East Dorset, Vermont — Michael Dorman and Zephyr breezed into first place in the $10,000 Vineyard Vines Welcome Stake, presented by Manchester Designer Outlets, at the Vermont Summer Festival. The six-week competition continues through August 11 at Harold Beebe Farm in East Dorset, VT.
Nine horse and rider combinations advanced to the jump-off including week one’s Welcome Stake winners, Mark Bluman and G&C Lagran. 2004 Olympic gold medalist Peter Wylde was the first double clear round of the day, setting the time to beat at 36.251 seconds with AK’s Clowney.
Dorman and Zephyr sliced two full seconds off of Wylde’s time by stopping the clock in 33.746 seconds. Four more horse-rider pairs jumped-off, but none succeeded in catching the time set by Dorman.
“I have a very big stride (with Zephyr) and I think I won the class because I was able to leave out a stride,” Dorman revealed. “Most people were doing eight. I could get seven. That’s one of his positive things, that he has a huge stride.”
Zephyr, a nine-year-old Dutch Warmblood that Dorman has brought along for the last two years, has only stepped up to the Grand Prix level this year. The chestnut gelding has proven to be a quick study under Dorman’s guidance.
“He was third last week in the [Vermont Summer Special] Grand Prix, so he’s catching on. The jump is easy for him. He just has to concentrate more quickly since everything happens so much faster and the jumps are bigger. That’s his learning curve,” Dorman explained.
Zephyr’s natural talent and mild-mannered personality make him a pleasure for Dorman to ride. “He’s an easy going guy. I think jumping is basically just pretty easy for him. He really enjoys jumping and he’s a straight-forward, happy horse,” Dorman remarked.
Canadian Chris Brandt designed the course for the $10,000 Vineyard Vines Open Welcome Stake in the Grand Prix ring, beginning with an open-ended approach to the first fence which allowed riders to start from the left or right lead. “I chose the left, there were less jumps in the way. I thought you could get a better rhythm, especially in the jump-off,” Dorman explained.
Dorman’s decision paid off as the rest of the course was smooth sailing for Zephyr, even through a demanding triple combination. “It was challenging because [Zephyr] has a very big stride and the combination was an oxer down the hill to two tight verticals, so I was concerned whether he could balance and shorten up enough. Once he got through that I was pretty comfortable,” Dorman commented.
Dorman, who is based at Wyndmont Farm in Wellington, FL, spends his summer traveling back and forth between the Vermont Summer Festival and HITS Saugerties (NY). He looks forward to the trip north each summer. “I think the management [in Vermont] tries really hard to make everything friendly. The footing in the ring is nice and they have beautiful jumps. They make a big effort to have nice jumps,” Dorman concluded.
For his efforts, Dorman took home a $1,000 gift card to Vineyard Vines in addition to his share of the prize money. Zephyr and Dorman will also contest Saturday’s $30,000 Battenkill Grand Prix, beginning at 1 p.m. at Harold Beebe Farm.
2013 marks the 20th anniversary of the Vermont Summer Festival in its current Manchester area location. The Vermont Summer Festival offers more than $750,000 in prize money, making it 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 10. The weekly $10,000 Open Welcome Stake, Presented by Manchester Designer Outlets, is held each Thursday. The hugely popular $5,000 3’3” Hunter Derby is also held each Thursday for the first five weeks, with week six featuring the $15,000 Hunter Derby.
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). Please e-mail us or visit our website for more information about the Vermont Summer Festival.
$10,000 Vineyard Vines Welcome Stake Presented by Manchester Designer Outlets
Rider Horse Faults Time
1. Michael Dorman Zephyr 0:0 33.746
2. Penny Brennan Sun Tzu 0:0 35.112
3. Leann Kelly Leander 0:0 35.563
4. Peter Wylde AK's Clowney 0:0 36.251
5. James Gillam Chanel 0:0 36.653
6. Mark Bluman G&C Carla 0:4 33.732
7. Emily Pope Seize the Moment 0:4 37.849
8. James North Wardetta S 0:8 39.027
9. Mark Bluman G&C Lagran 0:8 45.786
10. Penny Brennan Japan 4