Traverse City, Michigan, USA – June 19, 2021 – The penultimate day of Week II of the Traverse City Spring Horse Show, presented by Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel, spotlighted international show jumping competition Saturday afternoon in the Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel International Ring. A total of 23 hopeful horse-and-rider combinations took to the $36,600 Welcome Stake CSI2* looking to nab a spot in the highlight event of the week, the $72,900 Four G Surfaces Grand Prix CSI2*, set to take place Sunday, June 20. In the end, it was Canada’s Sam Walker (CAN) who emerged at the forefront of the victory gallop riding MarBill Hill Farm’s Evita.
Course designer Nick Granat (USA) built a challenging 12-obstacles track for the first round of competition, asking athletes to navigate their way through tactful turns and various combinations. By the conclusion of the first round, just nine pairs managed clear efforts, including Santiago Lambre (MEX) and Easy Girl, the first duo to leave all of the rails intact. Additional clear athletes included Jonathan Corrigan (IRL), Wilhelm Genn (GER) with two mounts, Vani Khosla (USA), Victoria Colvin (USA), Juan Pablo Gnecco (COL), Walker (CAN) and Will Simpson (USA).
As the pathfinders for the shortened seven-fence jump-off track, Lambre (MEX) and Mario Onate’s Easy Girl put forth a decent double-clear finish in 29.59 seconds to set the pace for those to follow. Quickly taking over the top spot was Corrigan (IRL) aboard Super Chilled, owned by Debra Wycoff, as they stopped the clock nearly one second faster in 28.68 seconds. The lead would quickly exchange hands again to Colvin (USA) riding BMT Partner’s Gemino after their tidy jump-off time of 28.64 seconds.
Her spot at the top of the leaderboard was short lived, however, as veteran show jumping competitor Will Simpson (USA) slipped into the first place position with his trusted partner Chacco P, owned Will Simpson Stables Inc., notching 21.12 seconds on the clock
Walker (CAN) and Evita were the final pair to tackle the jump-off course, and after earning seventh place in Friday’s $36,600 Speed Classic CSI2*, they were hungry for a win. Walker took advantage of the 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare’s experience and quick pace across the ground in order to leave out strides throughout the course. Finishing strong, Walker and Evita crossed through the timers in an impressive 27.40 seconds to close out the class with the blue. Walker recently took over the ride on Evita in 2020 from previously ranked Longines FEI World Number One Steve Guerdat (SUI), and the pair has quickly grown into a force to be reckoned with. Walker looks forward to his future with the talented mare and hopes to notch more wins throughout his summer competing in Traverse City. Simpson and Chacco P would ultimately receive second place honors for their efforts, with Colvin and Gemino rounding out the top three.
Finishing out the afternoon strong, young Canadian talent Walker earned valuable points toward the 2021 CaptiveOne Advisors Open Jumper Rider Bonus. Australia’s Katie Laurie held the first place position with 26 points after her top placings over the past two weeks. Offering show jumping competitors the chance to accumulate points throughout the 12-week Traverse City Horse Shows series, the bonus is awarded to the athlete with the most points at the conclusion of the 2021 $230,000 American Gold Cup Grand Prix CSI5*, presented by CaptiveOne Advisors. The CaptiveOne Advisors Open Jumper Rider Bonus is a highly sought-after prize among the field of international competitors that attend Traverse City Horse Shows.
Show jumping competition during Week II of the Traverse City Spring Horse Show, presented by Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel, will conclude Sunday, June 20, featuring the $72,900 Four G Surfaces Grand Prix CSI2* set to kick off at 2:00pm.
Winner’s Circle – Sam Walker – $36,600 Welcome Stake CSI 2*
On his win:
“It was an excellent round, I’m very pleased with [Evita]. She came out on fire yesterday going clear in the [$36,600 Speed Classic CSI2*] and picking up seventh place. I thought today, if I made it to the jump-off I would turn up the heat a little bit. She is a super fast mare, of course previously ridden by number one in the world Steve Guerdat, and I’m so grateful to MarBill Hill Farm to have the ride on her. The course today was fantastic, the ring is beautiful. It’s my first time here in Traverse City, Michigan and I’m really looking forward to spending the rest of the summer jumping spectacular classes at this great facility. Some days it’s going to be my day and some days it’s not. Again, I am just really lucky that today proved to be one of my good days.”
On if he feels the pressure riding Evita after Steve Guerdat:
“I think a little bit, yes, because she has already done great things with a top rider in the world, but also no, because I can confidently go in the ring and know that she has got it covered. Again, I am really grateful to my sponsors and owners for having her.”
On where he made up the time in the jump-off:
“Right off the bat, I walked the inside seven strides to the second jump. If you caught that on enough of an angle and went dead straight you could get eight strides back to the vertical. I watched some people do nine strides so I took an extra one out there. My horse is very careful and she backs up naturally so I could continue right over to the vertical. I think the kicker for me was that I was always planning on doing nine strides to combination, and when I landed off of fence 15 across the middle, the eight strides was great showing up. I thought, ‘Everybody has been fast already, I’ve got to take the chance.’ I took the chance, she stayed super careful, jumped to the top over the combination and the seven strides was right there to the last. A little kick across the finish line and there she goes.”
Final Results – $36,600 Welcome Stake CSI 2*
1) Sam Walker (CAN) & Evita – 0 / 0 – 27.40
2) Will Simpson (USA) & Chacco P – 0 / 0 – 28.12
3) Victoria Colvin (USA) & Gemino – 0 / 0 – 28.64
4) Jonathan Corrigan (IRL) & Super Chilled – 0 / 0 – 28.6
5) Wilhelm Genn (GER) & Bugatti – 0 / 0 – 29.16
6) Santiago Lambre (MEX) & Easy Girl – 0 / 0 – 29.59
7) Wilhelm Genn (GER) & Van Gogh – 0 / 0 – 30.31
8) Vani Khosla (USA) & Amerigo – 0 / 4 – 30.59
9) Juan Pablo Gnecco (COL) & VT Majeur de Brecey – 0 / 4 – 32.82
10) Santiago Lambre (MEX) & Comtess 202 – 1 / 65.13
11) Jonathan McCrea (USA) & Superwoman DK Z – 1 / 65.90
12) Andrew Welles (USA) & And Action – 4 / 61.51
Source: Press Release from Traverse City Horse Show
Photos: © Andrew Ryback Photography