon he was second in the Derby behind Mindful, and he did all the turns that Mindful did there, so he kind of proved to me that he could do it. I took a shot, and it worked out.”


The move shot Boyd from 11th to the third place position where she would remain through to the end. No on else in the class attempted such a move, instead all elected more conservative displays of handiness, with positions staying much the same from the first round through the second round.


Ferrell and El Primero fell from second to sixth leaving the door open for Alfano who returned with Miss Lucy to deliver scores of 87 and 86 plus four high option points for a second round total of 196 and an overall score of 376. Jayne and The Answer were the last to return, with a combined score of 191 necessary to remain in the lead and take the win.


With a seamless trip delivered and three of the high option fences tackled, Jayne and Pony Lane Farm’s The Answer finished on scores of 86.5 and 85.5 for a second round total of 195 and a grand total of 380, clinching the victory.


“The horse has just been coming along so nicely,” Jayne said of The Answer. “It’s a nice notch on his belt to prove that he can do this. It’s great for his resume because it’s Devon. I got a new stock tie because we are at Devon! My other shadbelly lost a button, so the shipper left yesterday, and it came overnight in the trailer, because it’s Devon. It’s very important, and I couldn’t be more thrilled for the Thatchers and for the horse – it all came together.”


Jayne took over the ride on The Answer from her sister, Haylie Jayne Rolfe, who is expecting her first child in November. The Answer typically competes in the Second Year Green Hunters with Jayne and in the Amateur-Owner Hunters with Kelsey Thatcher.


“I started at the end of Florida, and I’ve done one show since Florida. Then we came here,” Jayne said. “He’s a blast, tries really hard and always tries to jump clean. I am having a lot of fun.”


Jayne continued, “[Haylie] was watching on the computer, and she texted me. She’s hysterical. She’s like ‘it’s the hormones!’ She’s really cute and supportive.”


The Derby on Thursday is one of only a handful that The Answer has done thus far, but competing in the derby at Devon was the perfect fit for him.


“That’s the great part about this derby, you get to show out here during the week,” Jayne said. “The horses get so comfortable. It’s very inviting.”

Jennifer Alfano and Miss Lucy

Source: Phelps Media Group

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