Traverse City, Michigan, USA. – July 8, 2018 – Week I of the 2018 Great Lakes Equestrian Festival (GLEF) concluded on Sunday with the first grand prix competition of the six-week circuit, the $50,000 Great Lakes Grand Prix, presented by East Wind Farms, going to the veteran duo of Wilhelm Genn (GER) and Bugatti in the Grand Prix Ring at the Flintfields Horse Park.
Keith Bollotte designed a challenging first round track, which saw many horse-and-athlete combinations fall victim to the final double combination and tight time-allowed. Out of 24 starters, only three finished clear to advance to the tiebreaking round.
First to return back under the signature GLEF blue archway was 23-year-old Liza Finsness (USA) and her own Shiver. They tackled the short course and crossed the finish line with no faults, setting the pace to beat at 41.290 seconds.
Lorcan Gallagher (IRL) and Phoebe Backman’s Billy Onslow were next in the ring and finished on 4 faults in 40.706 seconds, leaving Finsness at the top of the leaderboard.
Last to go in the jump-off was Genn aboard Bugatti, a 12-year-old KWPN gelding owned by Eduardo Leon. The pair galloped around the course, with Bugatti throwing a celebratory buck after the final fence, to produce to only other double-clear effort of the class in a swift 39.552 seconds, shaving two seconds off Finsness’ time to secure the win.
Finsness, who also finished third in Friday’s $30,000 Welcome Stake, settled for second place, while Gallagher rounded out the top three.
Wilhelm Genn and Bugatti with Tiffany Morrissey (left) and Maggie Gould (right) of East Wind Farms during the awards ceremony.
Although Genn is no stranger to the winner’s circle at GLEF, Sunday was the pair’s first grand prix victory at the festival since 2015. The seasoned athlete also finished fifth with 2 time faults aboard his own Van Gogh.
Week II of GLEF will kick-off with the first Equitation Tuesday of the circuit on July 10, followed by World Championship Hunter Rider (WCHR) week in the Grand Prix Ring. Additional show jumping highlights for Week II include the $50,000 Meijer Grand Prix of Michigan on Sunday, July 15, and $30,000 Ingram Family Welcome Stake on Friday, July 13.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Wilhelm Genn – $50,000 Great Lakes Grand Prix, presented by East Wind Farms, winner
On Bugatti’s progress:
“I think it’s just age and maturity, just like with humans. He won grand prix events as an 8-year-old but he really didn’t know what he was doing at that point. It seems like every year is a fantastic year for him but I really feel, from last year to this year, he turned professional in his game. He loves it and he loves to go fast now. Three years ago, every time I wanted to go fast, he said, ‘No, I’m scared, I don’t want to go this fast.’ It’s really fun and he’s at the point where he allows me to make a mistake and can make up for it, and that’s really special for a rider.”
On returning to compete at GLEF:
“The footing is fantastic. There are always great course designers. Everybody’s nice. We love the area of Traverse City, it’s fantastic. We love the cherries. We always take cherries home and make a nice cherry vodka. It’s fantastic. We just have a great time here. We love the footing, the courses and the jumper ring is amazing. We’ll be here maybe the whole time, we’re not sure if we’re going to be here the last week. It just depends on what the horses tell us.”
$50,000 Great Lakes Grand Prix, presented by East Wind Farms:
Place / Rider / Horse / Owner / R1 Faults / R2 Faults / Time
1. Wilhelm Genn (GER) & Bugatti / Wilhelm Genn / Eduardo Leon / 0 / 0 / 39.552
2. Liza Finsness (USA) & Shiver / Liza Finsness / 0 / 0 / 41.290
3. Lorcan Gallagher (IRL) & Billy Onslow / Phoebe Backman / 0 / 4 / 40.706
4. Pablo Barrios (VEN) & Elana 22 / Pablo Barrios / Pablo Barrios / 1 / 82.706
5. Wilhelm Genn (GER) & Van Gogh / Wilhelm Genn / 2 / 83.423
6. Stephen Foran (USA) & Compis / Stephen Foran / Lauren Robishaw / 4 / 76.285
7. Anna Beth Athey (USA) & For Serrano SR / Anna Beth Athey / 4 / 76.868
8. Javier Berganza Anderhub (MEX) & Idefix De Laubry / Keystone Show Stables / 4 / 76.908
9. Hayley Barnhill (USA) & Halibo Van Texelhof / Reid Patton / 4 / 77.279
10. Bruno Cavalheiro Rebello (BRA) & Chabello / Alfonso Gutierrez / 4 / 78.663
Source: Press Release by Taylor Rains for Great Lakes Equestrian Festival
Photos: © Diana Hadsall Photography