Ideal conditions graced competition for the first set of Saturday highlights at the Horse Shows by the Bay Festival in quintessential Traverse City, Michigan. For the Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper participants, it was a day chock full of Classics staged in the beautiful Grand Prix Arena. For the Amateur-Owner Hunters, it was the final day of competition in the Polk Family Hunter Arena.
"Challenge" was the name of the game for competitors brave enough to tackle the demanding courses designed by Chris Brandt (Ontario, Canada). Using every inch of the magnificent Grand Prix Arena, Brandt's first-round NAL $5,000 Low Junior/Amateur-Owner Classic track tested horses and riders in numerous but subtle ways with no one element or combination being the culprit of faults or mistakes.
Sponsored by Captivate Farm of Schoolcraft, Michigan, today's NAL $5,000 Low Junior/Amateur-Owner Classic competition saw seven clean first rounds out of 30 competitors. Qualifying for the jump-off were: Armstrong and Lillie Ross; Affier and Melissa Orlick-Zbierski; Horseflight.Com Remiville and Maisie McSwain; Remarkable and Caroline Gibson; S.F. Carco and Angela Misch, Volant and Brett Burlington; and Zana Wofsi with Taylor Schmidt aboard.
The jump-off, with only six obstacles, tested riders as to how fast they needed to go without jeopardizing a rail. The first to go, Armstrong with Ross, was clean in 36.109 seconds. Then Horseflight.Com Remiville and McSwain stepped it up by going clean in 35.538 seconds.
With the ability to watch six competitors before she challenged the shortened course, Schmidt proved the last was best today. Galloping into the Grand Prix Arena, Schmidt studied the jump-off track with the intensity of a veteran, and then the 16-year-old rider gave the crowd something to cheer about. Crossing the finish line in 34.950 seconds, Schmidt's victory this afternoon was the first major win with "Wofsi" since purchasing her only three months ago.
"My goal in the first round was to have impulsion at the triple combination, as the rails were set at an angle and proved to be quite spooky for the horses," commented Schmidt. "In the jump-off, I wanted to be as smooth as possible, have nice round turns and go a bit faster than Maisie and Lillie. I'm thrilled with our performance today and am so lucky to have a mare that loves to do what she does!"
Final results of the Captivate Farm-sponsored NAL $5,000 Low Junior/Amateur-Owner Classic include:
1st : Zana Wofsi -- Taylor Schmidt
2nd: Horseflight.Com Remiville - Maisie McSwain
3rd: Armstrong - Lillie Ross
4th: Volant -- Brett Burlington
5th: Affier -- Melissa Orlick-Zbierski
6th: S.F. Carco -- Angela Misch
7th: Remarkable -- Caroline Gibson
8th: Jolly Mome -- Alex Matz
Wrapping up activity in the Grand Prix Arena was this afternoon's featured event, the $10,000 Show Jumping Hall of Fame (SJHOF) Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Prix. Honoring the 2005 SJHOF inductee and legendary horseman Michael Matz, this afternoon's class did not disappoint.
Once again, course designer Chris Brandt set a course that matched the talented group of horse-and-rider combinations. Offering enough challenges and options, the track narrowed the first-round field from 25 contestants to nine jump-off qualifiers.
While trying to tackle the shortened seven-obstacle course, the first three combinations -- Bleu Bleu S/Kaely Tomeu, Contino 46/Erin Haas and Kalle/Kaely Tomeu -- all faltered with a rail down at the double combination. Next entering the ring, Valentina 156 with Alex Parrish, also had a single rail in the jump-off.
It wasn't until Maria Costa aboard her Reno did the crowd see a double-clear round. Masterfully conquering the shortened course, Costa set the standard for all to follow in a fast time of 41.665 seconds. Kalvin Dobbs on Winde looked like a contender with a clear jump-off, but the timers stopped at 43.073 seconds, good enough for the final third-placed finish.
Eirin Bruheim trotted onto the course and then picked up a gallop on her 12-year-old stallion Tackeray, slicing the first jump and leaving strides out to the second. Bruheim, however, missed an inside turn that the riders preceding her had navigated. Consequently, she had to go around the signature lighthouse, losing time from fences 2 to 3. The crowd sighed, but Bruheim's instinct kicked in. She cut the turn to the triple bar, left strides out to the narrow vertical and then made a bold turn to the double combination and flew like lightning to the last oxer. Stopping the clock in a blazing 40.873 seconds, Bruheim's performance captured her first victory on Tackeray since purchasing him only four months ago.
Moments after winning the Great Lakes Golf Cars-sponsored $10,000 SJHOF Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Prix, the 20-year-old Bruheim was ecstatic. "This is only my third show on "Tick Tack" and I feel like we have been doing this together for a long time," said Bruheim. "After witnessing the first four horses in the jump-off have 4 faults, and then watching Maria finally go clean and fast, I said to myself, 'OK, I need to be clean, and I need to go fast.' So, I just took as many chances as I could, and it paid off."
Hailing from Houston, Texas, Bruheim plans to compete at Horse Shows by the Bay for Series II and III and then return home to Texas. "This is my first time here in Traverse City, and I have to say it's been so pleasant," she said. "Everyone is so nice, accommodating...and, I absolutely love the Grand Prix Arena. What a blast!"
Final results in the $10,000 SJHOF Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Prix include:
1st: Tackeray -- Eirin Bruheim
2nd: Reno -- Maria Costa
3rd: Winde -- Kalvin Dobbs
4th: High Yummy -- Nicole Walker
5th: Kalle -- Kaely Tomeu
6th: Belle Bleu S -- Kaely Tomeu
7th: Contino 46 -- Erin Haas
8th: Valentina 156 -- Alex Parrish
Accolades in Amateur-Owner Hunter action in the Polk Family Hunter Arena today were earned by Superman and John Ingram. They powered to the Grand Amateur-Owner Hunter Championship and Amateur-Owner Hunter, 36 and over, Championship over Reserve Champion Sigfried, owned by Susanne Stroh and ridden by Weatherly Stroh.
Akin to his name, Superman has proven to be heroic throughout the spring show season, earning championships at the FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival circuit, Kentucky Spring Horse Shows, and the Upperville Colt & Horse Show. In fact, it was just a year ago during Upperville that Ingram first learned about Superman. One afternoon he was asked to join his wife Stephanie and trainer Tom Wright for lunch in town at a quaint café. "When they ordered me a Jack Daniels I should have known I was in trouble," Ingram quipped. "Turns out, that was quite an expensive lunch!"
Culminating his first week's Horse Shows by the Bay triumph, Ingram said of his beautiful 9-year-old gelding Superman, "The funniest thing is that we originally bought him for either my wife Stephanie or my daughter Martha, but both needed a bit of a different type of horse, so he sort of fell into my lap. Sometimes you just don't challenge things, and I said to my family, 'I think I can handle it!' You know, it's sort of like Tom Brady falling into your lap as a starting QB!"
Stellar and consistent performances were also the key to championship success in the Amateur-Owner Hunter, 18-35, division for Catwalk and Lindsey Roberts. Winning both over fences classes today, Catwalk earned the tricolor over Trust Me and Shannon Kelly.
Topping off the festival today was the Molon Excavating Kid's Day to benefit the Grand Traverse and Leelanau County 4-H. Children enjoyed dog agility, face painting, pony rides on Roxi, the wonder mini pony, the Sunny Country 101.9 FM stick horse and Blue Ribbon clear round kiddie jump contest. The highlight was a coloring contest, judged by veteran Grand Prix competitor Alison Robitaille (Upperville, Virginia). The hotly contested coloring competition was won by Rebecca Burch, age 10.
For complete results, please visit http://www.horseshowing.com
For more information on the Horse Shows by the Bay Series, please visit http://www.horseshowsbythebay.com
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