Katy, TX - April 5, 2011 - Sunny skies and cool temperatures welcomed exhibitors for the first day of competition at the Spring Gathering Charity Horse Show, held in Katy, TX at the Great Southwest Equestrian Center. Today's highlight event in the Main Indoor Arena was the $10,000 1.35m Open Jumper Speed Stake where Wilhelm Glenn scored the top honors, placing first and second with his mounts Happy Z and Copyright 3, respectively. His son Theo, followed in the third place position aboard Zenith Dancer, after winning the 1.40m Open Jumper class earlier in the day riding L'Etoile.
The course for today's Speed Stake was designed by Richard Jeffery of Boumemouth, England, and featured 14 jumping efforts. The fences included multiple bending lines and options for inside turns, as well as an oxer-vertical double combination and a vertical-oxer double combination.
Chris Nelson led the way over today's course aboard GPS Toronto. The pair successfully left all the rails in their cups and crossed the finish line in 68.578 seconds, which would eventually hold up for the fourth place honors.
Wilhelm Genn followed suit shortly after with his veteran grand prix mount, Happy Z. The duo quickly made their way to the top of the leaderboard with a clear round in a time of 67.607. Their incredible effort would hold the top position for the rest of the class and they would eventually take home the top prize.
Next to make a dash for the cash was Wilhelm's son, Theo Genn aboard Zenith Dance, owned by Bridlebourne Stables LLC. With their eye on the prize they made an excellent effort and jumped each fence without fault, but their time of 68.565 would fall just short of the leader and they would earn the third place award. Later in the class, Wilhelm tried to catch his own time with his second mount, Copyright 3. The pair stayed very close to the pace during their clear effort, but a time of 68.056 would eventually score the second place prize.
"It was a fun class, the jumps were pretty simple and it was not a particularly hard class," noted Wilhelm after his winning ride. "My horses just jumped a grand prix last week so this was more of an opportunity to go back in and jump some easier jumps and get ready for this weekend."
Wilhelm continued, "Happy is a little tricky; she's a chestnut mare so it just depends on her mood that day. I was not planning to ride her today but the weather got cooler and yesterday she was out bucking and kicking so I decided to put her in this class today. Copyright is very careful but he wants to run between the jumps. It's that constant struggle of not letting him run off with you, but when you get to the jump you need to support him pretty strongly because he backs away from the jump so much because he's so careful. It's fun because he's a winner too and he wants to be really careful."
Today's class was all about speed, and that is exactly what Wilhelm had with both of his mounts. "When you have a long speed round like that it's not just one turn, it's the whole course," he explained. "Just setting the pace and staying on that pace and being efficient in all the turns, that was the key. It's not just one turn, I think you need to be efficient in all the turns and carry your pace from start to finish."
Wilhelm loves attending the Spring Gathering Charity Horse Show and is thrilled by all the southern hospitality. "This show is the best, all the people here in Texas are fantastic," he said. "They have great course designers and really good prize money. It's just a really nice, classy show, and we all love coming here."
Earlier in the day, Theo Genn scored his own blue ribbon in the 1.40m Open Jumper class with L'Etoile. The duo had an excellent round, leaving all the rails in their cups. Susan Fried and Uranda, owned by Highridge Farm, were awarded the second place prize for the fastest four-fault effort in a time of 68.247.
"L'Etoile is one of my best young horses," commented Theo. "I've done a few grand prix classes on him and he's freaky careful with a big jump. This was just his warm-up class, I am aiming him for Sunday's grand prix. He needs a lot of support, he's very careful so you never have to worry about the front rail, but the back rail he doesn't always see, so he needs a lot of support and confidence. He's definitely a challenging ride for me but I am very excited about him."
Also taking home winning honors today was Jordan Siegel with Castle Point Farm's Rival Du Point du Jour. Wilhelm followed with the second place prize for his ride aboard Jolly Mon.
"This is the first time that we have shown in the 1.35m jumpers and he was excellent," expressed Siegel. "He came to us in November and hopefully we will continue to do the 1.35m jumpers for awhile and eventually I would like to see him do the High Amateurs with his owner and maybe some grand prix classes. He needs a forward ride but he is super."
The Spring Gathering Charity Horse Show will continue tomorrow with the $25,000 Pre-Green Classic, as well as 1.35m and 1.45m Open Jumpers. This week highlight events include the Carole and Jim Looke Family Fund $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby on Saturday, and the $25,000 Spring Gathering Grand Prix on Sunday.
Photo Credit: Wilhelm Genn and Happy Z took home the top honors in the $10,000 1.35m Open Jumper Speed Stake at the Spring Gathering Charity Horse Show. Photo By: Rebecca Walton/PMG.