East Dorset, Vermont — Despite a downpour of rain during his jump-off ride, New Zealander Kirk Webby flew to the finish on Sitah to win the $30,000 Vermont Summer Special Grand Prix during the first week of the Vermont Summer Festival. Canadian Beth Underhill finished second on Magdaline while another New Zealand native, Sharn Wordley, rode Mr. Flanagan to third.
A total of 30 horse-rider combinations completed the course designed by 1976 Olympic Silver Medalist Michel Vaillancourt of Canada. The track consisted of 13 numbered obstacles, and nine members of the original starting field went clear to advance to the jump-off. The fastest four-faulter was Amy Momrow on Summer Storm to finish in tenth place.
The jump-off had seven numbered jumps and included a one stride set on a hard rollback turn. The first into the ring for jump-off was Hillary Dobbs of Sussex, NJ, on the first of her three qualified mounts, Quincy B. Dobbs kept a moderate pace and made a wide turn back to the one stride. She finished clear in 43.271 seconds, which would place her sixth place at the end of the class.
Sharn Wordley, who qualified two mounts for the shortened jump-off course, took his first shot with Rockville. The big horse had trouble in the one stride, taking a rail down at the first element as well as at the next fence. They crossed the timers in 44.524 seconds with a total of eight faults. Erynn Ballard of Canada was next in on her new mount, Gentle R. Ballard had a good pace, but a rail at fence 4b caused four faults. Their time was 42.388 seconds, which would hold up for eighth place.
Wordley then challenged with his second horse, Mr. Flanagan. He flew around the course and was especially fast from the second to third jumps to stop the timers in 38.805 seconds with a clear round, a performance that would eventually put him into third place at the end of the class.
Making her grand prix debut, 16-year-old Katherine Newman and Costa Sur were next in the jump-off. Newman gave a brilliant ride despite the fact that the skies had opened up. Her solid clear round in 42.499 seconds would give her fifth place, a respectable finish for the youngest rider in the class.
Dobbs and Corlett were the next into the ring for the jump-off. Dobbs had a good time going when she rounded the turn to the final two jumps. As she approached the last jump, Dobbs pushed Corlett even faster. They left out a stride to the final jump and finished clear, but their time was not quite fast enough to catch Wordley’s lead. They recorded a time of 38.905 seconds and would receive fourth place.
Canadian Show Jumping Team veteran Beth Underhill then took over the lead. She and the Dutch Warmblood mare, Magdaline, were swift and sure through the raindrops, and a sharp slice over the third jump helped their final time of 38.041 seconds, which would leave them in the runner-up position.
Kirk Webby, originally from New Zealand and now based in Whitehouse, NJ, was the next challenger. He and Sitah, a 12-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare by Non Stop, rode during the day’s heaviest rain fall. Webby positively flew around the course while Sitah wasted no time in the air. Their approach to the triple bar, which was the second to last jump on course, was fantastic. They finished with no faults in a breathtaking time of 36.238 seconds, almost two seconds faster than Underhill.
“In the jump-off, it was so fast that you had to just fly. She’s good at that. I saw Sharn go, and he was really quick,” Webby recalled. “Unfortunately, it started raining, but it was alright. It didn’t bother me, and she doesn’t care about the mud. I think where I was best was turning back to the triple bar. I just had a really good flier there, and she mowed through that ten [strides].”
Dobbs was the last to challenge in the jump-off on Marengo, a horse known for his speed. Dobbs did her best on course and was extremely fast in 36.238 seconds, but a rail at fence five gave her a costly four faults to finish in seventh place.
Victory in the $30,000 Vermont Summer Special Grand Prix marked Webby’s second grand prix win with Sitah. He laughed and said, “It feels good to win because I’m going home today, and then I’m coming back for weeks five and six. I hope I can do it again!”
$30,000 Vermont Summer Special Grand Prix – Final Results
1. Sitah, Kirk Webby (NZL), Tolleshunt Horse Farm Inc.: 0/0/36.238 seconds
2. Magdaline, Beth Underhill (CAN), Beth Underhill: 0/0/38.041
3. Mr. Flanagan, Sharn Wordley (NZL, FL), Sharn Wordley: 0/0/38.805
4. Corlett, Hillary Dobbs (NJ), The Dobbs Group: 0/0/38.905
5. Costa Sur, Katherine Newman (VA), Katherine Newman: 0/0/42.499
6. Quincy B, Hillary Dobbs, Hillary Dobbs: 0/0/43.271
7. Marengo, Hillary Dobbs, The Dobbs Group: 0/4/36.926
8. Gentle R, Erynn Ballard (CAN), Erynn Ballard: 0/4/42.388
9. Rockville, Sharn Wordley, Sharn Wordley: 0/8/44.524
10. Summer Storm, Amy Momrow (NY), Shaine Brooks: 4/72.147
11. Diams III, Joe Fargis (VA), Mary Schwab/OEJI Farm LLC: 4/72.777
12. Sydney, Ramiro Quintana (ARG), Kathryn Quirk: 4/73.705
Earlier this afternoon, the High Junior and Amateur-Owner Jumpers competed in their respective classics. The divisions were split and double the prize money was awarded, thanks to the generous sponsorship of Nutraceutical Corporation. The winner of the $10,000 Show Jumping Hall of Fame High Junior Jumper Classic was Cortie Wetherill on River. Greenwich’s Natalie Johnson and Jerremy were victorious in the $10,000 SJHOF High Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic.
Another generous donation to the Vermont Summer Festival was a custom-made silver bracelet. It bears the insignia of the Vermont Summer Festival and was awarded to Lissa Bachner who rode Maddox to the championship in the Adult Amateur 18-35 Hunters.
The six-week Vermont Summer Festival continues with the ‘Manchester Summer Festival’ from Wednesday, July 18, to Sunday, July 22.
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.
New England’s largest “AA” rated hunter/jumper horse show, the Vermont Summer Festival offers over $750,000 in prize money, making it the richest sporting event in the state of Vermont. For more information on the 2007 Vermont Summer Festival including complete results, please visit www.vt-summerfestival.com.