Traverse City, MI - July 15, 2011 - With high temperatures forecast for the weekend, the Open Jumpers cooled-off today with an invigorating $10,000 Welcome Prix at Horse Shows by the Bay. The second of four such events to grace the Grand Prix ring at Flintfields Horse Park in Traverse City, MI, this afternoon's competition was a fitting precursor to Sunday's $30,000 Open Jumper Grand Prix, as well as tomorrow's Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper competitions. A burgeoning field of thirty challengers made it tough for riders and their horses to stand out in a talented crowd, but several pairs were able to distinguish themselves.
Hannah Olson and Maximus earned the top prize today's event, while Wilhelm Genn on Copyright 3 and Blythe Marano on Urban finished second and third, respectively.
The first rider on today's course, designed by Guilherme Jorge of Sao Paulo, Brazil, really threw down the gauntlet. Wilhelm Genn on Copyright 3, who eventually earned a yellow ribbon in the class, cleared the course quickly and easily without any troubles. Riding after Genn's good example, the next two riders, Henry Pfeiffer on Anberlin and Hannah Olson on Maximus also avoided faults in the first round. Thirteen proved to be a lucky number in this first round of today's Welcome Prix, as thirteen horses and riders went without faults, making for a dense and highly-competitive jump-off.
In the second round, Genn and Copyright 3 were again the ones to beat, as they determinedly charged past the final Horse Shows by the Bay oxer at 34.657 seconds. Olson and Maximus, riding third in this portion, were cool and collected as they cleared their jump-off round, using expert pacing to clinch the top spot. The dynamic duo clocked-in at 33.228 seconds, a time that would remain unbeaten the rest of the round. It wasn't until two of the last riders to take the course - Blythe Marano on Urban and Wilhelm Genn on Marlo - that clean second rounds were attained again. Many riders were frustrated by just four faults, several knocking down a rail at the final fence.
Of those who had only four faults, David Jennings and Grand Finale 3e proved the fastest. The two plowed through Jorge's course in fewer than 33 seconds. Denise Wilson and Delphine Van Het Orshof were nearly as quick, speeding through their second round in only 33.506 seconds. Wilson, as well as Genn, rode multiple horses in today's event, showing well on both Delphine Van Het Orshof and Casey Jones. Both horses are owned by Blue Gate Farm LLC. Genn had three mounts in today's prix, riding winner Copyright 3 as well as Marlo and Happy Z. All three are owned by Genn.
"The first fence was kind of hard because it was a little bit of a spooky vertical," noted Olson of her successful turn in the jump-off. "You can't really ride at it, because it's easy to come down, then you're turning right, into a sort of awkward turn, so I kind of hung out and it was either a 6 or a 7 to the in-and-out. I stayed out and lined it up to jump number 6, and he was perfect through there. I stayed out, and I thought, 'now I lined it up so well, it might actually be slower!'" Then he was great over the rest. I just felt like I added up a second too much at the skinny oxer, so that's where I think my second was really lost, at that oxer."
Olson remarked of Maximus, "I know him so well, that you go in and you don't really have to think too much about it. With Maximus, I know what he's going to do. He's very 'him.' He has the same groom, you have to get on him a certain way, he starts chomping on the bridle if it's been on a different horse...he's extremely sensitive, and I always have to make sure that I'm not legging too much, because the other horse I ride is the total opposite of Maximus in every way." Maximus is owned by Cory Olson, and has been partnering with Olson, who trains with David Jennings, for about five years.
In other Horse Shows by the Bay jumper news, the 1.25m Jumpers and the 1.30m Jumpers continued to fine-tune their flying in the Grand Prix ring today. Kenzie Donovan and her own horse, Nikon's Prima Donna, earned the blue ribbon in the 1.25m class. In the 1.30m class, David Jennings and All About Eve were the top finishers. All About Eve is owned by Laurel Blakemore. In the Washington International Horse Show (WIHS) Jumper Phase, which brought a change of pace (or leads) to the Grand Prix ring this morning, Virginia Ingram continued her winning week with a first place finish. Ingram earned an impressive score of 88 in this class, with Marissa Monforton close behind with her own solid score of 87.
The $10,000 Welcome Prix is a weekly staple at Horse Shows by the Bay this summer. Today's class was generously sponsored by Positive Step Farm and Patrice Shreiber. The next Welcome Prix will be held on Friday, July 22, and Thursday, July 28. Other exciting jumper events in the Grand Prix Ring include the Grand Traverse Bay Grand Prix, the Grand Prix of the Great Lakes, and the D-BRAIDER Cherry Capital Classic Grand Prix. All open jumper grands prix will award an impressive $30,000 each in prize money, so spectators should be sure to mark their calendars for these crowd-pleasing contests.
Horse Shows by the Bay will continue to offer riders and fans the ideal horse sports venue throughout the next three weeks. This week's highlights include a new $10,000 Horse Shows by the Bay Open Hunter Classic, a new $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Classic, and the $30,000 Grand Traverse Bay Grand Prix and VIP Sponsor Luncheon. Series III, which occurs July 20-24, includes a $20,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby, a $10,000 Show Jumping Hall of Fame Junior Amateur-Owner Jumper Prix, and the $30,000 Grand Prix of the Great Lakes and VIP Sponsor Luncheon.
During the fourth and final week of competition, notable events include the $30,000 D-BRAIDER Cherry Capital Classic Grand Prix, as well as a $10,000 Children's/Adult Jumper Prix and VIP Sponsor Luncheon. Over half a million dollars in prize money will be awarded by the conclusion of this month-long celebration of equestrian athletes.
For more information or to view schedules, please visit www.horseshowsbythebay.com or call 231-267-3700.
Photo: Hannah Olson and Maximus Credit: Katie Anich/PMG