Thermal, Calif. – Just six months ago, Coupido Mercedes Benz was showing in 1.30m classes, but he carried Eduardo Menezes to a win this weekend in the $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix, presented by Zoetis, topping a field of 34 to claim the blue. Menezes was pleased with the win as he prepares to take a stab at the AIG $1 Million Grand Prix, presented by Lamborghini Newport Beach, this Sunday.menezes

“Many of the horses showing on Sunday in the AIG Million didn’t compete today, so we had a young field of new partnerships. The course was definitely fair and it was a nice course to lead into the Million with.”

Marina Azevedo built Friday’s course before she takes the Strongid® C 2X™ to the next level on Sunday. “Today’s results were perfect considering the Million is Sunday,” said Azevedo. “It was nice preparation for the horses doing the Million, but it was also good for some of the younger horses that we saw today.”

Azevedo set 13 obstacles, including a double and triple combination, and saw 10 jump clear in the first round. Second to return, Ashlee Bond Clarke of Hidden Hills, California posted a clear round and set the Great American Time to Beat at 41.29 seconds with Little Valley Farm’s Chela LS. Carol Wright of Elk Grove, California took the lead two trips later aboard her own Conejito with a time of 40.73 seconds.

Christian Heineking of Hudson Oaks, Texas returned two trips later in the irons of Chakira for owner Isabelle Terry and, despite a rub at the last vertical, finished with no faults and stopped the timers more than a full second ahead in 39.47 seconds.

Menezes returned eighth and Coupido was fast, scopey and careful, leading no one to believe that Friday’s event was only the third grand prix ever for the eight-year-old gelding. A clear round in a time of 38.93 seconds put them on top to stay.

“I like everything about him,” said Menezes of the flashy gray Oldenburg. “He’s very elastic and I never feel him making a great effort over the fences.”

Heineking settled for second and Bliss Heers of Olivehain, California batted clean-up to finish third in 40.39 seconds with Bridgeside Farm, LLC’s Contendra. Wright was fourth and Bond Clarke capped the top five.