Bending lines and roll backs didn’t alter U-Turn’s direction.

The 9-year-old Holsteiner gelding, and her rider Abby Sjoberg, took it all in stride, capturing the Equus Events Aiken Fall Festival, $5,000, Week No. 1, Welcome Stake Thursday afternoon at Highfields Event Center.

Sjoberg and U-Turn were the only rider/horse combination to go fault free in the class as they mastered the Joe Carnicom designed course. The first round track featured 11, 1.30 meter obstacles and 14 jumping efforts. The questions asked by the first and seventh verticals proved challenging for a number of the rider/horse combinations. Sjoberg and U-Turn completed the course in 83.809. The horseman thought the course rode really well.

“It was legitimate (the course),” said Sjoberg. “She was was a little rusty, so for her to walk in the ring and be the only clear was really exciting. She was really fabulous. The lines all rode really well. I thought the jumps were really nice.”

The short course featured seven obstacles and eight jumping efforts, and Sjoberg, and the mare bred by her family, stayed in the ring after the first round effort, and were equally impressive stopping the timer at 45.710.

U-Turn is a Sjoberg family homebred, and is by the sire, Mr. Wizard, and out of the dam, Nothing Ventured 210415598, providing the rider with the opportunity to form a strong bond with the Holsteiner mare.

Erin McGuire, was the fastest four faulter, as she and Kasarr, turned in a time of 69.427 over the first round track. Mario Garcia and Mistletoe Farm LLC’s, Pacha de Nantuel, placed third, incurring four faults, as the rider and the Selle Francais, completed the course in 72.149.

It appeared that Aiken’s DFG Stables’ Daniel Geitner, and the Holsteiner, Invictus, were going to have a clear first round, but the 11th and final obstacle would have the last say.

“He jumped it nice, and at the last moment he got his eye on the EquiFit vertical, and just squatted,” said Geitner. “He’s only eight, and hasn’t shown since February. So, I was really pleased with him.”

The Aiken Fall Fesitval is one of Sjoberg’s favorite shows, and the rider embraces the opportunity to exhibit on the grass Grand Prix field at Highfields Event Center. Sjoberg and U-turn, and Geitner and Invictus, will be among the rider/horse combinations returning to compete in Saturday’s mini prix.