Great Lakes Equestrian Festival Week Five Wrap-Up: Aug. 10-14
Grand Prix of Williamsburg CSI2*. Andrew Kocher (USA) and Zantos II topped a field of 20 to claim the win, besting second place winner Samuel Parot’s time by one tenth of a second.
Kocher owns the 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding along with friends Bob and Robin Mulkey. The gelding was recently imported from England and was previously ridden by British international show jumpers Robert and Louise Whitaker as well as their father and two-time Olympian (including the 2016 Rio Olympic Games), John Whitaker.
“In this class today, I thought anyone could’ve won,” said Kocher. “It wasn’t too predictable. The course was built at a nice size. For a $50,000 FEI class, I thought it was pretty spot-on. The course walked perfectly. There weren’t any dicey lines; I thought it was straightforward.”
Only eight were invited to return to the jump-off after producing clear efforts around Michel Vaillancourt’s first round course.
Samuel Parot (CHI) and his own Cous Cous Van Orti were the early double clear pathfinders in the jump-off, setting the time to beat at 34.760 seconds.
Three rounds later, Darragh Kerins (IRL) and Ilan, owned by Maarten Huygens, finished double clear, but were four seconds off the pace to put them behind Parot in 38.370 seconds.
Next up was Kocher and Zantos II. After watching the first few rounds of the jump-off, Kocher opted to take a sharp and risky inside turn to a vertical, shaving one tenth of a second off Parot’s time in 34.680 seconds to take over the lead.
Michael Morrissey (USA) and QBS Equestrian LLC’s Chance Ste Hermelle decided to take the same inside turn as Kocher in an attempt to catch his time but was just two seconds too slow in 36.210 seconds, putting him in third, behind Parot, in the standings.
Parot had one last shot to beat Kocher with his second mount of the jump-off, his own Dazzle White. The pair finished in the fastest time in 32.780 seconds, beating Kocher’s time by two seconds, but collected an unfortunate 8 faults to place fifth overall with the 8-year-old grey Dutch Warmblood gelding, while also finishing in second place aboard Cous Cous Van Orti, a 14-year-old Belgium Warmblood gelding.
In the final standings, Morrissey remained in third, while Kerins claimed fourth place honors, respectively.
“Samuel, I thought, went really fast and I didn’t think I was going to catch him,” said Kocher. “My horse is small, he doesn’t have as big of a stride, but he’s really quick with his feet so I think foot speed is what outdid the others. I got lucky because Samuel had poles down with his last horse, otherwise he would’ve had me!”
Prior to the grand prix action was the $7,500 Show Jumping Hall of Fame (SJHOF) High Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic. Of the eight horse and rider combinations competing, none were able to jump clear over the first round course except Texas native Taylor Reid. She was aboard her two Dutch Warmblood geldings Ugano and Boucanier, who she competes with through the grand prix level, and took the blue with Ugano and the red ribbon with Boucanier.
Jumper Highlights: Wednesday – Sunday
Grey was the theme for Saturday at GLEF. As overcast skies set the scene for the day’s highlighted jumper event, the $25,000 Under 25 Grand Prix, presented by the Moyer family, Abigail McArdle finished with the top two placings aboard two grey 8-year-old mounts owned by Plain Bay Sales.
Vaillancourt designed a technical first round course, which only saw four of the original 15 entries, two of which were McArdle, finish with no faults to return for the jump-off.
McArdle was the first to jump-off and successfully navigated the short course faultlessly aboard Comeback, a Belgian Warmblood gelding, setting the pace to beat at 32.583 seconds.
Alise Oken and Hi Hopes Farm, LLC’s Hitchcock VD Broekkant were next to jump-off, but an unfortunate refusal at the second to last fence cost them a total of 13 faults, finishing in 50.501 seconds.
Eugenio Garza followed Oken and rode El Milagro’s Victer Finn DH Z to a 4-fault finish in 35.720 seconds.
With only McArdle left to go with her second mount, and still in the lead aboard Comeback, the 22-year-old rider piloted Contessina Della Caccia, a Selle Français mare, to another double clear round in 38.055 seconds to also take second place, knocking Garza into third place and Oken into fourth place.
Earlier in the day on Saturday, the Grand Prix Ring at Flintfields Horse Park played host to 15 horse and rider combinations vying for the blue ribbon in the $5,000 NAL Low Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic.
Only three were able to jump clear around Vaillancourt’s challenging first round track to move on to the jump-off. However, it was Olivia Chowdry and her own Barbou De Ruet, a 12-year-old Holsteiner gelding, who were able to produce the only double clear round of the class for first place in 39.033 seconds.
Mexico’s Eugenio Garza made his GLEF debut during Week Five, claiming the top two spots in Friday’s $35,000 Welcome Stake CSI2* aboard Armani SL Z and Empire Van Wuitenshof, both owned by El Milagro.
Garza bested an original starting field of 29 entries to take the top prize with the 8-year-old Zangersheide stallion by Asca Z. As last in the jump-off and already in the lead, Garza outpaced his own time with Empire Van Wuitenshof to place one-two in the first FEI-rated class of the week.
The High Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumpers and the 1.35m Open Jumpers highlighted Thursday’s jumper competition in the Grand Prix Ring at GLEF. Leah DeMartini of Elm Rock LLC and Mattias Tromp of Beyaert Farm Inc. rode faultlessly in their respective classes to both take home blue ribbons on day two of Week Five.
DeMartini claimed her first GLEF win in the High Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumpers aboard Elm Rock LLC’s Firth Of Lorne, and were the only horse and rider combination of the class to jump double clear in 39.699 seconds.
Prior to the High Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumpers on Thursday was the 1.35m Open Jumpers where 16 exhibitors vied for first place honors.
Mattias Tromp and Beyaert Farms Inc.’s KM Whatever RV were one of five to ride clear over the one-round speed track, tripping the timers in 59.265 seconds to take the top spot.
GLEF kicked off its second series of competition on Wednesday with featured jumper classes in the Grand Prix Ring including the 1.35m and 1.40m Open Jumpers.
Ryan Genn of Rheinland Farm out of Lebanon, Ohio, and Aramon, owned by Wilhelm Genn and Mark Atkins, kicked off competition at Flintfields Horse Park with a win in the 1.40m Open Jumpers on Wednesday.
Genn piloted the 11-year-old Warmblood gelding to a fast and faultless effort in 37.037 seconds to take the blue ribbon.
Preceding the 1.40m Open Jumper competition was the 1.35m Open Jumpers, which went to Nicholas Dello Joio and Allison Stawarz’s Aluna.
Dello Joio bested the field of 18 horses and riders to come away with the win in a double clear performance in 33.158 seconds.
Week Six of GLEF runs through Aug. 17-21 at the Flintfields Horse Park and will continue to welcome riders and thrill spectators over the next three weeks throughout the second series of competition, which runs Aug. 10-28.
Hunter Highlights: Wednesday – Sunday
After a week of rest, horses and riders kicked off the opening day of the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival (GLEF) with high spirits. The professional hunter divisions commenced early in the morning, with some of the top horse and rider combinations contending for the opening day accolades. Ultimately, it was Hillary Johnson and Rogelio, owned by Cole Battershall, who took the first-day lead in the Performance Hunters, while Kelsey Wickham rode Pick Six to the top of the leaderboard during the Conformation Hunters.
Johnson was the busiest of the riders in the Performance Hunters, showing three horses to the top ribbons in the combined division. She first showed Rogelio, a show jumper imported from Europe only a year prior, to the top of the leaderboard in the first over fences, competing at the 3’6″ height. She then returned to take the third place in the handy and concluding the division with the first place finish in the under saddle.
Johnson also picked up the second and fourth place awards with Foremost and Winchester, respectively, in the handy round of the Performance Hunters. It was Alise Oken and Cavalia, owned by Hi Hopes Farm, LLC, who captured the first place in the handy.
It was Jennifer Nadalin and Catango V who kicked off the first of the hunter classes early Wednesday morning, capturing the win in the model section of the Conformation Hunters, sponsored by Sugar Run Farm, but it was Kelsey Wickham with Pick Six who stole the show over fences. Wickham rode the 10-year-old Warmblood gelding to two back-to-back blues in the over fences, kicking off the opening day of GLEF with the Conformation Hunter division lead.
Wickham has only had Pick Six, or ‘Bandit’ as he is more affectionately known, for a little over a year. She purchased him from a client, stating that “he was too nice, and we didn’t really want him to leave the barn,” so she bought him.
Wickham is the head trainer of Wait and See Farms, a family-run business specializing in hunters and jumpers, which is only three hours south of the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival, and the Flintfields Horse Park.
Hillary Johnson and Sorrento, owned by Copper Fox LLC, took the second place in the first over fences, and the third in the handy. Catango V and Gajoch picked up the third and the second place, respectively.
During the Green Working Hunters, Hillary Johnson and Moonwalk, earned the blue ribbon in the first over fences class, with Jennifer Nadalin and Westeros finishing in second. Nadalin returned to capture the handy round win, paving the way for the first-day lead. Wickham and Pick Six put in a good effort in the handy for the second place, while Johnson rode her second mount Voyager to the third place.
Kelsey Wickham and Pick Six dominated the second day of professional hunter divisions during the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival Week Five. After setting a strong lead in the Conformation Hunters on Wednesday, Wickham returned to the R.L. Polk Family Main Hunter Ring to not only take home the Conformation Hunter Championship, but also the Green Working Hunter rosette.
Wickham and Bandit, as Pick Six is more commonly known around the barn, nearly made a clean sweep of the hunter division, earning the first place finish in every over fences class, as well as the under saddle. It was only the model that the duo narrowly missed, with Catango V, owned by Samantha Gajoch, and shown by Jennifer Nadalin, taking the first place finish, and eventually the reserve championship.
The pair currently has their sights set on Harrisburg in the fall for the Pennsylvania National Horse Show. They have been working diligently to qualify for the indoor final, and Week Five of GLEF, sealed the deal with their championship win.
Wickham also clinched the championship tricolor in the Green Working Hunters, where she and Bandit rounded out the two days with the first and second place finishes over fences, as well as the second place in the under saddle. Hillary Johnson and Moonwalk, owned by Copper Fox LLC, concluded the division with the reserve championship, after taking the win in the under saddle, as well as two third place ribbons for their efforts over fences.
Johnson returned to the ring for the Performance Hunters, putting in two phenomenal over fences rounds with Rogelio, owned by Cole Battershall, to clinch the championship with the first and second place awards over fences.
The reserve championship was awarded to Alise Oken and Cavalia, owned by Hi Hopes Farm, LLC, who captured the first place in the handy on Wednesday and returned to take the first and third place finishes over fences on Thursday. Johnson is now aiming to compete in the $2,500 Glory Days Farm, LLC USHJA National Hunter Derby on Sunday with two mounts.
Mackenzie Snider is an Olympic hopeful, and as with all dreams, they take years of practice and the proper preparation to achieve. On Friday, during the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival (GLEF) Week Five, Snider competed in her first Platinum Performance/USEF Show Jumping Talent Search 2*, riding to the first place finish with Questa Capriole, and one step closer to the Olympic pipeline.
The judges tested the entries extensively, guiding them through a serpentine-like course featuring a vertical-vertical combination, as well as large oxers and unrelated distances. Six riders returned for the flat phase, where they were asked to exemplify the working trot, lengthening of stride at both the trot and canter, as well as hold the counter canter.
The Platinum Performance/USEF Show Jumping Talent Search mission is to “play an important role in the rider pipeline as it addresses the principal that form follows function and that it is important for a rider to have equitation basics and a solid jumper seat position in order to become an effective jumper rider. The Talent Search classes test a rider’s ability to ride a jumper style course effectively while maintaining the classic American forward style of riding. The Talent Search program fosters this tradition in U.S. Show Jumping and builds on preparing the next generation of international jumping riders.”
Snider trains with Melissa Hirt, and is already qualified for the Pessoa/US Hunter Seat Equitation Medal Finals, as well as the ASPCA Maclay Region 4 Finals, held during the Kentucky National on Sept. 24.
It was Marissa Rice and Upcountry Cetric who took the second place finish jut behind Snider. Rice has not been competing in the equitation for long, and the Talent Search is a new aspiration for the 15-year-old jumper.
Rice trains with [Henri and Katie] Prudent and Paula Randall, and she traveled to Michigan from Wellington, Florida, for her chance to compete in the three weeks of the second GLEF series.
Owen Gajoch and Sweet Nothings took the third place, while Aristea Santoro and Comtico finished fourth.
In the Taylor Harris Insurance Services (THIS) National Children’s Medal, it was Santoro who took the lead. The talented young rider captured the win with Audience of One, outriding fellow contenders to conclude with the score of 83 points. The second place was awarded to Natalie Groulx and Enticer, who finished the equitation course with 75 points, while Emma Flett and Drommels rounded out the top three.
The Marshall & Sterling/Ariat National Adult Medal concluded the third day of competition. Lauren Coates and Candor finished in the top spot. Barney Jacobs and Cashmo earned second place, while Laurie Bidwell rode Williamston to the third place.
Paige Matthies is a 14-year-old who has dominated the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival (GLEF) leaderboard, from the hunters to the equitation, and even in the jumpers, Matthies consistently exceeds expectations. On Saturday afternoon, she did not fall short as she rode Justified, owned by Dudley Smith, to the championship in the Large Junior Hunter division, sponsored by French Road Cellars, as well as the highly competitive $1,000 Junior Hunter Classic.
Matthies currently sits fourth in the nation with Justified in the Large Junior 15 & Under Hunters. She added the Large Junior Hunter Championship during the GLEF Week Five to their already impressive repertoire. Olivia Jacobs and Southside, owned by Barney Jacobs, earned the reserve championship.
Matthies rode Justified to the $1,000 Junior Hunter Classic victory, with the first round score of 85 points and the second round score of 81.5 points, clinching the win with the cumulative score of 166.5 points. Emma Lena Green and Hennessey finished in the second place, only a half a point shy of Matthies. The third place was also picked up by Matthies and her second mount of the division, Icaris Vede.
The duo has been a pair since November of 2016, and Matthies has been working with trainer Melissa Hirt to better understand him. Matthies plans to stay throughout the duration of the second series, and then is looking forward to the Pennsylvania National Horse Show and the CP National Horse Show for the Junior Hunter Finals.
For 15-year-old Kathryn ‘Kit’ Brown of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, winning the championship in the Junior 3’3″ Hunters was the icing on the cake for her summer show tour. Having only bought Bourbon Street, the 6-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, during the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, Florida, Brown has been working both on the ground and in the saddle to solidify their partnership.
Brown kicked off the division on Friday with wins in the over fences and handy, and returned Saturday to clinch the championship with another first and third place finish over fences, as well as the fourth place in the under saddle.
Brown has plans to continue working with trainer Heather Irvine as they prepare to move into the Junior 3’6″ Hunters. She hopes to one day qualify for the Junior Hunter Finals.
Isabel Hermelin and Zekiel won the Junior 3’3″ Hunter Reserve Championship with the first place in the under saddle, as well as three second place ribbons over fences, and the third for their efforts in the handy round.
The Amateur-Owner Hunter division features an array of talented riders, ranging from college equestrians to retired corporate employees, offering an outlet for equestrians of any age to continue to follow their hearts and their passion. On Sunday morning, the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival Week Five concluded with the Amateur-Owner Hunters taking center stage in the Polk Main Hunter Ring, and it was neurosurgeon Jill Donaldson who captured the championship with Troubadour.
Donaldson competed for years in the show jumping discipline, but more recently, she began showing Troubadour, a 9-year-old chestnut Hanoverian gelding.
Donaldson keeps Troubadour in a very consistent program at Meadowview Farm with trainer Tammy Provost, and in their three and a half years together, he has thrived with the program, as well as the attention the grooms and fellow barn mates are known shower on him.
Donaldson sealed the championship with three second place finishes over fences, as well as the first place under saddle. Alliy Moyer and Carlson took the lead on the opening day with two first place finishes, and narrowly missed the championship tricolor, claiming the reserve.
It was Kendall Meijer and Breckenridge who captured the $1,000 Amateur-Owner Hunter Classic victory. Meijer rode to the first round score of 85 points, and then returned to duplicate her effort for a solid second round score of 83 points. She captured the win aboard Breckenridge with a cumulative score of 168 points.
Meijer rides with Cathy and Hillary Johnson of Meadowview Farm, thriving to stay consistent in her riding so she can stay competitive in the Amateur-Owner and Adult Hunter divisions.
Donaldson picked up the second place behind Meijer, falling just shy of the win with scores of 83 and 76 points for a 159-point total. Laura Obermeyer and Samwise rounded out the top three with 150 points.
Series Two kicked off on Aug. 10 and will run through Aug. 28, featuring three weeks of hunter and jumper competition with a FEI CSI2* rating Week Five and Six and a FEI CSI3* rating during Week Seven, culminating in the $100,000 Grand Traverse Grand Prix CSI3* on Sunday, Aug. 28. Hunter highlights include the Glory Days Farm, LLC USHJA National Hunter Derby, which will take place each Sunday through the end of the second series.