East Dorset, Vermont – Hillary Dobbs of Sussex, NJ, raced through the timers with Marengo to win the $10,000 Polo Ralph Lauren Welcome Stake, Presented by Manchester Design Outlets, on Friday, August 7, at the Vermont Summer Festival in East Dorset, VT.
Dobbs broke the stranglehold that her stable mate, Darragh Kenny, has had in the Friday feature event – the Irish rider had won all three of the Welcome Stake competitions that he had contested. Dobbs, however, denied him a fourth victory, instead pushing him into second place with her brilliant ride aboard Marengo.
A total of seven horse and rider combinations managed to successfully navigate the difficult first round track set by course designer Pierre Jolicoeur to continue on to the jump-off. Dobbs was the first rider into the ring with Marlo. Although the pair had one rail down in a time of 35.92 seconds, it gave Dobbs an opportunity to plan her jump-off strategy with her next two mounts.
Kenny, 21, followed Dobbs into the ring with Obelix and posted a clear jump-off round in an incredible time of 33.75 seconds, helped by making a very tight turn inside fence 13. Their time would stand until the very last rider on course.
Jimmy Torano of Ft. Lauderdale, FL, was also able to leave the jumps up with Caldam D’Or but did not chance the inside turn, leaving him with a time of 34.47 seconds.
Canada’s Angela Covert-Lawrence then incurred eight faults in the jump-off with Utan, her eight-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, which would eventually leave her in seventh place.
Dobbs attempted to catch Kenny’s time on her next mount, Corlett. The pair attempted the same inside cut as Kenny, but without the same result. The turn placed them at too much of an angle to the next fence, a wide triple bar. Dobbs hit the edge of the standard and had the fence down for four faults in a time of 40.50 seconds.
Danielle Torano of Ft. Lauderdale, FL, tried her luck with the powerhouse stallion, Vancouver d’Auvray. The pair was clear but in a significantly slower time of 36.66 seconds.
That left only Dobbs and Marengo to try to topple Kenny out of top spot. Learning from her prior experience with the inside cut, Dobbs chose to let Marengo try to make up the time with foot speed. Marengo galloped through the course, jumping every obstacle effortlessly and turning instantly when asked. Their final time of 32.25 seconds brought gasps, followed by appreciative applause, from the crowd.
In addition to $3,000 in prize money for her victory, Dobbs was presented with a $1,000 gift card from Polo Ralph Lauren. As Dobbs removed the glove from her right-hand, which had the last two fingers cut off to make room for the splint on her fingers, she stated emphatically, “I’ll be doing some shopping!”
Dobbs and Kenny are set to do battle once again as the Vermont Summer Festival concludes with the $50,000 Vermont Summer Celebration Grand Prix on Sunday, August 9, 2009.
The six-week Vermont Summer Festival is the largest “AA” rated hunter/jumper horse show in New England, as well as the richest sporting event based on purse in the state of Vermont, offering more than $750,000 in prize money. For more information about the Vermont Summer Festival, please e-mail: email@example.com or visit www.vt-summerfestival.com.
Rider Hometown Horse Faults Time
1. Hillary Dobbs Sussex, NJ Marengo 0:0 32.25
2. Darragh Kenny Ireland Obelix 0:0 33.75
3. Jimmy Torano Ft. Lauderdale, FL Caldam D’Or 0:0 34.47
4. Danielle Torano Ft. Lauderdale, FL Vancouver d’Auvray 0:0 36.66
5. Hillary Dobbs Sussex, NJ Marlo 0:4 35.92
6. Hillary Dobbs Sussex, NJ Corlett 0:4 40.50
7. Angela Covert-Lawrence Canada Utan 0:8 35.76
8. Darragh Kenny Ireland Bazooka De Muze 4 70.01
PHOTOGRAPH: Hillary Dobbs and Marengo won the $10,000 Polo Ralph Lauren Open Welcome Stake, Presented by Manchester Designer Outlets, on Friday, August 7, at the Vermont Summer Festival in East Dorset, VT. Photo credit - David Mullinix Photography