East Dorset, Vermont — Darragh Kenny of Ireland and Obelix were the dampened but undaunted winners of the $30,000 Manchester and the Mountains Grand Prix, Presented by Hand Motors, on Sunday, August 7, at the Vermont Summer Festival in East Dorset, VT. The six-week equestrian competition is running at Harold Beebe Farm from July 6 through August 14, 2011.
Overnight rain had some riders re-evaluating their entry in the Grand Prix. After walking the course, six riders opted to scratch their mounts from the class, leaving a starting field of 10 horse and rider combinations to contest the $30,000 Manchester and the Mountains Grand Prix.
“Even if you can’t walk on the surface, the horses, at over 1,000 pounds, go right through to the base,” explained renowned Canadian course designer Michel Vaillancourt, individual silver medalist at the 1976 Olympic Games. “Because they reach the bottom, they fire off the ground just fine. The more that the horses jump from the same spot in front of the fence, the more they push the soft surface material away, giving them a good solid surface.”
Kenny was the first rider into the ring and turned in a clear effort that was solid and confident, displaying no concern about the footing. When they returned to the ring for the jump-off, the pair again rode with confidence, steadying before the obstacles, but speeding between them in their usual fashion.
“I have an ex-World Cup horse, so I think I am doing alright,” said Kenny after his win with the 15-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Missy Clark. “He has always been a good horse; he has scope and he is careful, and he wants to do it. He is relaxed and has been great this week; it’s all I can ask. The footing was deep but he actually liked it, and that is all that matters.”
Kenny was one of a few riders who planned on competing in the Grand Prix in Vermont before getting on the road to contest the Grand Prix in nearby Saugerties, New York.
“I have Gael Force entered in Saugerties and if I can get that one too, it will be a really good day,” smiled Kenny, 23, who hails from County Offaly and is now based at North Run stables in Warren, Vermont. Earlier in the week, Kenny and Obelix had won Thursday’s $10,000 Kenneth Cole Open Welcome Stake, Presented by Manchester Designer Outlets.
Callie Schott rode the John Madden Sales entry of Wrigley to second place. The big grey mare posted double clear rounds in a time of 42.80 seconds.
Charlotte Jacobs of East Aurora, New York, and Promised Land turned in a flawless first round performance to advance to the three horse jump-off. Fresh off her team silver medal effort in the North American Young Riders’ Championship and competing in only her second Grand Prix event, Jacobs was understandably proud of her mount. She was even prouder as she completed the jump-off in the fastest time, although with one rail down to place third.
“My father is in Australia and I am trying to get a hold of him to tell him I was third,” said the smiling 15-year-old. “My horse is a big, sturdy guy and he has been there and done that, so we figured he would be fine in the footing. He is the best Grand Prix horse ever. I am very happy!”
The sixth and final week of the Vermont Summer Festival begins at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, August 10.
Offering more than $750,000 in prize money, the Vermont Summer Festival is the richest sporting event based on purse in the state of Vermont, culminating with the $50,000 Vermont Summer Celebration Grand Prix on Sunday, August 14. In addition to the $10,000 Open Welcome Stake, Presented by Manchester Designer Outlets, held each Friday, the weekly $10,000 Show Jumping Hall of Fame Junior/Amateur-Owner Classics are hotly contested. New for 2011, the Vermont Summer Festival will host a $5,000 Hunter Derby each Thursday five of the six weeks.
Competition begins at 8 a.m. daily, Wednesday through Sunday. Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for children, Wednesday through Saturday. On Grand Prix Sunday, admission is $7 for adults, $5 for children. As always, 100 percent of the gate proceeds benefit the Friends Foundation for MEMS, (Manchester Elementary and Middle School).
For over 20 years, the Vermont Summer Festival has attracted exhibitors and their families to the Manchester region each summer. For more information about the Vermont Summer Festival, please e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.vt-summerfestival.com.
$30,000 Manchester and the Mountains Grand Prix, Presented by Hand Motors
1. Darragh Kenny Obelix 0:0 41.28
2. Callie Schott Wrigley 0:0 42.80
3. Charlotte Jacobs Promised Land 0:4 40.69
4. Darragh Kenny Bazooka de Muze 4
5. Lydia Ulrich Santos Utopia 4
6. Richard McGrath Rugby 8
7. Katie Cox Sacramento N 8
8. Timothy Hooker Apollo 12
9. Jimmy Torano Winner 12
10. Katie Cox Twilight 13
Photo: Darragh Kenny of Ireland and Obelix won the $30,000 Manchester and the Mountains Grand Prix, Presented by Hand Motors, on Sunday, August 7, at the Vermont Summer Festival in East Dorset, Vermont. Photo credit - David Mullinix Photography