East Dorset, Vermont — Gina Gazzara proved that first was best by winning the $2,500 NAL Adult Amateur Jumper Classic on Saturday, August 11, during the fifth week of competition at the Vermont Summer Festival. The largest ‘AA’ rated hunter-jumper horse show held in New England, the Vermont Summer Festival is a six-week competition taking place from July 11 to August 19, 2007, in East Dorset, VT.
In an exciting competition that had the crowd cheering, 23 entries attempted the track set by course designer Pierre Jolicoeur, a Montreal native who now makes his home in Wellington, FL. Eight riders guided their horses to clear rounds to advance to the jump-off.
The first rider back for the jump-off, Gazzara of East Falmouth, MA, set the pace by blistering around the course and yelling encouragement at her horse as they galloped towards the final fence. Although the rail rolled in its cups, it did not fall, making Gazzara the rider to beat with a clear round in a time of 32.41 seconds.
None who followed were able to better her time, although second place finisher Jenna Imperatore of Basking Ridge, NJ, came heartbreakingly close, stopping the clock at 32.42 seconds with U2. Kris Hoffman Kennedy of Newtown, PA, also mounted a strong challenge, clocking in at 32.51 with Quest D’Or. Eileen Gilbert of Kemptville, ON, took a risk by taking an inside turn to the final fence, a maneuver that no other rider attempted, but her final time of 32.71 seconds with her game chestnut gelding, Due South, left her in fourth position. The only other rider to jump double clear was Gwen Holliday of Brookeville, MD, riding Mio W. The pair’s time of 34.03 seconds left them fifth overall in the standings.
At the end of the victory gallop, Gazzara gave her horse a big kiss on the neck.
"He is awesome, I love him!" declared the 18-year-old cosmetology student. "He has the biggest personality, he is a teddy bear! He is happy all the time, and he loves his job."
Gazzara has owned the 15-year-old bay Dutch Warmblood gelding for the past five years, and this is her second year showing in the Adult Amateur Classics. She is also a long-time exhibitor at the Vermont Summer Festival, explaining, "I love the scenery, and it’s very comfortable for me since I have been here so many times before. It’s like a second home."
With her win, Gazzara is one step closer to qualifying for the NAL Finals to be held this fall. The North American League (NAL) runs season-long series in six hunter-jumper divisions – Adult Hunter presented by Practical Horseman, Children’s Hunter, Children’s Jumper, Adult Jumper, Pony Jumper and Open Jumper Speed. Each series culminates with a championship final at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show in Harrisburg, PA, in October. Riders need not be members of the NAL to compete in any qualifying classes, but only current members earn points toward year-end finals. For more information, including a list of qualifying competitions and results, please see the Ryegate Show Services website.
For the first time, the Vermont Summer Festival is pleased to offer live video streaming of all five competition rings for those who cannot attend the horse show in person. Visit www.livebroadcast.tv or www.vt-summerfestival.com for more information.
Competition continues at the Vermont Summer Festival on Sunday, August 12, with the $30,000 Manchester and the Mountains Grand Prix beginning at 2 p.m. Now in its 14th year at Harold Beebe Farm in East Dorset, Vermont, the Vermont Summer Festival offers more than $750,000 in prize money throughout the six weeks of competition, making it the richest sporting event in the state. Each week features a $10,000 Friday Open Welcome Stake, sponsored by Manchester Designer Outlets, and a $30,000 Sunday Grand Prix. The grand finale of the six-week Vermont Summer Festival is the $50,000 Vermont Summer Celebration Grand Prix on Sunday, August 19. Please visit the Vermont Summer Festival website more information.
$2,500 NAL Adult Amateur Jumper Classic – Final Result
|1||Gina Gazzara||East Falmouth, MA||Bruin||0:0||32.41|
|2||Jenna Imperatore||Basking Ridge, NJ||U2||0:0||32.42|
|3||Kris Hoffman Kennedy||Newtown, PA||Quest D’Or||0:0||32.51|
|4||Eileen Gilbert||Canada||Due South||0:0||32.71|
|5||Gwen Holliday||Brookeville, MD||Milo W||0:0||34.03|
|6||Susannah Wise||Princeton, NJ||Hillary||0:4||29.30|
|7||Amy Milazzo||Troy, NY||Clover Cloud||0:4||31.25|
|8||Laurie Kutz||Dallas, PA||Flip||0:4||34.27|