Colombian rider Mark Bluman was in the winner's circle yet again on Thursday, August 8, after topping the $10,000 Theory Welcome Stake, presented by Manchester Designer Outlets, at the Vermont Summer Festival in East Dorset, VT. The win marked Bluman's third $10,000 Welcome Stake victory of the circuit after winning during week one with G&C Lagran and week five with G&C Blue.
Having earned victory in the $10,000 Theory Welcome Stake with G&C Blue, Bluman nearly took second place as well with G&C Lagran, a 14-year-old Oldenburg gelding, but was ultimately overtaken by fellow Colombian Manuel Torres aboard Fidelina. Last to go, Torres outpaced Bluman and G&C Lagran, but could not catch Bluman's blazing double clear round with G&C Blue. Bluman and the 10-year-old gelding had set the time to beat at 28.79 seconds early on in the order to top the 30-horse starting field.
Course designer Eric Hasbrouck set a jump-off track full of tight rollback turns that proved challenging for many riders, but Bluman executed an impressively efficient track that made him impossible to beat.
"It wasn't a big course, but it was technical," said Bluman. "In the jump off course, I did six strides from one to two and everyone else did seven. I did seven strides to the last jump and everybody did eight. It turned out well for me and the horse jumped really well."
Bluman was honored to be competing alongside Torres, a five-time Olympian who Bluman, 22, looks up to as a young rider. "I've always admired Manuel because he's the Colombian athlete that has gone to the most Olympic Games in the history of Colombia," said Bluman. "He has done five Olympic Games. He's a person to admire. He's very talented."
This was the second week in a row that Bluman has beaten Torres, and the up-and-coming rider recognized that he was in very good company at the Vermont Summer Festival. "It feels nice to win, and not just against him," commented Bluman. "The rest of the people here are really good. There are a lot of talented riders and trainers here."
Finishing in the top three with two of his mounts pushed Bluman to the top of the $10,000 Sir Ruly, Inc., Open Jumper Award standings. A day earlier, fellow grand prix competitor Jimmy Torano had jokingly told Bluman that he would have to be nearly flawless to overtake Penny Brennan in the standings.
"Jimmy is always joking around," Bluman smiled. "He was telling me 'You're going to have to be really good!' We have been chasing that rider bonus and thinking about if I can catch Penny. I did perfect and she had an unlucky day."
He continued, "It's a really nice feeling to win again, and especially to win again with Blue. To win three out of the four $10,000 Welcome Stakes that I did is an awesome feeling and I'm really glad that today turned out so well."
Bluman has regularly juggled three starkly different mounts in each welcome stake and grand prix class he has done in Vermont. In addition to G&C Blue and G&C Lagran, both owned by Gustavo Mirabal of G&C Farms, he is also getting acquainted with G&C Carla, a horse he began showing for his brother, Ilan Bluman, at the beginning of the Vermont Summer Festival. Bluman admitted the three horses are all very different rides, but felt mastering the trio has been an asset to his riding.
"They are all really different," he said. "Lagran is a very sensitive horse. Blue is slower and you need to push him a lot. Carla is a new ride for me, so we're getting to know each other still. They're very different from one another, but that's what makes you a good rider."
$10,000 Theory Welcome Stake
Presented by Manchester Designer Outlets
Rider Horse Faults Time
1. Mark Bluman G&C Blue 0:0 28.79
2. Manuel Torres Fidelina 0:0 30.54
3. Mark Bluman G&C Lagran 0:0 30.58
4. Adrienne Sternlicht Quidam MB 0:0 31.66
5. Charlotte Jacobs Promised Land 0:0 31.72
6. Adrienne Sternlicht S&L Slingback 0:0 33.27
7. Catherine Tyree Wetter 0:0 34.55
8. Charlotte Jacobs Kachina 0:4 30.15
Source: Press release from Jennifer Ward / www.startinggate.ca.
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