Traverse City, MI - Amanda Derbyshire and Attack II left no prisoners during the $40,000 Grand Prix of the Great Lakes. Derbyshire had the luxury of going sixth of the seven competitors who had qualified for the jump-off in the featured jumper class, held during Horse Shows by the Bay Series III. Derbyshire was able to win the battle by leaving out a stride that second-placed Kim Farlinger hadn't.
"I did five strides after the double, where most people did six, and I think that's where I made the time up. So I'm very happy," said Derbyshire.
After she'd set the new time to beat of 40.51 seconds, Derbyshire waited to see if Wilhelm Genn and Happy Z, the last to go, could catch them.
Genn and his longtime partner gave it a gallant shot, but a rail down relegated them to fourth, and Derbyshire breathed a sigh of relief because Happy's time of 39.53 seconds was the best of the day.
"It means a lot to win here," said Derbyshire, who also won the $10,000 Positive Step Welcome Prix during Series II. "We've had such a fun show even without this victory, so it's like icing on the cake. We've had a brilliant few weeks."
Course designer Michel Vaillancourt set a challenging track in the Grand Prix Ring, but the talented field rose to the occasion. When I walked it, I thought there wouldn't be that many clears, if any," said Derbyshire. "The course was pretty big; bigger than I thought it would be."
Farlinger, of Orangeville, Ontario, and the 11-year-old mare Caprice Vande Brouwershoeve began the grand prix classes last year and have regularly been in the ribbons since then.
"I thought the jump-off was great," said Farlinger. "You could be fast, and I like when they give you room to gallop, like he did to the last jump. And she was fantastic
"I went second in the jump-off, so I wasn't sure whether I should do the inside option to the last line, and I went around it," she added. "It's hard to know how fast you need to go. It turns out I needed to go a little faster, but she did everything I asked her to do, and she was great."
Jill Knowles and Condesa Z achieved the only other double-clear performance for third place.
Derbyshire ranks this as Attack II's biggest-money win to date. "I want to give a big thank-you to the Baxter Hill team. I couldn't do it without every member of the staff, and, of course, Becky and David [Gochman] for giving me this opportunity and owning such a great horse," she said.
Derbyshire described the 14-year-old Belgian Warmblood (by Grandeur) as being perfect during the three weeks of Horse Shows by the Bay.
"He always tries, and if you find the jumps and ride him accurately, he's always going to try and leave them up," she said. "He likes this show, I think."
Baxter Hill concluded a banner week during Series III. "The girls were for the first time champion and reserve in the Low Children's Jumpers, and Becky was champion and reserve [in the hunters], so the whole team we pulled off a good week, so we're really thankful for everything."
Results of the $40,000 Grand Prix of the Great Lakes
- Attack II/Amanda Derbyshire/0-0/40.51
- Caprice Vande Brouwershoeve/Kim Farlinger/0-0/41.08
- Condesa Z/Jill Knowles/0-0/47.51
- Happy Z/Wilhelm Genn/0-4/39.53
- Cookie Monster/Ryan Genn/0-4/40.37
- Bugatti/Wilhelm Genn/0-4/43.22
- Condero 3/Bob Brawley/0-8/41.25
Prior to the afternoon grand prix, three classics took place for the Children's, Adult Amateur and Low Junior/Amateur-Owner riders.
In the $7,500 Low Junior/Amateur-Owner Classic, sponsored by Schreiber Corporation, Madison Billings and Stonestreet pulled off an impressive win even if the odds weren't in their favor.
Billings, 17, of North Barrington, Illinois, entered the class late, so her name was added to the top of the starting order.
"On the first-round course there were some tricky spots," she said. "Then, in the jump-off I was trying to go clean. I did go first, setting the bar. He did everything and more than I asked. I made a mistake to the last fence. I pulled a little too much, and he popped right up then cleared it for me."
Trainer Nancy Whitehead teased Billings about her error but overall was pleased with her performance.
"All and all, he's not the easiest horse to ride because he's very eager to jump and gets excited," said Whitehead. "He always goes and never stops, but he is a handful. That part she did very well, but I was a little disappointed she added a stride to the last in the jump-off, and I certainly thought someone would beat us because of that."
Although the 18 remaining competitors tried, no one was able to catch Billings, and she led the victory gallop aboard the flashy 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood (Lupicor--Loretta Utopia).
"Madison is a beautiful rider. Even though he's lunging and plunging she has a gorgeous position over the top of the fence," said Whitehead. "She handles it all so well."
Heather Flynn also managed to rein in her mount Une Etoile De L'Eclypse during the first round and jump-off to post the best performance in the $2,500 NAL/WIHS Adult Jumper Classic, sponsored by Chelten Benefits Group. When others are kicking for more speed, Flynn sits chilly.
"The first round was good. I'm working on control, and she was very much in control," said Flynn. "The five [stride line] was really hard because so many people were having that rail there. But I got her back beautifully. The rest was perfect."In the jump-off, trainer Molly Ashe gave Flynn some words of advice.
"We call it the jump button," said Flynn laughing. "Molly always tells me, 'Don't press the jump button. Don't go!' So, I just jumped the first fence, and she took me. She knows when she's in the jump-off. She says, 'All right, let's go.' And, honestly, I just sit there. I point her at the jumps, and she takes care of me. She's such a sweet horse. I love her."
Flynn, 18, of Farmington, Connecticut, traveled to Horse Shows by the Bay for the first time for Series III and IV. She competed in two classes this week and earned two blue ribbons. The wins are particularly meaningful because Flynn will be leaving "Star" behind to attend Southern Methodist University (Texas) where she will be on the NCAA Equestrian Team.
"We got Star in December through Maarten Huygens, and she has come such a long way," said Flynn of the 10-year-old warmblood (Ogano Sitte--Nice De Bray). "She's helped me so much. She likes to go; she's amazing and takes care of me."
Ashe said Flynn's performance, in the class of 33 starters, was fantastic; they captured the blue by almost a full second.
"I thought she rode the first round spot-on perfect," said Ashe. "The mare is hot and fast on her own, so we've been working on not going 100 percent because it gets too fast, and I thought she nailed it today. I'm happy with both of them. They did a great job."
Anika Pirkle and Just A Dream have been living the dream in the show ring. The pair added to their remarkable record with victory in the $2,500 NAL/WIHS Children's Jumper Classic, sponsored by Jeff Bass Music.
Pirkle, 11, of Carmel, Indiana, and her 9-year-old Thoroughbred won the class by six seconds. "He's amazing. He's the best horse I've ever had," said Pirkle. "He's a Thoroughbred that I've had for two years. My trainer brought him in and had me get on him to test him out and see if we got along, and we did right from the start."
Earlier this year, Pirkle and Just A Dream spent three weeks on the HITS Ocala Winter circuit in Florida honing their skills. "We won every class we entered there," said Pirkle smiling. "He's awesome to ride, and when he gets really excited he starts squealing. He sometimes bucks a little bit because he's having so much fun."
Pirkle and Just A Dream won every Children's Jumper class this week to earn the show championship as well.
Anika's mother Yasemin Pirkle cheered the pair on from the rail and is thankful that their partnership is so strong.
"He doesn't like to touch the rails; he's very careful," she said. "The good thing about him is that if she makes a mistake going to a jump, as long as she commits to her mistake early enough he'll do his best to fix it for her. That's what makes watching them so much fun, because they really are a great team. He just loves his job, and it shows."
Anika added in one more thanks for her banner show: "I would like to thank my trainer, David Dorner of Bridle Oaks Farm, because I couldn't do any of this without him."
In the R.L. Polk Family Main Hunter Ring, David Beisel and Lavish edged Peter Pletcher and Cupid for the top call in the $2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby, presented by Walgreens.
Beisel and Phyllis Harlow's Lavish jumped to second place in the Classic Round, and trailed Pletcher and Lindsay Holstead's Cupid by .25 point. The tables were turned in the Handy Round, however, and Beisel's score of 94 was the best of the day, and Pletcher secured second place with a 91.
Beisel and Lavish, a 9-year-old Westphalian (by Don Bedo), have been together for two years. He's mainly Phyllis' horse and every now and then she'll let me ride him in a derby just for fun," he said.
Beisel, who also competed in the grand prix being held concurrently, managed to juggle the two classes. "I had 4 faults in the grand prix, so I didn't have to worry about jumping off," he said laughing. "I was comfortable doing both since I do it all week long, and Sunday is no different I guess."
"In the first round he felt like he flowed really nice. I thought I was conservative to the last jump. But it seemed like he was having fun out there," he said. "I came back next-to-last for the Handy, so I got to watch a little bit and tried to formulate a good plan."
Beisel, of Goshen, Ohio, who is not afraid of speed, said he may have impressed the judges with his hand gallop.
"I wanted to come way out so I could show off a gallop to the jump, which I thought I demonstrated well," he said. "Then, I went as handy as I could to the trot jump. It was a lot of fun, and I want to thank Phyllis Harlow for letting me show this nice horse and to Alex Rheinheimer and the staff for putting on another great week of showing."
Other Featured Winners Today Included:
- 3'6" Amateur-Owner Hunter Championship, sponsored by Becky Thatcher Designs and Lindsay Lyden - Carlson, owned and ridden by Alliy Moyer
- 3'3" Amateur-Owner Hunter, 18-35, Championship, sponsored by Classic Horse Equestrian Jewelry Collection - Voila, owned and ridden by Kyle Owens
- 3'3" Amateur-Owner Hunter, 36 and over, Championship, sponsored by The Peninsula Group at Morgan Stanley - Fredrick, owned by David Gochman and ridden by Becky Gochman
- Small Pony Hunter Championship, sponsored by David Beisel Stables - Love Me Tender, owned by David Gochman and ridden by Mimi Gochman
- Medium Pony Hunter Championship, sponsored by The Wujek Family - Truly Noble, owned by Pegasus Show Stable Inc., and David Gochman and ridden by Sophie Gochman
Horse Shows by the Bay Fast Facts
Horse Shows by the Bay is a United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) Premier (AA) Hunter and Level 4 Jumper competition.
- Series I: July 2-6
- Series II: July 9-13 (USHJA/WCHR Member Event)
- Series III: July 16-20 ($25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby)
- Series IV: July 23-27 (HJAM Equitation Medal Finals)
- Weekly $40,000 Grand Prix
- Weekly $10,000 Open Jumper
- Welcome Prix Weekly $2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby
- Weekly $1,000 USHJA Pre-Green Incentive Program Stake Classes
- Weekly TAKE2 Thoroughbred Hunter/Jumper Classes
- Weekly Charity Fundraisers & Special Spectator Days