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Press Release


Aaron Vale and Carlo

Aaron Vale and Carlo

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Great Lakes Equestrian Festival Week Four Wrap Up: July 27-31, 2016

Written by: Kendall Bierer
Client: Morrissey Management Group (MMG)
Release Date: 2016-08-01

It was déjà vu for spectators on the final day of the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival (GLEF) as Aaron Vale and Carlo blazed their way to the victory in the $50,000 Flintfields Farm Grand Prix, sponsored by Meijer, topping the ranks with a double-clear posted in 37.269 seconds. Only one-week prior, Vale and Carlo, owned by Amatoville Enterprises of Toronto, Canada, stood in the winner's circle as the Week Three victors, and duplicated their clean and speedy effort to take the win in the finale event of the first GLEF series.

It is hard to imagine that a horse once described by Vale as "driving a diesel" was able to lay down his second speedy grand prix win of the circuit, but Carlo had a breakthrough in Atlanta, when he won the $35,000 Sidelines Grand Prix.

"When you hammer down on the gas pedal, he accelerates," Vale laughed. "He is getting the hang of all of it. He is pretty handy and quick, a super horse. When he used to gallop, you would kick and he wouldn't really speed up, but today he ducked right back on that liverpool and really turned quickly back to the double there, the two-stride. Now he is sitting down to run when it is time to go across the ring. He was great to start with, and he has only improved with experience."

Vale and Carlo set the pace as the third of nine during the jump-off set by Bernardo Costa Cabral, tripping the timers in 37.269 seconds to put the pressure on early in the order. It seemed as though Vale's time would prove untouchable, until Nick Novak, winner of Friday's $25,000 Welcome Stake returned to the ring on his second mount of the class, Climbus. He had already laid down a solid performance aboard his first mount qualified for the short course, Dirkie Z, who was the eventual fourth place finisher, but he knew that he could take a shot with Climbus.

"I thought Nick had a beautiful round, I really thought he had me," Vale sighed in relief. "I didn't know what my split was, but I thought for sure that he had me. I got my old man eye sight close enough to the score board, to see that he just missed it, but I'll take it!"

It was only three-hundredths of a second that separated Vale and Novak on the leaderboard. Novak landed from the final oxer and broke the beam in 37.293 seconds, while Vale's previous time of 37.269 seconds held the lead, and eventually the win.

"It was great, I really tried for it, I ran Climbus as fast as I could," Novak said. "I really went for it on Climbus. Behind Aaron, that is pretty good. I feel like I was on fire in that round. This show has really taught me how to run faster and turn tighter, so each week I am trying to push myself and my horses a little bit more."

Novak continued, "Qualifying both Climbus and Dirkie for the jump-off meant that a lot of hard work has paid off for Nancy [Whitehead] and myself. Last year we were just trying to get to know them, and this year everything has been progressing the way that we hoped it would. It felt great, and they are coming on at the right time. They were both clear last week in the jump-off, too, so they are really on it these last two weeks."

Both riders complimented Cabral on his courses, acknowledging that it was a solid 1.50m, and the jump-off tested them with numerous turns and a great run to the last jump.

Cabral said, "I was very happy with the [nine] that made it into the jump-off. It wasn't a huge field, but there was a crowd here, and they wanted a jump-off, so I kept the course up to standards, but not with much variation in rhythm. Aaron's ride was brilliant. He is just amazing, he takes a little time turning, but he just flat out galloped. Because the course lent itself to a nice jump-off, this layout allowed me to build for speed."

Although this marks Vale's second grand prix win with Carlo, it is his third win of his three weeks in Traverse City, having also scored the victory with Bonzini S during GLEF II.

"I have a really nice group of horses. It is just nice to have a group that can jump clear and give you a chance to run around in the jump-off," Vale acknowledged. "Each course designer has used the ring differently, and there has been a lot of variety for the horses, but the tracks have been different flavors-it keeps the riders and horses fresh. It has been a lot of fun with a good group of designers."

Vale also picked up the third place with Quality On Top, owned by North Face Farm and Erin Haas, who was originally sold to Haas by Vale a year before. Due to a knee injury, Haas has been ringside, but Vale is thrilled with how far the horse has come since the winter in Florida, jumping to a double-clear effort in 38.008 seconds.

The fifth place ribbon was awarded to Michael Morrissey and Chance Ste Hermelle, owned by QBS Equestrian, who finished with a more conservative clear jump-off effort in 40.643 seconds. Alec Bozorgi and Campino II rounded out the top six as the last of the double-clears, finishing the tie-breaking round with a time of 43.452 seconds.

Jumper Highlights (Wednesday - Sunday)

The fourth week of the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival kicked off Wednesday with a full schedule of competition at the destination venue. New faces arrived at the Flintfields Horse Park, offering enticing jumper action as many of the nation's top riders prepared their mounts for the week's approaching highlights and the series one finale. Daisy Farish started out the week by showcasing her winning ways, dominating the 1.40m Open Jumper division, and leading the class from start to finish.

Bernardo Costa Cabral, a FEI level-four course designer, challenged horse and rider combinations with double combinations, a liverpool, long lines, serpentine-like turns, rollbacks and a tight time allowed. During the $2,500 1.40m Open Jumpers, only two would master his opening track, with young Daisy Farish setting the pace and finding the path in the jump-off.

The course catered well to Great White, an 8-year-old gelding owned by Farish, who has now been a constant competitor and top contender in the 1.40m division and High Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumpers with the 15-year-old Kentucky-native. As the first to go, Farish took a speedy approach to the short track, utilizing her mount's large stride to shave seconds off the clock. They broke the beam in 43.981 seconds, but with one rail down, Farish believed that her score would be beatable, especially with known speed demons and veteran riders David Beisel, David Dorner and Nick Novak hot on their heels.

As the class unfolded, Cabral's course would trick fellow contenders, allowing only one more horse and rider combination to qualify for the jump-off, Aidan Killeen and Droomfee HB. When Killeen incurred 4 faults, it all came down to time, and Farish's carefully thought track and large stride would seal the victory Wednesday, as Killeen crossed the timers in 47.243 seconds to take second place. The fastest of the 4-faulters was Alec Bozorgi and Cappanaleigh Storm, which proved good enough for the third place finish.

During the $1,250 1.35m Open Jumpers Michael Morrissey, navigated Cabral's jump-off track with blazing speed aboard Escobar, owned by Lourdes De Guardiola, stopping the clock in 41.123 seconds as one of the last competitors of the class.

The 10-year-old was imported during the winter in Florida, and has been a constant competitor in the 1.40m and 1.45m divisions. Morrissey knew that he would have to take a few risks to capture the win today, especially with Aaron Vale sitting at the top of the leaderboard for the majority of the class.

Vale and Quality On Top, owned by North Face Farm, scored the second place finish with the time of 42.133 seconds. As the early leader of the class, it seemed as though his time would hold as even the young and quick rider Sophie Michaels finished just behind his time in 43.921 seconds, eventually earning the third place, but Morrissey slid into the lead in the impending final moments.

Scott Lenkart rode to the first place finish during the $1,000 1.30m Open Jumpers. He cleared the course in a swift 44.198 seconds with Beorn, owned by Tammy Provost.

Michaels picked up her second ribbon of the open jumper division with Darero, finishing just in 44.369 seconds for the second place. Vale and Blue Moon 22 rounded out the top three with a clear effort in 46.483 seconds.

Nick Novak consistently competes as the Flintfields Horse Park, and has since the destination horse show first moved to the location in 2007. He returned to the venue for the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival (GLEF) with his eye on the prize, and a string of top horses ready for the two-part series. The 28-year-old rider has been knocking on the door, establishing himself as a top contender at the nation's top horse shows, and Thursday he continued that trend. Novak captured the win in the 1.40m Open Jumpers, tripping the timers in 39.572 seconds with his own Cico.

It was only a year and a half earlier that Novak's eye landed on Cico, who at the time was competing in lower-level eventing. The 9-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, out of Mr. Blue, showed all the potential of a show jumper, and Novak has taken him up through the ranks, cultivating that anticipated talent.

FEI level-four course designer Bernardo Costa Cabral set a technical track for the Thursday schedule, with only two horse and rider combinations jumping his opening round with decisive clears. Lisa Jacquin, two-time Olympic silver medalist, was the first to show the way, stopping the speed-round clock in 42.865 seconds with Cleopatra, owned by Ivan Rakowsky.

Novak took the win in a speedy 39.572 seconds, with Jacquin settling for the second place and Dana Wille and Mach 5 picking up the third place as the fastest of the 4-faulters.

Novak plans to compete with his top horses, Climbus and Dirkie Z, on Friday and Sunday for the $25,000 Welcome Stake and the $50,000 Flintfields Farm Grand Prix, presented by Meijer.

During the High Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumpers, it was Sophie Michaels who sealed the victory as the only double-clear of the class.

Michaels took the first place finish in 42.239 seconds with Balouba, while Claire McKean earned the second place with an 8-fault jump-off completed in 41.155 seconds aboard Eregast Van't Kiezelhof. Third place was awarded to Alliy Moyer and Etoile Van't Lambroeck for their quick 4-fault round of 69.428 seconds.

She is aiming for the Week IV grand prix, as well, and with the win under her belt, she feels prepared for Friday's $25,000 Welcome Stake.

David Jennings took a one-two finish during the 1.35m Open Jumpers Speed class, with S & L Puppy Love and KM Corfina, respectively.

Nick Novak finally overcame his five-year drought on Friday afternoon at the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival (GLEF). For years, he has fallen just shy of the victory, taking the backseat to the winner's circle. During Week IV of GLEF, the drought came to an end for Novak, and as the old saying goes, "when it rains, it pours." Novak first captured the 1.40m Open Jumper victory on Thursday, and then went on to top a nine-horse jump-off during Friday's $25,000 Welcome Stake with Climbus. 

Out of a starting field of 21, nine horse and rider combinations mastered Bernardo Costa Cabral's Welcome Stake track. Of those who qualified for the short course, only three jumped double-clear.

David Jennings was the first to clear the eight-obstacle track, which had increased in difficulty with wider spreads and raised heights. Aboard Aventador, owned by Moffitt Lake Farms, Jennings stopped the clock at 36.468 seconds. 

Although Jennings jumped without fault, he was not one to assume that his time would hold with the Midwest speed demons. However, his double-clear and naturally fast pace would earn the pair the second place prize.

It would be 20-year-old Alec Bozorgi who would soon duplicate Jennings' effort. He rode Campino II to a clear time of 37.458 seconds to eventually clinch the third place.

The sophomore at Colgate University is wrapping up his summer soon. Taking the third place finish in the $25,000 Welcome Stake was the capstone of his summer. Bozorgi believed that the course was well-suited for the field, and was happy with the jump-off.

Novak followed consecutively behind Bozorgi, and he had his sights set on the lion's share of the earnings. He laid down a quick and tidy jump-off, and as he galloped to the final oxer, he encouraged Climbus by saying, "Up boy!"

They broke the beam in 35.584 seconds, scooting past Jennings with more than a second sliced off of his time, taking the long-desired victory. The Welcome Stake win also marked Novak's first big win with Climbus, the 10-year-old Holsteiner gelding that Novak refers to as "the perfect gentleman."

It was only a year and a half earlier that Novak picked Climbus out while in Europe, searching for his next grand prix horse. Although Climbus had competed briefly in Europe, it was Novak who started showing him and bringing him along. During the 2016 Winter Equestrian Festival, held in Wellington, Florida, Climbus jumped two 1.50m classes clear, exemplifying the potential Novak recognized only the year prior.                                                                                                                       

Junior riders dominated the $7,500 NAL Low Junior/Amateur Owner Jumper Classic in the Grand Prix Ring at Flintfields Horse Park on Saturday Morning. The three top finishers were all 16 or under. It was 15-year-old Sloan Hopson and her own Angelo, a 10-year-old Warmblood gelding who topped the field of 30 horses and riders over the tricky Bernardo Costa Cabral designed track. The pair were less than half-a second faster than second place finisher Logan Taylor and her own Five Star, a 7-year-old Selle Francais stallion who held the lead for most of the class with a trailblazing time of 37.447 seconds.

Only five pairs were able to leave all rails standing through both rounds of competition and all were junior riders. Third place went to 15-year-old Daisy Farish aboard Jill Donaldson's Estrella, a 10-year-old Rheinlander mare. Sixteen-year-old Isabella Russekoff and Castor Van De Kranenburg took home fourth place and junior rider Emily Perez and Bola de Nieve rounded out the top five.

Aaron Vale dominated the Young Jumper Championships 7-Year-Old Qualifier class on Saturday. Vale took home the win with Elusive, a Dutch Warmblood gelding with a time of 28.426 seconds, and also rode Trade Winds' Enrique into second place with a time of 30.232 seconds. David Beisel and Eos M rounded out the top three. 

Previous to the grand prix action on Sunday was the $10,000 Show Jumping Hall of Fame High Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic. Alliy Moyer and Etoile Van't Lambroeck rode to the win in 39.992 seconds, without fault during the jump-off. Finishing in second place was Sophie Michaels and Catch Me T with the only other clear jump-off, posted in the time of 40.871 seconds. Emily Perez and Paola 233 earned the third place finish in 38.221 seconds, the fastest time of the tiebreaker; however, one rail cost them the win on Sunday.

Early Sunday, the $5,000 East Wind Farm Children's Jumper Classic kicked off the start of the final day of showing in Grand Prix Ring. Twelve of the original starting field of 22 mastered the opening track, but it was Ponce Tidwell III and Cadeau Du Ciel who took the win in 34.461 seconds. Anika Pirkle was slick and right on Ridwell's heels, but fell shy of the winning time to take the second place with Just A Dream in 24.710 seconds. Third place was awarded to Mackenzie Snider and ROC N Groovy, who posted two clear rounds in 35.016 seconds.

During the $5,00 NAL/WIHS/M&S Adult Amateur Jumper Classic, which comprised of 12 horses and riders competing for the top prize, Nerval De La Batia with Andrea Vogel in the saddle claimed the top spot. The pair finished double-clear in 36.557 seconds to take the win. Lisa Baker and Triple Bar LLC's Zyminka finished in second for the second week in a row, laying down another double clear effort in 37.073 seconds, while Mikalah Singer and Jonnas Corint, took the third place honors with no faults in 37.527 seconds.

The $2,500 Modified Children's/Adult Jumper Classic hosted nine challengers with only two producing double-clear rounds. Makayla Weber and Donnaludine, rode to the quickest of the two times in 34.805 seconds. Catherine Wu and Ren Round Number stopped the timer in 39.321 seconds to take the red ribbon and Khari Taustin-Kas and Geron-S took the third place honors with four faults in 40.465 seconds.

$25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby 

It was only in June that Courtney Calcagnini and Bowie made headlines, winning the $30,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby at the Country Heir Horse Show in Lexington, Kentucky. Consistent contenders in the hunter derby program, Calcagnini showcased Bowie's talent once again during the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival (GLEF), proving that they should never be considered the "underdog." On Saturday afternoon, Calcagnini and Bowie captured the victory during the $25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby, sponsored by the Gochman Family.

The 10-year-old Warmblood gelding has proven himself across the nation, yet on Saturday he exceeded all expectations, as he traversed Tom Hern's hunter derby course, jumping each fence beautifully to earn the high scores of 91 and 93 during the handy round. The pair earned additional handy scores of 8 from both judging panels and took all high fence options to top the leader board with an impressive second-round score of 208 points. Combined with the classic round score of 186.5 points, Calcagnini and Bowie moved from the reserve position to take over the lead with a final cumulative score of 394.5 points.

Hern tested the riders with a challenging handy course that featured large natural obstacles. Due to the size and shape of the Grand Prix Ring at the Flintfields Horse Park, Hern believed he could build a track reminiscent of the approaching 2016 USHJA International Hunter Derby Championships. He used high options, inside turns and a long hand gallop to test the horse and rider combinations. He designed with balance for each level of exhibitor, opting for both tight and broad turns, as well as a split where riders could choose to take a left and hand gallop to the final birch oxer, or turn right and take the smaller oxer set near the in-gate.

Calcaginini and Kelley Farmer entered into the handy phase with only a two-and-a-half-point differential separating them in the rankings. Though Farmer led the way with Point Being, Calcagnini was hot on her heels with Bowie. A rider error would put Bowie in the lead, with Farmer's second mount of the class, Nina Moore's Kodachrome, finishing second. The pair closed out the competition with scores of 92 and 90 with 9 and 10 points added for their handiness on the course. Farmer also opted for all four high options, to land the second place with a final total of 390.5 points.

Calcagnini watched Pletcher and Farmer tackle the handy round before entering the ring, and she knew she would have to take a direct and smooth approach. She immediately jumped the opening vertical with a right hand turn from the in-gate, and was faced with a hard approach, but she knew she could get inside to the second obstacle.

She opted for a wider turn to the third fence, still following the inside track, but not slicing the turn as much as her fellow contenders. Calcagnini was able to transition easily for the trot jump, and the fences flowed nicely with the plan she followed. When she landed from the penultimate obstacle, she picked up the hand gallop, turned left and aimed Bowie at the final oxer, which he jumped with ease.

Taking the second place finish was an emotional moment for Farmer, as the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival is only her second show with Kodachrome, whose saddle was once filled by the late Russell Frey, who only passed away in May 2016.

Peter Pletcher aboard Quirino, owned by Audrey Giles-Gates, rounded out the top three with a cumulative score of 380.5 points. He came back in the fourth position; however, his handy score of 202 points would push the duo into the third place.

Daisy Farish and Golden Eye were awarded the fourth place with 357 points, while Sophie Michaels captured the fifth place with Carlo. The sixth place was awarded to Emily Perez for her score of 337.75 points with Charisma.

Hunter Highlights (Wednesday – Sunday)

Week Four of the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival kicked off with the professional hunter divisions in the R.L. Polk Family Main Hunter Ring. Wednesday's classes saw many riders beginning to prepare their horses for the $25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby presented by the Gochman Family and Baxter Hill Farm on July 30.

In the Second Year Green Hunters, the blue went to Maria Rasmussen and Memorable. The pair was also third in the handy round. Taking second place was Caitlyn Shiels and Cassius who took home the win in the handy round. Third place in the over fences class went to Oak Grove and Caroline Weeden. Second place in the handy round went to Hilary Johnson and Moonwalk.

In the High Performance Working Hunters Courtney Calcagnini and Bowie a 10-year-old Warmblood gelding owned by Fleur de Lis Farms were first in the over fences class repeating their performance from week three. Peter Pletcher and Columbia found themselves in the second spot and took home the win in the handy round. Pletcher also took third in both the over fences class and the handy round with Jus d'O. Second place in the handy round went to Caroline Weeden and Corvine.

Earlier in the day, Voyager an 8-year-old Warmblood gelding owned by Copper Fox LLC and Hillary Johnson took the blue in the over fences class in First Year Green Working Hunters. They were also second in the handy round. Following in second place in the over fences class was Kelsey Wickham and Wait and See Farm's Pick Six. Rounding out the top three was Kim Carey and Goodman. In the handy round it was Caroline Weeden and Poetry who took home the win with Melissa Donnelly and Corlando 49 in third place.

Hillary Johnson again found herself in the top spot in the Regular Conformation Hunter Class over fences aboard Sorrento, a 9-year-old Westphalian owned by Copper Fox LLC. Second place went to Maria Rasmussen and Subject to Change a 7-year-old Warmblood gelding owned by Corporate Way LLC. Third place went to Greg Crolick and Outshine, a 9-year-old Westphalian gelding owned by Top Call Farm.

In the handy round it was Maria Rasmussen and Subject to Change who claimed the top spot with second place going to Kelsey Wickham and Pick Six. Jennifer Nadalin and Catango V rounded out the top three.

Thursday saw championships awarded in the professional hunter divisions at the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival. Riders took home the tricolors and looked towards the hunter derbies that will be held over the weekend with the $25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby presented by the Gochman Family and Baxter Hill Farm on July 30 and the $5,000 Glory Days Farm LLC, USHJA National Hunter Derby on July 31.

The R.L. Polk Family Main Hunter Ring kicked off with the First Year Green Working Hunters sponsored by Wrenwood Farm and Jenny Sutton. Peter Pletcher and Quirino, a 10-year-old Holsteiner gelding owned by Audrey Giles-Gates brought home the championship. The reserve went to Greg Crolick aboard Outshine, a 9-year-old Westphalian gelding owned by Top Call Farm.

Up next for division championships were the Conformation Hunters sponsored by Sugar Run Farm. The championship award went to Hillary Johnson and Sorrento a 9-year-old Westphalian owned by Copper Fox LLC. Maria Rasmussen brought home one of her three reserve championships with Bliss, a 9-year-old Warmblood gelding owned by Corporate Way LLC.

In the Second Year Green Working Hunters Caitlyn Shiels and Donald Stewart's Cassius took home the championship. The reserve spot again went to Maria Rasmussen. This time she was aboard Memorable, an 8-year-old warmblood gelding owned by Over Fences Farm LLC.

The High Performance Working Hunter Championship went to Courtney Calcagnini and Bowie, a 10-year-old Warmblood gelding owned by Fleur de Lis Farms. Peter Pletcher brought home the reserve championship aboard Blanche Strunk's Columbia, a 10-year-old Holsteiner Mare.

Maria Rasmussen was smiling all day long in the hunter rings, taking home one championship and three reserve championships. Rasmussen was champion in the Treesdale Farm 3'3" Pre-Green Hunter division aboard Synergy, a 6-year-old Warmblood gelding owned by Copper Fox LLC.

On Friday, the R.L. Polk Family Main Hunter Ring was host to the division championships for Junior and Amateur Owner Hunters. The junior riders showed off their talents in the hunter ring, but many have been putting in time in the jumper and equitation rings as well and are preparing for Saturday's $25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby presented by the Gochman Family and Baxter Hill Farm.

In the Junior 15 and Under Hunter division, the championship cooler went to Rachel McMullen and Clear Sailing, a 9-year-old mare owned by Redfield Farm. The reserve champion was Sloan Hopson and Coachella, a 14-year-old warmblood gelding owned by Avery Griffin.

McMullen was multi-tasking on Friday, taking third place in the W.I.H.S. Equitation Jumper Phase and fifth place in the Hunter Phase. The 15-year-old also has her sights set on Saturday's $25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby presented by the Gochman Family and Baxter Hill Farm.

McMullen was not the only busy junior rider winning championships on Friday. In the Junior 16-17 Hunter division, Cole Battershall and Rogelio, a 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Rolling Acres, took home the tricolor. The reserve champion was Emma Lena Green and Hennessy, a 10-year-old Oldenburg gelding.

Alliy Moyer and Carlson, a 12-year-old Hanoverian gelding, were the champions in the Amateur Owner division. The reserve champion Susan Baker and Q, a 10-year-old warmblood gelding.

For Sophie Michaels, equitation is the basis of her success in both the hunter and jumper rings, proving that practice makes perfect during the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival. On Friday, Michaels took the win in the USEF Platinum Performance Talent Search 2*, as well as the W.I.H.S. Equitation, capping off the trifecta of equitation wins during the series one finale week after taking the first place in the USEF Medal Thursday.

The USEF Platinum Performance Talent Search 2* is one of the most esteemed equitation classes in the nation, originally conceptualized to play an important role in the pipeline of show jumping, as it addresses that form follows function, and that in order to be an effective jumper rider, one must possess basic equitation skills and a solid jumper seat position.

With three levels of competition, the two-star course, designed by Bernardo Costa Cabral, was set to 1.15m-1.20m, and challenged riders with 15 efforts, including a water jump with a rail, a liverpool, three double-combinations, rollbacks and a tight time allowed of 79 seconds.

Michaels rides with Andre Dignelli of Heritage Farm, whose three students entered in the USEF Platinum Performance Talent Search earned the top three positions. Michaels was awarded the first place, while barn mates Emily Perez and Daisy Farish took the second and third places, respectively.

Michaels is seasoned when it comes to the USEF Talent Search, already having cultivated 95 points in both the East and West divisions. She is currently aiming for the Finals, held in Gladstone, New Jersey, at the historic Hamilton Farm, home of the United States Equestrian Team Foundation. The Finals are set to take place Oct. 7-9.

With dexterity, accuracy and form, Michaels topped the leaderboard after the jumper phase, and then sealed the victory during the flat phase, where judge Scott Hofstetter tested the competitors extensively. He asked that riders exemplify lengthening of stride at the trot and canter, as well as the keeping the counter-canter at both directions in the large grand prix ring.

Hannah Coleman and Charming Charly 5 took home the win in the T.H.I.S. Children’s Medal class with an impressive score of 88.00. The pair were also awarded Circuit Championship in the 15-17 Equitation Division. 

Saturday afternoon's pre-International Derby festivities included a $4,000 Groom's Class, presented by Meadow View Farm and The Johnson Family. Due to popularity, the class was split into two sections. First place in section one went to Jenny Priebe and Quite Lady, who is owned and ridden by Maria Yzerman in the Low Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumpers. The section two winner was Jesus Carrera and Sorrento, owned by Copper Fox LLC and ridden by Hillary Johnson in the Conformation Hunters. 

Hunter competition concluded Sunday in the R.L. Polk Family Main Hunter Ring with the $2,500 Glory Days Farm LLC, USHJA National Hunter Derby. While it was the hunter ring, it was jumper riders who dominated the class, with David Beisel and Aaron Vale taking the top two spots. 

The first round of the derby saw 16 entries trying to make their mark over a Thomas Hern Jr.  designed course that gave riders several different high or low options and long flowing lines as well as an impressive hay bale jump option. After the first round of competition, it was junior rider Jordan Allen aboard Goodman, a 9-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Michelle Carrol who sat in the lead, earning 89 points with a beautiful round that included three high options. Allen was the first rider on course and she set the score to beat. 

The top twelve riders were invited back to the ring for the handy course, a more technical course with tight multiple high options, a trot fence, and a hand gallop option to the final fence. 

Beisel returned for the handy round in sixth place with Lavish, an 11-year-old Westphalian gelding owned by Phyllis Harlow, having earned a first round score of 83 that included all four high options. The pair aimed to move up in the standings, executing a flawless handy round where they earned an impressive 91 for a stunning round that included all four high options.

Vale was sitting in second place coming back for the handy round after an impressive first round score of 87 that included all four high options with Madewell, an 8-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Aberdeen Ventures LLC. 

Vale was one of the few competitors who chose to tackle the large hay bale options presented by course designer Thomas Hern, Jr.

Vale had a solid handy round and was a contender for the win, but had an unfortunate rub at the last fence. The pair earned an 86.5 in the handy round to give them a total score of 173.5.

Greg Crolick and Red Roc rounded out the top three with a first round score of 84 that included all four high options. was just a half a point behind Vale with a handy round score of 89 that included all four options for a total score of 173 to Vale’s 173.5. Fourth place finisher Jordan Allen had a solid handy round score of 83 that included three high options, but could not hold onto the lead to beat the jumper riders. 

Series Two kicks off on August 10 and runs through August 28 featuring three weeks of hunter and jumper competition with a FEI CSI2* rating Week Five and Six and a FEI CSI3* rating during Week Seven culminating in the $100,000 Grand Traverse Grand Prix on Sunday, August 28. Act now to reserve stabling spots, and do not miss out on the chance to compete during the all-new FEI Great Lakes Equestrian Festival series in August. 

The Great Lakes Equestrian Festival is set on 88 beautiful acres and showcases five world-class competition rings in addition to spacious schooling rings. The property features don't stop there as the park offers convenient on-site campgrounds and weekly nights of entertainment for a truly unique attendee experience.

For more information or to view schedules, please visit


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