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Spencer Smith flys Ayade Hero Z to victory in $50,000 Meijer Grand Prix CSI2* in Traverse City

Monday, 13 July 2020
CSI2* Traverse City 2020

Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography. Spencer Smith and Ayade Hero Z. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography.


Press release from Phelps Media Group, Inc.



A hefty field of 48 entries from five nations took to the limelight Sunday afternoon for the $50,000 Meijer Grand Prix CSI2*, the highlight jumper event of Week Two of the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival, presented by CaptiveOne Advisors LLC. Battling a hefty jump-off field of 15 qualifiers, Spencer Smith (USA) and Ayade Hero Z (Aganix du Seigneur x HH Radco), owned by Ransome Rombauer, showed off their precision and swiftness as one of the final combinations to battle over the track, emerging victorious as the quickest of only four double-clear pairs.

For the first round of riding, course designer Bernardo Costa Cabral (PRT) crafted a 16-effort track that was contested by exhibitors from the United States, Canada, Israel, Ireland and Great Britain. One of the first in the order, Sophie Gochman (USA) jockeyed Andretti BH (Acodetto 2 x Candillo) to the initial clear round to kickstart the class, followed soon after by Amanda Derbyshire (GBR) on Luibanta BH (Luidam x Abantos) to force a jump-off. By the halfway point in the first round, seven more riders had added their names to the jump-off list with the reins on their respective mounts, including Hunter Holloway (USA), Charlie Jayne (USA), Andrew Bourns (IRL), Tanner Korotkin (USA), Brian Moggre (USA), Nicholas Dello Joio (USA) and Teddy Vlock (ISR). The latter portion of the phase procured six additional fault-free performances from athletes such as Austin Krawitt (CAN), Smith, Stephen Moore (USA) and Rich Fellers (USA), as well as second mounts for both Holloway and Korotkin.

All told, the list of returners encompassed 15 eligible horse-and-rider partnerships that qualified for the tie-breaker thanks to clear first performances. As the second to tackle the track, Derbyshire and Luibanta BH set a speedy precedent for the class, stopping the clock in 40.450 seconds with all the rails still in their cups. Improving upon the leading pair’s time by mere milliseconds as the twelfth duo to ride the abridged pattern, Smith and Ayade Hero Z sliced across the course with efficient footspeed, tripping the timers in 40.360 seconds to eclipse Derbyshire and claim their stake at the top with only a few remaining. Galloping on an equal clip, Moore piloted Team De Coquerie to a nail-biting round that looked like it would supersede the leaders, but downed the final fence and finished one-hundredth of a second too slow in 40.370 seconds.

The remaining pairs continued to try to chase down Smith and Ayade Hero Z, but none would catch them, solidifying the partnership as the winners of Sunday’s $50,000 Meijer Grand Prix CSI2*. Thanks to their quick time near the head of the class, Derbyshire and Luibanta BH, owned by Gochman Sport Horse LLC, claims the runner-up position, followed by Holloway and Hays Investment Corp.’s Lucky Strike in third place with a final time of 43.050 seconds.

Over 11 weeks of riding in Traverse City, FEI competitors are vying for the top spot in the CaptiveOne Advisors $30,000 Leading Jumper Rider Bonus standings. The bonus prize will be awarded to the rider who accumulates the most points in competitions $25,000 or more in prize money following the conclusion of the $213,300 CaptiveOne American Gold Cup Grand Prix CSI4* on September 13. Out of the 15 jump-off contenders, only Fellers had enough points to sit within the top five prior to the class, and his sixth-place finish pushed him a few points closer to the top, but not enough to overthrow leader Jonathan Corrigan (IRL).

Spencer Smith (USA) – $50,000 Meijer Grand Prix CSI2* winner

On Ayade Hero Z:
“She is a 9-year-old mare owned by Ransome Rombauer, a student of mine who has been riding her and bringing her up through the ranks from her 7-year-old year. She’s done a great job with her and let me take her for the week, and I’m very grateful.”

On the jump-off:
“I watched Amanda [Derbyshire] go and I thought, she’s known as a fast rider and she just put it down there. I didn’t know if I could catch her but I just went all out because she was so fast and hoped it would work, and luckily it did. It was a little risky, definitely a risk, but I trust [Ayade Hero Z] pretty well, she is all the quality, she will go all the way to the big level so I think this was no problem.”

“It’s a great show here and I’m very happy to be here. I’m going to Kentucky for a few weeks to our base and then I will come back up here.”

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