Traverse City, MI - As Michael Dorman stood at the in-gate before the jump-off for the $40,000 Grand Prix of Traverse City, he came to a simple realization. "I watched David Beisel, who was winning, go before me, so I knew there was no time to take chances," he said. "You had to go in and try to win or not. You weren't going to win otherwise. He was really fast, and once he left it all up, I knew I had to go all the way."
So, Dorman picked up a gallop and barely pulled on the reins as he cruised around the shortened course, stopping the clock .30 seconds faster than Beisel and Ammeretto. In the end, Dorman's time of 39.57 seconds was the best of the day.
"Well, the jump-off really was designed well for me because the place to make up time was off of two left turns," he noted. "And Zephyr has a tendency of cutting in left, but I used it for my benefit today. So, making those tight turns off the left is quite easy for him. Usually it can get me into trouble because he'll do it too soon, but it really helped me today."
Dorman, of Wellington, Florida, qualified two mounts for the tie-breaker and stepped in the ring aboard Valinski S as the final contender. With his victory already assured with Zephyr, Dorman galloped around clear again for the fourth-placed ribbon as well.
Beisel and Ammeretto, the victors in this week's $10,000 Positive Step Farm Welcome Prix, settled for second, with Liza Finsness and Shiver, the lead-off duo, placing third with a double-clear performance.
Like Valinski S, who won the 1.40m Speed Stake earlier in the week, Zephyr was imported through Peter Charles in England. Dorman has moved the 10-year-old Dutch Warmbood gelding (Landor S--Tobelia) up the levels after he was a top 7-year-old in Europe.
A field of 24 starters tackled Kenny Krome's 13-fence/16-effort course, with international veterans as well as juniors and amateurs taking the challenge in Traverse City, MI. Nine horse/rider combinations successfully cleared the fences within the time allowed to qualify for the second-round jump-off.
"The first-round course was challenging," he said. "The jumps came up quickly and the lines had different speeds, so you had to do different paces. It wasn't extra huge, but it was challenging and technical."
This is Dorman's first trip to Horse Shows by the Bay with trainer Ronnie Beard and their Wyndmont Farm, and it's been a very lucrative and successful debut.
"This is a great show, and I'm looking forward to next week," he said.
Over in the R.L. Polk Family Main Hunter Ring, Emma Wujek guided Copperfield to the blue in today's $2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby, sponsored by Walgreens. The featured hunter class drew 28 competitors.
Wujek, 12, of Grosse Point Farms, Michigan, said this was her second derby aboard Fox Meadow Farm and Lindsey Buhl's Copperfield, and their second win. They earned scores of 91 and 96 for the top call over professional Greg Crolick and Borencio, who scored 89 and 94 for second place.
"He's just awesome. I thought it was really fun and it was a great course," she said. "I loved [the handy course], it was really fun, with nice turns and everything rode really well. Right when we walked in he pricked his ears and went straight to the first fence. He was a good boy."
Wujek thanked her trainers Meg Howard-Fuleky and Polly Howard for their help and support this week. Wujek and Copperfield also earned the Children's Hunter, 12 and under, championship and Wujek earned the Equitation, 14 and under, championship. In addition, she and Copperfield took blue in the NAL/WIHS Children's Hunter Classic, sponsored by Sweet Oak Farm.
After a three-year absence from Horse Shows by the Bay, Kyle Owens, of Powell, Ohio, returned and made his presence known. He earned the Wrenwood Farm Grand Amateur-Owner Hunter Award, the 3'3" Amateur-Owner, 18-35, championship, the Adult Amateur, 18-35, championship and the 3'3" Pre-Green championship. As icing on the cake, he also won the Graystone Catering NAL/WIHS Adult Amateur Hunter Classic.
Usually, trainer Peter Pletcher shows Owens' horses in the Pre-Green sections, but this week they decided to try something new. Owens showed Voila in the 3'3" section and Messick in the 3'.
"I've been doing really well at the 3'3" section, so this week we decided I'd do it myself, and we were champion," said Owens. "So, I'll probably want to keep doing it myself because it's good practice. I can use it as a warm-up for the Amateurs."
Although Owens had competed locally against professionals, this was the first time he'd faced off against the likes of WCHR Professional National Champions Pletcher and Scott Stewart. He picked up the championship with Voila and the reserve with Messick.
"That was the best day of my life! I was so excited and happy. I was so nervous," he said. "I've never shown against super well-known professionals, so this felt like a real accomplishment to do the Pre-Greens here."
Owens then returned to the R.L. Polk Family Main Hunter Ring over the weekend to capture the Amateur-Owner tricolors with Voila and the Adult Amateur tricolor with Messick.
"We imported Voila from Europe, and he was a carthorse," said Owens. "Desiree Johnson found him over there, and I think she thought he looked like maybe he could do something other than pull a cart. He's a good mover, is pretty and jumps well. He's the whole package."
Owens, 22, hopes to turn professional someday or remain an amateur and bring up young horses. His plan is still a work in progress, although he knows he wants to do horses full time. His results this week have solidified his goals.
"It's given me a lot of confidence," he added. "I was always like, 'Am I good enough?' I didn't want to embarrass myself in front of the professionals. But the fact that I could do it...even Peter, he was reserve champion and I was champion, and the horse he was riding was really nice! So, that showed me maybe I can do it. It was really rewarding, too, that all the work I put in is paying off."
Becky Gochman's dedication to the show hunters also paid dividends today as she rode two new mounts to impressive Amateur-Owner victories. Aboard Fredrick, she earned the 3'3" Amateur-Owner, 36 and over, championship, and with Last Call she topped the Amateur-Owner Hunter Classic, sponsored by West Bay Beach - A Holiday Inn Resort.
Earlier in the week, Fredrick, a 10-year-old Belgian Warmblood, earned the Wrenwood Farm Grand Conformation Hunter Championship with trainers Scott Stewart and Amanda Derbyshire. This was the second time Gochman had shown him and their second championship.
"Fredrick is a very new horse for me, and he has just been a blast since Day 1," she said. "I rode him in the field in Fairfield [Connecticut] for the first time out, and he was so beautiful there. And now this is our second show. He came here and hasn't looked at anything. He's as smooth as can be and just seems like a very happy guy."
Gochman, of New York, New York, purchased Last Call, a 13-year-old warmblood, this spring and has also forged an immediate partnership with him. Their scores of 87 and 88 topped the Amateur-Owner Hunter Classic, just edging Positano and Missy Luczak-Smith who had an 86.8 and an 87.
"He's a really big horse for me to ride, but he carries himself and you can go nice and slow with him," she said. "He has a great rhythm and is easy to see a distance on. He's also a really sweet boy. I'm enjoying them both very much. Scott found two great horses, and I feel a lot of gratitude for having them and being here at Horse Shows by the Bay."
Other Featured Winners Today Included:
- $2,500 NAL/WIHS Children's Jumper Classic, sponsored by Grand Traverse Resort & Spa - Vaillant, owned by Kate Morrison and ridden by Avery Hinson
- $2,500 NAL/WIHS Adult Jumper Classic, sponsored by Grand Beach/Sugar Beach Resort & Villas - Uluxion, owned by Claudia Styslinger and ridden by Madeline Cooley
- Children's Pony Hunter Classic, sponsored by Country Inn & Suites by Carlson - You Go Girl, owned by Lochmoor Stables and ridden by Izzy Beisel
Horse Shows by the Bay Fast Facts
Horse Shows by the Bay is a United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) Premier (AA) Hunter and Level 4 Jumper competition.
- Series I: July 2-6
- Series II: July 9-13 (USHJA/WCHR Member Event)
- Series III: July 16-20 ($25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby)
- Series IV: July 23-27 (HJAM Equitation Medal Finals)
- Weekly $40,000 Grand Prix
- Weekly $10,000 Open Jumper Welcome Prix
- Weekly $2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby
- Weekly $1,000 USHJA Pre-Green Incentive Program Stake Classes
- Weekly TAKE2 Thoroughbred Hunter/Jumper Classes
- Weekly Charity Fundraisers & Special Spectator Days