Conyers, GA—June 27, 2011—The Atlanta Summer Classics wrapped up competition at the Georgia International Horse Park, awarding nearly $300,000 in prize money and raising thousands for local charities over the two week run. “We’ve had some of the best riders in our sport joining us; it’s been a remarkable series and I couldn’t be happier.” Bob Bell, President of Classic Company said.
Starting off the finale week, were a couple of highly anticipated clinics on Tuesday- beginning with a member of the $1 million dollar club, famed Grand Prix pro Wilhelm Genn shared his secrets of mastering water jumps. Sponsored by the United States Hunter Jumper Association, Genn used the covered arena to set a mini course of six jumps- two with water hazards and utilized approx ten horses to demonstrate proper and improper approaches. Speaking over a wireless microphone to riders and trainers for nearly two hours, Genn answered questions and provided helpful tips to “boost a horse’s confidence” when confronting water obstacles.
Following was a very informative Pony Model Clinic with one of the foremost experts in this area, Bibby Farmer from Ocala, FL. She carefully explained to the young exhibitors not only what judges look for, but how to get the best from their ponies. Covering all the essentials from the pony’s stance to where the exhibitor’s attentions need to be when a judge is walking about them.
On Thursday evening it was the judges found themselves in the proverbial hot seats for an open forum called Just Ask the Judges, sponsored by Practical Horseman magazine. Three of the most respected names in judging, Betty Oare, Scott Fitton, and Barry Lobel, fielded questions from exhibitors and provided insight on scoring in the Hunter/Jumper disciplines. The panel also shared several of what they referred to as Judges’ Pet Peeves- which included overly short releases, especially in the Equitation divisions. All the experts agreed a restrictive release interferes with the horse’s jumping style, but pointed out that doesn’t imply they want to see the opposite extreme with the infamous overdone throwing of the arms release. Another peeve they described was the exaggerated tour taken upon entering the ring, stating if a rider needs to show their mount the ring and/or the fences then the rider appears unprepared. Questions were asked on a wide range of subjects and guests left the forum armed with a lot of valuable information. “The clinics were a giant success and we [Classic Company] will be introducing more of these throughout out show schedule.” Bell commented.
Friday evening saw the annual Outback Steakhouse Charity Dinner in the covered arena filled to capacity with guests enjoying a sumptuous meal, placing bids on an array of items in the Silent Auction to benefit The Hope Clinic- a local nonprofit primary care internal medicine clinic which aids those in need, and eagerly awaiting the featured entertainment- the $3,500 Gamblers Choice Jumper Challenge. Set at meter 1.15, twelve jumps were in a nondescript layout with each fence being given a point value ranging from 50 to 200. Competitors had a time limit of 90 seconds in which to accumulate the highest score based on whatever strategy the 30 entries deemed best. A select few fences allowed for limited multiple pass overs and some allowed reverse directions, typically this is a class won on good strategic planning but sometimes its good ole fashion luck.
“The success is arriving 30 minutes later!” laughed winning Chilean born rider Samuel Parot. “We were late coming because we thought the class started at 7:30 and so we came running over from the grand prix ring, saw the track from outside and got help from others. But at the end of the day basically the strategy was to get the higher point jumps twice at the beginning and then just use the time at the end to get the smaller points. So we did a lot of rollbacks, we went back and forth quick on the higher ones, then went to the next higher set until the we worked all the way down.” Added Wellington, FL based Juan Ortiz, Parots’s business partner and owner of the winning horse, 7 year-old German bred Costa Real. Parot and Costa Real scored a total of 1350 points to take the win. Both rider and owner gave full credit to the young mare, “She’s won almost every meter 1.20 class in the big Grand Prix arena. She’s a very agile, very fast, and experienced young horse.” Parot said. Always a popular event, Bell shared that proceeds are still being tallied but so far with every table sold for the dinner and some of the auction numbers coming in, the event was already over $15,000. “It’s a fun class, something to entertain the people and we’re happy to support the show.” Oritz concluded.
Top Five Placings in the Outback Steakhouse Gamblers Choice Jumper Challenge
- 1st Costa Real with Samuel Parot for owner Juan Oritz
- 2nd Wacoucha with Bryn Sadler for owner Showcase 81, LLC
- 3rd Mad Mardigan with Casey Hodges for owner Wendy Arndt
- 4th MG Bethoven with Carlo Graziani for owner Keren Halperin-Guy
- 5th Clinton’s Dream with Samuel Parot for owner Artisan Farms, LLC
Earlier in the day 18 future Derby hopefuls competed in the $2,500 USHJA National Hunter Classic. Course designer Joe Carnicone created a Derby type layout consisting of turns, broken lines, and optional fences ranging from 3’ to 3’3. “This classic is where many future Derby competitors will be coming from- both riders and horses. I truly enjoy seeing the growth this class provides.” Bell said.
Official Results for the USHJA National Hunter Classic were:
- 1st Vince owned by Greg Burrow and ridden by Julie Curtin
- 2nd Status Quo owned by Nouveau Hunters, LLC and ridden by Clair Kellner
- 3rd Ramano owned by Martin Schlaeppi and ridden by Julie Curtin
- 4th Renoir Z owned by Allison Mills and ridden by Christina Jason
- 5th Cavallino owned and ridden by Marlena Parker
- 6th Revelation owned by DC Sales & Entertainment and ridden by Elizabeth Boyd
- 7th Optimized owned and ridden by Jessica Zienkievicz
- 8th La Vita owned and ridden by Raven Weinlein
- 9th Julian owned and ridden by Amanda Foard
- 10th Ursula owned by Caroline Clark Morrison and ridden by Julie Curtin
- 11th Swank owned by Donald Stewart and ridden by Kriss Eisaman
- 12th High Five owned and ridden by Kelli Sherrill
Also in the hunter rings, this week saw the Grand Puba Junior Hunter competition conclude with Taylor Ann Adams of Ocala, FL taking the title of 2011 Most Supreme Grand Puba Junior Champion. During week two competitors accumulated points which moved forward to the Junior Hunter Classic for each division to aid in determining the ultimate winners. Overall scores were calculated as follows: points from the first Junior Hunter Over Fences class counted as 25% and points from the Junior Hunter Under Saddle classes another 25%. These two scores were added to the two Classic rounds, which accounted for the remaining 50% of points that decided the final total individual scores. A Grand Puba Junior Hunter was crowned in each size and age section of the junior hunters and each was awarded a gift certificate for an Essex Classic shirt. Cloudline, owned by Visse Wedall, and Adams was awarded the title of Most Supreme Grand Puba Junior Champion based on achieving the highest overall score. They were presented with a custom cooler, the Essex Classic shirt certificate, as well as being featured in a full page congratulatory ad created by Flashpoint Photography to appear in the Chronicle of the Horse.
And the grand finale of events in Conyers was the $35,000 Outback Steakhouse Grand Prix with 27 superb equine athletes taking on a 90 second clock to negotiate the 16 efforts of a highly technical layout by renowned designer Michel Vaillancourt. The first nine entries failed to run the course clean, but the number ten pair of Julianna Fischer of Wellington, FL and Lola posted a clear round in 80.689. Six horses later it was Lebanon, OH based owner-rider Wilhelm Genn aboard the incomparable 13-year old German mare Happy Z clearing the timers in 84.228 seconds and assuring a jump off round. None of the remaining ten steeds would succeed in advancing to the final round. “It was a pretty long course, and I think because of the light and time of day it was a little bit different for the horses. They don’t jump in those kinds of conditions very often.” Genn offered as reasoning for the many short comings on the course, “It was still fairly warm and I think some of the horses got tired on the end and the biggest question on the end was coming off the bending line into the triple combination [12ABC- vertical into oxer and out of oxer] A to B was a little short and then they have to fire up a bit going out because the oxer out got a bit wide , and then a little tough to the last jump because you had to go by the in gate. ” His assessment did coincide with where the majority of horses had rails drop.
The Jump Off round took on more of match race feel with two mares, similar in small stature and lightening fast turning abilities. They faced off against Vaillancourt’s limit of 48 seconds to clear the 8 fence layout with its shear distance from the far side of the former Olympic arena via tight turns to its final fence at the In Gate. First in, Fischer and Lola, knowing just who they were up against, the pair held nothing back in their efforts to set a blazing pace for Happy Z to follow, but despite a time of 39.009 an unfortunate rail at fence 7 would leave them holding their breath while Genn was on course. The little chestnut mare, Happy, entered the arena and showed what it is that makes her such a crowd favorite, executing a split second rollback and flawless tight turns to land Genn in the winner’s circle with a clear ride in 39.120. “What a great pair, very talented and they gave me a great run today.” Genn spoke of Fischer and Lola, then added to show manager Bob Bell, “What a great two weeks! My compliments to you, Allen [Rheinheimer], and all the people involved. It was a beautiful show and we loved it!”
Official Results in the $35,000 Outback Steakhouse Grand Prix
- 1st Happy Z with owner-rider Wilhelm Genn 39.120 0
- 2nd Lola with owner-rider Julianna Fischer 39.009 4
- 3rd Al Calypso with Samuel Parot for owner Juan Ortiz 78.889 4
- 4th Marlo with Ryan Genn for owner Wilhelm Genn 80.257 4
- 5th Delilah with owner-rider Hasbrouck Donovan 83.336 4
- 6th Copyright 3 with owner-rider Wilhelm Genn 83.696 4
- 7th Neville with Daniel Geitner for owner CDS Stables 83.809 4
- 8th South Bound with owner-rider Martien Van Der Hoeven 86.013 4
- 9th Paradox with Theo Genn for owner Thomas Bruinsma 86.092 4
- 10th Triompf with Holly Shepherd for owner Sarah Patterson 88.576 4
- 11th Karat II with owner-rider Juan Ortiz 82.599 8
- 12th Sympa with Daniel Geitner for owner Mrs. Charles Bostwick 83.246 8
“It’s been a great two weeks in Conyers. Fun events, great parties, and we had lots of new faces from Texas to Venezuela! What more could I even hope for?” Bob Bell said at the conclusion of the series.
Photo Credit: Samuel Parot & Juan Oritz; Taylor Ann Adams & Cloudline; Wilhelm Genn & Happy Z ©Flashpoint Photography