The conclusion to Week I of the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival (GLEF), presented by CaptiveOne Advisors, highlighted the $137,000 Meijer Grand Prix CSI3* Sunday afternoon. Each of the 39 international horse-and-athlete combinations were eager to close out the first week of the summer series with a bang and be at the forefront of the victory gallop. In the end, it was the United States’ Karl Cook who bested a seven-horse jump-off to claim the top honors aboard Signe Ostby’s Caillou 24.
Catsy Cruz (MEX) designed a technical 16-effort first-round track which tested the athletes and their horses’ agility and control throughout the course. The time allowed of 81 seconds didn’t prove to be a big challenge throughout the course, as no horse-and-rider pair finished with just time faults. Many riders had difficulties in the first round over jump 4B, the liverpool vertical jumping out of the one-stride, and elements of the triple combination coming toward the in-gate. By the end of the first round, only seven combinations found their way to a clear finish, including Jim Ifko (CAN), Cormac Hanley (IRL), Kyle King (USA), Cook (USA), Margie Engle (USA), Matthew Boddy (GBR), and Shane Sweetnam (IRL).
Returning to the Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel International Ring for the jump-off round, Boddy and Purple Road, LLC’s Balotelli 5 made their way as the pathfinders for the first double-clear effort, stopping the clock in 42.31 seconds. Sweetnam proved Boddy’s time could be beat with 38.18 seconds on the clock, but they had an unfortunate rail at the second to last jump. Hanley then took his opportunity to slip into the lead with a clear effort, with Rushy Marsh Farm LLC’s RMF Chacco Top, crossing the timers in 37.86 seconds. Engle returned to the ring following Hanley aboard Gladewinds Partners LLC’s Royce. The pair produced a clean effort, but was a little bit slower finishing in 39.54 seconds to slip into the second place position.
Entering the arena with confidence after coming off a win in the $137,000 Staller Grand Prix CSI3* during the final week of the Traverse City Spring Horse Show series, Cook and Caillou 24 were determined to return to the winner’s circle. Cook took advantage of the 14-year-old Holsteiner gelding’s huge stride and handiness, and was able to slice turns and gallop to the final jump in the jump-off, leaving all of the rails intact and notching 37.41 seconds on the clock to take over the first place position.
King and Elizabeth Kilham’s Magic Mike followed with a great run, but was a fraction slower to finish in 37.96 seconds. Ifko and Eventyre Farms LTD’s Un Diamant Des Forets were the last to tackle the shortened 8-obstacle jump-off course. The pair was clean over fences, but ultimately could not catch Cook’s leading time,galloping through the timers in 37.80 seconds to finish in second place. Hanley’s valiant effort ultimately garnered him the third place finish to round out the top three aboard RMF Chacco Top.
Australia’s Katie Laurie still holds the top spot on the 2021 CaptiveOne Advisors Open Jumper Rider Bonus leaderboard with a whopping 42 points after a successful Traverse City Spring Horse Show series. Cook slipped into the second place position on a total of 33 points after nabbing the win in the $137,000 Staller Grand Prix CSI3* during the final week of Traverse City Spring Horse Show and taking home another win Sunday afternoon..
Currently rounding out the top three on the leaderboard is Tiffany Foster of Canada with 27 points. Offering show jumping competitors the chance to accumulate points throughout the 12-week Traverse City Horse Shows series, the bonus is awarded to the athlete with the most points at the conclusion of the 2021 $230,000 American Gold Cup Grand Prix CSI5*, presented by CaptiveOne Advisors. The CaptiveOne Advisors Open Jumper Rider Bonus is a highly sought-after prize among the field of international competitors that attend Traverse City Horse Shows.
On the course:
“The first round was technical and for a horse that has a big stride like Caillou’s it’s not the most fun of a course because it was a lot of waiting. So when you have line after line of pulling it’s not the most fun, it’s challenging. Caillou handled it really well and we’ve been working so hard on getting that adjustability and it showed in that steady four-stride to the skinny jump or the steady six-stride to the last fence – he did the work so well and it worked.”
On the jump-off:
“Caillou’s fast in a straight line or a big swoopy turn – we’re not fastest in turn-and-burn type of stuff, so we need that space. Fence one, two and three were key for me to leave out a stride and keep going because that’s where we’re good. I knew I would lose time in two of the other turns.”
On the gallop to final fence:
“They’re fun but they’re kind of scary because the decisions have to be made so quickly and the results can be drastic. It is fun – it makes it exciting. That was a fun run down to the last fence. What was interesting was [Catsy Cruz] set the timers on an angle from the last fence and I saw that in the air and so I turned in the air and went the closer distance to the timers, where most people drifted left and that obviously added time.”