Traverse City, MI - July 8, 2011 - Warm weather and warm hospitality surrounded the $10,000 Welcome Prix at Horse Shows by the Bay today, as over two dozen eager competitors convened at the Grand Prix ring to compete this afternoon. Greer Hindle jumped Viper P to the blue ribbon in this ambitious class, wherein riders and their mounts had to quickly clear the 1.40m - 1.45m obstacles adorning designer Chris Brandt's challenging course. Sponsored by Positive Step Farm and Patrice Schreiber, the event was the first of four $10,000 Welcome Prixes that will beckon the brave this July at Horse Shows by the Bay equestrian festival in scenic Traverse City, MI.
The competition kicked off with an early clear turn by eventual second place finisher Denise Wilson aboard Delphine Van Het Orshof, who is owned by Blue Gate Farm of Dousman, WI. Aside from Wim Janssen on V.P.N., though, no other riders were able to clear the course in the first half of the first round. Hooves were flying but rails kept falling, with many an entrant getting edged-out by just a single knockdown. After a short break, the second set of riders took their turn on top of the Grand Prix ring's new footing. This section saw a just few more promising rides, with five horse and rider combinations attaining a clear status on this clear, sunny day.
Timing is everything, though, and an efficient jump-off whittled-down the competition to just six remaining riders. More than half found success in clearing each hurdle. Hindle and Viper P proved the fastest, however, as they boomeranged around the turns in just 38.299 seconds. In their wake was Denise Wilson and Delphone Van Het Orshof, the first of two horses that Wilson would steer clearly in today's jump-off. Wilson and Delphine Van Het Orshof, though, came in right behind winner Hindle in 38.423 seconds. Victor Segovia and Romeo earned themselves a third place finish after the jump-off, as the duo cantered cleanly in under 40 seconds. Following this very fast round was the first ribbon ceremony to take place in the Grand Prix ring this year, where winner Hindle received both a blue ribbon and a pair of valuable Devoucoux riding boots. Devoucoux, Inc. is a Bronze Sponsor for Horse Shows by the Bay's 2011 festival.
In addition to winning the $10,000 Welcome Prix, Hindle also had great rides in several other classes. She won the USEF Platinum Performance Talent Search Medal class, as well as the WIHS Hunter and Jumper phases. "The highlight of my day was everything, all the classes," smiled Hindle. "I did three equitation classes, a high junior course, and then the Welcome Prix, so five classes total today. She continued, "I've been to the old grounds of Horse Shows by the Bay, as well as the new ones, but I haven't been here in about two years, so I'm happy to be back. I'm having a really good time. My horse liked the footing today, so that was good as well. I've had him (Viper P) since he was four, so we've been together for about five years. What I like most about him is his personality. He's a little bit spunky and sassy, but he's also very lovable at the same time."
"The jump-off went really well," observed Hindle. "I think that was the best because we did it just how I had planned it, and the it worked out well. My plan was just to go nice and smooth and double clean and not too crazy, and just leave all the jumps up." Hindle said she will be here for at least the first three weeks of Horse Shows by the Bay, "but I might stay for all four because I'm having so much fun." Hindle is eighteen years old and trains with Donald Cheska; Viper P is owned by Hindle.
Second place finisher Denise Wilson commented, "I had two younger horses that are relatively inexperienced, so just to go out there today and go double clean was great. I was so happy with that. They're two very green horses, both of them are new just in the last six months, and I'm very proud of them. The triple bar to the Pessoa rode longer than I thought, and that Pessoa jump is a bit careful, with the white rails. Overall I thought it was a great course and a great class, very friendly and inviting, and I thought the course designer did a great job. I'll be here for all four weeks, and one of the things I'm most looking forward to is the weather," she laughed. "We came here last year and we had a lot of fun and the horses did great, and the atmosphere here is wonderful, so it's a fun place, it's like a vacation horse show."
While the competition was heating up in the arena, fans and family members were cooling down at the ice cream social, which took place near the viewing area of the Grand Prix ring. "The ice cream is really refreshing after a welcome ride," laughed Melissa Hirt, who rode two horses in today's welcome prix: Tomina and Au Grand Coeur, both owned by Hirt.
Horse Shows by the Bay will continue to welcome athletes, inspire spectators, and award over half a million dollars in prize money over the next four weeks. Upcoming events for the remainder of this week, Series I, include the $10,000 Show Jumping Hall of Fame Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Prix on July 9, as well as the $30,000 Grand Prix of Traverse City on July 10.
During Series II, held July 13-17, highlights include a new $10,000 Horse Shows by the Bay Open Hunter Classic, a new $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Classic, and a $30,000 Grand Traverse Bay Grand Prix and VIP Sponsor Luncheon. Series III, which occurs July 20-24, includes a $20,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby, a $10,000 Show Jumping Hall of Fame Junior Amateur-Owner Jumper Prix, and a $30,000 Grand Prix of the Great Lakes and VIP Sponsor Luncheon During the fourth and final week of competition, exciting events include the $30,000 D-BRAIDER Cherry Capital Classic Grand Prix, as well as a $10,000 Children's/Adult Jumper Prix and VIP Sponsor Luncheon.
For more information or to view schedules, please visit www.horseshowsbythebay.com or call 231-267-3700.
Photo: Greer Hindle and Viper P Credit: Robyn Keyster/PMG