Traverse City, Mich. – Aug. 28, 2016 – Three weeks of competition concluded on Sunday afternoon as the jumper classics set the scene for the afternoon’s highlight feature, the $100,000 Grand Traverse Grand Prix CSI3*. It was Eugenio Garza who captured the victory with Lawfull Z as the only double-clear of the $10,000 SJHOF Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic, while Kyle Perkovich rode to a speedy win in the $7,500 NAL Low Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic with Roc My World.
The $10,000 SJHOF Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic challenged horse and rider alike with a difficult course that ultimately only two riders would master. Each consecutive rider of the class attempted to best Leopoldo Palacio’s track, but to no avail. Only Garza and Lawfull Z, owned by El Milagro, and Canada’s Ayla Barton aboard Dorestus, owned by Laura Barton, would find the path to the jump-off.
Garza commented, “It was a challenging course; Leopoldo always builds with a tight time allowed and challenging lines. The triple was challenging. The first part was into the corner so it was tough to get in on a good stride, but my horse jumped really well. I am very grateful to ride him.”
Since Garza was the fourth in the order, and the first to post a clean round, he knew he had to put the pressure on Barton by not only going clear, but also setting a hard time to beat. He stopped the clock in 33.233 seconds, leaving all rails in their cups for a double-clear effort.
“I started riding Lawfull Z in Florida, and he is a fabulous horse — really fun to ride,” Garza said. “He is only 9 years old so we were stepping up a little bit with this class. He is very mature, and incredibly fast. I knew in the jump-off that I needed to put in a clear round but not go too fast — it needed to be tough to beat. He jumped amazing out there.”
Although Barton tried to duplicate Garza’s path, a rail at the penultimate fence would put her into second place with Dorestus. Third place was awarded to Taylor Reid and Ugano, the fastest of the 4-faulters, stopping the clock during the first round course in 78.472 seconds.
Garza spoke highly of the pipeline the Show Jumping Hall of Fame series and other young rider competitions create for future generations.
“It is amazing,” Garza smiled. “I think this is probably one of my favorite classes. It is great for the horses that are not ready to jump international classes, but that are ready to compete at this level. It gives a lot of flexibility, and it is a great stepping stone for riders looking to move up.”
Garza admitted to already planning to return for the 2017 edition of GLEF, saying, “This was our first time here, and it treated us very well. The footing is some of the best I have jumped on, and I will be back for sure next year.”
During the $7,500 NAL Low Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic, 15-year-old Kyle Perkovich took an early lead as the class’ trail blazer, and continued his stronghold as only five other riders would find their way to the speed track.
“My initial plan was to go clear, of course,” Perkovich said. “I wanted to tighten up my turns, especially from one to two, and then take advantage of my turns. I knew I needed to be careful and quick in the one stride up the middle as well as the green oxer off the turn and the final fence, that was where I could really take advantage of the time.
“I knew that in order to keep the rails up, I needed to take that one extra step and use my hands and legs to keep her in the middle and jumping up, versus going right through it,” continued Perkovich. “Lisa [Goldman] told me not to get her flat, which can happen if she gets going too fast.”
Perkovich was the first to jump the short track, and he stuck to his plan until the final line, which was an eight-stride. He made the last minute decision to leave one out in order to put the pressure on his competitors.
“I knew it was an eight-stride, but the seven was already there so I gave a growl because I didn’t want for her to get flat,” Perkovich smiled. “I love Roc My World because she lights up in the ring. Outside of the ring, she is very calm and very friendly. She is very different in the ring, she is on immediately when you walk in.”
Natalie Horween and Quenotte P claimed the second place in 31.803 seconds, while Lily Hahn and Victoria VII finished with the third place with a double-clear effort in 31.985 seconds.
Perkovich concluded, “I think this facility is great. The footing is fantastic and my horse really feels great. This show allowed me the opportunity to move up a level and try the High Junior Jumpers as well as the 1.40m Open Jumpers. It was a great experience, and Roc My World was phenomenal. It was a great experience to be in the Grand Prix Ring and I hope to continue to move up and even compete in a grand prix one day.”
The Great Lakes Equestrian Festival is set on 88 beautiful acres and showcases five world-class competition rings in addition to spacious schooling rings. The property features do not stop there as the park offers convenient on-site campgrounds and weekly nights of entertainment for a truly unique attendee experience.
As the 2016 GLEF circuit officially comes to a close, exhibitors, owners and spectators are already looking forward 2017. The show is scheduled to return to Traverse City, Michigan, in 2017, kicking off on July 5.