Traverse City, MI - July 31, 2011 - With appropriately bright and sunny skies overhead, Horse Shows by the Bay Series IV went out with a bang today in the Grand Prix ring at Flintfields Horse Park. Four challenging jumper events brought out the very best in equestrian sports: competition, camaraderie, and entertainment. The best of the best proved to be Lisa Goldman in the $10,000 Show Jumping Hall of Fame (SJHOF) Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Prix, Maria Costa in the $5,000 North American League (NAL) Low Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic, Erin Haas in the Modifield Child/Adult Jumper Classic, and Patricia Hennessy in the $10,000 Children's/Adult Jumper Prix.
The first event on today's busy jumper schedule was the $10,000 SJHOF Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Prix. Over half of the competitors made it to the jump-off on designer J.P. Godard's daunting course, but the second round whittled-down the entrants to just three who were able to go clear twice. Finishing first was Lisa Goldman on her horse Fontaine, who together achieved a jump-off time of 38.093 seconds. Tracey Weinberg and her own Larone also mastered the second round, finishing second in 39.744 seconds. Very close behind was Laura Linback and Woodrun's Casino, who went clear in 39.763 seconds. Greer Hindle and her own Viper P came in fourth, Maria Costa and her own Sandman finished fifth, Greer Hindle also took sixth place aboard her horse Wymore, Laura Steffee finished in seventh place on Idole Du Chateau, owned by Sierra Del Sol Investments LLC, and Alex Parrish rode Alexander Farm's Valentina 156 into the eighth position.
"During the jump-off," Goldman noted, "fence one came up nicely, and I was planning on doing the six down the second line, but Fontaine just got right up and we ended up doing five down that line. We also did the inside turns really nicely, so she was a good girl. Everything came up really nicely." Goldman added of Fontaine, "She knows her job, I've had her for a really long time. I love her. She's a lot of fun."
Following today's first jumper prix was the $5,000 NAL Low Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic, sponsored by Phelps Media Group of Wellington, FL. Lisa Goldman continued her morning's success by making it to the jump-off in this class on two of her own horses: Don Salut and Rococo. On Don Salut, Goldman was the first rider in the jump-off and got the crowd on their feet by really going for broke at the last fence. Also having an eventful morning, Tracey Weinberg rode her own Linda Z into a second round as well as a second place finish. Weinberg and Linda Z flew past the timers in just 36.544 seconds, just ahead of third place finisher Goldman, who jumped clear in 38.093 seconds on Don Salut. Despite these two fantastic rides, the fastest clear jump-off time went to Maria Costa on her own horse, Reno. The two were calm and steady as they traversed the jump-off course, no easy feat considering the tight turns and increasingly warm temperatures. Costa and Reno's careful approach earned them the blue ribbon in today's competitive class. Coming in fourth was Lisa Zimmer and Zorros Precision MBA, owned by Holger Hetzel, who would have won if not for one rail at the final fence. They turned in the fastest overall jump-off time in a brisk 34.408 seconds. Finishing fifth was Lacey Gilbertson on her own Lifestyle, coming in sixth was Goldman again on Rococo, and Kimberly Seay on her own Belvedere completed the top eight.
Following her win, Costa stated, "With Reno, the first round is usually pretty smooth and steady. We usually cut it a little close on the time because of that, but when we get in there in the jump-off, I think what's most important for me is trying to set my pace so the first fence is the way I would have it to the last fence, so it's consistent throughout the whole round, because that's my issue. Reno is perfect, he doesn't have any issues. It's just a matter of if I keep up with him or not." She added, "I got Reno about a year and two months ago. He was actually Brian Shook's horse, who is familiar with this horse show. So Reno is coming back home when he comes here. It's an amazing horse show. This year has been great, and the footing is amazing. We're definitely going to be back next year."
Also gracing the Grand Prix ring today was the $2,500 Modified Child/Adult Jumper Classic, won by Erin Haas and Hans of North Face Farm. Coming in second was Cecily Waud on Janet Sassmannshausen's Ozaliat. Third place went to Megan Rossi on her own Soda Pop Kid. Additional stars of today's show included the winners of the OVATION Leading Jumper Rider Awards, given to the riders who have accumulated the most points throughout the series in their respective divisions. Erin Haas won the award in the High Jr/AO division, Kimberly Seay won in the Low Jr/AO division, Kady Abrahamson won in the Children's division, and Lauren Keck won in the Adult division.
The $10,000 Children's/Adult Jumper Prix involved a host of thrills and spills that kept the gathering crowd glued to the Grand Prix ring. A large class of 40 entries made for a continuous stream of challengers to J.P. Godard's course, and continuous sunshine forced competitors to beat the heat as well as the clock. The first round saw multiple falls of both rails and riders, but there were also numerous clear rides as well. Fourteen survived their initial rounds and came back to vie for the top honors. Ericka Caslin rode Cara Cheska's Rioletto to a speedy jump-off time of just 29.333 seconds, setting a tough-to-beat precedent for the other contenders. The duo finished second, though, behind the unbeatable pair of Patricia Hennessy and Little Tom. The two cut a seamless path through the jump-off course, finishing clearly in an astounding 27.536 seconds and clinching the win.
"We had a plan going in; we knew exactly what we wanted to see before we even started," explained Hennessy after her exemplary jump-off. "Usually he's a little shorter strided, so I have to watch the lines. We had planned the five, and we knew we had to continue on the five, but he almost got there early. He was just super. He was really 'on' and really listening, and luck was really with me today."
Hennessy, who has been with Little Tom for about six years, continued, "He's very pony-like, he's been a lot of fun. He's also very fast. When I started training with Chris (Kappler), it was almost as if I needed to slow everything down. He's just that naturally fast. So we've always been working on the technique and taking a breath and relaxing. He thinks for himself, so you almost have to slow it down so he's not thinking ahead of you. I had originally gotten him to resell as a project, but I started riding him and it clicked after a while. He's just been so much fun to ride. Chris is very methodical, so it's been a perfect match for us."
Today's class was sponsored by Hagyard Equine Medical Institute. Dr. Heather Woodruff of Hagyard was present to grant the honors to today's winners, which included Caslin in second place and Elle Turley and Cowgirl, owned by DC Sales and Entertainment, Inc., in third. Additional honors included Stephanie Mengarelli and her own Lone Star in fourth place, Amanda Bozorgi and Tudor, owned by Nathan Wegbreit, in fifth place, Chase Stewart and Houston, owned by Stewart, in sixth place, and Lisa Baker and her own King Tobias in seventh place. Today's eighth place finisher was Angela Misch on Hidden Creek's Shadow of Hidden Creek Farm, Inc. Rachel Geiger and her own Play Date earned ninth place honors, and Marika Raff and Fox Meadow Farm's Alex finished tenth. A VIP Sponsor Luncheon was generously provided by Craig Rosenberg of Morgan Stanley Smith Barney this afternoon, making for a relaxing end to an action-packed fourth and final week at Horse Shows by the Bay.
For more information on Horse Shows by the Bay, please visit www.horseshowsbythebay.com or call 231-267-3700.
Photo: Patricia Hennessy and Little Tom win the $10,000 Children's/Adult Jumper Prix on the final day of Horse Shows by the Bay Series IV Credit: Katie Anich/PMG