Traverse City, Mich. – July 31, 2021 – Week IV of the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival (GLEF), presented by CaptiveOne Advisors, continued Saturday, July 31 at the Flintfields Horse Park. Saturday morning brought equitation competition to a pinnacle in the Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel International Ring for the highly anticipated Dudley B. Smith Equitation Championship. A field of 29 accomplished equitation riders took to the arena, but it was Dominic Gibbs and Cent 15 who would emerge victorious at the conclusion of the prestigious class.
Open to junior riders who had won a first, second or third place ribbon in equitation classes held at the 3’6″ height throughout the first four weeks of the series, plus two prior weeks during the Traverse City Spring Horse Show in June, the Dudley B. Smith Equitation Championship consisted of two rounds of competition held over fences. Following the first round of riding over the 3’6” course, the 12 best-performing pairs out of the original field were invited back to the Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel International Ring for one final chance to showcase their abilities. The class was created in memory of Dudley B. Smith, a noteworthy member of the community and friend to the show who passed away unexpectedly in August 2018.
Course designer Manuel Esparaza (MEX) set the 10-effort track that utilized a variety of jumper fences often used in international show jumping competition. Testing the young riders’ abilities to execute a smooth and consistent round while maintaining correct position and form, the first round course proved to be a challenging one for horse-and-rider pairs. Ellie Ferrigno and Olivia Robertson’s Astro De Revel took an early lead in the first round, earning a score of 88 from the judges for their effort. Ferrigno would lead the class for the majority of the first round until number 24 in the line-up, Gibbs, stepped into the ring. Gibbs and his trusty partner, Cent 15, rode to a whopping score of 95 to take over the lead for the remainder of round one. Sliding into the second place position at the conclusion of the first round was Riley Hogan and Kate Preston’s Wengen on a score of 89, with Ferrigno sitting comfortably in third.
The top 12 athletes from round one were asked to return for a second round of competition, which would feature a new course with new questions for horses and riders to answer. Riding in reverse order, Luke Jensen was first on course, posting a 76 to the scoreboard to set the standard on two-round total of 156. Zanya Rizvi and Finnick, owned by Jordyn Rose Freedman, sat in the fifth place position following the first round, but gained momentum during the second round after receiving a score of 92, propelling them into the leading position with four remaining riders to be seen. As the class continued, tensions grew high as the final few pairs prepared to enter the arena through the Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel arch.
Ferrigno and Astro de Revel tried their shot at taking over the lead but fell just short of Rizvi and Finnick, scoring an 88 in the second round to maintain their third place position on a total score of 176. Hogan’s second round did not quite match her strong first-round finish, scoring a 77 in round two to knock her out of contention for the top prize. Leaving it to the final pair in the lineup. The win was Gibbs’ for the taking, as he piloted Cent 15 with ease and finesse throughout the expansive arena. The duo earned their rightful spot at the top of the leaderboard after receiving a score of 90 to finish on a total of 185. In the end, Rizvi and Finnick would claim second place, while Ferrigno and Astro de Revel took home third place.
Gibbs and the 13-year-old Hannoverian gelding owned by Mountain King Ranch, LLC have proved their strong partnership over the last three years. After consistent top placings during the 2020 equitation finals season, Gibbs and Cent 15 emerged as the winner of the coveted 2020 ASPCA Maclay National Championship at the National Horse Show. With his win Saturday afternoon, Gibbs looks ahead to the fall as he prepares to tackle the major equitation finals in the hopes of notching yet another top placing during his final junior season.
Rounding out the afternoon of awards, Cent 15’s groom, Aldo Armadillo, was awarded the $500 K.M. Williams Equitation Grooms Award, while Gibbs’ trainer Stacia Klein-Madden of Beacon Hill Show Stables walked away with a trainer bonus in the amount of $4,000 for Gibbs’ first place finish. Gibbs also received a brand new Butet saddle, courtesy of the Riders Boutique. Missy Clark and John Brennan of North Run Farm received $3,000 for Rizvi’s second place, while Abigale Seley-Ferrigno was awarded $2,000 as the third-place trainer. Trainer of the fourth place rider Tessa Downey, Peter Pletcher, rounded out the afternoon’s trainer awards receiving $1,000 to total the $10,000 trainer bonus purse that was up for grabs.
Competition during Week IV of the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival will come to a close Sunday, August 1, in the Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel International Ring, highlighting the $72,900 North Face Farm Grand Prix CSI2*.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Dominic Gibbs – Dudley B. Smith Equitation Championship winner
On Cent 15:
“He is an amazing partner. I have no words to describe my relationship with him other than he is like the back of my hand – I know him so well. This is my third year of competition with him and I feel like I can count on him to bring his best effort every time we go in the ring.”
On the first round:
“The first round, when we walked it, some of the lines walked perfectly on the half stride, but these equitation horses with their enormous stride in this beautiful, large ring, made them easily able to walk down there in the lesser amount of strides for what it could have been. The first round rode beautifully for me. I was really able to focus on being straight, accurate and having my pace be the same everywhere.”
On the second round:
“With the lead, I was really aiming to not beat myself and really have a nice, lock-it-in style kind of round. I wanted to get down the first line well, I wanted to get the inside turn to fence three and really be straight to not risk a swap [of lead]. With that inside turn, I knew I had a little bit of time to spare with the time allowed, so I took my time turning back to [fence] 4A-B, then just rode the rest of the round off of my eye with the same pace.”
On winning the Dudley B. Smith Equitation Championship:
“This class, we were really trying to find a strategy that would work for us this fall. I was really working on that lock-it-in ride with round two, and I think we found our step and are back in our mojo, ready for the fall.”
On winning the Dudley B. Smith Equitation Championship:
“Every time I go in for round two, or really any championship style class, [Stacia Klein-Madden]’s words are echoing in my head throughout the round: ‘Do the freaking test.’ With this one, there wasn’t any specific test, so I was really thinking to just have a solid round and lock-in the win.”
Dudley B. Smith Equitation Championship
Place / Horse / Rider / Owner / R1 Score / R2 Score | Total
1. Cent 15 / Dominic Gibbs / Mountain King Ranch LLC / 95 / 90 | 185
2. Finnick / Zayna Rizvi / Jordyn Rose Freedman / 86 / 92 | 178
3. Astro De Revel / Ellie Ferrigno / Olivia Roberston / 88 / 88 | 176
4. HH Moonshine / Tessa Downey / Tessa Downey / 84.5 / 84 | 168.5
5. Eretto / Natalie Jayne / Natalie Jayne / 85.75 / 82 | 167.75
6. Class Act / Sophia Mitchell / Ashland Farms / 85 / 82.5 | 167.5
7. Attendu De Lannois Z / Augusta Iwasaki / Ashland Farms / 82 / 85 | 167
8. Wengen / Riley Hogan / Kate Preston / 89 / 77 | 166
9. Quimby / Grace Debney / Temple Equestrian LLC / 85.5 / 77 | 162.5
10. Mac One II / Audrey Schulze / Taylor Madden / 87 / 70 | 157
11. Conthacco / Luke Jensen / Wolfstone Stables & Sales Inc / 80 / 76 | 156
12. Clover / Isabella David / Sail Horse Investments / 84 / 71 | 155