Lacey Gilbertson Tops All-American Grand Prix Podium in Traverse City

Opening week of the 2024 Traverse City Spring Series, presented by Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel, came to a close with Lacey Gilbertson (USA) leading the victory gallop aboard Holliewood in the $120,000 Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel CSI3* Grand Prix.

The 30-year-old Chicago, IL, native guided her Seabrook, LLC-owned 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare by Nabab de Reve to the top of a three-way jump-off for top call. Navigating courses set by Peter Grant (CAN), Gilbertson posted the first clear round of the day and was the pace-setter in the jump-off. She stopped the clock at 39.77 seconds with fellow U.S. riders Eve Jobs and Spencer Smith to follow.

Lacey Gilbertson & Holliewood are presented as winners by (left to right) Jeff Bussey and Nate Ghering of Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

Jobs piloted her own High Point VDL to a respectable double-clear in 40.64 seconds to claim the runner-up spot. Smith had the winning time in hand riding Quibelle, owned by Georgina Bloomberg’s Gotham Enterprizes, but pulled two rails to round out the podium in 38.95 seconds.

Eve Jobs and High Point VDL. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

“I had nothing to lose; I knew I was going to get a good result because there were only three in the jump-off, so I gave it a go,” said Gilbertson, who hasn’t had much experience with Holliewood in jump-offs after adding the mount to her string of mares a year ago. “The jump-off suited us because her left lead is easier for me, and all the tight turns were off the left lead so I knew I could keep coming.”

Getting to know Holliewood was easy for Gilbertson after watching her trainer and Irish Olympian Shane Sweetnam campaign the horse. 

“We didn’t push any of the horses too hard in Wellington so they would be ready for the summer season and that plan is working so far,” said Gilbertson. 

Of Holliewood’s personality, Gilbertson noted, “She’s a typical chestnut mare, but once you have her on your side she fights so hard. Even if I’m a little wrong, she wants to clear the jumps as much as I do. 

Spencer Smith and Quibelle. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

Traverse City Horse Shows is only five hours from Gilbertson’s home in Chicago, and her family can often be spotted ringside cheering her on at Flintfields Horse Park. “It doesn’t get better than spending summer on the lake in Northern Michigan weather,” concluded Gilbertson. 

To finish the day of high-caliber show jumping, the Northern Michigan Mountain Bike Association was presented with $1,000 from ticket-sale proceeds as part of Traverse City Horse Shows Charity Ticket Program.

Pictured left to right: Samantha Mayer of TCHS, NMMBA board members Brian Pugh and Tim Reicha with TCHS Marketing Director Gary Howe. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

International show jumping returns to Flintfields Horse Park next week, highlighted by the $182,000 Southern Arches CSI4* Grand Prix in the Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel International Ring on Sunday, June 16. 

For full Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel Grand Prix results, click here.


A Rising Hunter Star: Carlson Returns to Winner’s Circle in USHJA National Hunter Derby 

Derby Sundays returned with the coveted USHJA National Hunter Derby to cap opening week of the Traverse City Spring Series, presented by Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel, with top talent showing up and out in true derby fashion. Taking the first derby win of the season was Emily Williams of Double Oak, TX, riding Carlson, owned by Archibald Cox. 

Emily Williams and Carlson, with Archibald Cox. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

New to the hunter world but quickly becoming one to watch, Carlson returned to the winner’s circle for the second time in one week after taking champion in the 3’6” Junior Hunters with Violet Tatum in the irons on Saturday. Williams piloted Carlson to the blue after earning an 89.5 in the classic round and an unbeatable 94 in the handy, for a total of 183.5. 

“He’s a special horse in general, he’s got a great attitude,” said Williams. “He surprises me because he really has no business doing this as well as he does.” 

Carlson is new to the hunter show circuit, after starting his career as an eventer. “He comes out and does it. This is probably his third derby of his entire life.”

Emily Williams and Carlson. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

Following Williams on the leaderboard was Jacob Pope of Columbia, MD, and Unbelievable, owned by Forget Me Not Farm. The pair claimed the red ribbon after scoring an 86 and 92 for a total of 178. Closing out the podium with scores of 84 and 93, for a combined 177, was Nick Haness of Temecula, CA, and Baby Blue, owned by Candyce Johnson. 

Williams has been aiming for a derby win after a string of runner-up finishes lately. After coming in second in an International Derby during the winter season in California, William’s win was long awaited and well deserved. 

After a life-long friendship with Carlson’s owner, Archibald Cox, Williams was a trusted choice for the eight-year-old Hanoverian gelding’s saddle. “He trusts me a lot,” said Williams. “When we go over the plan, I tell him my thoughts and they’re usually the same as his. If there’s any discussion, we always come to what seems like the right decision.” 

Sunday’s plan between Williams and Cox was clearly the right one, as Carlson moved from the second position to first after the Handy round. 

“He moved so well through the first inside turn that I decided to go for the second inside turn as I was in the air over the next oxer,” said Williams. “I wasn’t winning coming into it so I had to put the pressure on. I was like, ‘you know I’d have nothing to lose so I’m gonna do it’ and he did it beautifully.” 

In addition to winning the derby, Carlson was also named the Platinum Performance Hunter Horse of the Week.   

Sunday’s derby action continued with the Traverse City 2’6” Hunter Derby. Also held in classic derby format, riders were tested over a classic and handy round. Taking the win with true pony power was Ella Jane Howard of Temperance, MI, and Undeniable, owned by Fox Meadow Farm. Finishing in second was Sarah Hubbard of Okemos, MI, and her own Casimar. Closing out the podium was Whitney Williams of Grand Rapids, MI, and Baltic Soleil, owned by Madeline Baer. 

For full results of the USHJA National Hunter Derby, click here.