Bill Lowry and Bjorn Ikast Continue Winning Ways in Gulf Coast Opener
RELEASE: February 22, 2008
AUTHOR/ADMINISTRATOR: By Robbi Meisel
When last we left Bill Lowry, he had just accepted the $10,000 Grand Prix Rider Bonus at the Jacksonville Winter Series after narrowly beating good friend Wilhelm Genn, who had just won the finale grand prix. Our next scene opens with Lowry and partner Polygraaf taking the first victory in a Valentine Welcome Stake set at the opening week of the 2008 Gulf Coast Winter Classics.
Mother Nature took her cue, providing warm temps and sunny blue skies for the backdrop. While a star of international course designing fame, Michel Vaillancourt took center stage in creating a flowing layout of 11 obstacles and 14 efforts on the lush green prix field to entice our cast of characters. Most eyes were on two main figures, Bill Lowry and Wilhelm Genn, as they revived their roles of top riders from last month’s Jacksonville Winter Series in hot pursuit of the $10,000 Grand Prix Rider Bonus awarded at the end of this five-week series.
Lowry, who’s Winsor Farm Sales, Inc., is based out of North Scituate, RI, directed two rides in the class, held Valentine’s Day on the grass grand prix arena of the Harrison County Equestrian Center. The first being his 12 year-old Hessen gelding Rio Corde who ended the first track with a clean time of 71.73, far below the allotted 84 seconds. “He’s a handful,” Lowry described his co-star.
The second was 10-year-old Westphalian gelding Polygraaf, also clear in 73.43. Joining them for the second act were four additional stand ins, including Lebanon, OH’s leading man Wilhelm Genn with Chantal, after a clear first round of 72.79 seconds. Vaillancourt’s shortened feature of six obstacles, asking seven efforts, was one written with an adrenaline rush for both horse and rider as they traversed across the grass over 4’6 heights and rolled back off vertical to vertical in the hope of clearing the final oxer under the 45 second limit.
Lowry and the accomplished Rio followed Grand Bay, AL’s most recognized prix figure, Holly Shepherd piloting the Sarah Patterson-owned Quilmes. The pair finished with four faults in a time of 42.644 seconds, and that gave Lowry the choice of how to write this scene’s ending—with caution or gusto. The pair opted for the latter, crossing the timer clear at 35.340 and set a tone of challenge for remaining takers. Valliant attempts followed, but as the curtain fell on this episode only Lowry himself came close, with Polygraaf finishing clear in 36.022 to claim second place. Kennett Square, PA’s star performer Laurie Jakubauskas and Counterfoil were credited with third place after a fault free ride in 37.925, while Lowry’s friendly nemesis Wilhelm Genn and Chantal landed the fourth award going clear in 40.995.
The healthy competition between friends began four weeks ago at the Jacksonville Winter Series in Green Cove Springs, FL, where the first $10,000 rider bonus was up for grabs. The buddies battled back and forth with the narrowest of margins separating them as they met in the finale event. While Genn won the $25,000 Grand Prix and Lowry came second, a mere one point advantage gave the bonus to Lowry. Now the duo find themselves writing the next version of “As the Jumps Fall” here in Gulfport over the next five weeks. And as Lowry pointed out a new cast of characters to include, “International great Bjorn Ikast, the quick Laurie Jakubauskas and Counterfoil, and many other greats. You can’t count anyone out. Should be tough competition.”
On Sunday afternoon, a burst of sunshine blasted away the clouds to hail new heroes, Bjorn Ikast and Anchor Man of Mexico City, Mexico, in the first $25,000 Gulf Coast Grand Prix presented by Flashpoint Media Services.
Vaillancourt produced another technical masterpiece in a 12 obstacle/15 effort 83-second course that tested the talent of the 18 horse-and-rider field with its tight rollback turns.
Lowry was second in the order with Polygraaf and the first pair to