Traverse City, Mich. – July 12, 2019 – The second week of the 2019 Great Lakes Equestrian Festival (GLEF), presented by CaptiveOne Advisors, LLC, reached its pinnacle thus far Friday afternoon as 28 horse-and-athlete pairs took to the Grand Prix Ring for a shot at the winning title in the $30,000 Ingram Family Welcome Stake. Although they incurred a single time fault, Wilhelm Genn (GER) based in Warren, Ohio, and Dirocco Blue ultimately took home the victory, the second big win for Genn so far this season in Traverse City.
Riding over a track built by seasoned course designer Leopoldo Palacios (VEN), competitors fell victim to a number of fences, with none able to master the pattern. Riding midway through the start list, Wilhelm Genn and Eduardo Leon’s Dirocco Blue sat at the top of the leaderboard after their conservative 1-fault round in 82.023 seconds. As the class progressed through the latter half of the order-of-go, no other partnerships matched their efforts, solidifying Genn and Dirocco Blue, the only pair to leave all of the fences intact, as the class winners and negating the need for a jump-off.
Chris Ewanouski (USA) and Castle Point Farm LLC’s Binja, the Week I $30,000 Welcome Stake winners, finished in second overall with 4 faults in 71.450 seconds, followed by owner-rider Michael Burnett (USA) and Chagrand in third place with one rail down to incur 4 faults in 73.639 seconds.
Though the 2019 GLEF series is only in Week II, Genn already has two wins to his name, having championed the $50,000 GGT Footing Grand Prix, presented by JTWG, Inc. and 4G Surfaces, the Sunday prior aboard Van Gogh. A GLEF veteran, Genn also won the $50,000 Great Lakes Grand Prix, presented by East Wind Farms, and the $50,000 North Face Farm Grand Prix CSI 2* one year ago aboard Bugatti during the 2018 circuit. Additionally, he claimed the top spot in 2015 in the $50,000 Grand Prix of Traverse City, sponsored by Meijer, with Welcome COR, as well as the $50,000 Grand Prix of Michigan, presented by the Ingram Family, aboard Bugatti. With his victory Friday, Genn has now topped the leaderboard in grand prix competition at GLEF on four separate horses, making him one of the winningest elite athletes at the circuit.
Wilhelm Genn (GER) & Van Gogh during the awards ceremony
Now with two upper-level wins thus far, Genn has secured his position as the early frontrunner towards the new $25,000 CaptiveOne Open Jumper Rider Bonus, which will be awarded at the conclusion of the circuit in August. Points are calculated based on prize money earned throughout the six-week festival in Open Jumper classes 1.45m and above. Fans and athletes can follow along and check the $25,000 CaptiveOne Open Jumper Rider Bonus leaderboard, posted on www.greatlakesequestrianfestival.com, to track their favorite riders and see who is leading in the standings.
Show jumping action will continue throughout the weekend, with additional highlights including the $50,000 Meijer Grand Prix that is set to take place on Sunday in the Grand Prix Ring at 2 p.m.
On Dirocco Blue:
“Dirocco Blue is an 11-year-old. I imported him as a 6-year-old, and then my good friend Eduardo [Leon] bought him for us. He actually had the choice back then between Dirocco and Van Gogh, so it’s funny that they both turned out this nice. Theo [Genn] had been riding the horse up until about a year ago, and he handed him over to me because I could use another horse. The horse is still learning; he is 11 years old but I think he is just starting to get good. He has all the scope. I thought he played with that course a little bit because it didn’t feel hard at all for him. The hardest part right now is that he gets a little bit excited, and towards the end, the blood comes out and it is hard for me to keep it smooth, but he was so awesome today. It is just fantastic.”
On the course and his strategy:
“The course, when I walked it, I thought it was a very nice and fair course, but it was really airy so the horses had to be very thoughtful. I think riders had to ride it powerfully but very carefully, so it was a good balance. Horses needed to be thoughtful and jump very smooth and elastic. My goal was to keep the horses fresh and not jump too much in the warm-up, then try to jump it as smooth as possible and help them as much as I can, while staying out of their way to let them do their thing.”
On the new $25,000 CaptiveOne Open Jumper Rider Bonus:
“Thank you to CaptiveOne for sponsoring the [$25,000 CaptiveOne Open Jumper] Rider Bonus. I think something like that is always special and it motivates old guys like me. We will keep building to see if maybe I end up staying with those two horses. We were planning to go to a different show that is owned by a client of ours, but now we will see. We may have to split up, so the boys [Ryan and Theo Genn] may go there and I will stay here, but we will see. We will see how the rest of the week and next week goes.”
Results – $30,000 Ingram Family Welcome Stake
Place / Rider / Country / Horse / Penalties / Time
1. Wilhelm Genn (GER) & Dirocco Blue – 1 / 82.023
2. Chris Ewanouski (USA) & Binja – 4 / 71.450
3. Michael Burnett (USA) & Chagrand – 4 / 73.639
4. David Oberkircher (USA) & Upper – 4 / 75.438
5. Alma Bjorklund (SWE) & Loro Piana Ballyleck Royale – 4 / 75.982
6. KC Van Aarem (USA) & Las Vegas – 4 / 76.767
7. Wilhelm Genn (USA) & Van Gogh – 4 / 77.640
8. Theo Genn (USA) & Boucanier – 4 / 78.045
9. Ryan Michael Genn (USA) & Dieta – 4 / 78.346
10. Alma Bjorklund (SWE) & Unex Captain Chaos 8 – 4 / 78.556
11. Ashley Fleischhacker (USA) & Auckland De L’Enclos – 4 / 80.789
12. Ashley Fleischhacker (USA) & Quadros 3 – 6 / 83.341
For more information, please visit greatlakesequestrianfestival.com.
Source: Press release by Elaine Wessel / Phelps Media Group for GLEF – Great Lakes Equestrian Festival
Photos: © Andrew Ryback Photography