Traverse City, Michigan, USA – September 18, 2022 – Grace Debney (GBR) never lets age or experience level discourage her from besting top professionals in international action. Sunday was no exception as she topped the $37,000 Premier Equestrian Winning Round CSI 5* with her steady partner Zarina de Vidau during the fifth leg of Major League Show Jumping (MLSJ) at the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival (GLEF) / American Gold Cup CSI 5*.
Out of 30 entries, Debney was one of 13 to jump clear. All 13 returned for the jump-off and jumped in reverse order of first-round time taken. Debney was late in the order to jump off, with a speedy first-round time of 67.78 seconds, so she had the advantage of seeing several top pairs jump before her. Speeding around the short course, she clocked in with Temple Equestrian LLC’s Spanish Sport Horse mare (Diamant de Semilly) at 31.89 seconds.
Debney beat out Shane Sweetnam (IRL) and Ashley Vogel’s Birdy du Thot to take over the lead. Sweetnam’s time of 33.13 seconds ultimately landed him in second place.
The only other pair to come close to the leading time was Beat Mändli (SUI) and Chartraine Pre Noir, owned by Grant Road Partners LLC, with a double-clear and final time of 33.39 seconds, taking third.
“I bought her as an 8-year-old,” Debney remarked of Zarina de Vidau. “She was meant to be my High Junior jumper and she just kept stepping up, especially over this past year. She’s had a few international wins. She’s always been my rock. I owe a lot of my career to her for sure. This show last year she was doing the High Juniors and now she’s doing the five-star.”
Debney admits that Zarina de Vidau is always serious, and that’s part of her winning edge. “She’s all game face,” she said. “She has no time for anyone, she just wants to go in the ring and win. She’s everyone’s favorite; she’s so easy to deal with.”
She bought the mare from Reed Kessler (USA), who developed her as a young horse. With a similar riding style to Kessler, Debney knew their partnership would come together strong and they would be a successful pair.
Final Results – $37,000 Premier Equestrian Winning Round CSI 5*
1) Grace Debney (GBR) & Zarina de Vidau – 0 / 0 – 31.89
2) Shane Sweetnam (IRL) & Birdy du Thot – 0 / 0 – 33.13
3) Beat Mändli (SUI) & Chartraine Pre Noir – 0 / 0 – 33.39
Source: Press Release from Traverse City Horse Shows
Photos: © Andrew Ryback Photography