Traverse City, Michigan, USA – June 19, 2022 – California native Alec Lawler’s (USA) first FEI Grand Prix in Traverse City did not disappoint. Lawler, 30, made it back for the second season in a row, but this time with his partner For Gold, and topped the $138,600 Staller Grand Prix CSI 3*.
“He’s the nicest horse I’ve ever had,” Lawler said of the 11-year-old Holsteiner gelding. “He’s as careful, scopey, and intelligent as they come. He really understands the game: to jump clear rounds. I’ve never had a smarter horse than him, so it’s really special. I’ve been able to be more competitive than I ever was before.”
Mauricio Garcia Ballesteros’ (PUR) first-round course whittled down the field to six as they kicked into jump-off mode. Olympic team silver medalist Beat Mändli (SUI) set the pace to beat with Dsarie, owned by Grant Road Partners LLC, in 39.30 seconds, putting the pressure on the rest of the field.
Lawler, fourth to jump off, took a similar path to Mändli, but with a quicker pace to slide into first in 37.28 seconds. Last to go, U.S. Olympian Margie Engle (USA), looking for back-to-back grand prix wins, piloted Jackofhearts, owned by Gladewinds Partners, LLC, to a double-clear round in 39.50 seconds, claiming third place.
Despite the depth of the jump-off roster, Lawler knew he had a trusty partner to take him to the top. “My horse has a nickel’s worth smaller stride than [Beat’s],” he continued. “So trying to do the same steps as him kept me at a little faster pace. I don’t think it was one particular spot on course, my horse is just a little bit quicker.”
Lawler acquired For Gold several years ago from a Dutch colleague, Rob Schipper, who helped produce the gelding (For Fashion x Heraldik). “One day, he called me and said, ‘Now’s the time; You have to buy him.’ So I was able to lease my horse [at the time] and buy him and bring him over. It’s been a slow-building process for us, but he’s just been as consistent a horse as I’ve ever had.”
Lawler isn’t leaving Traverse City anytime soon. As a member of the Desert International Horse Park (DIHP) Roadrunners, he looks forward to competing in the Major League Show Jumping (MLSJ) tour as it passes through Flintfields Horse Park in August and September. My barn, Meadowgrove Farm, and I are here for five weeks with clients, and my personal horses will stay here with a big goal of being on the DIHP team for the MLSJ. I’m really excited about that. It’s a huge opportunity for me, and I’m thankful that the DIHP put me on the team.”
Ticket proceeds from the Staller Grand Prix were donated to Horse North Rescue in the amount of $1,335 as part of Traverse City Horse Shows’ new charity ticket program. Throughout the spring, summer and fall, each of the 12 Sunday grand prix events will benefit a local charity. All proceeds generated from general admission ticket sales will be donated to each week’s charity.
CSI3* competition continues during week three of Traverse City Spring, presented by Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel, with the $138,600 Serra Traverse City Grand Prix CSI 3* taking place Sunday.
Final Results: $138,600 Staller CSI3* Grand Prix
1. Alec Lawler (USA) & For Gold: 2011 HOLST gelding by For Fashion x Heraldik, Lawler Show Jumping LLC: 0/0/37.28
2. Beat Mandli (SUI) & Dsarie: 2008 KWPN mare by Veron x Ahorn, Grant Road Partners LLC: 0/0/39.30
3. Margie Engle (USA) & JackofHearts: 2012 DWB gelding by Toulon x Baloubet Du Rouet, Gladewinds Partners, LLC: 0/0/39.50
4. Eliza Lehrman (USA) & Una CL Z: 2012 ZANG mare by Emerald x Nabab De Reve, Five Way Farm LLC: 0/0/41.49
5. Roberto Teran Tafur (COL) & Dez Ooktoff: 2008 KWPN stallion by Colandro x Lys Rouge), Roberto Teran Tafur: 0/4/38.71
6. Kelli Cruciotti Vanderveen (USA) & Forever SFN: 2010 KWPN gelding by Azteca VDL x Nonstop, Springpaarden Fonds Nederland: 0/8/37.33
7. Lisa Carlsen (CAN) & Livestream2: 2010 OLDBG gelding by Lordanos x Landadel, Lisa Carlsen: 1/83.77
8. Gabriela Reutter (CHI) & Maharees Rock: 2010 ISH mare by OBOS Quality x Ballysimon, Lumiere Horses Inc: 4/76.45
9. Michael Morrissey (USA) & Tachini Z: 2009 ZANG gelding by Toulon x Burggraaf NV, MD Stables: 4/77.35
10. Filip de Wandel (BEL) & Manhattan van’T Leeuwerikenhof: 2012 BWP gelding by Emerald x Kashmir Van Schuttershof, Five Way Farm LLC: 4/78.31
11. Freddie Vazquez (PUR) & Kirschwasser SCF 2010 BWP gelding by Amaretto D’Arco x Nabab De Reve, Freddie Vazquez: 4/78.54
12. Margie Engle (USA) & Royce: 2004 OS stallion by Cafe Au Lait x Grandilot, Gladewinds Partners, LLC: 4/79.71
Source: Press Release from Traverse City Horse Shows
Photos: © Andrew Ryback Photography