East Dorset, Vermont – Kenneth Berkley of Flemington, NJ, captured victory in the $30,000 Battenkill Grand Prix held Saturday, July 14, during the second week of the Vermont Summer Festival in East Dorset, VT. The six-week equestrian competition is running at Harold Beebe Farm from July 4 through August 12, 2012.
Hot off his win in Thursday’s $10,000 Five Seasons Open Welcome Stake, Presented by Manchester Designer Outlets, Berkley returned to the grand prix ring on Saturday with the unenviable task of being the first rider on course from a starting field of 27. Proving straight out of a gate that a clear round was possible, Berkley guided Waminka home in a fault-free performance. Seven other horses would also leave the rails in tact to force a jump-off, including Berkley with a second mount, Ax Cent.
In the jump-off, Berkley once again set the pace, turning in another fault-free performance in a time of 41.74 seconds. Try as they could, no one else could catch his time. In fact, Berkley and Ax Cent were the closest, taking second place with a time of 42.12 seconds. “Having two of the eight in the jump-off, I figured I would just go for it, so I went for the win,” said Berkley of his jump-off strategy with Waminka. “With the second horse, I thought I was even faster, but apparently not! Both horses jumped great. It was a nice afternoon.”
Of the key to success over Canadian course designer Chris Brandt’s jump-off track with Waminka, Berkley said, “She was fast, obviously, and people tried to catch up with her, and that kind of put the pressure on. The course was really well-set; it wasn’t huge, but it was technical. She was so clever.” Berkley shares riding duties on Waminka with his student, Victoria Colvin, and has found that he is developing a stronger partnership with the mare.
“She is getting easier and easier,” said Berkley of the nine-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare. “She had a couple of babies before I bought her so her training was limited, but she obviously had scope. She used to be difficult and was tough to ride early on, but now she is getting nicer and nicer to ride.”
Ensuring that the lion’s share of the prize money went home with him to Rivers Edge, the training facility he operates with partner Scott Stewart, Berkley earned second place with Ax Cent. “He was amazing!” praised Berkley of the Dutch Warmblood gelding. “He is a nine year old and he’s a great horse! I am hoping that he continues on at this level.”
Berkley’s win in the $30,000 Battenkill Grand Prix is not his first – he also took the title in 2002. Given his success during the second week of the Vermont Summer Festival, Berkley is looking forward to spending another week at the Vermont Summer Festival for the third week of competition.
“Billy Glass does a super job,” praised Berkley of the management at the Vermont Summer Festival. “The footing is super, the climate is good, and it is very well run, very pleasant. Everyone that works here is wonderful. You couldn’t ask for anything better.”
Offering more than $750,000 in prize money, the Vermont Summer Festival is the richest sporting event based on purse in the state of Vermont. The first five Saturdays of the Vermont Summer Festival feature a $30,000 Grand Prix. The $50,000 Vermont Summer Celebration Grand Prix will be held during the sixth and final week on Saturday, August 11. The weekly $10,000 Open Welcome Stake, Presented by Manchester Designer Outlets, are now held each Thursday.
Competition begins at 8 a.m. daily, Wednesday through Sunday. Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for children on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. On Saturday and Sunday, admission is $7 for adults, $5 for children. All of the gate receipts benefit the a number of Manchester area non-profit organizations, including the Mark Skinner Library, Friends Foundation for MEMS, Community Food Cupboard, and Second Chance Animal Center.
For over 20 years, the Vermont Summer Festival has attracted exhibitors and their families to the Manchester region in southern Vermont. 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: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.vt-summerfestival.com.
$30,000 Battenkill Grand Prix – Vermont Summer Festival II
Rider Horse Faults Time
1. Kenneth Berkley Waminka 0:0 41.74
2. Kenneth Berkley Ax Cent 0:0 42.12
3. Charlotte Jacobs Promised Land 0:4 42.69
4. D.J. Volandre Tequila 0:4 43.98
5. James North The Man to See 0:4 44.88
6. Bryn Sadler Bon Giorno 0:4 50.04
7. Victoria Colvin Monsieur du Reverdy 0:8 42.58
8. Jimmy Torano Wayne R 0:8 49.26
Photo: Ken Berkley and Waminka claimed victory in the $30,000 Battenkill Grand Prix on Saturday, July 14, at the Vermont Summer Festival in East Dorset, VT. Photo Credit – David Mullinix, www.hunterjumperpix.com