Santiago Lambre’s trip back to Traverse City for the Tournament of Champions is paying off. He’s found himself champion in two major classes so far during the first week. As one of the final pairs on course, the Brazilian rider took top honors in the $30,000 Traverse City National Grand Prix aboard Pampero, owned by Mario Onate.
Michel Vaillancourt (CAN) set the track for national athletes Saturday morning, and the course was welcoming while still presenting challenges for up-and-coming horses and riders. The first round saw nine clear to advance to the jump-off, where Lambre challenged the tiebreaker close to the end of the order.
Chris Ewanouski, with two qualified for the short course, set the pace early at 38.030 seconds aboard Condor du Valdecie, owned by Polo Jump LLC. No one could catch his time and keep the rails up, until Lambre set foot in the ring. With the 12-year-old Oldenburg gelding (Chacco Blue x Nekton), he left out strides and carried the pace around the entirety of the Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel International Ring and jumped to a time of 37.109 seconds.
Ewanouski returned with his second mount, Echo vh Gerendal Z, owned by Sky Group, putting in another clear effort and slotting into fourth, while Tanner Korotkin took third aboard the Sandalwood Farms entry Orwell SCF.
Lambre has had the ride on Pampero since early 2022 and is keen on the horse as a CSI5* prospect for the future. “He’s done very well this summer in the two-star grand prixs,” he remarked. “I jumped him in the national Grand Prix to prepare him next week for the [Silver Oak Jumper Tournament] three-star.”
Unlike his win Thursday in the CSI3* Speed, where he was first in the ring, Lambre had some time to see what others were doing and knew exactly what was required for the win Saturday morning. He was 12th in the starting order and third to last to come back for the jump-off, moving up in the order while Ewanouski warmed up his final horse. “I was at the end of the jump-off so I knew what to do,” Lambre continued. “I think from [fences] two to three I was quite fast. Number five, the oxer, was a nice angle and fast, and to the last, the turn was not too short but smooth and forward.”
Lambre has several mounts owned by Mario Onate that he thinks will perform at the top level, and Pampero was clearly a crowd favorite as the spectators cheered on his victory. “He was doing very well in Europe,” he said of Pampero. “The idea is to move him up to the five-star. It’s a sweet horse. I think it’s probably an option for the [American] Gold Cup.”
With consistent placings across all three of the week’s qualifying classes so far, Samuel Parot has found himself a spot in fourth place in the CaptiveOne Advisors Open Jumper Rider Bonus standings.
Show jumping resumes Sunday with the $138,600 Southern Arches CSI3* Grand Prix in the Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel International Ring.
Final Results: $30,000 Traverse City National Grand Prix
1. Pampero / Santiago Lambre / Mario Onate / 0/0/37.109
2. Condor du Valdecie / Chris Ewanouski / Polo Jump LLC / 0/0/38.030
3. Orwell SCF / Tanner Korotkin / Sandalwood Farms / 0/0/39.259
4. Echo vh Gerendal Z / Chris Ewanouski / Sky Group / 0/0/42.840
5. ERP van www.olland.biz / Katia Manuel-Adams / Joan Van Gorkum / 0/4/38.189
6. Aquiles del Caribe Z / Nikko Ritter / Nikko Ritter / 4/38.702
7. Copycat / Lorcan Gallagher / Lost Lake Farm LLC / 0/4/40.568
8. Koblenz van de Vinusakker / Samuel Parot / Samuel Parot / 0/8/35.848
9. Nanking vd Donkhoeve / Filip de Wandel / Five Way Farm LLC / 0/19/62.011
10. Casey / Santiago Lambre / Mario Onate / 1/72.144
11. Irandole du Flot / Shane Sweetnam / Sweet Oak Farm / 4/69.165
12. Ennio de Lezellec / Hilary McNerney / Hilary McNerney / 5/72.445
Owen Gajoch Caps his Summer with a Win in Junior/Amateur-Owner Hunter Classic
Owen Gajoch has been consistent all summer in the Amateur-Owner Hunters with his longtime partner Westeros, owned by Samantha Gajoch. He kicked off the Tournament of Champions by taking championship honors yet again as well as a win in the combined Junior/Amateur-Owner Hunter Classic.
Westeros, a 15-year-old Hanoverian gelding by Black Tie, has been in the Gajoch family for years. “I finished up my last year of the juniors on him four years ago,” Gajoch said of the horse. “We had a great start this summer. [We were] WCHR champion, then we went a little up and down all summer because he’s getting up there in age. I think this was our last time doing the 3’6” so it was good to end it on a championship and winning the classic.”
A consistent force all season, Gajoch bookended his summer with two big wins, with several along the way as well. In Saturday’s combined classic, he scored a 168 over the two rounds to take the win. “The first course was great,” he said of his performance Saturday. “He gave all his effort and we got an 86. We came back and had two little rubs but it worked out and he jumped nice for an 84.”
Gajoch doesn’t just thrive in the hunter ring, however. In the jumpers, he took the individual gold medal in the USHJA Zone Jumper Championships 1.25m Junior/Amateur division during GLEF V as the sole rider to jump clear over all three days of competition. He has a particular fondness for the hunters, though.
“I’m kind of a perfectionist, so it’s nice to go in and make everything look the same,” he said. “You have to be on. If you’re doing well you have to be riding well.”
Native to Columbus, OH, Gajoch spends his summers in Traverse City and his winters primarily in Florida. “It’s probably the best summer I’ve had up here in a long time,” he commented. “I was [gold medalist] on my jumper that I’ve had forever; he’s moving onto bigger and better things. We had the WCHR championship. We’ve done a lot of good things. I’ll take it.”
Second place honors in the Junior/Amateur-Owner Hunter Classic went to Olivia Sweetnam with Staci Arani’s Checker 69, while Isabelle Ehman and Jagerbomb, owned by Infinity Equestrian LLC, took third.
Hunter riders, including Gajoch with a different mount of his, take to the Main Hunter Ring Sunday morning to vie for top honors in the $15,000 Traverse City Hunter Derby to close the first week of the Tournament of Champions.