Traverse City, Mich. – July 3, 2020 – The new month brought the highly-anticipated six-week Great Lakes Equestrian Festival, presented by CaptiveOne Advisors LLC, which commenced its first week of competition Wednesday. Serving as the highlight event of the week thus far, the $36,600 Welcome Stake CSI2* was the first FEI class of week one and attracted a hefty field of 48 entries to the Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel International Ring on Friday. Relying on their footspeed and scope to top a lofty jump-off of 16 horse-and-rider combinations, Ireland’s Shane Sweetnam and Indra Van De Oude Heihoef, owned by The Blue Buckle Group, were triumphant to pocket the winner’s share of the prize money.
For the first round of riding, course designer Manuel Esparza (MEX) crafted a track featuring 16 efforts to test the pack of horse-and-rider pairs. Statistically speaking, Rich Fellers (USA), Charlie Jayne (USA) and Shane Sweetnam (IRL) posed the greatest threat of victory with three horses apiece entered in the class, while a handful of other athletes also improved their chances with two mounts. As the second duo to take to the ring, Fellers and Mojo proved to be the trailblazers as the first clear ride of the class, and Jayne soon forced a jump-off with his clear ride on Tou La Moon. As the class progressed, 14 more partnerships turned in penalty-free trips to earn jump-off eligibility and bring the total number of returners to 16. The American contingent led the way with 13 qualified combinations, while the Irish squad would return 3 pairs. Laying down an impressive three-peat of showings, Fellers successfully completed clear rides on all three of his horses to emerge as the frontrunner, followed by Andrew Bourns (IRL) with two jump-off mounts as the only other rider to qualify more than one horse.
Third to tackle the track for the second time, Jennifer Waxman (USA) and Deleyn were the pacesetters for the jump-off as the first duo to go double-clear, crossing the timers in 38.500 seconds to set the standard, but were quickly overthrown by Sweetnam and Indra Van De Oude Heihoef, who pushed the envelope even further to finish in a fault-free time of 34.900 seconds, nearly four seconds faster. By the halfway point in the order, Bourns on Sea Topblue, Fellers riding Lux Lady and Steve Schaefer (USA) aboard Zarkava each gave good runs that left all the fences intact but broke the beam a few seconds off the pace. That trend continued for Lacey Gilbertson (USA) on Baloppi, Margie Engle (USA) with the reins on Cesna M and Bourns with his second ride A Toi De Prim, each of whom performed to the tune of zero faults but could not catch the leaders’ time. As the second-to-last to ride, Fellers blazed through the pattern with Steelbi, taking the tight inside turn option and galloping between the obstacles, which were all left standing, to give Sweetnam a run for his money, but ultimately stopped the clock in 35.510 seconds to claim the runner-up spot with only one duo left to ride. Proving that the leading time could be beat, Brian Moggre (USA) and Nikita Jolie sprinted to a fiery time of 34.55 seconds, but downed the penultimate fence to keep them out of contention.
Leading the pack nearly from start to finish, no small feat considering the size of the jump-off horde, Sweetnam retained his spot at the head of the leaderboard to capture victory and the lead spot in the lap of honor with Indra Van De Oude Heihoef. Finishing the day with an outstanding set of results, Fellers claimed both second place and third place. The faster of his two double-clear mounts, Kathleen Waldorf’s Steelbi captured the runner-up honors in a time of 35.510 seconds, followed by Fellers’ own Lux Lady in third place thanks to a fast time of 36.130 seconds to add to his prize money winnings.
Though he did not compete Friday, Jonathan Corrigan (IRL) retained his status at the top of the standings in the CaptiveOne Advisors $30,000 Leading Jumper Rider Bonus due to a number of top placings during the Traverse City Spring Horse Show, presented by Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel. Of the top six riders on the leaderboard prior to the Welcome Stake, only Daisy Farish (USA) and Kendall Bourgeois (USA) competed Friday, but neither earned enough points to overtake the leader. The Rider Bonus will be awarded to the rider who accumulates the most points in competitions $25,000 or more in prize money over the course of 11 weeks of riding in Traverse City, concluding with the $213,300 CaptiveOne American Gold Cup Grand Prix CSI4* on September 13.
Earlier in the week on Thursday, Reid Arani and Islay Jumpers LLC’s Ziezo topped the leaderboard ahead of 20 other contenders in the Kasowitz Benson Torres High Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumpers, emerging as the early frontrunners in the division standings. Headed into the jump-off, four riders that included Arani, Mimi Gochman, Ashley Vogel and Sophie Gochman had each earned a place in the tie-breaker round aboard their respective mounts. Edging out the field by mere milliseconds, Arani and Ziezo earned the victory with a double-clear time of 32.116 seconds, followed by Mimi and Gochman Sport Horse LLC’s Celina BH in a penalty-free time of 32.939 seconds. Vogel and her own Zandora Z rounded out the podium with no faults in 34.208 seconds.
Friday is the halfway point of the first week of the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival, presented by CaptiveOne Advisors LLC, and show jumping action will continue through Sunday. The highlight event of the week, the $50,000 Great Lakes Grand Prix CSI2* will take place Sunday afternoon.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Shane Sweetnam – $36,600 Welcome Stake CSI2* champion
On Indra Van De Oude Heihoef:
“I have had Ivy a good number of years, I think it has been four seasons now with her. She is a great horse and we have won a lot all over the world. She had a little bit of an injury on the backside of last year, and she just got going in Florida when COVID-19 hit, so we took some embryos during that time with The Blue Buckle Group, the owner. She is a fantastic horse.”
On his jump-off strategy:
“I was early to go. It was a little bit of an awkward jump-off. The course designer had a couple of awkward turns where you had to take a chance. I didn’t think I’d be able to keep the lead with so many good riders behind me so I tried to be as fast as I could, and thankfully it held.”
On competing in Traverse City:
“I think we have been here every year. Every year it has gotten better and better. The jumps and footing are fantastic and the standard is unbelievable. A lot of top riders are here, and there are a lot of nice places to stay here for me and my family. The kids love it here, also.”
On the CaptiveOne Advisors $30,000 Leading Jumper Rider Bonus:
“It is great to have the Leading Rider Bonus, especially for a six-week circuit. Even though I’m only going to be here for two and then I’ll be back for the American Gold Cup, it is great for the riders who will be here the whole time and gives an extra boost and extra motivation to keep them going out every week. I think it is a great thing and hopefully they do it every year.”
Reid Arani – Kasowitz Benson Torres High Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper class winner
“He is a 16-year-old Warmblood gelding. I got him last fall. It was sort of a random thing. Some of the trainers at my barn were talking and heard that I needed a horse and had the perfect one. I tried him and it was a perfect match from the beginning.”
On her thought and plans for the class:
“We did pretty good. I was a little nervous since we have only had a couple shows back since this while quarantine, but I think it went well. It was pretty smooth. We went second which was a little bit difficult, but I think we did pretty well, considering. Our plan was to be a little bit competitive and have a smooth first ride, ride the rails, protect the front rail, get over the back rail. The plan for the jump-off was to be tight, look early and turn early and have a plan set to be as fast as we can.”
On competing in Traverse City:
“I love this show. I wasn’t here last year but I was here two years ago. I think the hunter rings down below look a lot better. Everything is great. They are being really good about masks and keeping us safe. I think they are doing a really good job considering there have only been a few shows since all of this. I love it and I love the big ring. It is always so nice and the courses are fun.”
On her plans after the show day:
“I just got here, so I haven’t been out much yet, but I’m planning to go to the lake this afternoon, which will be fun!”
$36,600 Welcome Stake CSI2*:
Place / Horse / Rider / Country / Owner / R1 Faults | R1 Time / R2 Faults | R2 Time
1. Indra Van De Oude Heihoef / Shane Sweetnam / IRL / 0 | 68.97 / 0 | 34.90
2. Steelbi / Rich Fellers / USA / Kathleen Waldorf / 0 | 70.95 / 0 | 35.51
3. Lux Lady / Richard Fellers / USA / Richard Fellers / 0 | 73.13 / 0 | 36.13
4. Sea Topblue / Andrew Bourns / IRL / Andrew Bourns / 0 | 73.45 / 0 | 36.24
5. Baloppi / Lacey Gilbertson / USA / Seabrook LLC / 0 | 71.49 / 0 | 36.69
6. A Toi De Prim / Andrew Bourns / IRL / Blackwatch Farm / 0 | 70.40 / 0 | 37.68
7. Zarkava / Steve Schaefer / USA / Steve Schaefer / 0 | 70.90 / 0 | 37.76
8. Deleyn / Jennifer Waxman / USA / Sweet Oak Farm / 0 | 72.93 / 0 | 38.50
9. Cesna M / Margie Engle / USA / Virginia Batholomay / 0 | 72.06 / 0 | 44.03
10. Nikita Jolie / Brian Moggre / USA / Ashland Farms / 0 | 72.55 / 4 | 34.55
11. Incitatus / Annabella Sanchez / USA / Annabella Sanchez / 0 | 72.48 / 4 | 35.70
12. Ayade Hero Z / Spencer Smith / USA / Ransome Rombauer / 0 | 72.47 / 4 | 38.43