Traverse City, MI - July 28, 2013 - Rapidash, the winner of the $10,000 Hagyard Equine Medical Institute NAL/WIHS Children's & Adult Jumper Classic, certainly lived up to his name today. Under the guidance of Grace Knox, the quick Appendix Quarter Horse gelding galloped to victory in the grand finale jumper class of the 2013 Horse Shows by the Bay series.
"This is pretty great," said Knox. "Last year I came here and had a rail in the jump-off, so this year it's great to come back and win it. This is one of my bigger wins."
Knox, of N. Barrington, IL, trains with Mary and Lisa Goldman of Red Coat Farm and has owned Rapidash for about two years. Although diminutive in size at 15.2 hands, the chestnut is huge in stride and heart. "He's a very careful horse and tries to pick up his feet as much as he can," said Knox smiling. "He's really great about that."
After the field of 30 completed J.P. Godard's challenging first-round course, seven horse/rider combinations returned for the jump-off. Knox went fourth in the order and was able to watch one rider test the course before she returned for her turn. She believes her winning time was established right from the start.
"The course was really challenging but a very good course. I think the first line I made up time because my horse jumped in so big over the first jump that I went for the four strides instead of the five," she said. "I was planning on doing the five going in, but it wouldn't have worked." Despite leaving out the stride, Rapidash didn't miss a beat on the rollback and continued to speed around the course, never touching a rail. "He's quick on the turns; it's what he likes to do, and he was very fast," she said.
As a prequel to today's victory, Rapidash and Knox earned the Children's Jumper Championship during Series III, winning two of the three classes in the section. "I'm really happy, and my trainers are really proud of us," she said. "Last year, Lisa won the grand prix here, and she was second this year, so it's nice to look up to her. I'm hoping to do what she does some day in the future."
Lillie Ross may be just 18, but she and Pako are already contenders in the grand prix classes. After finishing fourth in the $30,000 D-Braider Cherry Capital Classic Grand Prix last night, the pair returned to the Grand Prix Ring today to claim the $10,000 SJHOF Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Prix.
Ross, of Wheaton, IL, has been double-clear in all of her classes with Allison Ross' Pako during Series IV, and their sixth-placed finish in the $10,000 Positive Step Farm Open Jumper Welcome Prix earlier in the week was a highlight, as they were the only duo to accomplish a tricky inside cut in front of the gazebo during the jump-off.
In today's SJHOF class, Ross' strategy was pretty simple: to go fast. "I left out [a stride] down the first line and was just planning on galloping as fast as I could," she said. "There was one scary part, to the cherry oxer. He wasn't sure where we were going and was close to the standard, but he jumped it perfectly.
"He won the grand prix here last year during week 3, and I think this is one of his favorite horse shows," added Ross, who improved her placing in each class she contested this week. "I think the course designer has been amazing. I've loved his courses, and I thought the whole horse show has been amazing. We love coming up here. It's just really fun. It was a great class with great riders."
Lillie's younger sister Abbie, 17, also joined her in the class today. "This was Abbie's first time jumping this high on Torino, and she placed seventh, so we were excited about that," said mother Allison. "So, she's following in her sister's footsteps. The support between the two of them is amazing, and I'm so very fortunate."
Lillie looks forward to more great classes with Pako and also to attending Washington University in St. Louis, MO, in the fall.
Erin Haas clinched her Ovation High Junior/Amateur-Owner Leading Rider Title today with a second-placed finish aboard North Face Farm's Udo DV in the $10,000 SJHOF Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Prix. "It's been a great four weeks here at Traverse City. This is my favorite month of the year," she said. "I love coming up here and showing, and the footing is always super and the courses and jumps are really nice. My horses have been jumping well here, and I've been pretty consistent, getting ribbons.
"My horse was really good today," she continued. "He had a rub in the first round, so I just wanted to be cautious in the jump-off because he's careful and sometimes that will worry him, but he was super. I was very happy with him."
Haas, 35, an equine veterinarian specializing in sports medicine, said the thought of receiving the Ovation Award got her out of bed early yesterday when she heard she was in contention. She rode Casino Van De Helle to fourth place and ended up with the High Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper reserve championship.
"I think it worked out well," she said with a smile. "The week before I didn't do the morning class. When the grand prix goes at 5 I don't like being in the 7:30 a.m. class and then waiting all day, but yesterday I took a nap in between!"
Haas and her family are members of the Horse Shows by the Bay Founder's Club and contributing sponsors. This year, they added the new and coveted $10,000 North Face Farm Leading Hunter Rider Cash Bonus to their sponsorship roster to celebrate the show's special anniversary.
"It was great that this was the 10th anniversary," said Haas. "It's amazing how far everything has come in 10 years from the first year until now. It's amazing how big the show is now and the quality of competition. It's quite remarkable. I've been here each of the 10 years, and I love it."
For full show results, please visit www.horseshowing.com.