Jacksonville Winter Finale Covers It All From A to Z
RELEASE: February 5, 2009
AUTHOR/ADMINISTRATOR: By Robbi Meisel
From show jumping action to furry Zoo friends and lots more in between, show management offered a little something for everyone at the A to Z finale week of the Jacksonville Winter Series.
Let’s start with “H” for Happy Z and owner-rider Wilhelm Genn of Lebanon, OH, who took the top spot in Thursday afternoon’s Lucky Sevens Open Jumper Welcome Stake. “We’re working our way back,” Genn commented of the fiery chestnut mare’s return to the winner’s circle after more than a month’s vacation.
The duo were the fastest of eight double-clears in course designer Buddy Brown’s shortened jump-off round of eight obstacles. Brown himself said earlier in the day, “Today is about making the riders feel relaxed in the ring and a chance for me to gauge the caliber for this weekend’s big prix.”
Genn agreed with the assessment by adding, “I usually like it a little harder, but understand he [Brown] needs to size us up.” The seasoned Happy Z provided the speed element for Brown’s measurements with a fast 34.120 seconds, nearly eight seconds below the allowed 42. Being one of the busiest riders with three mounts—all going double-clear, Genn no doubt aided in deciding the degree of technicality for the upcoming Outback Steakhouse $35,000 A to Z Grand Prix. And with a $10,000 grand prix rider bonus on the line, it’s a sure bet Genn is saving his best ammunition for the weekend as he goes head-to-head with Aaron Vale, the current standings leader.
The final results found Genn also in the second position with the Laura Ryan-Barnaclo-owned Chantal and a time of 34.370. Coming third was the highly decorated Canadian hero Hugh Graham aboard the Kingridge Stables’ entry Executive Privilage 3E in a clear 34.464. Fourth went to local favorite Chuck Waters riding his own Carl Knee to a clean time of 35.588. And in the fifth position was Magnolia, TX’s favorite Tony Font with Connardo M7 for owner Gray Wolf Farm in 35.649.
For Friday evening we begin with the letter “E” for Equitation Classic held under the bright lights and stars as the best-of-the-best junior riders vied for prize money and bragging rights of the series. After a first round of sweeping, artistic turns and serious stride counting, 12 finalist were called back for testing, but it was owner-rider Lydia Todd and Picasso’s masterpiece performance that captured the blue ribbon from the judges. Second place went to Samantha Schaefer with Don Juan for owner Redfield Farm, third to Michele Petrilli paired with the Donald Stewart entry Catrick, fourth to Hasbrouck Donovan riding Sag Harbor’s Lucky Star for owner Paige Dekko, and completing the top five was Abby O’Mara aboard Lucas for owner Casey O’Mara.
As Sunday rolls round, “A” for action best describes the day. Kicking off with an auction to benefit the Jacksonville Zoological Gardens and the opportunity to meet some of the animals that reside there in person. For those who worked up an appetite, there was the Outback Steakhouse luncheon to enjoy. After that, the start of a celebrity ride was a sight the crowds did not want to miss. Popular television news anchors, radio disc jockeys, and even the sheriff saddled up on horses to try their hand at special challenges, such as applying lipstick while singing Old MacDonald or carrying an egg in a wooden spoon, all while in motion. Happily we can report no injuries just plenty of laughs and fun leading up to the featured event of the day.
After a week of observation, Brown of Livermore, CA, took all he learned and applied it to a side winding 13-obstacle, 16-effort test with a time allowance of 83 seconds for the $35,000 Outback Steakhouse A to Z Grand Prix. “Not a bad day!” chuckled Aaron Vale after doing a double victory lap for the prix win and the extra $10,000 bonus. “Fun course!” a very appropriate comment from the rider known for his jaw-dropping maneuvers at breakneck speeds.
Given a large majo