Back-to-Back Wins for Bliss Heers in $137,000 Southern Arches Grand Prix CSI3* at Great Lakes Equestrian Festival, presented by CaptiveOne Advisors

Traverse City, Mich. – Aug. 8, 2021 – Week V of the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival (GLEF), presented by CaptiveOne Advisors, came to a pinnacle Sunday, August 8, bringing international show jumping athletes back to the Flintfields Horse Park for another day of top sport. Taking center stage in the Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel International Ring, a field of 38 athletes representing nine countries would vie for the $137,000 Southern Arches Grand Prix CSI3* title. After two triumphant rounds, it was the United States’ Bliss Heers and Antidote de Mars who wore the blue rosette for the second time during Week V as they led the victory gallop.

Bliss Heers and Antidote de Mars. Photo by Andrew Ryback Photography

Course designer Guilherme Jorge (BRA) built the 13-obstacle first round track that took advantage of the expansive arena. Immediately challenging the horses’ scope, the first fence was a triple-bar at the far end of the arena. The CSI3*-worthy course did not stop there, however, continuing with a series of combinations and delicate verticals that were easily knocked to the ground. As a test of focus, the final line of the 1.50m track led straight to the out-gate, requiring horses to keep their composure in the final line in order to clear it.

Bliss Heers and Antidote de Mars. Photo by Andrew Ryback Photography

The first clear of the class would be seen from the third combination on course, Victoria Heurtematte (PAN) and her very own Flying Dutchman. Just six trips later, the winners of Friday’s $36,600 Welcome Stake CSI3*, Heers and Bridgeside Farms LLC’s Antidote de Mars, would force a jump off after putting forth the second clear round of the class. Three athletes, Nicholas Dello Joio (USA), Lauren DiTallo (USA) and Gabriela Reutter (CHI), would be left out of contention for the top prize after suffering from just one time fault on the clock. Eight additional athletes would add their names to the jump-off order-of-go after leaving all of the rails in the cups within the time allowed, including Camilo Rueda (COL), Ailish Cunniffe (USA), Alex Matz (USA), Jim Ifko (CAN), David Blake (IRL), Gerardo Pasquel Medez (MEX), Cathleen Driscoll (USA) and Natalie Dean (USA).

Natalie Dean and Don’s Diamant. Photo by Andrew Ryback Photography

As the pathfinder for the 8-fence jump-off track, Heurtematte set the standard, leaving all of the rails intact in a time of 45.59 seconds. It was clear Heurtematte played it safe as the first rider to navigate the track, as Heers and Antidote de Mars knocked four seconds off of the leading time, crossing through the timers in a clean and quick 41.40 seconds. Heers’ efforts proved victorious as seven competitors to follow would either incur faults or fall short of her efficient and tidy time.

The last pair to tackle the jump-off track, Dean and Don’s Diamont, owned by Marigold Sporthorses LLC, would put their best foot forward for one final shot at unseating the unstoppable Heers and Antidote de Mars. Though Dean managed to navigate the course fault-free, her time fell just short of Heers’ lead, ultimately lending her the second place honors with a jump-off time of 42.05 seconds. Third place was awarded to the only other double-clear effort of the group, Cunniffe and Grayish LLC’s Vivaldi du Theil for their time of 43.80 seconds.

Ailish Cunniffe and Vivaldi du Theil. Photo by Andrew Ryback Photography

Heers’ back-to-back top finishes have earned her a total of 21 points toward the coveted CaptiveOne Advisors Open Jumper Rider Bonus Leaderboard, currently seating her in the thirteenth position. It is Australia’s Katie Laurie who continues to maintain her strong leading position with a total of 42 points she garnered after consistent success during the three-week Traverse City Spring Horse Show series. After his win during Thursday’s $36,600 Winning Round CSI3*, as well as consistent top placings throughout the GLEF series thus far, Kyle King (USA) sits in the second place spot on a total of 38 points. Karl Cook (USA) holds the third place position on a total of 37 points after multiple grand prix wins during the Traverse City Spring Horse Show and GLEF. Offering show jumping competitors the chance to accumulate points throughout the 12-week Traverse City Horse Shows series, the bonus is awarded to the athlete with the most points at the conclusion of the 2021 $230,000 American Gold Cup Grand Prix CSI5*, presented by CaptiveOne Advisors. The CaptiveOne Advisors Open Jumper Rider Bonus is a highly sought-after prize among the field of international competitors that attend Traverse City Horse Shows.

Olivia Lawton and Quite Like It. Photo by Andrew Ryback Photography

Earlier in the day, the Markel/USHJA Junior/Amateurt Zone 5 & 6 Jumper Championship wrapped up with the 1.20-1.30m Markel/USHJA Junior/Amateur Zone 5 & 6 Jumper Championship Individual Final. Taking place in the Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel International Ring, a total of 17 horse-and-rider combinations put their names forward for the individual gold medal. Besting the pack with clear rounds in all three days of competition was Olivia Lawton, who ultimately stood atop the podium for the second time throughout the week thanks to her efforts aboard M.D.L LLC’s Quite Like It. The silver medal was awarded to Jenna Yamamoto and Riverview Farm LLC’s Quabelle after a forced jump-off took place between her and Lori Bidwell to break their 4-fault tie. Bidwell and Five O’Clock Farm’s Rashmo Z would settle for the bronze medal.

A podium finish for Jenna Yamamoto, Olivia Lawton and Lori Bidwell. Photo by Andrew Ryback Photography

Competition ramps back up at the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival, presented by CaptiveOne Advisors, Tuesday, August 10. Talented children and junior athletes from across North America will travel to Traverse City, Michigan to take part in the FEI North American Youth Championships (NAYC) for dressage and show jumping. Running concurrently with the FEI NAYC, Week VI of GLEF will boast exciting CSI3* competition, culminating in the $137,000 CaptiveOne Advisors Grand Prix CSI3* held Saturday, August 14.


Bliss Heers – $137,000 Southern Arches Grand Prix CSI3* winner
On Antidote de Mars:
“Antidote is incredible. He has the biggest heart. He has all the talent in the world and he just wants to do good. It’s not just about having a nice horse in my string. Antidote was basically what brought me back when I was coming back from my bad injury and we built up a relationship together. In all honesty, I have a relationship with all my horses, but he is really, truly one of my best friends.”

On the jump-off:
“My strategy was just to turn tight. I wasn’t sure if the turn back inside to the vertical to vertical [combination] was going to be faster than to go around, but I figured I would take my chances because that is probably what was going to catch people the most if they tried to do that. Going early I just tried to do something fast and technical and hope the other people would make a mistake.”

On claiming two wins in one week:
“I have no words, it’s so exciting. To have my horse in form like this and to feel him jump like this for three days this week, he is amazing.”

On Traverse City Horse Shows:
“Traverse City has been fantastic. The Morrisseys have done a fantastic job. We were expecting a lot of rain today and someone asked me if I thought we would be able to jump, and I said, ‘Without question!’ The facility is fantastic and I was so happy to be able to ride the courses from Guilherme [Jorge] this week. He is a fantastic course designer and any time I get a chance to ride his courses it’s always really fun for me. They have brought excellent course designers the entire series and it’s been a pleasure to be here.”

Olivia Lawton – 1.20-1.30m Markel/USHJA Children’s/Adult Zone 5 & 6 Jumper Championship Individual Final winner
On Quite Like It:
“My horse Queeny, Quite Like It, was amazing today. I made a few minor errors and she tried her heart out. This was our first time doing the team format and honestly, I think she felt like she was in the grand prix! She definitely wanted to win today.”

On the pressure of going clear:
“There were three riders with zero faults [coming into today], but it was very last second because the first rider that had no faults circled and the second one had four faults today. It was almost more pressure then because if I just went clear then I had it. My horse definitely gave it to me, she was amazing.”

On the course:
“The time allowed was pretty lenient. When we were walking it, we weren’t sure how it was going to ride and once we saw a few people go we decided just a prompt clear would be good. It was a pretty technical course and there were a lot of bline turns, which can really catch us junior and amateurs off guard! My horse was great though, she was amazing.”

On participating in the Markel/USHJA Children’s/Adult Zone 5 & 6 Jumper Championships:
“I have never done this program before, but it’s really exciting because it’s rare that we are ever on teams in a pretty individual sport, but it’s a great introduction. You get a little bit of that Olympic feel that we have been watching, so it was super exciting.”

On being at the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival:
“I think this is my eighth year coming here. I started jumping two feet here and now I am doing [1.20-1.30m], which is amazing. The venue is awesome, it’s changed so much over the years! This is our favorite place to be in the summer.”


$137,000 Southern Arches Grand Prix CSI3*:
Place / Horse / Rider / Country / Owner / R1 Faults | Time / R2 Faults | Time
1. Antidote de Mars / Bliss Heers / USA / Bridgeside Farms LLC / 0 | 77.45 / 0 | 41.40
2. Don’s Diamant / Natalie Dean / USA / Marigold Sporthorses LLC / 0 | 75.65 / 0 | 42.05
3. Vivaldi du Theil / Ailish Cunniffe / USA / Graylish LLC / 0 | 79.29 / 0 | 43.80
4. Flying Dutchman / Victoria Heurtematte / PAN / Victoria Heurtematte / 0 | 80.20 / 0 | 45.59
5. Un Diamant Des Forets / Jim Ifko / CAN / Eventyre Farms LTD / 0 | 77.31 / 4 | 37.78
6. Cashew CR / Alex Matz / USA / Dorothy Matz / 0 | 75.00 / 4 | 40.78
7. Consul / Cathleen Driscoll / USA / Plain Bay Sales / 0 | 80.95 / 4 | 41.45
8. Indus Van Het Keysereck / Camilo Rueda / COL / Camilo Rueda / 0 | 76.61 / 8 | 41.11
9. Keoki / David Blake / IRL / Pine Hollow Farm / 0 | 80.63 / 8 | 41.12
10. El Conde / Gerardo Pasquel Mendez / MEX / 0 | 77.24 / 8 | 41.71
11. Chess / Nicholas Dello Joio / USA / Kent Farrington LLC / 1 | 81.23
12. Zero Gravity / Lauren DiTallo / USA / Scott Durschlag / 1 | 81.84

1.20-1.30m Markel/USHJA Junior/Amateur Zone 5 & 6 Jumper Championship Individual: