Wayne, Ill. – Aug. 3, 2019 – The highlight event of Equifest II, the $50,000 Buck Brothers John Deere Grand Prix, began on Saturday evening at Lamplight Equestrian Center with a field of 33 world-class competitors joining together to battle it out for the top honors of the class. Following an all-out effort in the jump-off, it was Tracy Fenney and MTM Apple who came out on top to take home the victory for the weekend.
Leopoldo Palacias continued to construct unique and challenging courses for the jumper riders throughout the week, and Saturday’s Grand Prix event was no exception. Featuring three combinations, the 13-obstacle course asked riders to draw upon their technical skills in order to advance to the second round. Obstacle five, a combination with two airy birch log jumps set only two strides apart, was the cause of difficulty for several riders on the course. As athletes approached the final fences, a triple bar to an in-and-out combination required riders to reorganize themselves with just four strides in between.
Fenney had four opportunities to add her name to the jump-off list, with MTM Reve Du Paradis being her first mount to navigate the course clear. She then rode MTM Apple, an 8-year-old Danish Warmblood mare, back into the Grand Prix Arena for the first time since their victory in the $25,000 Purina Welcome Grand Prix just two days prior. Riding a clear round once again, she had her sights set on adding another top placing to her resume. Others like Lauren Ditallo riding Zero Gravity and Ryan Michael Genn aboard Colora also rode smooth rounds to continue on. At the conclusion of the first round, ten combinations were poised to return for the jump-off.
The jump-off course, comprised of eight obstacles, required riders to be careful through two different combinations while pushing for speed to claim the fastest time. Fenney rode MTM Reve Du Paradis first in the jump-off, riding well but unfortunately knocking one rail. Genn and his brother, Theo Genn, were quick in their jump-off rounds but also ended with 4 faults. Fenney and MTM Apple then returned, careful to leave up all the rails while being handy around the course. In a successful and clean effort, the pair crossed the finish line in 36.606 seconds to move into first place.
Ditallo and Zero Gravity, a 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, also rode a clear jump-off, but were not able to surpass Fenney’s time with MTM Apple. It was not until Fenney rode her final mount Igor Van De Heibos, an 11-year-old Belgian Warmblood stallion, that her own time was challenged. The pair completed their jump-off round in just 36.917 seconds to move into the second position. As the remaining rider knocked a pair of rails, Fenney was named the clear victor with MTM Apple.
Fenney also took home the second place prize with Igor Van De Heibos to end Equifest II on a high note with her jumpers. Ditallo and Zero Gravity rounded out the top three with their fast and clean jump-off effort.
Jumper competition at the 2019 Chicago Festival of the Horse will resume on Sunday, with the $20,000 Speed Derby following the $15,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Tracy Fenney – $50,000 Buck Brothers John Deere Grand Prix winner
On winning back-to-back Grand Prixs:
“Apple is just such a fun horse and such a trier. She just wants to please and wants you to be happy with her. She is so open-minded and like a brand new book, which makes it really exciting. There are no ghosts in the closet – she is really willing to go do whatever we want her to do.”
On her preparations in between Grand Prixs:
“Mike [McCormick] rode her yesterday. His horse went to Kentucky, so he just hacked her and enjoyed riding her.”
On her rounds:
“The first round was pretty technical. The jumps were at her comfort level for right now to where she wouldn’t get scared. I think this has been a great two weeks for her to build up and get a lot of exposure, gain experience and do some fun jump-offs.”
On where she travels to next:
“We go to Kentucky next to do the Green Hunter Incentive Championships so all of our green horses left yesterday. We had a fabulous week in the hunters, they were all super fun. Most of the other horses will leave tomorrow and then we have a final load going on Monday. We have a few going in the derby tomorrow, but I am done for the week. Now we are just gearing up for the incentive which is our next big thing.”
$50,000 Buck Brothers John Deere Grand Prix :
Place / Horse / Rider / Owner / R1 Faults / Time / R2 Faults / Time
1. MTM Apple / Tracy Fenney / MTM Farm / 0 / 72.548 / 0 / 36.606
2. Igor Van De Heibos / Tracy Fenney / MTM Farm / 0 / 70.354 / 0 / 36.917
3. Zero Gravity / Lauren Ditallo / Scott Durchslag / 0 / 71.781 / 0 / 37.499
4. Colora / Ryan Micahel Genn / Bridlebourne Stables LLC / 0 / 71.184 / 0 / 38.667
5. Quadros 3 / Ashley Fleischhacker / Ashland Show Stables LLC / 0 / 72.778 / 0 / 43.768
6. MTM Reve Du Paradis / Tracy Fenney / MTM Farm / 0 / 72.007 / 4 / 35.983
7. Valinski S / Steve Schaefer / Wyndmont Inc. / 0 / 69.106 / 4 / 36.312
8. Firewall / Theo Genn / Eduardo Leon / 0 / 73.709 / 4 / 37.103
9. Dieta / Ryan Micahel Genn / Taylor Blackman / 0 / 69.970 / 4 / 39.952
10. Ypsilon / Shannon Hicks / Helen Gilbert / 0 / 70.791 / Withdrew
11. MTM Como No / Tracy Fenney / MTM Farm / 1 / 74.147 / – / –
12. Boucanier / Theo Genn / Taylor Blackman / 1 / 74.459 / – / –