East Dorset, Vermont — Riding in her sixth career grand prix, Holly Orlando of Wellington, FL, and Great Pleasure triumphed for her first victory in the $30,000 Otter Creek Grand Prix, sponsored by Devoucoux Saddles, on Sunday, July 29. Orlando was victorious over Steven Weiss and VDL Nuit de Pomme, as well as brothers Charlie and Louis Jacobs. The Vermont Summer Festival, a six-week hunter/jumper competition that runs until August 19, features the world’s top equestrian athletes competing amid the scenic Green Mountains.
Orlando is known as one of the best hunter riders in the country, and she is now starting to make her mark in the grand prix ring as well. She has placed in four out of the six grand prix events that she has contested in her career. In Sunday’s $30,000 Otter Creek Grand Prix, Orlando had the luxury of being the 23rd of 24 entries to attempt the course set by David Ballard. Only four jumped clear to advance to the jump-off while eight riders incurred four faults, including Hillary Dobbs on Corlett whose fast time left her in fifth place.
The first to return for the jump-off was Charlie Jacobs on Deeridge Farms’ Pia. Jacobs made fantastic turns over the top of the jumps, as the first part of the jump-off course consisted of four rollback turns. Jacobs kept up his quick pace despite having the back rail of the oxer at fence nine. They crossed the finish line in 33.82 seconds, the fastest time of the afternoon, but with four faults.
Next in the ring was Steven Weiss on VDL Nuit de Pomme, Laura Connolly’s 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding by Jus de Pomme. Weiss opted to take the slower track through the turns in order to ensure a clean round. His plan worked, as Weiss and his mount finished fault-free in a time of 40.43 seconds to eventually place second.
Louis Jacobs and Deeridge Farms’ Kachina, winners of Friday’s $10,000 Hickey-Freeman/Bobby Jones Welcome Stake, were the next opponents. Jacobs pushed the big chestnut mare around the turns, Kachina made a huge effort at fence nine, the widest oxer on the course, and was still clear heading to the last line, which included a one stride at the end. Kachina just hit the pole at the last jump, which came down for four faults as the crowd let out a collective groan. Their time of 34.52 seconds left them in fourth place.
Last to go was Orlando on Great Pleasure, Scott Hakim’s nine-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding by a sire of the same name, Great Pleasure. Orlando had quick turns and was very fast through the turn to the final line. The crowd held its breath as Great Pleasure jumped clear over the remaining fences and finished in 36.27 seconds for the win.
Orlando has ridden Great Pleasure, or “Ramon” as he is known in the barn, for two years. The pair has risen through the jumper levels learning together, and they were third in Friday’s $10,000 Welcome Stake class.
“We really figured it all out on our own, and it has been a little bit of trial and error,” she conceded. “I learned a lot the other day in the jump-off. I was the first one clean and in the jump-off, and I think that made me smarter for today.”
“I’ve worked for Scott Hakim at Old Salem Farm in North Salem, New York, for a little over three years. He’s a great boss, really supportive and loves the horses. I wish he could have been here, but I know he’ll be really excited,” she said.
Orlando has trained with four-time Olympian, Anne Kursinski, in the jumpers and found a big difference between the hunters and the jumpers.
“Anne’s been a huge, huge help to my riding and just makes me more aware of how detailed everything really is out there,” she explained.
On Sunday’s course, Orlando knew she had to wait and prepare, explaining, “In Dave (Ballard’s) courses, things come up fast, there are funny angles and some of the jumps look alike that are next to each other. You have to be so focused and patient and I am not that patient. I like to step on the gas a little too much. Something that Anne always tells me is that it can’t always be run, run, run. It’s not just about leaving out strides. It has to be organized. They all left the door open for me a little bit, being the last one that went.”
Orlando acknowledged that while hunters are her forte, she is excited about the jumpers and feels fortunate to have a talented horse in Great Pleasure.
“I ride hunters mostly, so for me to go out there and win a grand prix — I think some people would be surprised,” she remarked with a smile. “But, I knew I had it in me, it was just a matter of getting my act together.”
The fourth week of competition at the Vermont Summer Festival, the ‘Valley Class’ runs Wednesday, August 1, through Sunday, August 5, at the Harold Beebe Farm located just north of Manchester.
Final Results: $30,000 Otter Creek Grand Prix, sponsored by Devoucoux Saddles
- Great Pleasure, Holly Orlando: 0/0/36.27
- VDL Nuit de Pomme, Steven Weiss: 0/0/40.43
- Pia, Charlie Jacobs: 0/4/33.82
- Kachina, Louis Jacobs: 0/4/34.52
- Corlett, Hillary Dobbs: 4/81.33
- Rocketman, Alan Korotkin: 4/86.31
- Midnight Lady, Charlie Jacobs: 4/86.41
- Eltana, Russell Frey: 4/88.54
- Souvenir, Kevin Babington: 4/90.77
- Pele, Lacy Morrone Cramer: 4/90.87
- Countdown 23, Lara Gay: 5/95.32
- Marlo, Jimmy Torano: 8/80.63
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