Nearly 100 horses reach finish at 64th Tevis Cup, 18-year-old takes first place (VIDEO) | SierraSun.com

Nearly 100 horses reach finish at 64th Tevis Cup, 18-year-old takes first place (VIDEO)

Justin Scacco Staff writer

Early last Saturday morning, 184 horses and their riders raced out underneath a nearly full moon, leaving Robie Equestrian Park for the beginning of the 64th annual Tevis Cup.

Since 1955, riders have gathered in the area to compete in the race, which takes a single horse and rider along 100 miles of the Western States Trail from the Truckee-Tahoe area to Auburn.

The riders set out from the equestrian park near Northstar California Resort shortly after 5 a.m., and after more than 16 hours on the trails, 18-year-old Sanoma Blakeley, of Terrebonne, Oregon, and her 10-year-old dark bay Arabian gelding, RA Ares Bay, emerged from the darkness in Auburn, outdueling three-time race winner Jeremy Reynolds, 39, of Dunnellon, Florida, and his Arabian mare, RTR Rimfires Etta, during the final stretch of the race to win this year’s Tevis Cup. The two were within feet of each other coming down the final stretch, so close that it took several minutes before an official announcement was made declaring Blakeley the winner.

“We had an incredible ride yesterday,” said Blakeley, who calls her horse Goober, during the awards ceremony the following day. “I couldn’t have asked for a better way for it to end. Goober, he was an awesome horse all day.”

Blakely, who was racing in her fourth Tevis Cup, said Goober belongs to her father. Goober was acquired as a 2-year-old through a Craigslist ad offering a free horse, according to an article written on TheHorse.com, and earned his nickname after grabbing the family’s other horses by their halters and leading them around.

“I’m so thankful that he let me ride him,” Blakeley said. “I couldn’t have done it without my dad, my horse, or my family and our crew.”

Among the field was a number of junior riders, and for the second consecutive year, Caroline de Bourbon, of San Leandro, California, was the top youngster, finishing the race with a time of 18 hours, 29 minutes on her Arabian gelding, RTR Thunders Nusabre.

Haggin Cup

Following the completion of 100 miles of racing, the horses are examined by veterinarians for soundness, metabolic recovery, and overall physical condition.

The horse that finishes in the top 10, and is in the best conditions is awarded the Haggin Cup. This year the award went to Lindsay Fisher, of Napa, and her 17-year-old gelding Monk. The two finished in ninth place with a time of 17 hours, 13 minutes. The duo have finished in the top 10 in each of the past five years of racing at the Tevis Cup. For finishing the ride five times, Monk was awarded the Wendell Robie Trophy.

“I started riding Monk back in 2008 with hopes of getting to the World Equestrian Games. And back then I was in vet school and I remember seeing Monk for the very first time, and he was just tied to the trailer with his head down — the quietest horse you’ve ever seen,” said Fisher during the awards ceremony.

“I thought, ‘OK well we’ll see what happens,’ and sure enough he surprised us all and we ended up making the team. We’ve also had so many other great rides together all over the world … he’s just a really, really special horse. I really can’t describe how much this horse means to me. Hopefully, I mean the same to him.”

In total, 99 of the 184 riders that left the start line successfully completed the ride. Of the junior riders to race, five of nine finished. The race also attracted 26 international competitors, and of those, 14 reached the finish line.

For full results, visit TevisCup.org.

Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. Contact him at jscacco@sierrasun.com.