Wayne, IL-- Lamplight Equestrian Center, Wayne, IL, set a record today with the largest prize money single event hosted at the show grounds, during the first week of the two-week Equifest series. The $75,000 Grand Prix hosted in the SmartPak Grand Prix Ring, featured 27 riders competing for the money with only 5 making it to the jump off on the Manuel Esparza (MEX) designed course.
The 16-effort course had many tricky components, but none so much as the vertical-oxer-vertical combination that served as 4A, B, and C to a skinny vertical that saw the most rails. The time allowed of 81 seconds also proved to be a factor for many riders. In the end it came down to Andrew Kocher, the eventual winner and the only double clear aboard Ora Del Te Di La San Giorgio, with a speedy 38.487 seconds. Christoph Schroeder aboard Catungee was the second place finisher with a time of 40.348 and only four faults.
Tracy Fenney, Flower Mound, TX, aboard MTM Grand Slam was only a second slower with 41.521 on the clock, and four faults. Her second ride, MTM Reve Du Paradis, who won the Welcome Stake earlier in the week, was faster than Kocher but carried an unfortunate eight faults. Dorothy Douglas aboard S&L Elite had 39.554 seconds and eight faults, to round out the jump-off.
The second round proved tricky in the same place as the first round, the right hand turn off an oxer to 4B and C, the one stride of the original combination, once again seeing the most rails and causing riders to alter their strategy. Kocher, of Lake St Louis, Missouri, admitted he was just happy to go clear with Ora Del Te Di La San Giorgio, his new nine-year-old mount who he only got this past May. Kocher shares part owner hip along with Randy and Lorrie Allen, Karen Cobb, Anne Nowlan, and Soshana Gordon.
“It’s her first Grand Prix win in the United States. She was third in the Welcome Stake earlier this week. She can jump the biggest of all the horses I have,” explained Kocher. “I was really happy to just go clear. I thought Tracy (Fenney) was going to win and I had people watching for me to let me know what was going on. I was a little slow too jumps 1,2, and 3 in the jump-off then had to hit the gas. She (Fenney) could have outrun me, but then they knocked down poles so I feel pretty lucky,” said Kocher.
Second place finisher Christoph Schroeder, of Wellington Beach, Florida, was in a similar position, with his ride Catungee a nine-year-old Holsteiner who also competed in his first Grand Prix today. “He’s a very promising young horse, today was his first Grand Prix. I still ride him a little like a young horse, and I try to protect him a little so I have to make sure I’m in the time allowed. That’s what I was focusing on; I don’t have to do too much. I figured since there were only five, I wanted to go a little risky, just quick enough, and it worked out well for me”, said Schroeder on his strategy.
Even though the competition was intense, Kocher and Schroeder were still able to shake hands at the end. “We know each other through the circuit, he’s (Kocher) a good guy. Everyone sticks together a little bit,” added Schroeder smiling.
Rounding out the rest of the top spots were Holly Shepherd aboard Triomph in sixth, in seventh was Kocher with Casino Royal, eight was Charlie Jayne with Bassandra and ninth was Kocher aboard Le Conte.