Traverse City, MI - July 10, 2011 - An overcast morning gave way to a rather blustery but pleasant day on the final day of week one of Horse Shows by the Bay in Traverse City, MI. The R.L. Polk Family Main Hunter ring bustled with many junior riders vying for the Grand Junior Hunter Champion title. There was no stopping Jessica Blum and The Real McCoy, who topped them all when they earned first place in every Large Junior 15 and Under class this weekend. Also highlighting the day was the $2,000 Junior Hunter Classic and the $30,000 Grand Prix of Traverse City, both drawing quite impressive crowds.
The Large 16-17 Junior Hunters kicked off the Junior Hunter division today. Madison Hayes and Santiago, owned by Ilan Ferder, won the hunter round with a smooth and consistent showing of her handsome horse. Sydney Glazer and Emily Arneson's Amika jumped with beautiful form into the second place position in the hunter round, followed by Mary Abbot aboard Devotion, who is owned by Jessica Warren. Laura Baginski and Jordan Weaver's Devout showed off their skills in the handy hunter round, easily making the turns right into first place in the class. Hayes and Santiago grabbed the red ribbon and Sydney Glazer and Amika snagged its yellow counterpart in the handy round. After all the points were tallied-up, Hayes and Santiago accumulated the most points over the weekend - 38 total - and took home the champion prize. Laura Baginski and Devout took home reserve champion honors with 28 points.
It was the Large 15 and Under Junior Hunters who stole the show today, with Blum and McCoy earning first place honors in every class of their division, including the under saddle class. Blum and her own "Mac" closed out the weekend with a total of 50 points in the section, as well as the sought-after champion ribbon. These incredible 50 points allowed the judge to announce early, before the Small Junior Hunters, that the pair could not be topped by any other pair in the Junior Hunter division, making them the Grand Junior Hunter Champions. Lauren Westerhouse and her horse, Debonaire, took home the reserve champion ribbon, with a total of 26 points. Westerhouse and Debonaire earned second place in both classes today.
When asked about The Real McCoy, Blum responded, "He's a prince. He's perfect. He doesn't like it if you touch him and mess with his face. He doesn't like to make mistakes, he just likes to be perfect, to be left alone to do his stuff." In order to prepare for today, Jessica and The Real McCoy focused on "lots of timing and planning and just working my horse as best as I could. I'm always a little bit slow to my first jump, so I just need to get on my pace and stay forward."
Isabella Carroll also had a great day, winning the $2,000 Junior Hunter Classic, which was sponsored by Traverse City's own Cherry Capital Airport. When asked about her ride this morning, Carroll responded, "he (Braddock) was a little tired today, so I think that actually helped us a bit, because he's usually kind of strong, but because he was a bit tired he wasn't pulling on me so much, so it was easier to find the jump. In the first round, I missed a lead change, but in the second round it was pretty much all good," she added with a laugh. According to Carroll, Braddock is "kind of playful, he loves skittles, actually. That's all he eats for treats. In the ring, though, he's not one that you have to kick all the time. He just needs you to have a good feel of the reins."
Chloe Johnson and her horse, Park Place, smoothly jumped their way to championship honors in the Small Junior Hunter division. The duo demonstrated their fantastic hunter style, as they seemed to calmly float over the decorated fences in the main hunter ring. Taking home the reserve champion title was Laura Baginski and Barbados, owned by Elsa Goding. This horse and rider pair earned a total of 23 points today. Johnson and Baginski were both on top of their game this morning, both earning hearty applause from those gathered at the Polk Family ring.
Concluding today's junior hunter action was the $2,000 Junior Hunter Classic, which consisted of two competitive hunter rounds. Throughout the first course, it seemed as though it would once again be Jessica Blum and The Real McCoy taking home the blue, scoring an 81 in the first round, with the crowd applauding before she even finished. Chloe Johnson and Park Place were close behind with a score of 80 points in the first round. However, it was Isabella Carroll and Braddock who ultimately won the class, earning 74 points in the first round and a very impressive 83 points in the second round. Carroll's combined score was 157 points for the two rounds. Johnson and Park Place accumulated 76.5 points in round two, receiving a combined score of 156.5, making for a very close second place finish. Blum and The Real McCoy placed third - by just half a point - in today's classic, earning a combined score of 156 points.
The multi-series Horse Shows by the Bay will continue to offer riders and fans the ideal horse sports venue throughout the next three weeks. Highlights in Series II, held July 13-17, 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, notable 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. Over half a million dollars in prize money will be awarded by the conclusion of this month-long celebration of equestrian athletes.
For more information or to view schedules, please visit www.horseshowsbythebay.com or call 231-267-3700.
Photo: Jessica Blum and The Real McCoy Credit: Katie Anich/PMG