Wilhelm Genn and Samantha Schaefer Score Big Wins at Week III of Jacksonville Winter Series
RELEASE: January 26, 2010
AUTHOR/ADMINISTRATOR: By Robbi Meisel
Photo by Robbi Meisel (Wilhelm Genn and Happy Z)
The third week of competition at the 2010 Jacksonville Winter Series got in full swing with the $5,000 Open Jumper Classic being won by Lebanon, Ohio’s Wilhelm Genn, as both owner and rider, piloting the brilliant mare Happy Z.
Presented by Farm House Tack, the Jumper Classic served as a prelim to the next evening’s featured event, the $25,000 Marco Family Foundation benefitting H.O.R.S.E. Therapies, a nonprofit therapeutic equine program to air people with special needs as well as military personnel in the Horses for Heroes and Wounded Warriors programs. The week’s course designer, Buddy Brown of Stanford, CA, got a good gauge of the talent on hand while the competitors learned how tough grabbing that prize money would be with only six clean first rounds. Genn was the only rider to bring two mounts into jump-off runs, Chantal for owner Laura Ryan-Barnaclo and his own Happy Z. Despite some fierce competition, the afternoon’s glory belonged to the popular chestnut Happy Z, whose winning time of 33.025 simply couldn’t be caught. “She’s very much like a fine wine—better with age,” a happy Genn proclaimed.
Finishing in second place was teenage phenom Samantha Schaefer riding Sugar Ray—owned by Schaefer—to a clear time of 35.980, third place to veteran rider-owner Mary Lisa Leffler taking Gerona 92 to a clean time of 37.000, fourth place went to Wisconsin-based Denise Wilson aboard the Blue Gate Farm entry Life is Life with a clean time of 40.194, and completing the top five was Indiana’s own Erin McCabe as rider-owner of Midnight Hour finishing with four faults in a quick 33.825.
As evening fell, the lights of the covered arena seem to shine extra brightly for rider Samantha Schaefer as the 16-year-old received top marks in the $10,000 Jerry Parks Insurance Group Hunter Classic. The number one horse of the evening was Castle, owned by Ashley Toffolon and piloted by Schaefer with a first-round score of 169.500.
In all, 22 horses competed on the course designed by Paul Jewel of Lambertville, NJ. The class consisted of two sections, with amateurs and juniors jumping 3’6” while professionals had an option of 3’6” or 3’9” fences depending on the horse’s level. The layout of 10 fences required strenuous efforts of both horse and rider with its bending and broken lines throughout the course. Judges Sue Ashe, William Sparks, and Chris Wayne presided over the scoring, returning only the top 12 pairs for round 2.
Schaefer is no stranger to winning this Classic—in 2007 she won aboard Lyle, the 17-year old German Warmblood then owned by Stephanie Keen and in 2008 with Lazy Sunday, a nine-year-old Zangersheide owned by Keli Colby at the time. Schaefer has made transitioning from being one of the nations most acclaimed pony riders to a top junior rider look effortless, but will be the first to say it’s only through daily hard work that she stays in the upper rankings. Sixth in the order, Castle and Schaefer finished the first round strong with combined judges’ score of 168. “I was very confident coming into the class with him [Castle] because I knew he would go right around, if anything it would just interest him a little bit and maybe spark him up a little, because he’s a really quiet, easy-going horse,” Schaefer said of the 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood, who along with both owner Toffolon and on occasion Schaefer train with Andre Dignelli of Heritage Farm in New York.
Regarding their round-one ride, Schaefer admitted, “I needed a lot of lead changes in the first class and I should have asked him in a few places to land on the correct lead, so that may have made it not quite as smooth.” Those who know Schaefer well will state she is always far more critical of her rides than any judge, as evidenced by the duo’s scores. “But in the second round he landed on every lead so it all flowed really well. He kind of glided around—real nice! He’s really good at this type of class because he’s brave and just awesome!” Schaefer added. The pair’s second round score of 177 was added to give a total score of 345. As things progressed, Schaefer’s biggest competition became herself.
Corvet Z, a 12-year-old Zangersheide gelding, also ridden by Schaefer and owned by Manhattan Mortgage Co., Inc., actually led the first round with a score of 169.50. “He’s just coming off of a little vacation and he was just great! In the second round I got a little excited at the last jump and he just nicked it a bit, but overall he was really nice,” Schaefer said of her second-place winning mount that finished with a combined total of 334.50. “I really have to thank Don Stewart for all his help! And Kim Stewart...and Andre...it’s really a team effort, and I’m the fortunate one who benefits from them all,” a beaming Schaefer said.
Schaefer has become a master of balance, both in and out of the saddle as she juggles the pressures of high school and a full competition schedule with the appearance of ease. She explained, “I attend a special school that is a self-paced type, when I’m not showing I do a lot more. I’m in a classroom about three hours a day and some online class work. It’s scheduled for me, which is really good because I have a structure to follow that’s well organized. I work really hard late fall and early winter to get ahead, and now [show season] I have two classes to finish up while I’m here.” After the Jacksonville Winter Series, the precocious Schaefer will take a week off to relax at school before heading to compete in West Palm Beach.
Saturday’s Marco Family Foundation Grand Prix proved to be full of nail-biting excitement as Wilhelm Genn and Chantal posted the faster of only two clean jump-off rides to clinch the win.
The featured event was preceded by a gala dinner provided by Cedar River Seafood restaurant.
Taking on a field that included the likes of Aaron Vale, Hugh Graham, Tony Font, and Mary Lisa Leffler to name but a few, Genn knew he’d have his work cut out that evening. Add to this an intense 1.50 meter-course by California’s Buddy Brown and you have the makings of a thrill ride even Disney can’t compete against. Round one’s layout quickly became a case of looks being deceiving despite the first three horses going clean nearly three seconds below the allotted 85. “When I walked the course I thought it wasn’t too big as much as scopey, but it had to be a careful ride,” Genn said. And it was scopey but with one particularly challenging obstacle, the green plank vertical [#11 fence] heading into the corner...the somewhat dark corner facing into the VIP tent. “That was my main concern, try to be smooth as I can and allow him [Chantal] to focus on the jump.” Genn offered up an analysis of the “green boogeyman jump.”
Ocala, FL-based Aaron Vale and the Kristin Beyer owned-Peasus were first on course and first to score a clean run in 81.560. Following his lead, Genn of Lebanon, OH, brought the 11-year-old Holsteiner Chantal through the timers clean in 82.431 to assure a jump-off round. “Just hold him back a little—slow him and get him to focus on it!” Genn joked of his strategy to the boogeyman jump. Michelle Spadone of Califon, NJ, made sure the Redfield Farm entry, Coco, joined the jump-off party with a clean 82.398. Soon after Schaefer added her name to the jump-off list with Sugar Ray posting a clear 84.690. The last name for a while would be Blue Gate Farm’s Life is Life, ridden by Wisconsin-resident Denise Wilson in 84.412. Just when it seemed five would be the magic number, Theo Genn with Loredo, owned by Micaela Kennedy, came in clear with 84.992 on the clock. Vale would add another mount to the group bringing the ABC 4 Horses’ Platinum clean in 83.729, as would Wilhelm with the fiery Happy Z in 83.237, and Wilson’s For Elenor would be the final clear with a time of 81.625.
The fate of nine would be determined by the green boogeyman fence once again as it was no surprise to see it included in the abbreviated seven obstacle-eight effort dash-for-cash round. The time allowance was set at 48 seconds and the arena drew a deep breath as the tone sounded for first man out—Vale with Pegasus. 47.899 seconds later the boogeyman had its first victim. Next up the Laura Ryan-Barnaclo-owned Chantal with Genn, “When Aaron Vale has two in it you have to risk it a little bit, either leave it up or not! I did try to be more conservative with Chantal. He’s not that good off a right turn so I gave him an extra stride.” And Chantal gave Genn a clear ride in 42.294. The next five horses weren’t so lucky as most were defeated by the boogeyman. Including Genn’s fabulous chestnut wonder horse Happy Z, “With her I tried to leave a stride out to make up some time, but she got there a little too quick and was already thinking about what was after that.” Genn likened the ride to his pool game. “When I’m thinking about the next shot I miss the one I’m on! I have to remember one at a time,” he said. Only one other duo would survive the green monster, week one’s victor Denise Wilson when her second mount, For Elenor, finished clean in 46.590. Afterwards she joked with Genn, whom she trains with on the road, saying, “So we’re taking turns in winning? That means I get to win next week right? I was holding back tonight!” Tune in next week to see who wins this friendly competition.
The Jacksonville Winter Series continues through February 7 with classes Wednesday through Sunday beginning at 8 a.m. until about 5 p.m., except for special events on Saturday evenings at 7 p.m. Admission to the shows is free; parking at special weekend events is a $5 donation, which goes to support local charities.
For more information or results on the 2010 Jacksonville Winter Series, please visit www.classiccompany.com
or call the show office at (904) 284-1579.