Irish Olympian Darragh Kenny came to Traverse City for the very first time during the third week of the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival (GLEF), and he’s finishing off his debut as a grand prix winner. Aboard Eddy Blue, the Irishman bested 34 entries in Sunday’s $77,300 CSI2* Grand Prix, taking the top prize.
“I think it’s a really special horse,” Kenny said of Eddy Blue, an 11-year-old Oldenburg gelding (Eldorado Van De Zeshoek x Chacco Blue), owned by Kerry Anne LLC. “I think it can jump five-star grand prixs; I think it can win five-star grand prixs. I’m really excited for the horse. It’s owned by the McCahill family, who actually owned some of my first five-star grand prix horses five or six years ago. Now we’re working together again and it’s quite a special thing to have a really good horse from them again.”
Kenny had two rides of the six that jumped clear over Bernardo Costa Cabral’s (POR) first-round track. Cathleen Driscoll (USA) has been on winning form with all her horses, and also had two jumping off. Aboard Flotylla, owned by Don Stewart, she had the fastest time, but pulled one rail down on her way. She returned aboard VDL Salty Blue, owned by The Marsel Group, fifth in the order and put in the clear she needed, as no one had jumped double-clear yet.
With the advantage of going last, Kenny knew exactly what to do with the horse, despite its greeness at the FEI level. He jumped clear and was roughly two seconds quicker than Driscoll and VDL Salty Blue. Driscoll, now at the top of the Open Jumper Rider Bonus Leaderboard, claimed second and third on her mounts.
“My horse is actually very green at this level,” Kenny continued of Eddy Blue. “This is the first two-star grand prix I’ve jumped him in. I’ve only had him since the end of March but I think he’s a very good horse. He’s really special.
“[Cathleen] played a smart risk,” he continued. “I just went as quick as he felt comfortable, and as long as that worked evenly then it was going to be good enough.”
With a tougher track in the short course, Kenny realized he had a delicate balance between being quick and keeping all the rails in the cups. Ultimately, only two pairs jumped double clear.
“I think Cathleen had a really unlucky jump with her first horse, and it was the horse to beat today,” Kenny said of Driscoll’s Welcome Stake winner, Flotylla. “My first horse, [Arna ‘T Kruisveld], was a little tired in the jump-off. Then I was surprised that the two girls – [Olivia Williams (USA) and Samantha Kasowitz (USA), who had brilliant first rounds – they had unlucky rails down. When it got to myself and Cathleen in the end, it was just about who could leave the jumps up.”
Rails down or not, Kenny has had a fabulous week in Traverse City, especially with the CSI2* Grand Prix win in his pocket. “This is actually the first time I’ve ever been here,” he shared. “It’s beautiful; the show is fantastic, the weather is amazing, it’s run incredibly, and they do a brilliant job with it. I’m really enjoying it. I will jump the three-star next week with two different horses and I’ll jump the five-star for Major League Show Jumping. We’ll just enjoy it and try to pick up some results.”
Show jumping returns at the CSI3* level with GLEF IV on Wednesday.
Greg Crolick Guides Chappy to $25,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby Victory
Greg Crolick has spent several years growing his partnership with Chappy, a top derby horse owned by Carole Chase. On Sunday of GLEF IV, the duo snagged another hunter derby win, this time in the $25,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby, earning Chappy the title of Platinum Performance Hunter Horse of the Week.
Sky-high scores of 95 and 96.5 for a total of 191.5 handed Crolick the win, as the last to go in the handy round. Jacob Pope just barely missed the winning score aboard Unbelievable, owned by Forget Me Not Farm, completing their rounds on a 191 total score. Crolick also claimed third with Jon Cotton’s entry Testify, scoring a 186 overall.
“For Chappy, it’s all about how he covers the ground,” Crolick said of the 12-year-old Mecklenburger gelding by Chacco Blue. “He’s smooth across the ground and he jumps beautifully, which just makes it look effortless and so smooth. The last jump had a really tight inside turn to get there, heading to the crowd. He was really brave to that and I think he thought he was jumping out into the crowd.”
Chappy has taken hunter derby victories across the country and is a dependable mount regardless of the fence height for Crolick, who bases out of Michigan. Though the duo is preparing for USHJA International Hunter Derby Championships in August, the three-foot fence height is a perfect learning experience for Crolick’s horses.
“For this horse, this type of course is great preparation for next week’s [International Hunter] Derby here,” Crolick continued. “The inside turns are not his forte so it’s easier to do at the national derby height, and I can teach him how to correctly land right, land left, and still be compact without having to gallop down to four-foot three.”
Going into the handy round, Crolick had two horses in the top three, which is a difficult task for any rider, even a seasoned professional.
“[My plan] definitely changed from one horse to the other,” he said. “Chappy is such a tall, long horse, so being really tight and [handy] is not always his forte. He’d much rather be galloping up to a big jump, but he handled it really well today. My other horse, Testify, is easier to do the inside turns because he’s more compact.”
The top three all rode beautiful handy courses and ultimately their order stayed the same as final placings were determined.
Crolick builds the Traverse City show schedule into a large portion of his summer and fall plans for himself and his clients. “It works wonderfully into our schedule; we love coming here,” he shared. “I was here for the [Hunter] Spectacular week in June, and we ended up third. He loves the [International] ring; it’s really big and he is a great horse on the gallop and forward to the jumps. We always come here for three or four weeks in July, then we’ll do Pony Finals and Derby Finals and be back up here for [the Traverse City Fall Tournament of Champions] in September.”
Elle Moreno and Wengen Climb to $5,000 Traverse City Hunter Derby Win
Up first in the Main Hunter ring for derby mania on Sunday was the $5,000 Non-Pro Traverse City Derby, and the win went to Elle Moreno with Wengen, owned by Don Stewart. Her first-round score of 87 put her in fourth as round one came to a close, but a high score of 90 in the handy round propelled her to the top and gave her the win.
“Don let me lease [Wengen] while I’m here over the summer,” Moreno, 20, said of her partnership with the 10-year-old Warmblood gelding. “I don’t have any horses right now because I’m in college; I go to SMU and ride on the equestrian team. He’s been great. I’ve been doing the equitation with him. He turns on a dime, he’s so adjustable, and he’s such a great horse.”
Eleanor Hellman took second-place honors on Sabrina Hellman’s Gijon after scoring a 90.5 in round one, the second-highest score in the first round of competition. Riley Hogan and Double Fantasy claimed third after their impressive 92 score in the first round.
“I wanted to make all the inside turns and keep enough pace but stay close enough that I could make the turns look clean,” Moreno, of Dallas, TX, continued. “He makes the handy turns look easy and he locks in on a jump and takes you there. You can find a distance really easily on him.”
Enjoying her time competing with Wengen, Moreno loves everything about the Traverse City summer. “It’s been great,” she continued. “The weather has been so much better than Texas. I love the weather, love the food here, the town is so cute, the horse show is great, and I’m having a great summer.”
Ella Endzweig Enjoys Dog Days of Summer with Pinecone Shavings Hunter Derby Victory
Later on Sunday, it was 11-year-old Ella Endzweig who took top honors in the $2,500 Pinecone Shavings 2’6” Non-Pro Traverse City Derby aboard Watch Hill, owned by Elle Haymond. Endzweig put in a strong first round, earning a score of 86. Despite her strong lead, she came back extra bold to try to secure her win in the class, finishing on a total of 168.
“His barn name is Ziggy and he’s 20, so he’s done it all and he’s seen it all,” she said of her partner Watch Hill. “He’s the best. He goes around with his tongue out so we like to call him a dog. We got him a dog bowl that he can drink out of. He’s really sweet in the barn and he lets you do whatever you want with him. Because I’m tiny, he has to put his head down so I can put the bridle on. He just lowers his head and does whatever I need him to. He’s a very special horse.”
Having recently moved up to the 2’6” fence height, Ziggy is giving Endzweig all the confidence she needs to move up through the hunter divisions and begin tackling hunter derby courses.
“I got him in December and he’s been my first 2’6” horse,” she continued. “I was kind of nervous riding him at first because my first horse would jump very hard if I chipped or left long. Ziggy has boosted my confidence and he won’t ever jump hard.”
Endzweig, of New York, NY, has dipped her toe into the hunter derby ring, competing in a few derbies prior to Traverse City, but she’s already enjoying the strategizing that goes into a two-round class.
“I prefer the two rounds versus hunt-and-go because in the hunt-and-go you’re in there for one round and you don’t get to come back,” she explained. “I like going in for the classic round and coming back for the handy because if you don’t have such a great round in the classic you can talk about it with your trainer and make a plan and go back and make some bolder choices.”
The choices she made to be bold in the handy round were ultimately what she believed won her the class.
“I made a tighter turn from jump six to eight and I don’t think anyone else did it,” Endzweig shared. “I was a little deep to jump two but I think that the tight turn made up for that. Ziggy can do it all; he can go inside a jump no one else can, he can lengthen his stride 10 miles long, he can shorten, and do whatever you want.”
Thinking past her hunter goals for the coming year, Endzweig is looking forward to getting started in the equitation ranks so she can go on to have a successful junior career in more than once discipline.
“I’m really excited to start equitation,” she said. “My goals are to win at big shows and to get some horses that are maybe a little greener and train them to be really nice horses.”
Coming in second in the $2,500 Pinecone Shavings 2’6” Non-Pro Traverse City Derby was Emma Lena Green aboard Viva Las Vegas, while Deidre Donnelly took third aboard Cadoro, owned by Horse Show Leases LLC.