Traverse City, Mich. – July 5, 2020 – Substantial prize money was up for grabs Sunday at the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival, presented by CaptiveOne Advisors LLC, as 42 entries took to the Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel International Ring for the $50,000 Great Lakes Grand Prix CSI 2*. Improving upon their second-place performance Friday in the $36,600 Welcome Stake CSI 2* class, Rich Fellers (USA) and Kathleen Waldorf’s Steelbi upped their game to prevail as the victors in Sunday’s contest by more than two full-seconds in the jump-off, an impressive feat considering their company in the second phase of competition.
Once again at the helm was course designer Manuel Esparza (MEX), who provided horse-and-rider combinations a pattern of 16 efforts in the first round of riding. Second in the ring for the class, Brian Moggre (USA) and Nikita Jolie served as the early trailblazers with a clear ride within the time-allowed, and they were immediately joined in the clear ranks by Peter Leone (USA) and Donner, who forced the jump-off. Adding to the list, Lacey Gilbertson (USA) on Baloppi, Shane Sweetnam (IRL) with Alejandro and Sophie Gochman (USA) aboard Carola BH each turned in penalty-free efforts to qualify for the tie-breaker round by the halfway point of the first round.
Seeking to add a second major victory to his name for the week, Sweetnam added another eligible mount, Friday’s $36,600 Welcome Stake CSI 2* winner Indra Van De Oude Heihoef, and Fellers qualified aboard Friday’s second-place horse, Steelbi. Three of the final duos, Tanner Korotkin (USA) piloted Deauville S, Charlie Jayne (USA) navigated Amice Z and Mimi Gochman (USA) rode Gigi’s Girl BH to clear performances to bring the total list of jump-off contenders to ten. Three other athletes kept all the rails in their cups riding their respective mounts, but Nicholas Dello Joio (USA), as well as the younger Gochman (USA), Sophie (USA), and Gilbertson (USA) on their second horses, each fell victim to a heart-breaking single time fault.
Trimmed to eight fences, the jump-off saw a competitive group tackle the track with fervor as four partnerships ultimately left all the fences untouched for a second time. Moving up in the order to accommodate having two horses in the second phase, Sweetnam advanced to second in the order-of-go with Alejandro, proving why he is consistently one of the best in the world with the first double-clear performance of the class in 39.950 seconds to set the pace. Five trips later, Fellers expertly jockeyed Steelbi to a swift time of 37.810 seconds, shaving more than two seconds off of the leading time to overthrow Sweetnam as the pair to beat.
Though the remainder of the class would try to compare, none could eclipse Fellers and Steelbi, who came out on top in the $50,000 Great Lakes Grand Prix CSI 2*, the second top-two finish for the skilled team of the week. Sweetnam and Alejandro, owned by Sea Brook LLC & Spy Coast Farm LLC, managed to retain second place thanks to their quick time, and the older Gochman sister, Mimi, jumped Gigi’s Girl BH, owned by Gochman Sport Horse LLC, to third position as the final pair after tripping the timers in 40.570 seconds.
Now three weeks into competition in Traverse City, show jumpers have had six chances to earn points towards the $30,000 CaptiveOne Advisors Leading Jumper Rider Bonus, which will be awarded to the rider who accumulates the most points in competitions $25,000 or more in prize money over the course of 11 weeks of riding at Flintfields Horse Park. Prior to Sunday’s competition, Jonathan Corrigan (IRL) held the lead with 26 points, and he will maintain that status headed into week two of the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival just a few points ahead of Ryan Genn (USA) with 21 points. Thanks to his victory, Richard Fellers (USA) is now on the leaderboard with 18 points in third place and Shane Sweetnam (IRL) sits in fourth place in the standings with 16 points.
Sunday marked the completion of the first week of the six-week Great Lakes Equestrian Festival, presented by CaptiveOne Advisors LLC, but show jumping will return to Flintfields Horse Park on Wednesday, July 8, for week two.
Winner’s Circle – Richard Fellers (USA)
“Steelbi is a 12-year-old Swedish mare. She is a small mare actually and measures just about 16 hands. She is a big enough mover and, like Flexible, she has a very big heart. She is a big fighter and a real trier with lots of energy. I just love her. She is so much fun and a competitive horse. I have to say thank you to her owner, who trusted me when we bought her off of a video when she was a 7-year-old. The owner, Kathleen Waldorf, has been a huge support since day one. Thanks to my sponsor Purina, who keeps the horses healthy.”
On his jump-off plan:
“My plan, as I told my son – and I was really motivated by him because he won the 1.35m Classic yesterday, and I couldn’t even catch him on my horse because he was so fast – was to win the class just like he did. I’m going to lay it down and there is no way anybody is gonna catch me. So that was my plan: go in there and hit the first at the gallop and just keep the hammer down. She loves that kind of ride and she gave me everything she had.”
On competing in Traverse City:
“I have been telling that I’ve known for years that I see here around the show that I think this place is going to take off. I think the next couple years it is going to be tough to get entries in quick enough to get into the show. It’s a beautiful facility and it is wonderful for the horses because the grounds and the footing in all the rings is so nice. It is like a gymnastic mat in every single ring you ride in, and it’s beautiful. You look 360 degrees around the showgrounds and it is beautiful. It is a lovely area for the summertime. I think we can’t get much better weather in the United States this time of year than here, and they are nice people. I think they are good people that manage the show, so I think it is going to be a hit in the next few years. It’s going to be sold out.”
Results: Great Lakes Festival Grand Prix CSI 2*
Place / Rider / Country / Horse / Owner / R1 Faults | R1 Time / R2 Faults | R2 Time
1. Rich Fellers (USA) & Steelbi / Kathleen Waldorf / 0 | 74.800 / 0 | 37.810
2. Shane Sweetnam (IRL) & Alejandro / Sea Brook LLC & Spy Coast Farm LLC / 0 | 74.490 / 0 | 39.950
3. Mimi Gochman (USA) & Gigi’s Girl BH / / Gochman Sport Horse LLC / 0 | 75.920 / 0 | 40.570
4. Lacey Gilbertson (USA) & Baloppi / Seabrook LLC / 0 | 76.130 / 0 | 40.890
5. Shane Sweetnam (IRL) & Indra Van De Oude Heihoef / The Blue Buckle Group / 0 | 75.240 / 4 | 38.310
6. Brian Moggre (USA) & Nikita Jolie / / Ashland Farms / 0 | 75.900 / 4 | 38.830
7. Sophie Gochman (USA) & Carola BH / / Gochman Sport Horse LLC / 0 | 73.340 / 4 | 40.810
8. Charlie Jayne (USA) & Amice Z / Charlie Jayne / 0 | 74.630 / 4 | 41.130
9. Peter Leone (USA) & Donner / Lionshare Farm / 0 | 76.780 / 4 | 41.540
10. Tanner Korotkin (USA) & Deauville S / Castlewood Farm Inc. / 0 | 75.460 / 16 | 41.120
11. Sophie Gochman (USA) & Andretti BH / Gochman Sport Horse LLC / 1 | 77.400
12. Nicholas Dello Joio (USA) & Columbcille De Reve / / Wembley Farms Inc / 1 / 78.350
Source: Press release by Elaine Wessel / Phelps Media Group for Great Lakes Equestrian Festival
Photos: © Andrew Ryback Photography