@The conclusion to Saturday’s competition at the Traverse City Tournament of Champions took the form of the $30,000 Traverse City National Grand Prix. A talented field of 31 international athletes had their shot at the winner’s circle and a chance to earn valuable points toward the coveted CaptiveOne Open Jumper Rider Bonus. In the end, it was the United States’ Karl Cook and Ircos IV to walk away with the blue ribbon.
Anderson De Moura Lima (MEX) set forth a 14-obstacle track to whittle down the field of competitors who would advance to the tie-breaking jump-off. Great Britain’s Grace Debney navigated the first clear effort of the class as the third athlete in the order of go, with Vasco Flores (PUR) forcing a jump-off just one round later. An additional 13 competitors would add their name to the jump-off lineup, with Flores having an advantage as the only athlete with two mounts qualified, Grand Canyon VL and Deauville Van Overis Z.
The shortened eight-fence jump-off course brought new challenges, featuring a winding track that included a double combination, wall obstacle and the introduction of two brand new fences on course. The first double-clear of the class was produced by Nikko Ritter (USA) riding Zohra M Z following rails from the first five horse-and-rider pairs on course. Ritter and Wendy Dixon’s Zohra M Z crossed through the timers with all of the rails intact in 40.762 seconds to take the early lead. His lead was short-lived as Cook entered the arena next aboard Ircos IV, owned by Signe Ostby. Shaving over four seconds off of Ritter’s time, Cook turned and burned the 13-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding through the winding track with impressive finesse to stop the clocks in 36.681 seconds and take over the top spot.
Cook’s efforts would prove valiant as the remaining eight pairs could not overtake his speedy jump-off time, ultimately lending him the first-place spot at the forefront of the victory gallop. Following Cook’s winning ride, second place would exchange hands multiple times. In the end, it was junior athlete Gyweneth Babington who would claim second place after putting her best effort forward aboard Mark Q, owned by Kevin Babington, narrowly missing out on the top spot after completing a jump-off time of 37.262 seconds. Third place was awarded to Flores riding Deauville Van Overis Z, owned by Palmer Divide Ranch, for their jump-off time of 39.820 seconds.
Cook’s win earned him points toward the 2021 CaptiveOne Advisors Open Jumper Rider Bonus Leaderboard, allowing him to slip into the second position with a total of 45 points to overtake Australia’s Katie Laurie. Shane Sweetnam (IRL) continues to hold his lead just narrowly ahead of Cook with a total of 46 points. Laurie currently sits in the third position with her total of 42 points. Offering show jumping competitors the chance to accumulate points throughout the 12-week Traverse City Horse Show 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.