Traverse City, MI - July 9, 2011 - Lillie Ross and Carly Morrison proved themselves confident, capable jumpers today at Horse Shows by the Bay, as they mastered the demanding $10,000 Show Jumping Hall of Fame (SJHOF) Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Prix and the $5,000 North American League (NAL) Low Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic, respectively. Both events took place in the prestigious Grand Prix ring at Flintfields Horse Park in Traverse City, MI, blending the vacation-like atmosphere with some serious competition.
After a bustling morning filled with Children's and Adult Jumpers bounding through the Grand Prix ring, the arena welcomed Juniors and Amateur-Owners in the afternoon. Prior to the start of the jumper events, though, was a fun and informative dressage demonstration by Betsy VanDyke Foster. She and her chestnut mount demonstrated multiple dressage movements to an appreciative crowd, whose applause seemed to set the tone for the afternoon's lineup. First up was the $5,000 NAL Low Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic, with over twenty riders tackling the latest course by designer Chris Brandt. Only about a fourth of the participants made it to the jump-off, with no shortage of dramatic moments during their initial rounds. Numerous knockdowns and several tumbles peppered today's classic, with one horse seemingly eager to start the weekend, trotting out of the ring after throwing a (thankfully injury-free) rider.
The jump-off saw a higher ratio of successes, with the first three riders obtaining a clear round. Rachel Geiger and No Stranger, Rachel Reid and Blossom, and Carly Morrison and Duvel all avoided faults in the speedy second round. Morrison and Duvel emerged victoriously, as they eclipsed Reid and Blossom's time of 37.482 seconds with an impressive 37.133-second time of their own. "I just try to go as fast as I can," laughed Morrison after her energetic ride. "I have to prepare for the jump-off by knowing the inside turns, and then trying to replicate them out here in these warm-up rings."Grabbing the third place position was Geiger and No Stranger, certainly no strangers to success in today's well-attended event.
As the holder of the coveted blue ribbon, Morrison was also able to take home a pair of Devoucoux riding boots and a $25 gift certificate, generously offered by Morgan Stanley Smith Barney's Craig Rosenberg. Rosenberg also provided the same prize to the winner of today's jumper prix. The NAL Classic was sponsored by FarmVet of Franklin, TN. FarmVet is currently present on the row of vendors at Horse Shows by the Bay, and welcomes all attendees to come check out their many equestrian products and supplies.
Following the action-packed Classic, the $10,000 SJHOF Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Prix reinvigorated the increasingly cloudy northern Michigan afternoon. Seven riders jumped clearly in the first round, making for a crowded and crowd-pleasing jump-off. Less than half escaped faults their second time around, with Alex Parris on Frisco the first to fly flawlessly. Lillie Ross and Pako were a formidable duo, though, as they raised the bar with a jump-off time of 41.811 seconds. Their clean round pushed Parrish and Frisco into third place, with Melissa Orlick-Zbierski and Viekie coming in second with a jump-off time of 44.411 seconds. Five of Donald Cheska's students were among those making it to the jump-off today, including Greer Hindle on Wymore, Alex Parrish on Valentina 156, and Ericka Baran on Ad Fundum. Ross's horse, Pako, is owned by Alllison Ross.
"In the first round," observed Ross, "I was coming into the last line, and I wanted to slow him up a little bit, and he was fighting me a little bit, but I just picked him up and he listened really well. In the jump-off, my favorite part was that I was the only one who took that tight inside turn after jump number two, and it worked perfectly, he's such a good boy. He is very sweet, he loves to eat all the treats in the barn, and this horse show we gave him a double stall, and he took up the entire space so he's got a lot of personality. He likes to be spoiled," she added with a laugh. Ross is sixteen years old, and has been carefully honing her riding skills since she was seven. Following today's victory, she will participate in tomorrow's $30,000 Grand Prix of Traverse City aboard the same horse.
The North American League offers a year-long Series in six divisions: Children's Hunter, Adult Hunter, Children's Jumper, Adult Jumper, Pony Jumper, and Low Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper. The 2010-2011 season marks the first time that the NAL features two year-end finals. Joining the NAL's traditional National Finals at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show are new West Coast Finals at the Las Vegas National Horse Show.
The NAL includes classes held at hundreds of horse shows across the United States and Canada. Riders need not be members of the NAL to compete in the qualifying classes, but only members earn points toward the year-end finals. With the annual membership fee only $35, many riders join in hopes of earning points that may qualify them for a trip to Harrisburg or Las Vegas. For more information regarding the NAL series, including series specifications, current standings and a list of upcoming events, please call 717-867-5643, email NAL@Ryegate.com, or visit www.ryegate.com.
The multi-series Horse Shows by the Bay will continue to offer riders and fans the ideal horse sports venue throughout the month of July. Upcoming events for the remainder of this week, Series I, include the $30,000 Grand Prix of Traverse City on July 10. Accompanying this exciting jumper event will be a VIP sponsor luncheon.
During Series II, held July 13-17, highlights 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: Lillie Ross and Pako Credit: Robyn Keyster/PMG