East Dorset, Vermont — Jimmy Torano of Ft. Lauderdale, FL, and Wannahave won the $30,000 Manchester & the Mountains Grand Prix on Saturday, August 2, at the Vermont Summer Festival in East Dorset, VT.
Torano and Wannahave, an 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding by Manhattan, posted one of only two clear first rounds on Saturday over the challenging track set by Canadian course designer Michel Vaillancourt. Julie Welles and Twan, Thursday’s welcome stake winners, were the only other pair to advance to the tie-breaker jump-off. Welles ultimately settled for second after Torano beat her time of 40.61 by stopping the timers in 38.94 seconds with Wannahave for the pair’s first grand prix win together.
“Michel did a great job,” Torano expressed. “It was probably the toughest course we’ve jumped here this year. Today was the hardest course we’ve had, but it was a very good course. You had to ride the whole way. The triple was just enough. The last line was big enough. Julie Welles, who was second, put just enough pressure on me. She was clear and quick and made me really work for it.”
Torano acknowledged the course was straight-forward for the first three fences, but challenged riders from fence four on. Torano fell subject to faults later in the course with his other horse, Bentley; the pair finished sixth after incurring four faults at the last fence.
Of his jump-off round, Torano commented, “From jump one to two I was very quick. I think probably there, already, I was one or two seconds ahead of Julie. You had to go 1-2-3 and then an inside turn to 6C. I was going to hold out and do one more stride, and then I cut right in on it. Then after that, I wouldn’t say I coasted, but I took it a little easier. I thought I’d done enough. I just wanted to keep it together for the rest of the course.”
Torano has had the ride on Wannahave, who is owned by the Wannahave Group, only since May, and he was pleased to have the pieces fall together after a few frustratingly close finishes.
“I’ve honestly been a little bit frustrated with myself,” Torano admitted. “He’s jumped some really good rounds and just missed over and over. I was second a couple weeks ago to my wife, which is fine, but then last week I had a rail in the jump-off. Thursday I had another rail in the jump-off. I feel like I’ve given some classes away, so it felt good to finally actually win one.”
In addition to talent, a little bit of luck is often needed to pull out a win in the grand prix ring, but Torano had that on his side as well. Just before entering the ring on Wannahave, his employee Emily Wolek handed him a four leaf clover she found nearby.
“She gave it to me and said, ‘Put this in your pocket. You’re going to win this class!” Torano smiled.
All luck aside, Wannahave has proven to be a demanding ride for Torano, but the gelding has been a challenge he's more than happy to take on. Torano, whose JET Show Stables is based in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, has enjoyed riding Wannahave over the last several months.
“He’s a rider’s horse,” Torano described. “He makes you ride every step of the way. You’re not going to take anything for granted. In a nice way, he makes you work for it. You’re not going to ease up or let up on the course.”
Torano was especially pleased with his win on Saturday as he will be leaving Vermont to judge USEF Pony Finals in Lexington, KY. Meanwhile, competition at the Vermont Summer Festival will continue with the sixth and final week of the 2014 circuit, which will run from August 5 -10.
The Vermont Summer Festival offers a full schedule of hunter, jumper, and equitation competition. The final class of the $10,000 Open Welcome Stake Series, presented by Manchester Designer Outlets, will take place on Thursday, August 7, while the grand finale $50,000 Vermont Summer Celebration Grand Prix will take place on Saturday, August 9 at 1:00 p.m. Hunter competition will culminate in the $15,000 3’3” NEHJA Hunter Derby, presented by Land Rover Experience, on the evening of Thursday, August 7.
Competition runs weekly from Wednesday through Sunday, beginning at 8 a.m. Admission prices are $5 for adults, $3 for children from Wednesday through Friday. On Saturday and Sunday, admission is $7 for adults, $5 for children. 100% of the gate proceeds benefit area libraries, including Manchester Community Library.
The Vermont Summer Festival is a proud member event of the Show Jumping Hall Of Fame, the Marshall & Sterling League, and the North American League (NAL). Please e-mail us or visit our website for more information about the Vermont Summer Festival.
$30,000 Manchester & the Mountains Grand Prix
|4||Henrik Gundersen||Million Dollar Baby||4|
|9||Julie Welles||Bazooka de Muze||8|
$10,000 Sir Ruly Open Jumper Award – standings as of Saturday, August 2, 2014
Click here for full current Sir Ruly Open Jumper Award Standings