Week I of the 2018 Great Lakes Equestrian Festival (GLEF) concluded on Sunday with the first grand prix competition of the six-week circuit, the $50,000 Great Lakes Grand Prix, presented by East Wind Farms, going to the veteran duo of Wilhelm Genn and Bugatti in the Grand Prix Ring at the Flintfields Horse Park.
Keith Bollotte designed a challenging first round track, which saw many horse-and-athlete combinations fall victim to the final double combination and tight time-allowed. Out of 24 starters, only three finished clear to advance to the tiebreaking round.
First to return back under the signature GLEF blue archway was 23-year-old Liza Finsness and her own Shiver. They tackled the short course and crossed the finish line with no faults, setting the pace to beat at 41.290 seconds.
Lorcan Gallagher and Phoebe Backman’s Billy Onslow were next in the ring and finished on 4 faults in 40.706 seconds, leaving Finsness at the top of the leaderboard.
Last to go in the jump-off was Genn aboard Bugatti, a 12-year-old KWPN gelding owned by Eduardo Leon. The pair galloped around the course, with Bugatti throwing a celebratory buck after the final fence, to produce to only other double-clear effort of the class in a swift 39.552 seconds, shaving two seconds off Finsness’ time to secure the win.
Finsness, who also finished third in Friday’s $30,000 Welcome Stake, settled for second place, while Gallagher rounded out the top three.
Although Genn is no stranger to the winner’s circle at GLEF, Sunday was the pair’s first grand prix victory at the festival since 2015. The seasoned athlete also finished fifth with 2 time faults aboard his own Van Gogh.
Regarding Bugatti’s progress, Genn shared, “I think it’s just age and maturity, just like with humans. He won grand prix events as an 8-year-old but he really didn’t know what he was doing at that point. It seems like every year is a fantastic year for him but I really feel, from last year to this year, he turned professional in his game. He loves it and he loves to go fast now. Three years ago, every time I wanted to go fast, he said, ‘No, I’m scared, I don’t want to go this fast.’ It’s really fun and he’s at the point where he allows me to make a mistake and can make up for it, and that’s really special for a rider.”
Week II of GLEF will kick-off with the first Equitation Tuesday of the circuit on July 10, followed by World Championship Hunter Rider (WCHR) week in the Grand Prix Ring. Additional show jumping highlights for Week II include the $50,000 Meijer Grand Prix of Michigan on Sunday, July 15, and $30,000 Ingram Family Welcome Stake on Friday, July 13.
2. Shiver / Liza Finsness / Liza Finsness / 0 / 0 / 41.290
3. Billy Onslow / Lorcan Gallagher / Phoebe Backman / 0 / 4 / 40.706
4. Elana 22 / Pablo Barrios / Pablo Barrios / 1 / 82.706
5. Van Gogh / Wilhelm Genn / Wilhelm Genn / 2 / 83.423
6. Compis / Stephen Foran / Lauren Robishaw / 4 / 76.285
7. For Serrano SR / Anna Beth Athey / Anna Beth Athey / 4 / 76.868
8. Idefix De Laubry / Javier Berganza Anderhub / Keystone Show Stables / 4 / 76.908
9. Halibo Van Texelhof / Hayley Barnhill / Reid Patton / 4 / 77.279
10. Chabello / Bruno Cavalheiro Rebello / Alfonso Gutierrez / 4 / 78.663