Traverse City, MI - July 20, 2011 - As a heat wave continues to pass over the Midwest, Week III of Horse Shows by the Bay began today with jumpers who were hot to trot. Several large classes took place in the prestigious Grand Prix ring at Flintfields Horse Park in Traverse City, MI, the largest of which proved to be the Low Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumpers with nearly 25 entrants.
The arena, recently upgraded with new footing, also saw the High Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumpers, the 1.25m Jumpers, the 1.30m Jumpers, the 1.35m Jumpers, and three classes of Young Jumpers. In the High and Low Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumpers, both Erin Haas and Lacey Gilbertson had promising starts to their week. Haas won the high class on As Di Cinzano, while Gibertson triumphed in the low aboard Lifestyle. Gilbertson also came in second in the high class riding Namos, with Haas earning that some honor in its low counterpart on All of a Sudden.
As the second riders to compete in the high jumpers, Erin Haas and As Di Cinzano, who is owned by North Face Farm, aggressively set out to conquer the course. The duo obtained fast times in both the regular round and their jump-off, clearing the course a second time in just 31.952 seconds. Lacey Gilbertson and Namos followed, and also achieved a double-clear turn in the ring. Gilbertson's times in both the first and second rounds were just slightly behind those of Haas, as she and her mount completed the jump-off in 32.223 seconds. No other riders were able to clear designer Michel Vaillancourt's course twice, but Alex Parrish had a solid ride aboard Valentina 156, as did Maria Costa on Sandman. Knocked rails and refusals kept the jump-offs to a minimum, with only a few riders invited to stay for a second round.
Strong breezes picked up during the low jumpers, with several strong rides accompanying the change in weather. Gilbertson, riding Lifestyle this time, was the first rider to clear the course and make it to the jump-off, as well as the first to achieve an impressive time of 30.156 seconds in the second round. The duo wound up winning the class, but Haas and All of a Sudden were in hot pursuit with a jump-off time of 30.613 seconds. This class witnessed multiple clear jump-offs, with the following avoiding any faults: Maria Costa on Reno, Dominica Wambold on Miss Waterside, Caitlin Creel and Aro, and Tracey Weinberg on Lavinia.
"My first round in the beginning, she went up the first line so well that I maybe had a little too much," Gilbertson remarked of her successful ride in the low class. "Then, coming to the in and out, I may have added one too many, but she covered the ground so well. Then after that, everything just popped up really nicely and she was right there with me the whole time." In the jump-off, noted Gilbertson, one's strategy "is a little bit different. You have to be a little bit sharper and from the beginning, when you're waiting to go to jump one and the clock is running down, you have to go over the plan, and see how she feels, if she needs another second let her look around a little bit more. This is maybe the fifth time I jumped her. We just got her a week before the second week of this show, actually." Gilbertson, who trains with Caroline Weeden, will return to Horse Shows by the Bay to compete next week as well. Lifestyle is owned by Daniel Bluman LLC.
Erin Haas said of one of her rides, All of a Sudden, "he's really experienced, I've actually been riding him for nine years, so we have quite a partnership and we know each other quite well at this point. I've had him in the highs, and the lower grands prix, and he just doesn't want to retire! I bumped him down to the lows, and he just continues to love his job so much. I keep bringing him to the shows and he just doesn't want to leave." In addition to performing well today, Haas will also participate in a jumper classic later this week, as well as other jumper events throughout the rest of Horse Shows by the Bay Series III. All of a Sudden is owned by North Face Farm, one of Horse Shows by the Bay's Silver sponsors and member of the Horse Shows by the Bay Founders Club. Both of today's Junior/Amateur-Owner classes were sponsored by Michael Whitlow/Kilkenny Insurance Agency - agent for QBE.
The high and low juniors and amateur-owners were not the only competitors heating up the Grand Prix ring today. The morning kicked off with a class of 3'9" Schooling Jumpers, in which 49 entries took to the course. Following that busy class, other jumper events taking place this afternoon included the 1.25m Jumpers, the 1.30m Jumpers, and the 1.35m Jumpers. In the 1.25m class, David Jennings won on All About Eve, owned by Laurel Blakemore. The 1.30m class saw Lisa Jacquin prevail on Chapel Z, owned by Flintwoode Farm LLC. Finally, in the 1.35m jumpers, Denise Wilson continued her successful showing at Horse Shows by the Bay 2011 by winning this class on Delphine Van Het Orshof, owned by Blue Gate Farm LLC. Following these classes, the Young Jumpers had their chance to shine as the afternoon came to a close. Taylor Flury was a role model on Role Model, winning the five-year-old class on a horse owned by Aliboo Farm, Inc. In the six-year-olds, Tracey Weinberg earned a first place spot aboard her own young horse, Ackas. Weinberg also placed third in the following class, reserved for horses seven or eight years old, on another of her horses, Wild Card. The winner of that class was Cara Cheska, who also rode her own horse, Zana Wofsi, to a successful first place finish.
The multi-series Horse Shows by the Bay will continue to offer riders and fans the ideal horse sports venue throughout the next two weeks. Highlights in Series III, held July 20-24, include a $20,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby, a $10,000 Show Jumping Hall of Fame Junior Amateur-Owner Jumper Prix, and a $30,000 Grand Prix of the Great Lakes and VIP Sponsor Luncheon. Additional feature events include a $5,000 Adult Jumper Classic and a $5,000 Children's Jumper Classic, both of which will be held before Sunday's Grand Prix. 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: Lacey Gilbertson and Lifestyle Credit: Katie Anich/PMG