East Dorset, Vermont — New Zealand native Kirk Webby rode Sitah to victory in Friday’s $10,000 BCBG Max Azria Open Welcome Stake, presented by Manchester Designer Outlets, on the final week of competition at the Vermont Summer Festival Horse Show. 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.
Course designer Kenny Krome saw 31 horse-rider combinations attempt his first-round track with nine advancing to the jump-off. After several riders incurred four faults, Christine McCrea and her powerful bay, Triomphe de Muze, galloped around the shortened jump-off course in a time of 34.01 seconds to take what appeared to be an unbeatable lead.
That was until New Zealand native Kirk Webby entered the ring with Sitah, his 12-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare by Non Stop. The pair put the pedal to the metal, and although they rolled the pole at fence 11 which had fallen for so many of the other jump-off contenders, it stayed in place for Webby. When the clock flashed the time of 33.82 seconds, the crowd let out a cheer and Webby found himself in the winner’s circle for the second time during the Vermont Summer Festival, having also won the $30,000 Vermont Summer Special Grand Prix on Sunday, July 15.
"The course was tough enough. It wasn’t that big, but the last combination was difficult. In the jump-off, a lot had one down, and then Christine went and was very fast. My mare is quick in the turns, and it was good enough to win," noted Webby, who earned $3,000 in prize money as well as a $1,000 gift certificate from sponsor BCBG Max Azria.
Only two other riders managed to jump double clear. Timothy Hooker of Wellington, FL, was just off the pace, stopping the clock in a time of 34.26 seconds with Sirius 127 while Hillary Dobbs, the winner of Thursday’s $3,000 NAL Open Speed, never varied her pace as she guided Corlett home in a time of 35.20 seconds.
With Friday’s win under his belt, Webby will now focus on winning Sunday’s $50,000 Vermont Summer Celebration Grand Prix with Sitah. Of the six weeks of show jumping competition comprising the Vermont Summer Festival, Webby and Sitah will have contested the Sunday Grand Prix during weeks one, two, five and six.
"She is a typical mare, a little difficult, but she tries her heart out every time," said Webby of the mare he purchased a year and a half ago from American Olympian McLain Ward. Although Webby makes his home in Whitehouse, NJ, he continues to ride for his native New Zealand and, earlier this summer, helped New Zealand earn a berth for the 2008 Olympic Games through qualifying competition in Balve, Germany.
Webby, who brought 19 horses to this year’s Vermont Summer Festival, notes that it is one of his favorite shows, saying, "We love the weather, the accommodations and, obviously, the shopping!"
The grand finale of the six-week Vermont Summer Festival is the $50,000 Vermont Summer Celebration Grand Prix on Sunday, August 19 at 2 p.m. which will see the biggest names in show jumping, including American Olympians Norman Dello Joio and Lauren Hough, going head to head for the victory. Governor James Douglas will be in attendance and will present the prizes to the winning riders. Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for seniors, and $2 for children, with 100% of the proceeds going to the Friends Foundation for MEMS.
Now in its 14th year at Harold Beebe Farm in East Dorset, VT, the Vermont Summer Festival offers a total of $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. Visit the Vermont Summer Festival website for more information.
$10,000 BCBG Max Azria Open Welcome Stake – Final Results
|1||Kirk Webby||New Zealand||Sitah||0:0||33.82|
|2||Christine McCrea||East Windsor, CT||Triomphe de Muze||0:0||34.01|
|3||Timothy Hooker||Wellington, FL||Sirius||0:0||34.26|
|4||Hillary Dobbs||Sussex, NJ||Corlett||0:0||35.20|
|5||Caitlyn Shiels||Sheffield, MA||Memphis||0:4||34.37|
|7||Ashley Baker||Wellington, FL||Garibaldi||0:4||36.98|
|8||Holly Mitten||Wellington, FL||Filipe||0:4||38.58|