Traverse City, MI - July 24, 2011 - Even mother nature took a break to catch this afternoon's exciting Grand Prix at Horse Shows by the Bay, holding off on a rain shower until just after winner Wilhelm Genn's victory gallop. The $30,000 Grand Prix of the Great Lakes was held today in beautiful Traverse City, MI, the third Open Jumper Grand Prix to take place at Flintfields Horse Park this month.
Genn and his own gray mare, Marlo, triumphed in an extremely competitive class filled with crystal-clear rounds and lightning-fast times. Also making their mark were Charles Jacobs upon Leap of Joy, who came in second, and last week's winner Blythe Marano on Urban, who came in third this time. Thanks to a VIP sponsor luncheon generously provided by Craig Rosenberg of Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, the many fans at today's event were able to relax and refresh while watching the amazing horsemanship on display in the ring below.
Prior to the first horse on today's course, Betsy VanDyke Foster of Maple City, MI returned with another engaging dressage demonstration. The mounted sheriffs of Leelanau County were also in the Grand Prix ring this afternoon, graciously serving as the event's color guard. After the sizable crowd stood for the national anthem, the class kicked off with an early clear round by David Beisel on Always Cullohill, owned by Harlow Invesment Enterprises LLC. The duo earned enthusiastic applause as they finished their turn in the ring, as today's course featured several intimidating elements. A jump resembling the Mackinac Bridge was tricky for several horses, while a combination starting with a triple bar also proved insurmountable for some.
These obstacles failed to thwart last week's winner Blythe Marano, though, who repeated her success with two clear rounds on Urban and Askaban, both owned by Riverview Farm LLC. Charles Jacobs also avoided faults on two different horses in the first round. Leap of Joy, owned by Deeridge Farms, and Flaming Star, owned by CMJ Sporthorse LLC, both blazed into the jump-off with Jacobs at the helm. The suspenseful second round saw 10 out of 31 riders return for a shot at the top prize, with Genn, like Marano and Jacobs, also making it to the jump-off on two different horses. Incurring just a few faults on his own Happy Z, Genn ultimately triumphed on Marlo. The pair fired-up the crowd with an excellent time of 36.9 seconds, never missing a beat but always missing the rails. The first rider in the jump-off, Beisel on Always Cullohill, also elicited applause with a clear round and a time of 39.433 seconds. Following Beisel was a cool and steady Marano, who flew past the timers on Urban in just 38.163 seconds. Charles Jacobs and Flaming Star were the last to tackle the second round, and produced an astounding time of 34.244 seconds with just one fault.
"This was a strong group today, a very strong group of horses and riders," noted Genn after his victory lap with Marlo. "I watched some in the jump-off, but I was fourth to go, but I knew I was gonna do five to the water jump, the five-stride to the Liverpool, because except for Charlie, who had a great time, everybody else did six to the Liverpool. This mare is very efficient through the turns, and she's very efficient through the air. She doesn't have a lot of hang time. So I knew that, and the last thing I wanted to do was rush her, because when you rush her, she wants to put her feet down. So you got to make it smooth so she keeps jumping up. That was my goal, to just set the pace and be smooth and not to rush her."
Praising the talented Marlo, Genn continued, "We just got her in February and Ryan, my son, rode her first. He's been riding her all along, and he won a lot of classes on her, he was fourth in the Grand Prix in Atlanta, but he was sick so he couldn't ride last week and this week. So, I got to ride her. Ryan's showing her again this week, so this was a nice way for me to finish up, with her. He'll ride her this coming week. She is a wonderful, wonderful horse. She tries so hard. She's so careful, and she's a little opinionated, like all good mares, but she tries so hard. I think that's the key, to just kind of see what she likes and what she doesn't like. She doesn't like to do a lot of warm-up, she likes a short warm-up with just a few jumps. She has so much quality on the jumps, that she doesn't need a lot of jumps. If you try to get her to hit one, that only rattles her. We try to keep her as calm as possible."
Genn has been to Horse Shows by the Bay several times before, remarking "I came here the very first two years, when it was still at the other facility. We always had it in mind to come back here. We love it up here, it's beautiful, it has beautiful facilities, the footing is getting better and better, and there are good course designers. I always love the way Michel (Vaillancourt) builds. Since he started I've been a big fan of Michel, he always builds well. He always makes it just hard enough."
Today's course was certainly no mean feat to conquer, but Genn and Marlo will receive several awards for their successful efforts. Genn will receive two pairs of valuable Veredus boots, one for himself and one for his horse. Veredus is the Official Show Jumping Boot of Horse Shows by the Bay Series III. Each Jumper Classic winner receives a pair of these boots, which utilize the most modern, innovative material to give the maximum protection to the best equine athletes in the world. Today's winner will also take home a $25 gift certificate to the merchants in downtown Traverse City, courtesy of Craig Rosenberg of Morgan Stanley Smith Barney. Rosenberg also provided a set of door prizes for those in attendance at today's VIP Sponsor Luncheon. The lucky raffle winners received a Bowers Harbor Winery gift bag, a manicure/pedicure package at Studio 415 in Traverse City, and a golf and lodging package at Treetops Resort in Gaylord, MI.
The final results for today's $30,000 Grand Prix of Traverse City were as follows: Genn and Marlo took first place, Jacobs and Leap of Joy leaped into second, Marano and Urban came in third, Beisel and Always Cullohill earned fourth place, Jacobs and Flaming Star came in fifth, Marano was in sixth place aboard Askaban, Genn took seventh upon Happy Z, Victor Segovia came in eighth on Romeo, owned by The Romeo Group, Scott Lenkart earned ninth place honors on his own Impulsive, and Wim Janssen and his own horse VPN came in tenth.
In today's $5,000 North American League (NAL)/Washington International Horse Show (WIHS) Adult Jumper Classic, Lauren Keck won upon Galoupard, owned by Melissa Hirt. The talented Galoupard has won this class three times in a row so far, earning top honors during Series I, II, and III at Horse Shows by the Bay 2011. Rider Keck and owner Hirt both hail from Michigan, demonstrating the degree to which Horse Shows by the Bay attracts talent near and far. In the final jumper event before today's Grand Prix, the $5,000 NAL/WIHS Children's Jumper Classic, Kady Abrahamson triumphed on her own Chalvino Z.
The multi-series Horse Shows by the Bay will continue to offer riders and fans the ideal horse sports venue throughout the month of July. During the fourth and final week of competition, held July 27 - 31, notable events include the $30,000 D-BRAIDER Cherry Capital Classic Grand Prix on Saturday evening, as well as a $10,000 Children's/Adult Jumper Prix and VIP Sponsor Luncheon on Sunday afternoon. Next week will also feature the fourth $10,000 Open Jumper Welcome Prix, multiple equitation medal classes, and the finals for the Hunter Jumper Association of Michigan's medal events. 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: Wilhelm Genn, Alex Rheinheimer, and Marlo Credit: Katie Anich/PMG