New Market, TN - When it comes to happy endings none could compare to the finale of the 2010 Gallop in the Glen with a blaze of Smoky Mountain fall colors for the backdrop and the brilliant display of equine talents, such as local favorite Blake Roberts of Knoxville, TN riding Dream Machine to the overall victory in the $25,000 ICON Sporthorse Challenge Cup and David Jennings of Shaker Heights, OH with Marcus Aurelius taking the win in the $25,000 Gallop in the Glen Grand Prix.
Mother Nature gifted the grounds with some of her most beautiful work during the final week of competition at the River Glen Equestrian Center in New Market, TN. “It’s just perfect!” Co-Chair Kim Burnette-Mitchell said of the weather conditions, “The bluest skies, lots of sun, pleasant temps, and all the fall colors popping in the background. We couldn’t have hoped for better.” Thursday’s highlight came after the competition ended with a festive Mexican Fiesta Feast sponsored by David Wright and Hunters Court Stables. Many exhibitors confessed they feel quite spoiled at the Gallop in the Glen event, “The nightly dinners are so good! This is a tough act for other shows to follow,” Hunter rider Angela Millon of Easley, SC said.
Friday’s competition in the Grand Prix ring introduced 26 horses to one of show jumping’s most renowned course designers, Dave Ballard of Ontario, Canada and the field in the $5,000 GK Sporthorses Welcome Stake got a taste of what the Olympic level master had in store for the coming weekend’s spotlighted grand prix. The abbreviated jump off round found two David's going head to head as Murfreesboro, TN based David Wright aboard mount Shroeder and Ohio’s David Jennings with Nandy Fontaine (owned by Emily Reiney) raced for the top spot. In the end it was Nandy’s quick step and tight turns that cinched the win for Jennings. Following in 2nd was David Wright and Shroeder, 3rd place found Jennings back with mount Marcus Aurelius, 4th went to Nicole Berman with partner Cancun Z, and Jennings wrapped up the 5th position aboard the Two Shannons Farm entry Tornado.
The evening brought on some howling fun with the debut of the Paws for the Cause- Mutt Strut benefiting Ron and Danny’s Rescue. Smartly paired with the Martinis for Mutts, exhibitors and local guests trotted out their favorite canine companions to compete in a hilarious assortment of categories- “Best Costume” found 6 year-old Jack Russell Cricket taking a break from her day job as a certified therapy and seizure consultant of the Mayo Clinic to show off her feminine side in a formal pink lacy dress complete with bowed headband. “It’s also her way to support Breast Cancer Awareness.” proud mom Carolyn Capps said.
And while “bribing the judges” was strongly suggested for the sake of raising more donations, Liz Tarumianz of Aiken, SC used it to ensure her best guy Tucker was bestowed the “Most Original-Unique Look” title. “Let’s be honest, this is a face mom finds cute, but judges might need more encouragement!” Liz mused with a wink. Other fun categories included Best Trick, Cutest, and in keeping with horses Best Mover. The panel of three judges; Dennis Mitchell, Holly Shepherd, and Mark Thompkins spent most of their time laughing at the antics of contestants, so much so that in the end all the wonderful canines received treats and toys. The Martinis for Mutts continued through the evening as the All American Cookout Chefs –a collection of trainers and show staff-fired up the grill for tasty burgers and of course hot dogs along with an array of sides, sweets and lots of comradely.
Back into the equine competition, Saturday spotlighted the Junior and Amateur Owner jumpers with a $5,000 Classic. Twenty focused rider-horse combinations crossed the in gate to seek their place in the ranks of winners, but when the last had crossed the timers it was Sherra Harrison of Columbus, NC and Showtime for owners Walnut Grove Holdings, LLC taking the prize. Coming in 2nd was owner-rider Randii Goble with Rockville, 3rd went to Cara Dodson aboard Nobel Mail for owner Cici Riddle, 4th to owner-rider Hannah Olson and Fair Play, and 5th went to owner-rider Nicole Berman with Cancun Z. The evening saw the return of some immensely popular events, starting with Judy’s Tack Shop hosting the Horseless Horse Show where a team of one child (under 18) and one adult competed over a course of 6 jumps. All blue ribbon teams then returned for an Under Saddle Phase.
As the human jumpers were catching their breath a team of special cooks headed up by Elizabeth “Red” Mayes of Judy’s Tack Shop and Gallop’s own Ellen Alhmann set out an Italian theme spread complete with Spaghetti in a rich marinara sauce, zesty salad, hearty Italian bread, and mouth watering brownies. And what’s the best way to work off those extra calories? How else but the return of the most requested event, the Gallop Goat Races! Pairing one human with a goat of their choice to race down the grand prix arena is a guarantee of laughter the whole night long. The winners in this race were hands down the goat contestants, who prefer to rename nameless, having tolerated the silliness of their human partners. “Who would ever believe running with a goat could turn into the most requested game of our two week event? It is by far the funniest event to watch! God Bless those wonderful goats- they’ll be getting extra treats tonight!” Mitchell shared with a laugh.
As Sunday dawned, so did the exciting conclusion to the $25,000 Icon Sporthorse Challenge Cup for the Children and Adult Jumpers. Over the two weeks and previous rounds of competition it was still a guess as to who would come out on top. “This has been the most exciting year of riding, truly nail biting at times. We’ve got some terrific talent and great courses going here. The final round should prove to be something special.” Sponsor Rhonda Goble of ICON Sporthorses commented. Just as predicted the final run kept spectators on the edge of their seats through the last jump off for the top seven riders. Blake Roberts with the Olivia Norton owned Dream Machine earned both bragging rights and a nice payday as the victorious duo. Not far off their hooves in 2nd was Elizabeth Lindsay and Five Star, 3rd went to Zoe Glassman aboard Noblis, 4th to Casey Van Aarem riding Mastermind, 5th place to Sierra Fischer with Lord Willi, 6th was Hanley Morrison riding Quick King Z, and 7th place went to Casey Van Aarem piloting High Five.
Another delicious ringside luncheon began on Sunday at noon just as the finale festivities got under way. Following a special leadline class showcasing future equestrians, the applause grew as the first of 22 entries came into sight. Course designer Dave Ballard created a twisty layout of 13 jumps [16 efforts] that truly tested the riders’ judgment abilities. “A lot of rollback turns! Which this particular course designer likes to do and it makes for a careful-careful jumping style.”
The day’s big winner Shaker Heights, OH resident David Jennings said of round one. Set amongst the tight turns Ballard also included two combinations, a double vertical at fence 5AB and a big triple at fence 9ABC consisting of oxer into a pair of verticals, plus the dreaded #7 “skinny” plank vertical set precariously off a tough rollback from oxer fence 6. Add to all this tension a time limit of only 85 seconds and you have the perfect mixture for creating exhilaration around the arena. Spectators shouted “oh”, “ah” and caught their collective breath numerous times through each ride. “I’ve jumped his [Ballard] courses many many times, his World Cup classes in Jacksonville, FL for example, and he does a great job. He makes you ride and think about what’s coming up ahead as opposed to just trying to jump big jumps.” Jennings said.
From the original field of starters only four horses would join Jennings in the dash for the cash final round, of the five entrants Jennings would pilot two. With two chances, only three horses, 45 seconds and 8 efforts stood between Jennings and victory. He entered the ring first on Tornado making a fast clear run of 38.186 to set the pace for the remaining pack. Next in was owner-rider Sandra Dalman of Ft Wayne, IN with mount Tango, the pair blazed through the course unseating Jennings clear time with a 36.208 finish to take over the lead. Holly Shepherd of Grand Bay, AL and the Tuppy Dougherty entry Cabarette Z made every effort, but an unfortunate refusal eliminated the pair. Aiken, SC favorites Daniel Geitner and Sympa, owned by Charles Bostwick, took flight over the jumps and appeared poised to take the lead when a slight bump caused a rail to drop leaving the duo with 4 faults in 35.913 seconds.
“The jump off was fun. I did watch everyone go before me and I was kind of in the hunt seat as they say, by going last. And Sandra [Dalman] had small speed horse and at this height of jump it’s hard to catch a speed horse. My horse trust me and I trust him and in the end that was beneficial for both of us.” Jennings said of his ride. This bond of horse and rider resulted in a flawless hair pin turn over the #7 skinny vertical and a clear path to victory in 35.685. “My theory in turning tight is a horse who does it properly has to rock back on his hind end and if he does it properly he’s all ready to jump the jump. And that trust between horse and rider has to be there in those moments.” Jennings explained as he petted his 14 year-old partner Marcus affectionately. The pair will take a well deserved two weeks off before returning to competition.
Official top Five Results for the $25,000 Gallop in the Glen Grand Prix:
- 1st Marcus Aurelius with owner-rider David Jennings
- 2nd Tango with owner-rider Sandra Dalman
- 3rd Tornado with David Jennings for owner Two Shannons Farm
- 4th Sympa with Daniel Geitner for owner Charles Bostwick
- 5th Cabarette Z with Holly Shepherd for owner Tuppy Dougherty
“We’ve had some amazing competition over our two weeks here. And the parties were fantastic- we can’t begin to thank our sponsors and supporters enough for all they do. I love seeing all the exhibitors enjoying our Smoky Mountain home and appreciate their generous support of our charity events for Mercy Health Partners and Ron and Danny’s Rescue. It’s been a great series and I’m already planning for next year!” Mitchell said at the conclusion of the show.
More information on The Gallop in the Glen please visit www.gallopintheglen.com or email email@example.com. To learn more about Mercy Health Partners visit www.mercy.com.
Photos: David Jennings & Marcus Aurelius, Cricket Capps and Blake Roberts & Dream Machine ©Flashpoint Photography