Wilhelm Genn & Happy Z Double Down—Banking Two $25k Prix at Gulf Coast Winter Classics Fifth Week
RELEASE: March 18, 2010
AUTHOR/ADMINISTRATOR: By Robbi Meisel
Lebanon, OH-based Wilhelm Genn has done it again, winning both the $25,000 Nordic Lights Grand Prix and the $25,000 Budweiser Grand Prix during the fifth week of the 2010 Gulf Coast Winter Classics.
International great Dave Ballard took up the reins of course designing for the double prix week. For Thursday’s $25,000 Nordic Lights event the co-creator of the 2008 Olympic layouts built a 15-effort test full of curves that had some riders struggling to keep the horses balanced, add to this the deceptive appearance several obstacles presented and competitors faced quite the challenge to clear the course in less than 96 seconds. “Sometimes when you have a lower oxer and then a higher vertical the horses jump a little flat and then don’t get enough height for the vertical,” Genn offered as explanation for one troublesome spot.
From the 25 starters, Genn and the Laura Ryan-Barnaclo-owned Chantal were third in the order and first to make a clear run, finishing in 88.191. Five spots later owner-rider Kari Frey of Fulshear, TX, aboard Solinus guaranteed a jump-off round with their clear time of 87.750. Not long after New Jersey’s Amanda Flint with her mount Tiffany E VDL joined the list to return with a faultless ride in 86.677. And then there was Happy Z, Genn’s fearless 12-year-old Dutch bred mare. “With Happy, I looked where I went with Chantal, I went really tight with him, and I didn’t think I could stay on the inside track so I decided to just keep her straight for one to two extra strides, balance her and then turn her real quickly to get a run back to the oxer,” Genn explained his strategy for that last vital line. The duo’s time was 90.263.
“I thought he [Ballard] built a great course, obviously the outcome was perfect with seven clean out of 25. I think maybe he built a little more careful today to see what he has—maybe not knowing all the riders here and then build more scopey on Sunday,” Genn said after the final round.
Seven obstacles that looped around a quarter of the field and ended almost dead center with a time limit of 48 seconds would determine who celebrated the spoils of victory. Genn set the bar with Chantal’s clear ride in 38.512, and only Happy Z would overtake the pair with a blazing second clean run in 37.816. “She jumped fantastic! She felt so good, especially in the jump-off,” Genn said. Happy had an easy workout on the days inbetween competitions with some lunging, light riding under saddle, and a quiet jumping schedule Saturday. Genn added, “She lay down in the stall today for two hours—always a good sign when she does that.” With a completely serious tone Genn shared that when Happy “naps” on the morning of a Grand Prix the chances of her winning become a far higher percentage. To back up this horseman’s insight of his mounts is the fact that the victory marked the 12th straight win for Genn at the Gulf Coast Series.
Last week’s $15,000 NHJL Nordic Lights Junior-Amateur Jumper Classics found Frances Land in the spotlight with her mount Merlin besting a tough field of competitors. The pair conquered the technical layout presented by Dave Ballard with a first-round time of 71.120. Only three others returned for the abbreviated deciding track, but none could catch Land’s blazing 36.679 winning time.
Whether or not you believe the secret to winning is a good workout and a nice nap, Happy Z certainly proved it works for her with an encore victory in Sunday afternoon’s $25,000 Budweiser Grand Prix. “I thought this was probably the most difficult Grand Prix to jump clean during the circuit,” was Genn’s initial comment of the first round. “The jumps were big and though people may look at me funny when I say this, but you had to ride the hill today. When you jump an oxer down hill and then turn around to jump an oxer uphill, anytime you jump uphill it makes that oxer at least a hole higher and wider...maybe two holes.”
Ballard’s 16-effort layout of technical ups and downs wound its way around the grass field. Twenty-five starters had only 91 seconds to maneuver the obstacles fault-free and advance to the money ride. Genn and mount, Copyright 3 (owned by Genn), were first in the order and first to clear the course with a time of 88.621. He described the layout’s beginning as a little bit downhill on jumps 1 and 2 then uphill into jumps 3 and 4 and downhill again as horses headed into the triple combination, “very difficult, because it was vertical to vertical and then a tight one-stride to the oxer, a pretty big oxer high and wide. So you had to slow down%mdash;jump the vertical slow but then the horses really had to fire up to get over the oxer and you couldn’t use momentum,” Genn said.
Amanda Flint assured a second round when she brought Kathleen Kamine’s Texas Hold’Em clean in 87.044. Four more would try and fail before Genn returned with Chantal for owner Laura Ryan-Barnaclo and secured their spot with a clean 86.477 time. Not long after Laurie Jakubauskas of Greenville, DE, landed her mount, Mirage, a spot in the jump-off with a time of 87.780. Genn countered with Loredo (owned by Micaela Kennedy) coming across the timers clean in 89.682. Elizabeth, CO resident Alex Granato succeeded in adding Mad Season to the jump-off invitees with an impressive time of 87.3407. As Happy Z entered the field all grew quiet to watch the fiery chestnut turn in another stellar performance with a clean time of 87.063 and capture the last opening for the final round.
Fifty-two seconds, eight obstacles, and six competitive horses were all that stood between Happy Z and closing a week with double victories. Copyright 3 had the dubious honor of being first out and set the tone with a clean ride in 44.020. The pair led until Alex Granato and Mad Season blew through in a clean time of 42.674. This class would be Happy’s swan song of the series as she departs Monday morning for Texas, and she did not disappoint the fan club she’s acquired on the Gulf Coast, showing off her signature moves in tight turns and burst of speed to the roar of the crowd. “What can be said, she was just great,” Genn put it simply of the pairs flawless 40.243 triumph. Genn closed his stay in Gulfport by expressing how much the entire family enjoyed the series. “I’d love to just hang out here for a couple more weeks. Relax some. We love competing here. My sons have done well and it’s just a beautiful field to ride on. You learn so much, it’s fun, the courses get better, and the weather is great. Hate to leave.”
The Gulfport Winter Classics continues with more hunter/jumper action through March 21. Admission is free and the public is invited to enjoy the exciting competition throughout the week along with another $25,000 Grand Prix each Sunday afternoon.
For more information or results on the 2010 Gulf Coast Winter Classics, please visit www.classiccompany.com or call the show office at (228) 832-2745.