East Dorset, Vermont — Hillary Dobbs of Sussex, NJ, and Marengo won the $30,000 Battenkill Grand Prix, Presented by The Equinox Resort, on Sunday, July 18, at the Vermont Summer Festival in East Dorset, VT.
Dobbs are Marengo are no strangers to the winner’s circle at the Vermont Summer Festival, having won two grand prix events in 2009. This year, the pair faced off against 23 other challengers. In the first round, a total of four horse-rider combinations were able to master the track set by Anthony D’Ambrosio of Red Hook, NY, to advance to the jump-off. Of those that did not make the cut, 16 had trouble with the triple combination at fence seven, which was a test of vertical-oxer-vertical.
First back for the jump-off, Geoffrey Case and Henk Punt’s Veneziano-C incurred rails at the first fence as well as mid-way through the shortened track to finish with a total of eight faults in a time of 41.09 seconds.
Jimmy Torano of Ft. Lauderdale, FL, gave it his best shot with Winsom, a seven-year-old grey gelding imported this spring from Europe for owner Sir Ruly Inc. The pair incurred one rail in a time of 40.38 seconds, which would eventually leave them in third position.
Dobbs and the cat-like Marengo then made easy work of the course, leaving all the rails in place in a time of 35.54 seconds to take over top spot. Only one challenger remained in the form of Ireland’s Darragh Kenny and Bazooka de Muze. The pair looked fast, but when a rail came down at the final fence, victory belonged to Dobbs and Marengo.
“Marengo is my speed horse, and he is always very competitive,” said Dobbs of her 12-year-old bay Holsteiner gelding. “He is such a trier, and a naturally quick horse. He is so versatile, and he tries for me 110 percent. He is such a special horse. I wish I could clone him.”
For her victory, Dobbs earned $9,000 in prize money. She will try for more, however, as she continues to compete at the Vermont Summer Festival for weeks three, five and six. “We love coming to Vermont, it is always an annual stop for us,” said Dobbs, whose trainers, Missy Clark and John Brennan, operate North Run Stables in Warren, VT. “This is my seventh year coming here, and it feels like home.”
Dobbs was cheered on to victory by her parents, Lou and Debi Dobbs, as well as her grandmother, her fiancée, and three dogs. “My parents are die-hards, they drive back and forth every Friday for the Open Welcome and for the Grand Prix on Sundays,” laughed Dobbs. “And my fiancée officially moved to the United States last night.”
Dobbs is engaged to Dutch horse dealer Roy Wilten. She also recently finished her degree in government at Harvard, but plans to focus on her show jumping career. “I am looking forward to being able to ride more instead of just showing after class,” said Dobbs, 22. “I do want to make this my career, and I am looking forward to focusing on that.”
The third of six weeks of competition at the Vermont Summer Festival gets underway Wednesday, July 21, beginning at 8 a.m. The featured event is Sunday’s $30,000 Otter Creek Grand Prix, Presented by Devoucoux, beginning at 1 p.m. 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 six-week Vermont Summer Festival culminates with the $50,000 Vermont Summer Celebration Grand Prix on Sunday, August 15. 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 Battenkill Grand Prix, Presented by The Equinox Resort
1. Hillary Dobbs Marengo 0:0 35.54
2. Darragh Kenny Bazooka de Muze 0:4 35.66
3. Jimmy Torano Winsom 0:4 40.38
4. Geoffrey Case Veneziano-C 0:8 41.09
5. Louis Jacobs Kachina 4
6. Darragh Kenny I Va Tu Du Rouet 4
7. Jimmy Torano Topaz 4
8. Amanda Flint Texas Hold ‘Em 4
9. Geoffrey Case Sleepy Hollow’s Rock And Rolla 4
10. Chasen Boggio Hennessey 8
11. Hillary Dobbs Marlo 8
12. Sloan Coles Louisiana 8
Photo: Hillary Dobbs and Marengo won the $30,000 Battenkill Grand Prix, Presented by The Equinox Resort, on Sunday, July 18, at the Vermont Summer Festival in East Dorset, VT. Photo credit - David Mullinix Photography