East Dorset, Vermont — Hillary Dobbs of Sussex, NJ, won the $30,000 Vermont Summer Special Grand Prix, the first of six grand prix events to be held at the Vermont Summer Festival Horse Show running July 9 to August 17 at the Harold Beebe Farm in East Dorset, VT.
Having already stood in the winner’s circle on Thursday after claiming the $5,500 Open Speed and again on Friday following the $10,000 Polo Ralph Lauren, Lilly Pulitzer Open Welcome Stake, Presented by Manchester Designer Outlets, riding Marengo, Dobbs once again claimed victory in Sunday’s $30,000 Vermont Summer Special Grand Prix. The only difference was that, on Sunday, her winning mount was Marlo.
A challenging track set by course designer Guilherme Jorge of Brazil saw six horse-rider combinations advance to the jump-off – Dobbs with her two entries, Marengo and Marlo, Jimmy Torano with Magic Cruise and Caldam’Or, Danielle Torano with Vancouver d’Auvery and Caitlin Venzia with Contino 5.
Jimmy Torano got things off to a strong start, posting a clear round in a time of 35.86 seconds riding Magic Cruise, an eight-year-old grey mare sired by Cruising. Dobbs came next with her first of two mounts, Marengo, a 10-year-old Holsteiner gelding owned by The Dobbs Group. Although the first fence came down, Dobbs and Marengo went on to jump the rest of the course cleanly, settling for a final score of four faults in a time of 34.06 seconds, which would prove to be the fastest time of the day.
There was a pause in the action as Dobbs, 20, then warm-up her second mount, Marlo, an 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare purchased two weeks earlier by The Dobbs Group. When the pair entered the grand prix ring, they were all business, galloping around the course in a time of 35.60 seconds and leaving all the rails in place to take over the lead from Torano.
Venzia of Newbury, MA, attempted to break up the Dobbs domination, but a rail fell mid-way through the course, which would eventually leave her fourth with Contino 5, owned by The 7 Group.
It was Jimmy Torano’s turn again, this time with Caldam’Or. What had originally been a triple combination in the first round was now a double, and Torano’s right-hand approach was too tight for Caldam’Or’s liking, causing the little bay to slam on the brakes. His wife Danielle Torano suffered a similar fate as the final challenger when her mount, the talented stallion Vancouver d’Auvray, refused at the second fence, leaving Danielle with four faults for the stop and one time fault for exceeding the 48-second time allowed.
And so Dobbs found herself the winner yet again, and collected $9,000 in prize money for her first-place finish, as well as $3,900 for third place with Marengo. The win also marked her first grand prix victory with Marlo, who was purchased two weeks earlier from Jimmy and Danielle Torano, both of whom had previously campaigned the mare. In fact, Jimmy Torano and Marlo won the $30,000 Otter Creek Grand Prix held at the 2005 Vermont Summer Festival.
“This is so exciting,” said Dobbs, who will now depart for Europe where she will represent the United States in Nations’ Cup competition before returning to the Vermont Summer Festival for week four. “This is my first grand prix with her, and she jumped even better in the jump-off than in the first round. She has incredible power and scope but is also so sensitive. I already feel a great partnership developing and I am looking forward to the shows ahead.”
It was Dobbs’s trainer of the past five years, Missy Clark of Warren, VT, who thought that Dobbs and Marlo would make a good match.
“We weren’t actively pursuing a horse, but Missy thought she would be a good horse for me, that she was my type,” explained Dobbs whose parents, Debbie and CNN personality Lou Dobbs, were ringside cheering their daughter on. “I tried her in Lake Placid and we all loved her right away. In her first class, a 1.35m, she jumped clear.”
The second week of the Vermont Summer Festival, the ‘Manchester Summer Festival’, takes place from July 16 to 20. Competition is held daily Wednesday through Sunday, beginning at 8 a.m. and running until approximately 4 p.m. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for children Wednesday through Saturday. On ‘Grand Prix Sunday’, admission is $7 for adults and $5 for children. All gate proceeds are donated to the Friends Foundation for MEMS, benefiting programs in the local Elementary & Middle School.
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.
Visit the Vermont Summer Festival website for more information, including full results.
$30,000 Vermont Summer Special Grand Prix – Final Results
|1||Hillary Dobbs||Sussex, NJ||Marlo||0:0||35.60|
|2||Jimmy Torano||Ft. Lauderdale, FL||Magic Cruise||0:0||35.86|
|3||Hillary Dobbs||Sussex, NJ||Marengo||0:4||34.06|
|4||Caitlin Venezia||Newbury, MA||Contino||0:4||39.36|
|5||Danielle Torano||Ft. Lauderdale, FL||Vancouver d’Auvray||0:5||48.45|
|6||Jimmy Torano||Ft. Lauderdale, FL||Caldam’Or||0:7||35.86|
|8||Richard McGrath||Hummelstown, PA||Richydou||4|