East Dorset, Vermont — Nineteen-year-old Catherine Tyree claimed the first grand prix victory of her young career in the $30,000 Manchester and the Mountains Grand Prix, presented by Purina Horse Feed, held August 3 at the Vermont Summer Festival in East Dorset, VT. Tyree was aboard Sandor de la Pomme, an 11-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding owned by Tyree’s mother, Mary Tyree.
Tyree of Chicago, IL, was the final rider to enter the grand prix ring, aiming to beat perennial Vermont Summer Festival winners Danielle Torano and Capitano. Torano and Capitano produced the first double clear round of the day over courses designed by 1976 Olympic sliver medalist Michel Vaillancourt, stopping the timers in 35.71 seconds. Last to go with Sandor de la Pomme, Tyree pulled out the win down the home stretch, galloping to the finish line just one-tenth of a second faster than Torano.
“Going last is nerve-wracking!” exclaimed Tyree. “Going to the last jump, I actually didn’t think I was fast enough but he has such a huge stride that it can be deceiving. I was able to match Danielle everywhere because her horse has a very similar stride. We beat her by just the slightest of margins.”
Tyree’s trainer, Missy Clark, of North Run in Warren, VT, agreed that the pair made the time going into the last jump on course.
“We knew we had to be quick around,” said Clark. “The key to it was pulling the trigger back to the skinny, which she did. Then it was nine strides coming home and she was right on it through the turns. He’s a fast horse, so if she could get the turns right, I knew she would have a shot.”
Saturday’s victory was the first grand prix win of Tyree’s career and only her second time competing at the grand prix height with Sandor de la Pomme, whom she credits with taking her riding to the next level.
“He has such a great record with all of his previous riders. I have the confidence going into any class that I can jump it because he’s been there, done that, and he’s going to be there for me. It’s a very nice feeling to know I’m walking in on a horse that’s capable and will take care of me,” said Tyree.
Tyree, who took a gap year after graduating from high school to focus on her riding, has clearly made the most of the last year in the saddle.
“Last year, when I came to Missy and John (Brennan), I was doing the high amateur jumpers but it wasn’t going well. They’ve really helped my riding and helped me step up a level. I never thought I would win a grand prix, especially on (Sandor de la Pomme),” Tyree described.
She continued, “This year has been incredible. I never thought I would have a horse like him. Missy and John knew right away; they have such a natural eye for a horse and for a match. I can’t thank them enough for everything they’ve done for me, as well as the whole team at North Run. Sandor’s groom (Jaime Cormier) absolutely loves him, so today is as much her win as it is mine.”
Clark had no doubt the pair would be a perfect match, describing Tyree’s soft riding style as Sandor de la Pomme’s ideal ride. As Tyree heads off to Northwestern University in the fall, Clark is confident that she will continue to excel in both academia and show jumping.
“We’re going to keep the horse while she’s back and forth (to school), just like a lot of my kids have done over the years. (North Run alumna and show jumping star) Hillary Dobbs went to Harvard and was commuting back and forth. Catherine is really dedicated and I think she’s in it for the long haul. She’s been a wonderful student. She’s planning on doing the commute back and forth to Palm Beach (for the FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival) for the winter. It’s hard, but the smart kids can do it,” Clark remarked.
Tyree acknowledged the difficulty of balancing her educational and equestrian pursuits, but is looking forward to starting college.
“I’m very excited. I’m going to try to make it work and see how I can balance it all. When I was in high school, I worked very hard. I think it will be similar, if not a little more difficult, but hopefully I can arrange my schedule to make the transition as smooth as possible,” Tyree described.
Tyree and Sandor de la Pomme weren’t the only winners presented on Saturday afternoon. Clark also won the Purina Horse Feed Top Dog Photo Contest with her miniature wire-haired Dachshunds, Dandelion and Chili Dog. Clark generously opted to donate her prize of Purina products to a raffle to benefit Danny and Ron’s Rescue. Raffle tickets are $10 and will be sold at the grand prix ring in-gate Sunday, August 3, at the Vermont Summer Festival. All proceeds will be donated to Danny and Ron's Rescue.
Week five of competition at the Vermont Summer Festival, hosted at Harold Beebe Farm in East Dorset, VT, will continue Sunday, August 4. The final week of competition for the six-week circuit will feature increased prize money for the highest levels of competition for both hunters and jumpers. The $15,000 NEHJA Hunter Derby will take place on Thursday, August 8. The final grand prix competition of the show will be the $50,000 Vermont Summer Celebration Grand Prix on Saturday, August 10.
The Vermont Summer Festival, celebrating its 20th anniversary in its current Manchester location, offers more than $750,000 in prize money, making it the richest sporting event based on purse in the state of Vermont.
The Vermont Summer Festival is a proud member event of the Show Jumping Hall Of Fame, the Marshall & Sterling League, and the North American League (NAL). Please e-mail us or visit our website for more information about the Vermont Summer Festival.
$30,000 Manchester and the Mountains Grand Prix
Presented by Purina Horse Feed
Rider Horse Faults Time
1. Catherine Tyree Sandor de la Pomme 0:0 35.56
2. Danielle Torano Capitano 0:0 35.72
3. Adrienne Sternlicht Quidam MB 0:0 36.16
4. Charlotte Jacobs Promised Land 0:4 35.34
5. Luis Larrazabal G&C Flash 0:4 36.12
6. Paul O'Shea Wizz 0:4 37.10
7. Adrienne Sternlicht S&L Slingback 0:8 35.66
8. Johnathan Corrigan Olympic de Chamant 4
9. Manuel Torres Fidelina 4
10. Julies Welles Bazooka de Muze 4
11. Emily Pope Seize the Moment 4
12. Mark Bluman G&C Blue 4