Traverse City, MI - July 20, 2012 - Although Laura Pfeiffer has collected many blue ribbons during the Horse Shows by the Bay Equestrian Festival, there was one that had eluded her since the series started: the $10,000 Open Jumper Welcome Prix. Her wait ended today, however, when she guided Fox Meadow Farm's Cosmo to the top and bested a field of 30 horse-and-rider combinations to capture the $10,000 Open Jumper Welcome Prix, sponsored by Positive Step Farm.
"I've been fighting for this Welcome Prix double-clear round for three weeks now at Horse Shows by the Bay, and we finally did it today," Pfeiffer said. "This is the best that Cosmo has ever schooled prior to a class, so I knew I had to be smooth and precise. Once I made it through the tricky triple combination, I put my eye on the last jump--the biggest on course--and saw the distance from way far away. I wanted that jump to be bold and it was!"
Pfeiffer was one of only eight competitors to jump clear over a challenging and technical track by Canadian course designer Michel Vaillancourt. She had the ability to watch numerous contenders before her attempt to go clean in the first round with Cosmo.
Without a doubt, Vaillancourt tested competitors with a course that was technical, relied heavily on related lines, square oxers and a tough finish. The last line proved to be the tricky part of the entire course, requiring riders to meet a square oxer off the turn boldly, move up for a long four strides to the triple combination that rode extremely tight in between, and then gallop to the biggest and widest square oxer on the course. Inevitably, the triple combination was the cause of more than 60 percent of the competitors having a rail down.
Riders who jumped clear were given the option of staying in for the second round or coming back. First to take the"'stay-in" option was Erin Haas on As Di Chupito. Haas showed the way in a clean, fast and precisely ridden shortened course, stopping the clock at 37.794 seconds. Haas then sat patiently watching as the next 20 competitors challenged her leading effort.
Next to jump-off immediately was Emily Short and Grand Finale 3e, stopping the clock in 38.116 seconds. One rail down earned the pair a final sixth place finish.
Charlie Jacobs and Flaming Star jumped a brilliant first round, and like Haas and Short, opted to challenge the jump-off right away. Jacobs laid down a clean round with a slower time of 38.884 seconds putting them just behind Haas and As Di Chupito.
Molly Ashe-Cawley and Syrah, fault-free in the first round, stayed in for the jump-off and stopped the clock in 39.656 seconds, but two downed rails relegated the duo to a final eighth-placed finish.
Pfeiffer, 20, then entered the Grand Prix Arena, fresh off a 1.35-meter Open Jumper class victory earlier in the week. Having taken over the reins on Cosmo only three months ago from her brother Henry, Pfeiffer's plan was to see how Cosmo went in Round 1 before deciding whether or not to remain in the ring for the jump-off.
With the 11-year-old stallion jumping well and in sync, she opted to continue straight to the jump-off. Pfeiffer picked up a gallop and never lost her rhythm, leaving all of the jumps up and posting the winning time of 36.028 seconds. Then it was Pfeiffer's turn to wait.
Three fault-free first round combinations opted to come back for the jump-off. Lapacco and Wesley Newlands, relative newcomers to the Open Jumper ranks, glided faultlessly around the shortened course in 41.467 seconds earning them fifth-placed honors.
Next up was Lisa Goldman and Centurion B. With a jump-off time of 38.554 seconds and one rail down, the pair finished in seventh.
David Beisel and Ammeretto were last in for the jump-off, but their clean round and time of 39.592 seconds couldn't match Pfeiffer's efforts.
When asked about Vaillancourt's course, Pfeiffer said, "It was enough course today. The oxers were big and square, and the last line was a big test. That line separated the field for sure. I'm glad that I was able to watch so many riders before I went so I could really focus on how to navigate it. Because Cosmo is a stallion, you have to work around some things, but today he and I were on the same page."
Featured events remaining this week during Series III of Horse Shows by the Bay include:
The Grand Traverse Pie Company Family Day to benefit the Traverse Bay Children's Advocacy Center will take place Saturday, July 21 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Activities for kids and the entire family include: face painting, pony rides on Roxi The Wonder Mini Pony, Blue Ribbon Clear Round Kiddie Jump Contest, Live Remote with Sunny Country 101.9 FM, and a variety of demonstrations and activity stations.
Additionally, Olympic Show Jumper Lisa Jacquin has been selected to judge the ever-popular coloring contest, which will be awarded during the $7,500 NAL Low Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Prix, slated for Saturday, July 21.
A Fancy Hat Brunch, sponsored by Northern Pines Farm and Maureen and John Wendon, will be held during the hunter competition on Sunday July 22 in the R.L. Polk Family Hunter Ring's VIP Tent from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Attendees are encouraged to wear their fanciest hats.
A record field is expected to compete in the $30,000 Grand Prix of the Great Lakes, at 2 p.m. on Sunday, July 22 in the Grand Prix Arena.