The second day of competition at the Chicago Festival of the Horse continued with the highlight class of the day, the $25,000 Welcome Grand Prix. Drawing an excited crowd, the field of 41 horse-and-rider combinations gathered to vie for the top honors and share of the prize money. After an exciting jump-off, it was 16-year-old Caelinn Leahy who rode away with the victory aboard Dymendy to set the tone for the rest of the weekend.
Caelinn Leahy and Dymendy. Photo by Phelps Sports
In the 12-obstacle course designed by Peter Grant, riders were asked to perform faultless rides within 83 seconds. The course began with an oxer headed straight into the in-gate, a distracting location for a jump so early on in the course. The track also featured a triple-bar bending to a triple combination, challenging horses to stretch across and then collect their stride in a matter of seconds. The combination proved its difficulty and was the primary source of many rails on the ground for riders throughout the class.
Tracy Fenney and Igor Van de Heibos set the tone early on as the second pair in the ring and the first clear ride. Fenney continued the trend of clear first rounds with two more of her mounts to secure a place in the jump-off. Leahy and Dymendy, owned by Steve Schaeffer, also completed a flawless first round, crossing the finish line with one of the quickest first round times. Several other riders followed suit, including Theo Genn riding Bridlebourne Stables LLC’s Chaccomo 11.
Twelve riders returned for the jump-off in the form of a shortened course to complete in 55 seconds or less. Just four combinations went double-clear, with Genn taking the first faultless jump-off ride in 47.97 seconds. Fenney and MTM Como No were the next to finish clear, also surpassing Genn in the standings with a new fastest time of 44.63 seconds. Leahy, now with a time to beat, returned to the ring with Demendy and new motivation. The pair carefully navigated the course and galloped to the final fence, leaving up all rails and passing Fenney with a time of 40.94 seconds. Remaining riders were unable to challenge her, and Leahy remained at the top of the leaderboard with the blue ribbon and largest share of the prize money. Fenney and MTM Como No were awarded the second place ribbon, and Genn and Chaccomo 11 finished in third.
Photo by Phelps Sports
$25,000 Welcome Grand Prix
Place / Horse / Rider / Owner / R1 Faults / Time / R2 Faults / Time
1. Caelinn Leahy / Dymendy / Steve Schaeffer / 0 / 73.61 / 0 / 40.94
2. Tracy Fenney / MTM Como No / MTM Farm / 0 / 79.53 / 0 / 44.63
3. Theo Genn / Chaccomo 11 / Bridlebourne Stables LLC / 0 / 76.27 / 47.97
4. Ashley Fleischhacker / Quadros 3 / Ashland Show Stables LLC / 0 / 77.29 / 0 / 48.76
5. Tracy Fenney / MTM Reve Du Paradis / MTM Farm / 0 / 76.41 / 4 / 41.71
6. Ryan Michael Genn / Dieta / Taylor Blackman / 0 / 77.36 / 4 / 42.51
7. Charlie Jayne / Tou La Moon / Alex Jayne / 0 / 73.8 / 4 / 43.26
8. Theo Genn / Boucanier / Taylor Blackman / 0 / 76.43 / 4 / 43.41
9. Annabella Sanchez / Incitatus / Annabella Sanchez / 0 / 78.33 / 8 / 46.87
10. Ashley Fleischhacker / Durango VDL / Ashland Show Stables LLC / 0 / 78.76 / 8 / 48.45