Course designer Manuel Esperaza (MEX) set forth a 15-effort track to whittle the field down to those who would qualify for the jump-off. Only 15 pairs managed to navigate a fault-free round, leaving just two pairs out of contention for the top prize due to time faults. Setting the stage with a seven-fence jump-off, Esperaza offered multiple chances for riders to slice and dice their way through the track in order to save time. Many took advantage of this opportunity, with the lead exchanging hands three separate times throughout just the first half of the order-of-go as one athlete after another found new ways to take seconds off of the clock.
Thursday’s $36,600 Two-Phase CSI2* winner, Hunter Holloway, sat comfortably in the lead for the majority of the jump-off aboard Pepita Con Spita on a time of 32.30 seconds, with those to follow knocking rails on course attempting to unseat her. The first to be successful in slipping into the first place spot was Schaefer and Frasier, an 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding. Proving a strong partnership between horse and rider is a key to success, the two moved effortlessly throughout the ring together, putting on a show for the audience as they cut just over six-hundredths of a second off of Holloway’s time to finish in 31.64 seconds.
Gibbs and Amazing, a nine-year-old Swedish Warmblood mare owned by Mountain King Ranch LLC, entered the arena just three pairs later, determined to snatch the win away from Schaefer and mark the duo’s first CSI2* win together. Showcasing grit and finesse throughout the difficult track, Gibbs laid down a strong round. In a shocking conclusion, his time matched Schaefer’s exactly, as he crossed through the timers in 31.64 seconds. Though uncommon, the two would sit tied for first place as just one more rider contended for top honors. Though the United States’ Hardin Towell would try to round out the class with a win, he was not quite quick enough to match the two skillful leading athletes, ultimately lending him the third place finish on a time of 32.08 seconds. Gibbs and Schaefer would share the winning title as they both walked away with a blue ribbon.
Earlier in the day, talented junior athlete Hallie Grimes was crowned champion of the Equiline 1.30m division riding Betagravin, owned by North Run & Missy Clark. The pair rode to a second and sixth place finish throughout the three days of the division to earn enough points to name them as the champions. Thursday afternoon saw another young talent, Holloway, claim a top title as she rode to the win in the $36,600 Two-Phase CSI2* aboard Eastern Jam owned by Hays Investment Corp. Holloway navigated the 12-year-old KWPN gelding to a speedy 25.67-second finish to take home the blue.Though Gibbs’ and Schaefer’s joint win would earn valuable points to place them on the CaptiveOne Advisors Open Jumper Rider Bonus Leaderboard, Australia’s Katie Laurie continues to maintain her leading position with a total of 42 points she garnered after a successful Traverse City Spring Horse Show series. Karl Cook (USA) sits in the second place position on a total of 37 points after multiple grand prix wins during the Traverse City Spring Horse Show and GLEF. After consistent top placings throughout the first three weeks of the GLEF series thus far, King moved his way up the leaderboard to sit on a total of 28 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.
Source: Press Release