Sunday at the Flintfields Horse Park was action-packed, offering an array of activities for families and spectators to enjoy, with the afternoon leading up to the main event of Week III at the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival (GLEF): the $50,000 North Face Farm Grand Prix CSI2*.
Week I’s $50,000 Great Lakes Grand Prix, presented by East Wind Farms, winners, Wilhelm Genn (GER) and Bugatti, returned to claim the first FEI grand prix of the 2018 season, besting an original starting field of 36 international horses and athletes and outpacing a nine-horse jump-off.
The course, designed by Portugal’s Bernardo Costa Cabral, challenged horses and athletes over 13 obstacles in the first round. Those who successfully completed the course with no faults returned for the tie-breaking round over a shortened course.
Speed was definitely the key to winning on Sunday as six of the nine horse-and-athlete combinations produced a second clear round in the jump-off. The early double-clear pathfinders were Martien Van Der Hoeven (USA) and Augusta Pines Farm’s Zerro Leone as first to return in 48.04 seconds, however their lead was short-lived and soon overtaken by Peter Wylde (USA), who was third in the order, aboard Kathleen Kamine’s Canamera 2 in 45.81 seconds.
The top spot on the leaderboard continued to change hands with Kelli Cruciotti (USA) and Chamonix H, owned by Serenity Farm, entering the Grand Prix Ring next and stopping the timers in 42.96 seconds.
Cruciotti was able to hold on to her lead throughout the remainder of the class until the final combination, Genn and Eduardo Leon’s Bugatti, a 12-year-old KWPN gelding, took their turn over the short course. Leaving the best for last, the veteran duo blazed around the Grand Prix Ring, galloping flat out to the final oxer, and crossed the finish line just two-tenths of a second faster than Cruciotti to take the win in 42.74 seconds.
“I was very tight to the combination. That’s his good direction so I knew I could go tight there. I didn’t see Kelli [Cruciotti] go. I know I went a little bit wider to the white oxer. He knows how to go fast now so I was counting on his experience. I feel like when I turn and step on the gas pedal, he’s going to wake up and reach down and get his adrenaline going,” Genn shared.
As a result, Cruciotti settled for second place honors, while Wylde rounded out the top three.