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Rich Fellers and Steelbi put the pedal to the metal in $50,000 Great Lakes Grand Prix CSI2*

Monday, 06 July 2020
CSI2* Traverse City 2020

Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography Rich Fellers and Steelbi. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography.


Press release from Phelps Media Group, Inc.



Substantial prize money was up for grabs Sunday at the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival, presented by CaptiveOne Advisors LLC, as 42 entries took to the Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel International Ring for the $50,000 Great Lakes Grand Prix CSI2*. Improving upon their second-place performance Friday in the $36,600 Welcome Stake CSI2* class, Rich Fellers (USA) and Kathleen Waldorf's Steelbi upped their game to prevail as the victors in Sunday's contest by more than two full-seconds in the jump-off, an impressive feat considering their company in the second phase of competition. 

Once again at the helm was course designer Manuel Esparza (MEX), who provided horse-and-rider combinations a pattern of 16 efforts in the first round of riding. Second in the ring for the class, Brian Moggre (USA) and Nikita Jolie served as the early trailblazers with a clear ride within the time-allowed, and they were immediately joined in the clear ranks by Peter Leone (USA) and Donner, who forced the jump-off. Adding to the list, Lacey (USA) Gilbertson on Baloppi, Shane Sweetnam (IRL) with Alejandro and Sophie Gochman (USA) aboard Carola BH each turned in penalty-free efforts to qualify for the tie-breaker round by the halfway point of the first round.

Seeking to add a second major victory to his name for the week, Sweetnam added another eligible mount, Friday’s $36,600 Welcome Stake CSI2* winner Indra Van De Oude Heihoef, and Fellers qualified aboard Friday’s second-place horse, Steelbi. Three of the final duos, Tanner Korotkin (USA) piloted Deauville S, Charlie Jayne (USA) navigated Amice Z and Mimi Gochman (USA) rode Gigi’s Girl BH to clear performances to bring the total list of jump-off contenders to ten. Three other athletes kept all the rails in their cups riding their respective mounts, but Nicholas Dello Joio, as well as the younger Gochman, Sophie, and Gilbertson on their second horses, each fell victim to a heart-breaking single time fault.

Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography Rich Fellers and Steelbi. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography.

Trimmed to eight fences, the jump-off saw a competitive group tackle the track with fervor as four partnerships ultimately left all the fences untouched for a second time. Moving up in the order to accommodate having two horses in the second phase, Sweetnam advanced to second in the order-of-go with Alejandro, proving why he is consistently one of the best in the world with the first double-clear performance of the class in 39.950 seconds to set the pace. Five trips later, Fellers expertly jockeyed Steelbi to a swift time of 37.810 seconds, shaving more than two seconds off of the leading time to overthrow Sweetnam as the pair to beat.

Though the remainder of the class would try to compare, none could eclipse Fellers and Steelbi, who came out on top in the $50,000 Great Lakes Grand Prix CSI2*, the second top-two finish for the skilled team of the week. Sweetnam and Alejandro, owned by Sea Brook LLC & Spy Coast Farm LLC, managed to retain second place thanks to their quick time, and the older Gochman sister, Mimi, jumped Gigi’s Girl BH, owned by Gochman Sport Horse LLC, to third position as the final pair after tripping the timers in 40.570 seconds.

On his jump-off plan, Fellers commented: “My plan, as I told my son – and I was really motivated by him because he won the 1.35m Classic yesterday, and I couldn’t even catch him on my horse because he was so fast – was to win the class just like he did. I’m going to lay it down and there is no way anybody is gonna catch me. So that was my plan: go in there and hit the first at the gallop and just keep the hammer down. She loves that kind of ride and she gave me everything she had.”

“Steelbi is a 12-year-old Swedish mare," Fellers told. "She is a small mare actually and measures just about 16 hands. She is a big enough mover and, like Flexible, she has a very big heart. She is a big fighter and a real trier with lots of energy. I just love her. She is so much fun and a competitive horse. I have to say thank you to her owner, who trusted me when we bought her off of a video when she was a 7-year-old. The owner, Kathleen Waldorf, has been a huge support since day one. Thanks to my sponsor Purina, who keeps the horses healthy.”



Watch Rich Fellers' interview



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