Hutchison tops field at Legacy Grand Prix at Thunderbird Show Park in Langley

Hutchison tops field at Legacy Grand Prix

A packed field gathered at Thunderbird Show Park for the Dianne Tidball Legacy Grand Prix on Friday night, paying tribute to the woman who gave so much to the sport.

Amidst celebrations and scholarship presentations, it was an early lead by California’s Susan Hutchison that held through more than 60 rounds to take top spot.

Jane Tidball, Thunderbird president and daughter to George and Dianne, opened the class with a tribute.

“Everything you see around you was her dream,” Jane said. “Dianne worked at Thunderbird for 42 years and we expect to continue building her legacy for at least 42 more.”

With more than 65 competitors in the lineup, the first clear came early in the order for California’s Susan Hutchison aboard Sig Excel.

And just a few rounds later, a beautiful ride by Laura-Jane Tidball on Liam guaranteed a jump-off.

Only two more riders advanced: Lisa Carlsen on World’s Judgement, and Lauren Crooks with both her mounts, Ziezo II and Dancer, to challenge an exciting course set by international designer, Peter Holmes.

In close pursuit, Rich Fellers (Lux Lady), Nicole Bloom (Camerone), Brenda Riddell (Dutch Amouretta), Genevieve Meyer (Coral Reef Casello), and New Zealand’s Toni McIntosh (FBW Coneli) would all finish with a single time fault.

“When I walked the course, I looked at the in and out from 4 to 5 a/b, thought it was maybe a little long for my horse and decided that the best ride for her would be the add,” explained Hutchison.“I guess it was just lucky that I went early. I didn’t have to sit around for 70 horses and decide if that was really what I wanted to do, I just made a plan and stuck to it.”

Hutchison, of Temeculah, Calif., was first into the ring for round two, looking to set the pace. After a small rub on the first fence, Sig Excel was flawless and lightning fast through the course to put the pressure the rest of the field with a time of 44.79.

Riding Liam, Laura-Jane Tidball delivered a careful ride to go clear over fences, posting two time faults.

Lisa Carlsen and her 11-year-old gelding, World’s Judgement, looked to challenge, going quick and turning up the heat coming home, but were just off the pace at 47.51.

With a pair of rides to close the class, Lauren Crooks of Washington and currently, Wellington, was up first on Ziezo II, putting in a beautiful ride, but catching a late rail to post four faults at 47.49.

Returning on Dancer, she left nothing on the table, riding hard and leaving all the sticks up with a time of 45.57 to take second.

The day belonged to Hutchison, taking the lead just three rounds into the class and never letting it go.

“My mare won the derby here last week by six seconds, she’s naturally fast,” Hutchison said. “I knew I had competition behind me, but if I could just put down a really solid double clear, they would have to go all out to catch her.”

For Laura-Jane Tidball, the fourth place spot in her grandmother’s grand prix was the perfect way to honour her memory.

In a note read aloud during the class, “LJ” echoed what many competitors and friends watching from the sidelines felt for the woman who changed the face of equestrian sport in B.C.

“Thank you for always believing in me and for teaching us to live up to your legacy.”

Hutchison echoed the sentiment: “The Tidball family makes Thunderbird special. I’ve known them for years and there’s a place in my heart for Dianne and George. We all miss them.”

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