Families, friends and show jumping enthusiasts alike traveled to the Flintfields Horse Park on Sunday to watch the highly-anticipated conclusion of the 2016 Great Lakes Equestrian Festival (GLEF): the $100,000 Grand Traverse Grand Prix CSI3*. It was Chile's Samuel Parot and Quick Du Pottier who stood atop the podium in the final standings, with Mexico's Eugenio Garza taking second place honors and Margie Engle (USA) rounding out the top three after a hard-fought battle in the Grand Prix Ring.
"Quick Du Pottier had a good career in Europe at the grand prix level," said Parot. "This was his first show here. He is a really super horse. He's fantastic; I'm very happy!"
Course designer Leopoldo Palacios of Venezuela designed a technical first round track, keeping the crowd entertained as they watched 23 international horse and rider combinations navigate his 13-fence serpentine consisting of double and triple combinations, a triple bar obstacle, wide oxers, bending lines and tight rollbacks. Nine exhibitors were able to jump clear with no time faults to secure their spot in the tiebreaker.
"I had a nice week," said Palacios. "I was building for a good competition between the field of riders that I had, and I am very happy with the results. I was happy with the jump-off. We had a good crowd, and when you have a good crowd, you need to think of them. Are they having a good show? Will they come back? It is something that we need to think of."
Twenty-year-old Garza was the first to attempt the short course of eight fences aboard his trusted mount of four years, Bariano, owned by El Milagro. Recently this year, the pair won the $130,000 Hollow Creek Farm Grand Prix CSI3* in May at the Kentucky Spring Horse Show as well as the $216,000 Upperville Jumper Classic CSI4* in June at the Upperville Colt and Horse Show - the biggest win of their career to date.
"Bariano is my longtime partner; I have had him forever," said Garza. "I wouldn't be where I am today without him. He is older now, but still going strong. He has been really consistent this year and is always a horse that I can count on."
Garza and the 15-year-old Belgium Warmblood gelding were the early clear pathfinders, making the jump-off appear smooth and effortless in 40.060 seconds.
"I had two horses in the grand prix so I knew that I was going to have an early draw with one of them," said Garza. "Luckily, the early draw was with our front one and then coming back first in the jump-off, with these guys behind you - I am a little fish, and they are big sharks out there. I had to go as fast as possible without risking too much. I just did my best, and put down a time that I thought was challenging. It is always a challenge, but I am glad that I came out second today.
"I think that Leopoldo is a great designer," continued Garza. "The crowd was great today too. At other grand prix events, when the last horse goes through the timers, they leave, but this crowd stayed for the victory gallop, which was really nice. Throughout the class, they were really interactive. It was a really fun class."
Engle, winner of Friday's $40,000 Great Lakes Stake Classic CSI3* with Elm Rock Partners LLC's Abunola, followed Garza with Indigo, owned by Griese Garber, Hidden Creek and Gladewinds Farm. The pair was on pace to catch Garza's time but pulled an unfortunate rail at the skinny second to last fence to collect 4 faults and finish in 40.710
"Indigo felt great," said Engle. "It was a bigger course today, which was kind of nice because I knew there would be less clean. I actually was surprised there were as many as there were that went to the jump-off because I thought it was quite a big change from the other day. The horses all jumped really well. I think they jump well off of this footing. Going early in the jump-off, I did take a little shot with Indigo and I maybe turned a little too sharp back on the skinny with him and he just kind of ran out of room a little bit. I came right inside everyone else's track and I knew he was very tight in the beginning and I just maybe took a little too much of a gamble there. I was very pleased with him; he was still very quick. He's like the ever-ready battery. He just wants to keep going and going. He's always ready to go.
"I have to thank my clients again for their support and for being so patient because the horses have been here a while," continued Engle, who has been feeling under the weather while in Michigan. "At least when they did show, the horses felt nice and fresh. It never hurts them to have a little break. The weather is fantastic as well. I can't think of any place this time of year where it's this nice in August. The facility and footing are great. Everybody really seems to like it here. I was really pleased."
Parot entered the ring with his first of two mounts qualified for the jump-off next. He piloted his own Couscous Van Orti, who won Thursday's $35,000 Welcome Stake CSI3* with Parot in the irons, to another 4-fault, but speedy, finish in 40.930 seconds, just two tenths of a second behind Engle's time.
It was Parot and his second mount, Quick Du Pottier, who had their eyes on the prize and came out with guns blazing five rounds later, with Garza still in the first place position as the only double clear finisher. They raced around the short course and flew over the final fence with no faults in 38.670 seconds, besting Garza's starting pace by two full seconds to takeover the top spot.
"I had two horses in the jump-off," said Parot. "With the first, I saw my friend Eugenio go, and I tried to catch him but then I had one down. The time was slow. Quick Du Pottier is really fast, naturally, and very competitive. He's very athletic. We made a really short turn to the skinny vertical and then we went a little more direct to the final fence."
Closing out a very successful three weeks at GLEF, Parot cashed in on Sunday with both the first and fourth place prizes with his two mounts, taking top honors with Quick Du Pottier, a 12-year-old Selle Français gelding. Garza claimed the second place with the only other clear round of the jump-off, while Engle secured the third place as the fastest of the 4-fault finishers.
"I was only planning to compete through the first week here, but then I decided to stay for all three," said Parot. "It is a very nice place - a super show. It was a good show to help him step up. The people are very nice, and the show is very good. My family came in last week, and it's always better with family. I am happy they were able to be here today. We will be back next year!"
Source : Press release from Phelps Media Group, Inc. International // Photo (c) Taylor Renner/Phelps Media Group.
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