First Grand Prix Victory for Denise Wilson and Life is Life

Wayne, IL - It was a fantastic day for 21-year-old Denise Wilson of Oconomowoc, WI, and Blue Gate Farm LLC's Life is Life 15 when the pair raced to victory in Saturday afternoon's $30,000 Showplace Productions Grand Prix. Held in the beautiful Grand Prix Ring at the Lamplight Equestrian Center in Wayne, IL, the grand prix was the first of three in the 2010 Showplace Spring Spectacular Horse Show Series, which runs through June 25.  

A total of 34 competitors showed over this afternoon's $30,000 Grand Prix, sponsored by Showplace Productions. The challenging course was set by Hector Loyola of Puerto Rico, and just seven entries were able to complete the first round fault free to advance to the jump-off.  The course featured winding turns, long gallops, vertical options, a tricky oxer-vertical-oxer triple combination, as well as many other difficult questions for the horse and rider to answer. The most problematic fences were fence 2, a vertical going towards the ingate off of a tight turn, as well as the (b) element of the triple combination.  Riders seemed to have rails down all over the course and it was not until 16 horses into the order that the first clear round was completed by Ryan Genn and Loredo. Several horse and rider combinations followed suit, and an exciting jump-off was held just as the skies opened up over the horse show to conclude the day.

As the first to complete a clear round, Ryan Genn and Loredo returned first to jump the shortened course, but had a disappointing eight faults in a time of 40.999 seconds to eventually finish in seventh place. Brandie Holloway was next to return riding Any Given Sunday, but brought down the back rail of the triple bar to finish with four faults in 43.058 seconds to earn the sixth place prize. Amelia McArdle and Pilot were the first pair to complete double clear rounds in a time of 41.369 seconds, securing a second place finish.

Up next, John McConnell and Katie Riddle completed the course in 38.054 seconds, but an upsetting rail at the last fence pushed the duo into fifth place. Denise Wilson and Life is Life 15 followed, racing sharply through the turns and galloping down to the last fence to stop the timers in 38.940 seconds.  That time held on to the top honors through the completion of the final two competitors to give Wilson her first ever grand prix victory.

Alex Granato attempted the course after Wilson with his mount Mad Season.  The duo had the day's fastest time of 37.878 seconds, but earned four faults to finish in third place behind the two double clears.  Finally, Maggie Jayne completed the class in fourth place, riding Thomas Edison to four faults in 37.950 seconds.

Excited to achieve the biggest win of her riding career, Denise Wilson accepted the Showplace Productions championship cooler and tricolor ribbon with Life is Life 15 before leading the victory gallop to a round of applause. "I can not believe that just happened; that was really exciting," Wilson smiled after her win. "That was my first grand prix win, and it was kind of a big one to start off with!"

Wilson trains with Wilhelm Genn, who helped her buy Life is Life 15 in Germany three years ago. She explained that although she has owned the 13-year-old Hanoverian gelding for three years, he has been recovering from an injury for the past year and a half and just returned to training in October.  Life is Life 15 showed in his first grand prix at the end of January. "He is easy and so awesome," Wilson stated. "You just ride and keep his head up so that he can see the jumps and he gives you the feeling that you can jump anything."

Commenting on the class, Wilson said, "The course was great. I thought it was really good for my horse. There were a lot of turns, which usually are not his forte, but today he was right on it. The long gallop to the last jump in the jump-off is definitely his thing. I think I made up the most time there galloping to the end. He is very careful, and all you have to do is pick his head up at the last stride and you can just trust him to leave the jump up."

After facing a year off due to his injury, Wilson noted that she is thankful every day that Life is Life 15 is jumping and doing so well at this point. "He is my main guy and I just plan to keep going with him," she stated. "I have some young horses that I am showing this year as well. I like to buy them a little bit younger in Europe and then bring them up through the ranks so I know them very well by the time I get them to the grand prix."

Wilson shows in the Midwest all year and is a consistent face on Showplace Productions' horse show circuit. "We plan to show here all three weeks for the Spring Spectacular," she concluded. "This is a great show, I grew up showing in the Chicago area and I love to support Showplace Productions and Pat Boyle. They always do a nice job and make us feel very welcome."

Prior to the exciting action of the grand prix, the Lamplight Equestrian Center's Grand Prix Ring hosted the $1,500 Marshall and Sterling Children's and Adult Jumper Classics, with wins going to Audi's Classic Pleasure and Mary Tanner in the Children's Classic and Katie Smith riding Thursday in the Adult Classic.  

Following a stormy morning, 15 entries showed in the $2,500 Modified Children's/Adult Jumper Classic, sponsored by Vermeer Midwest. All but the final horse and rider jumped clear in the first round to jump off in the Classic, and six of those entries jumped double clear. It was then a race to the finish to complete the course in the fastest time.  

Marissa Herpfer and Circe were first to jump double clear and their time of 32.935 seconds finished in fourth place. Melissa Zaley and Keepen Posted jumped off next and placed seconds with their time of 29.670 seconds. Holly Yeterian showed Mac Daddy over the shortened course next and went double clear in 33.401 seconds to end up in fifth place. Karen Ward moved into the third place position with Tiger Lily after completing the course in 31.137 seconds. Samantha Wagner and Brosius followed and moved into the lead with the fastest time of 28.594 seconds to take first place honors, while Classic Special Z and Alex Bozorgi capped off the top six with their time of 34.794 seconds.

The Modified Child/Adult Jumpers awarded championship honors at the completion of the class, concluding their division for week one. Éclair Du Beny and Nicole Wagner earned the championship tricolor and Borsius and Samantha Wagner finished in reserve.

The first week of competition for the 2010 Showplace Spring Spectacular Horse Show Series will conclude on Sunday with another full schedule of jumper competition in the Grand Prix Ring. Sunday morning will begin with the $4,000 NAL Children's and Adult Jumper Classics, followed by a special VIP Brunch prior to the start of the $7,500 NAL Low Junior/Amateur Jumper Classic, sponsored by Hinsdale Nurseries.  The afternoon will finish with the $10,000 Show Jumping Hall of Fame (SJHOF) High Junior/Amateur Jumper Classic, sponsored by Nutrena. For more information on Showplace Productions and the 2010 Showplace Spring Spectacular Horse Show Series, please visit

$30,000 Showplace Productions Grand Prix - # competed: 34

1  Life Is Life 15   Blue Gate Farm LLC  Denise Wilson  0  0  38.940
2  Pilot  Amelia McArdle  Amelia McArdle   0  0  41.369
3  Mad Season    Alex Granato Alex Granato 0  4  37.878
4  Thomas Edison  Alex Jayne  Maggie Jayne  0  4  37.950
5  Katie Riddle  Rancho Corazon LLC  John McConnell  0   4  38.054
6  Any Given Sunday  Hays Investment Corp.  Brandie Holloway  0   4  43.058
7  Loredo  Micaela Kennedy  Ryan Genn  0   8   40.999
8  Victor Pony Lane Farm         Charlie Jayne 4          83.824
9  Lucille  Alex Jayne  Maggie Jayne4   84.732             
10 Sampras  Alex Jayne  Charlie Jayne 4  87.810
11 Cartusch 15  Woodrun  Laura Linback  4  90.539
12 United  Brampton Woods Farm  Thomas Cerra  4  91.555

Photo Credit: Denise Wilson and Life is Life 15 won the $30,000 Showplace Productions Grand Prix at the Showplace Spring Spectacular I. Brosius and Samantha Wagner won the $2,500 Modified Child/Adult Jumper Classic sponsored by Vermeer Midwest. Photos © 2010 Lauren Fisher/PMG.