East Dorset, VT – Hillary Dobbs, 22, of Sussex, NJ, and her mount, Marengo, successfully defended their title to win the $30,000 Manchester & The Mountains Grand Prix, Presented by Hand Motors, on Sunday, August 8, at the Vermont Summer Festival in East Dorset, VT.
The win by Dobbs and Marengo marked the second year in a row that the pair laid claim to the $30,000 Manchester & The Mountains Grand Prix, Presented by Hand Motors. A total of 22 horses vied for the title, competing over 16 jumping efforts set by course designer Eric Hasbrouck. The double combination of liverpools at 12ab, proved to be the toughest question on course, coming down seven times. In the end, six horse and rider combinations jumped clear to advance to the jump-off.
The jump-off course took the riders in a serpentine pattern with fence one on the outside rail, fence two beside it after a 180 degree turn, back to a double combination set on the diagonal, to a plank fence on the opposite rail, to the triple bar in the middle of the ring and then back to the final line – a vertical to one of the liverpools, reduced to a single element for the jump-off.
The first rider on course, Kirsten Coe of Westport, CT, and Sophie Morner’s Kilkenny Randall Z were quick over the ground, but the plank fence came down and they would eventually finish in fifth place.
Tracy Magness of Baltimore, MD, and Tarco Van Ter Moude were the next pair to attempt the shortened jump-off track. Tidy turns and a ground-covering pace looked hard to beat as they left every fence standing and crossed the timers in 37.301 seconds.
Ireland’s Darragh Kenny riding Trade Winds Farm’s Obelix was next into the grand prix ring. Unfortunately, Kenny’s turn to the double combination proved too tight for the bay gelding, forcing Kenny to circle and costing him four faults and a time of 48.774 seconds.
Danielle Torano of Ft. Lauderdale, FL, and Capitano, a 15-year-old gelding owned by Sir Ruly Inc., had the crowd on its feet as they raced home with no faults in a time of 37.092 seconds.
When Kenny returned with his second mount, the Irish-bred Gael Force owned by Missy Clark and North Run of Warren, VT, he had the advantage of knowing exactly what he had to do. When he crossed the timers without fault, the clock read 35.561 seconds, almost two seconds faster than Torano.
That left only one horse and rider combination remaining, but Dobbs and her Marengo are known for their speed. Dobbs put her 12-year-old Holsteiner gelding in motion and, 35.100 seconds later, they left the ring as the winners for the second year in a row.
“He is so fast,” said a breathless Dobbs after her round. “We have a really great partnership because neither of us wants to lose. I know that from the sidelines my turns might look a little dicey, but I always know that he is looking for the jump so I am never worried about a turn like that because he is looking for it, sometimes much more than I am.”
The recent Harvard graduate continued, “This is really his forte. A jump-off is really like a 1.50 meter speed class, and that is right up his alley. Marengo is always trying his hardest so I can always count on him. He has been my go-to horse for so many years. He did straight speed class in Europe in Geneva and St. Gallen and Rome, so for him to come back here and switch gears so quickly to the Grand Prix division, he is really a remarkable horse. I am so lucky to have had him for this many years and hopefully for many more.”
The $30,000 Manchester & The Mountains Grand Prix, Presented by Hand Motors, closed out week five of the Vermont Summer Festival. The sixth and final week gets underway on Wednesday, August 11, and culminates with the $50,000 Vermont Summer Celebration Grand Prix on Sunday, August 15. Located at Harold Beebe Farm in East Dorset, admission is $5 for adults and $3 for children Wednesday through Saturday. On Grand Prix Sunday, admission is $7 for adults and $5 for children. All gate proceeds benefit Manchester Elementary-Middle School (MEMS).
Running July 7 through August 15, 2010, the Vermont Summer Festival offers more than $750,000 in prize money, making it the richest sporting event based on purse in the state. The Vermont Summer Festival is a proud member event of the Show Jumping Hall Of Fame, the Marshall & Sterling League, and the North American League (NAL). For more information about the Vermont Summer Festival, please e-mail: email@example.com or visit www.vt-summerfestival.com.
$30,000 Manchester & The Mountains Grand Prix, Presented by Hand Motors
1 Hillary Dobbs Marengo 0:0 35.100
2 Darragh Kenny Gael Force 0:0 35.561
3 Danielle Torano Capitano 0:0 37.092
4 Tracy Magness Tarco Van Ter Moude 0:0 37.301
5 Kirsten Coe Kilkenny Randall Z 0:4 39.916
6 Darragh Kenny Obelix 0:4 48.774
7 Callie Schott Coral Reef Ambassador 4 76.888
8 Helen Goddard Blue Danube 4 78.001
9 Ian Silitch Rivano 4 78.672
10 Caitlin Venezia Calmiro 4 79.777
11 Kimberly Mulligan Butterfly Rouge 4 79.874
12 Tracy Magness Eurohorse Carrera 4 80.359
Photo: Hillary Dobbs of Sussex, NJ, riding Marengo won the $30,000 Manchester & The Mountains Grand Prix, Presented by Hand Motors, on Sunday, August 8, at the Vermont Summer Festival in East Dorset, VT. Photo credit - David Mullinix Photography