Chris Ewanouski and Binja Victorious in $30,000 Welcome Stake to Kick-Off 2019 Great Lakes Equestrian Festival

Traverse City, Mich. – July 5, 2019 – Back for its fifth year at the scenic Flintfields Horse Park, the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival (GLEF), presented by CaptiveOne Advisors, LLC, is halfway through its first week of the popular summer series, with show jumping competition highlighted by Friday afternoon’s $30,000 Welcome Stake. Riding in a league all of their own, nearly three seconds ahead of the next-closest finishers was Chris Ewanouski of Wellington, Florida, and Binja, owned by Castle Point Farm LLC, who captured the first place prize to earn the lead spot in the victory gallop.

Chris Ewanouski and Binja. Photo: Andrew Ryback Photography

While Ewanouski and Binja proved to be the best in Friday’s competition, many of the horse-and-rider combinations will return to the Grand Prix Ring on Sunday afternoon for another chance at claiming top honors and a stake of the prize money in the $50,000 GGT Footing Grand Prix, presented by JTWG, Inc. and 4G Surfaces.

Following the first portion of riding, 11 pairs qualified for a return trip over the shortened jump-off track thanks to foot-perfect first rounds. Wilhelm Genn and Shane Sweetnam posed the greatest chances of sweeping the victory, each with two horses apiece coming back for the short course. As the third partnership to take their turn over course designer Keith Bollotte’s tie-breaking round, Ewanouski and Binja, a 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare, set a quick standard, breaking the beam clear in 39.203 seconds. Four other pairs were able to leave all of the fences intact, but none were able to catch their time. David Beisel and his own Essince W finished in second place overall in a time of 41.845 seconds, while Genn aboard Van Gogh rounded out the podium spots in 43.635 seconds.

Chris Ewanouski and Binja, pictured with GLEF show manager, Matt Morrissey. Photo: Andrew Ryback Photography

The duo’s victory is one in a growing collection for the pair, having recently triumphed in the $35,000 ProElite Spring I Grand Prix at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center in April, after also topping the $25,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic in Kentucky in July 2018.

With Ewanouski’s win, he has solidified himself as the early frontrunner towards the new $25,000 CaptiveOne Open Jumper Rider Bonus, which will be awarded at the conclusion of the circuit in August. Points are calculated based on prize money earned throughout the six-week festival in Open Jumper classes 1.45m and above. Fans and athletes can follow along and check the $25,000 CaptiveOne Open Jumper Rider Bonus leaderboard, posted on www.greatlakesequestrianfestival.com, to track their favorite riders and see who is leading in the standings.

The first week of GLEF competition in Traverse City will continue for two more days and will feature the $50,000 GGT Footing Grand Prix, presented by JTWG, Inc. and 4G Surfaces, on Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m.

FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE

Chris Ewanouski – $30,000 Welcome Stake winner

On Binja:
“This is a horse that I have had for a year. I brought her here last year and she jumped really well. This is one of the best surfaces that I think we get to jump on all year. She was ridden by an amateur that rides with Federico [Sztyrle] and I, and I took over the ride last year. This is now her third win. She is really fast, scopey and brave. I love her.”

On his jump-off strategy:
“She is very, very fast and she can turn very quickly, so I think I won the jump-off in the turns. She also has a huge stride, so it is easy for me to leave strides out. I went third so I knew that I had to go fast because there were a lot of really good, fast riders behind me. I didn’t know exactly what they were going to do, so I knew I just had to be as fast as I could. I was really neat from [fence] one to [fence] two in the jump-off, and then I did one or two less strides in a couple of the other lines than anybody else. She turns really quickly anywhere, but especially to the right so I really took a shot at the last [fence] because it was a tight, right rollback, and she was perfect.”

On returning to the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival:
“I am very excited. We love the footing and the jumps, and the town is great. We are really happy about the new rings that have been built, which are amazing. For some of our other horses that aren’t up to showing in the main ring yet, they have a really nice ring to ride in now. It has been great so far. We always look forward to the Monday in between the weeks we show here because we get a boat and go out on the lake, which is really nice.”

RESULTS

$30,000 Welcome Stake:
Place / Horse / Rider / Owner / R1 Faults / R2 Faults / Time
1. Binja / Chris Ewanouski / Castle Point Farm LLC / 0 / 0 / 39.203
2. Essince W / David Beisel / David Beisel / 0 / 0 / 41.845
3. Van Gogh / Wilhelm Genn / Wilhelm & Patty Genn / 0 / 0 / 43.635
4. Loro Piana Ballyleck Royale / Alma Bjorklund / Alma Bjorklund / 0 / 0 / 43.825
5. Win For Life / Spencer Brittan / Spencer Brittan / 0 / 0 / 44.448
6. Bijzonder / Shane Sweetnam / Seabrook LLC / 0 / 4 / 40.658
7. Dieta / Ryan Michael Genn / Shannon Reid / 0 / 4 / 42.891
8. Cassius 74 / Stephen Foran / Freedom Woods / 0 / 4 / 43.559
9. Kecho Du Sud / Shane Sweetnam / Marigot Bay Farm LLC / 0 / 4 / 44.783
10. Dirocco Blue / Wilhelm Genn / Eduardo Leon / 0 / 4 / 45.911
11. Chaccomo 11 / Theo Genn / Bridlebourne Stables LLC / 0 / 9 / 47.182
12. Warinde B / Lauren Hester / Hester Equestrian LLC / 4

For more information, please visit greatlakesequestrianfestival.com.

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