Traverse City, MI - July 4, 2012 - Under beautiful blue skies and stunning summer sunshine, the Horse Shows By the Bay Hunter/Jumper Series kicked off today at the Flintfields Horse Park in Traverse City, Michigan. Hosted each year in one of the nation's premier vacation destinations, Horse Shows by the Bay welcomed a sold-out roster of competitors from more than 35 states, Canada and Mexico.
Opening day in the Grand Prix Arena not only witnessed powerful performances all day long, but also created rave reviews on the courses, jumps and decorations, and most importantly, the footing.
"This is my first year at Horse Shows by the Bay, and I have to say I'm immensely impressed with everything Horse Shows by the Bay offers," commented Beth Underhill, an Olympic Games show jumping veteran from Ontario, Canada. "From the warm welcome, to the beautifully manicured facility, to management working overtime to accommodate all of the exhibitors' needs, we've enjoyed our first day. But, most importantly, the No. 1 best thing about the show is the footing! It's bar none the best footing I've ridden on in North America and just short of footing found in Europe. We're thrilled to be here!"
Proving her equine partner was in agreement, Underhill led the way in jumper competition on Day 1 aboard Peligroso, winning the Wild Oak Farm and Renee Lenkart-sponsored 1.25-meter jumper class over Zento ridden by Martien Van Der Hoeven.
In the 1.30-meter jumper class, generously sponsored by Blue Gate Farm LLC, it was Paul Halpern jumping to the win on Hermine 44, with XM, ridden by Andrew Welles, earning a close second. And, it was David Jennings who dominated the 1.35-meter $1,500 jumper class sponsored by CMJ Sport Horses, LLC, capturing the top two placings with swift, neat and expertly ridden turns. On top of the leader board, Jennings guided Nandy Fontaine to the win with his mount Cleopatra close behind in the second spot.
Rounding out the afternoon in the Open Jumper divisions was the Young Jumper series of classes, sponsored in its entirety by Chris Kappler, Inc., of Pittstown, New Jersey. Overlooking the mountains and scenic vistas, Donald Cheska swept around the 7-/8-Year-Old Young Jumper class on Imprimis to capture the win over Celine 2 ridden by Underhill.
Repeating his winning performance from earlier in the day, Halpern showed off his talented young horse, Marquis, by earning the top spot in the 6-Year-Old Young Jumper class, with Cheska in the irons for a second-placed finish on Bandro. Wrapping up the Young Jumpers, was the 5-Year-Old competition, with a beautiful sweeping round put in by Denise Wilson aboard Cerdi to capture the blue.
The largest roster of the day, the Low Junior/Amateur-Owner class sponsored by Kilkenny Insurance Agency & QBE North America, saw spirited and intense competition. Canada took home top honors again for Beth Underhill Stables, with Nicole Walker dominating the class. Walker took top honors on her Virtual Dancer and was second on Catania van de Dwerse Hagen.
Finishing off a star-spangled kick-off, the day concluded with the High Junior/Amateur-Owner class, also sponsored by Kilkenny Insurance Agency & QBE North America. Crossing the jump-off finish line in fast form was Erin Haas aboard her As Di Chupito for the win over Belle Bleu S piloted by Kaely Tomeu.
At the conclusion of the day, Alex Rheinheimer, competition manager and competition owner of Horse Shows by the Bay, was overwhelmed with exhibitor response.
"We're only in our ninth year here at Horse Shows by the Bay, and this is the smoothest Day 1 we've ever had! To have past exhibitors seek me out to express delight in returning, and our new participants say this is the best show they've been to all year is a wonderful thing," she said. "It's an endorsement that our myriad of investments in focused improvements each year are invaluable. Most notably, is the addition of new footing in the Grand Prix Arena last year with Steffee Surfaces. We now have a year under our belt with this underground water irrigation system and feel that we really do offer the best competition footing available anywhere in the country."
During the four-week Horse Shows by the Bay Hunter/Jumper Series, several jumper highlights include weekly $30,000 Grand Prix events, $10,000 Open Prix Welcome classes, Show Jumping Hall of Fame Junior/Amateur-Owner Prix and Low Junior/Amateur Owner Jumper Classics.
For complete results, please visit www.horseshowing.com. For more information on the Horse Shows by the Bay Series, please visit www.horseshowsbythebay.com.