My Way or the Highway: Jacob Pope Drives Home with a CSI3* Grand Prix Win

Prior to July of this year, Jacob Pope (USA) had not yet won a grand prix. Two months later, he has two victories under his belt: one national and one international. Sunday afternoon, he scored his first FEI grand prix victory on the last day of the Silver Oak Jumper Tournament in the $138,600 Agero CSI3* Grand Prix with Highway FBH, owned by Team Rakowsky Equestrian LLC.

“There’s really no feeling like it,” Pope said of winning his first international grand prix. “I’m so thrilled – beyond thrilled – with Highway. This is the happiest I’ve been in a long time and he’s such a great horse. I’m so excited for the future with him.”

Jacob Pope and Highway FBH pictured with Jeff Papows, Chairman and CEO of the Silver Oak Jumper Tournament. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

One of six to jump clear in the first round, designed by Olaf Petersen, Jr. (GER), Pope saw only two quick, 4-fault jump-off rounds before his own turn to jump off. With the 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Plot Blue x Cornet Obolensky), he was strategic in staying tidy while also keeping all the fences up, becoming the first double-clear effort of the day in 38.73 seconds.

The only other double-clear round came from Kelly Arani (USA) with the Marigot Bay Farm LLC entry Impossible Dream. Following Pope, Arani went for the time but came just short in 39.78 seconds for second place. Her trainer, Shane Sweetnam (IRL), took third as the fastest four-falter with Alejandro, owned by himself, Seabrook LLC, and Spy Coast Farm.

Jacob Pope (USA) topped the podium in the CSI3* Agero Grand Prix, with Kelly Arani (USA) in second and Shane Sweetnam (IRL) in third, all pictured with Jeff Papows, Chairman and CEO of the Silver Oak Jumper Tournament. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

“It’s actually my first week competing in FEI with this horse. I’ve been looking for a horse for a while and Ivan [Rakowsky] found this amazing horse. I haven’t even touched a rail with him. He’s really a trier and the feeling is incredible. He gives you that winning feeling. You feel like you can jump anything and still jump clear. He’s always game to be forward and he doesn’t want to touch the jumps.”

Kelly Arani and Impossible Dream. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

With a one-hundred percent win rate in international grand prix action, plus another top-six finish in the CSI3* speed class on Thursday, Pope likes the way it’s going with Highway FBH. “It’s a childhood dream,” he said of Sunday’s accomplishment. “I’ve always wanted to win a grand prix. I won a national one a few weeks back with him, and to have an FEI win under our belts too, especially in our debut, I’m really pleased. I’ve been with Ivan for six years now and I’m thankful with how it’s progressed. It’s a winning team that I’m happy to be a part of.”

Shane Sweetnam and Alejandro. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

In addition to awards for the class, awards were presented to the Leading Lady and Leading Male Rider of the Silver Oak Jumper Tournament. Leading Lady Rider Award was awarded to Kelly Arani, with Lisa Goldman-Smolen (USA) in second and Eliza Lehrman (USA) in third. The Leading Male Rider Award was given to Pope, with Sweetnam in second and Simon McCarthy (IRL) in third.

Kelly Arani (USA – center), Lisa Goldman-Smolen (USA – left), and Eliza Lehrman (USA – right), pictured with Jeff Papows, were awarded as Leading Lady Riders of the Silver Oak Jumper Tournament. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography
Jacob Pope (USA – center), Shane Sweetnam (IRL – left), and Simon McCarthy (IRL – right), pictured with Jeff Papows, were awarded as Leading Male Riders of the Silver Oak Jumper Tournament. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

Final Results: $138,600 Agero CSI3* Grand Prix

1. HIGHWAY FBH: 2010 KWPN gelding by Plot Blue x Cornet Obolensky
JACOB POPE (USA), Team Rakowsky Equestrian LLC: 0/0/38.73

2. IMPOSSIBLE DREAM: 2013 KWPN gelding by Cardento x Peter Pan
KELLY ARANI (USA), Marigot Bay Farm, LLC: 0/39.78

3. ALEJANDRO: 2009 RHEIN gelding by Acorado’s Ass x Continue
SHANE SWEETNAM (IRL), Shane Sweetnam, Seabrook LLC, and Spy Coast Farm: 0/4/36.06

4. GOTCHA: 2011 HOLST mare by Stakkato x Cassini I
SIMON MCCARTHY (IRL), Rock Ridge Farms: 0/4/36.29

5. KIRSCHWASSER SCF: 2010 BWP gelding by Amaretto D’Arco x Nabab De Reve
FREDDIE VAZQUEZ (PUR), Freddie Vazquez: 0/4/39.71

6. CAILLOU 24: 2007 HOLST gelding by Casall x San Patrignano Corrado
KARL COOK (USA), Signe Otsby: 0/8/38.46

7. ELUNA CL Z: 2012 ZANG mare by Emerald x Nabab De Reve
ELIZA LEHRMAN (USA), Five Way Farm LLC: 1/80.89

8. QUIMI DEL MASET: 2014 CDE gelding by Quasimodo Z x Indred del Masset
DANIEL BEDOYA (BOL), Monica Hanks: 1/81.00

9. KARLIN VAN’T VENNEHOF: 2010 BWP mare by Fantomas De Muze x Quasimodo Van De Molendreef
LACEY GILBERTSON (USA), Seabrook LLC: 4/76.68

10. IVARO N: 2013 KWPN gelding by Elvaro x Celano
LISA GOLDMAN-SMOLEN (USA), Barbara Disko: 4/77.08

11. CASEY: 2012 HANN mare by Cartani x Grannus
SANTIAGO LAMBRE (BRA), Mario Onate: 4/77.11

12. SOVEREIGN: 2006 SF stallion by Frontal x Galoubet A
LISA GOLDMAN-SMOLEN (USA), Barbara Disko: 4/77.92


Pope Pulls Off a Double in $15,000 Traverse City Hunter Derby

It was a busy day for Jacob Pope, as he trained students while also spending quite some time winning in both the hunter and jumper rings. The $15,000 Traverse City Hunter Derby provided elite hunter action Sunday morning with 32 top combinations, and Pope and G. Eleven had a tall order to rise to the top.

Jacob Pope and G. Eleven, who were awarded Platinum Performance Hunter of the Week. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

California-based Nick Haness arrived in Traverse City in style, laying down impressive trips and earning high scores on all his mounts. He took over the lead with Crowd Pleaser, owned by West Coast Equine Partners LLC, as he was awarded a 96 in the handy round for an overall score of 187.75. Busy training in other rings, Pope had to return last and had the second-highest score in the first round of 93. His second round proved to be one of the best and was just enough to edge him past Haness to take the win. Scoring a 95 for a two-round total of 188, Pope was awarded the win with Don Stewart’s G. Eleven.

Jacob Pope and G. Eleven. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

“During the first part of the handy round I was actually at the pony ring with some of my kids, which is the highlight of my day always, but I didn’t get to watch many in the handy,” Pope said. “I did get to watch Nick Haness, who always does a beautiful job, on [Crowd Pleaser] who was second. He laid it down. He took one inside turn I didn’t end up taking. But I knew all the tidy inside tracks he took were an option, so it was nice to watch such a good pair go before me.”

Haness was also third aboard Reese’s, also owned by West Coast Equine Partners LLC on a total score of 184.5.

Nick Haness and Crowd Pleaser. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

G.Eleven was also awarded the Platinum Performance Hunter of the Week for his win. “I know G. Eleven really well,” Pope said of the 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, already a winner in Traverse City hunter derby action with Stella Wasserman aboard. “I actually started riding him at this horse show last year. I can really trust him.”

Nick Haness and Reese’s. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

The trust allowed the pair to take a very efficient and effective path around the handy course and secure a win before they aim for Traverse City Hunter & Derby Finals during the final week of horse showing at Flintfields Horse Park for the season. With $325,000 in prize money at stake during the finals, Pope has plans for several horses to contend for top honors and potentially take home an even bigger hunter victory.

Final Results: $15,000 Traverse City Hunter Derby

1. G. Eleven / Jacob Pope / Donald Stewart / 93 + 95 = 188
2. Crowd Pleaser / Nick Haness / West Coast Equine Partners LLC / 91.75 + 96 = 187.75
3. Reese’s / Nick Haness / West Coast Equine Partners LLC / 91.5 + 93 = 184.5
4. Virgo DC / Nick Haness / Evergreen Stables LLC / 90 + 94 = 184
5. Zanziebar R Z / Greg Crolick / Jon Cotton / 94 + 89.5 = 183.5
6. Didgereedoo VDL / Kelsey Epperson / Lashier Properties LLC / 92 + 91 = 183
7. True That / Megan Ghere / Donald Stewart / 91 + 86 = 177
8. Moonwalk / Hillary Johnson / Copper Fox LLC / 87.75 + 89 = 176.75
9. Testify / Greg Crolick / Jon Cotton / 88.5 + 88 = 176.5
10. Calisto / Greg Crolick / Jon Cotton / 92.5 + 83 = 175.5
11. Don’t Forget / Erica Quinn / Andrea Sandman / 88 + 74 = 162
12. Breathless / Owen Gajoch / Sara Barnes / 89 + 54 = 87.5


USHJA Young Jumper Champions Are Crowned in Traverse City

Sunday in the Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel International Ring began with the crowning of four champions in the USHJA Young Jumper Championships. Serving as a great preview of the future of show jumping in the United States, the championships provide an inviting atmosphere while also challenging young talent and showcasing their abilities to adapt and jump consistently.

Lisa Goldman-Smolen and Romeo B. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

Jumping all clear rounds throughout the week and taking the overall championship in the 5-Year-Old Final was Romeo B and Lisa Goldman-Smolen. In an exciting jump-off, she took the win with a clear and quick round, beating out Jill Gaffney with FF Mister Gold (Golddigger), owned by Freestyling Farms LLC, who took reserve honors. Third went to Montana (Casall x Ksar Sitte), owned by North Star, with Aaron Perrin aboard.

Lisa Goldman-Smolen and Romeo B. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

“I’ve had him since he was three,” Goldman-Smolen said of the Belgian Warmblood stallion (Heartbreaker x Branco D’96). “We got him from Allyn McCracken. He’s probably the horse I’m most excited for. He’s one of the best horses I’ve ever sat on. I’m really excited for the future with him.”

Romeo B, bred by Bannockburn Farm of Bowling Green, IN, was also awarded the top American-bred horse of the 5-Year-Old division. “We breed a lot of our own,” Goldman-Smolen remarked. “I’ve brought a lot of horses up through the young jumper ranks and I’m a big proponent of US-bred. We’ve only ever imported one horse. It’s exciting bringing them along and showing we have just as much talent here as they have over there.”

A staple in the young jumper program across the nation, Goldman-Smolen is accustomed to bringing up her horses and developing long-term partnerships. “I’ve been doing [the championships] since I was a teenager,” she continued. “I wouldn’t have grand prix horses if I couldn’t bring them up myself. It’s incredibly important to build up the partnership from when they’re young. They build trust in you to bring them up through the ranks. It’s more rewarding than much else you can do with horses.”

Kelly Soleau-Millar and Fire Fly. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

Fire Fly, owned by M. Michael Meller and piloted by Kelly Soleau-Millar, jumped to the winner’s circle in the CWD 6-Year-Old Final as one of two pairs to jump completely clean, winning a two-horse jump-off. Taking reserve championship honors also on a completely clean sheet was Taylor Flury with Q7 Munny, a Belgian Warmblood stallion (I’m Special de Muze x Canaletto), owned and bred by Munny Sunk Stables, Inc. Q7 Munny was also named best American-bred horse in the 6-Year-Olds. Lisa Goldman-Smolen took third with Quinto, Brenda Perkovich’s Belgian Warmblood gelding by Vision van’t Hazelarenhoekje, bred by Boulder Ridge Ranch.

“She’s by Arezzo VDL who one of my other mares is by as well,” Soleau-Millar said of the winning Dutch Warmblood mare. “They’re both very similar, and I love that small, sensitive, hot type. I just got the ride at the beginning of August, and I’ve only shown her four times. I just love her. She’s such a fighter and goes in every time and wants to win.”

Kelly Soleau-Millar and Fire Fly, pictured with M. Michael Meller (right) and Jonathon Millar. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

In her first time in the USHJA Young Jumper Championships, Soleau-Millar may have started an annual tradition for herself. “I have a 3-year-old homebred and I hope to have him next year for the 4-Year-Olds,” she continued. “It’s fantastic and the format is really great. At the end of the day you have to put in consistent clean rounds. The course designer did a great job. The final was very fair and made for great jumping.”

The sole pair to complete the QBS Equestrian 7-Year-Old Final with a completely clean sheet was Patience van den Dries, with Victoria Ketchum aboard for Copperline Farm LLC. Ketchum and the Belgian Warmblood mare (Thunder van de Zuuthoeve x Darco), bred by Dirk Van Aken, were the final pair on course and produced the clear round needed to take the win without tie-breaking action.

Victoria Ketchum and Patience van den Dries. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

“We got her from The Woodlands auction in Europe in 2020,” Ketchum said of her mount. “She’s a total machine, and she has such an amazing brain and so much scope. I didn’t try her, but she caught my eye because she was so cool and calm but so explosive off the ground. She loves her job, and I knew she was the one.”

With seven pairs tied on four faults as Ketchum stepped in, she knew the pressure was on because just one rail down meant victory would be quite a bit more challenging. She stayed cool and collected, though, producing that crucial clear round. “I was trying not to think about that and to streamline my thoughts,” she said. “I tried to stay calm and let her do her thing, supporting her when I needed to.”

Victoria Ketchum and Patience van den Dries with owners M. Michael Meller and Dennis Sisco. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

In the midst of her first experience producing a young jumper, Ketchum is thrilled with the development of Patience van den Dries and it has helped advance her riding at the higher levels as well. “The young horses are great because they teach you that it’s all different every day,” she said. “They teach you to not put too much pressure on yourself and really take the small things as big wins. I can’t allow the pressure to get to me with her.”

Reserve championship honors went to Beezie Madden and Kickstart II, owned by Abigail Wexner, on 4 faults and the fastest time in Thursday’s second qualifier, and third place went to Pharoah OBF, owned by Aliboo Farm, Inc., with Taylor Flury aboard on a total score of four faults.

Callie Schott and Ironix. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

Callie Schott closed the day in the USHJA Young Jumper Championships, riding to the win with Ironix, owned by Southern Arches LLC, in the 8-Year-Old Final. As the sole clear round, she was one of seven coming into the final on a clean sheet, but rails down for the other six put Schott in the winner’s circle.

“We got him last year during GLEF from Brianne Goutal,” Schott said of the Belgian Warmblood gelding (Curby du Seigneur x Calvaro FC). “I saw him in the warm-up ring and I was super impressed. He really didn’t have any buttons when we got him but he’s really grown up. Last week he won a two-star class and did his first grand prix.”

Callie Schott and Ironix. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

Now a winner of CSI5* grand prix action, Schott is getting the ride on more experienced horses after previously bringing up many young horses in the sport. “I love bringing up young horses,” she continued. “It’s so fun to watch them develop over the years. Up until this year I’d never gotten the ride on a previously developed horse. I have lots of experience developing young ones so it’s a different perspective for me. You really build a strong relationship with them.”

Special awards were also given out at the conclusion of the USHJA Young Jumper Championships. Aliboo Farm, Inc. and North Star were awarded the Leading Owner Awards, the Leading U.S. Breeder award was given to Muny Sunk Stables, Inc., as was the Breeder’s Cup Perpetual Trophy, donated by DiAnn Langer & Red Top Farms, and the Leading Breed Registry award went to KWPN NA and Belgium Warmblood North American District.


Vanessa Hood Hails Victory in High Junior/Amateur Jumper Classic

Vanessa Hood was last to jump off in the $15,000 SJHF High Junior/Amateur Jumper Classic, presented by Stud Tree, because she was a bit busy jumping the CSI3* Grand Prix (clear over the fences, to add). She returned to the Polk Arena aboard Navaar and shaved nearly three and a half seconds off of the leading time to take the win.

Vanessa Hood and Navaar. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

“This horse is awesome,” she said of her relatively new partner, a nine-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding (Tonixe x Deauville de la Vie) owned by Take Two LLC. I just got him at the beginning of the year so we’ve been taking our time with him. He’s very fast and has a lot of blood, so I’ve been concentrating on the rideability and molding our partnership so we understand all the signals together.”

The amateur rider, who trains under world-ranked number eight Kent Farrington, has an impressive string of horses she’s campaigned in Traverse City throughout the summer – gaining valuable miles at the top levels and in the lower divisions, and also competing for the Lugano Diamonds on the Major League Show Jumping tour.

Vanessa Hood and Navaar. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

“At the top of my string I have some more experienced horses, like Conner and Easy Girl, where they know the ropes so it allows me to focus on myself and improve my riding,” Hood continued. “Then I have a couple of young ones coming up, where we are growing together so we take it a little slow. We have high hopes for him. He’s a very talented horse and he’s so intelligent. He tries hard to understand what you’re asking of him and that makes for a very good horse in the end.”

Second place and the division reserve championship went to Erin Haas and North Face Farm’s Elektrisk, while Hannah Hink and Casper took third place.

$15,000 SJHF High Junior/Amateur Jumper Classic, presented by Stud Tree

1. Navaar / Vanessa Hood / Take Two LLC / 0/0/37.793
2. Elektrisk / Erin Haas / North Face Farm / 0/0/41.148
3. Casper / Hannah Hink / Hannah Hink / 0/0/42.099
4. El Classico / Caroline Nadalin / Caroline Nadalin / 0/0/43.097
5. Lilly Pezy / Estella Bonanni / Estella Bonanni / 0/4/39.732
6. Byzance Mail / Lacey Gilbertson / Seabrook LLC / 0/4/39.865
7. MTM Cooper / Adeline Rohrbach / Adeline Rohrbach / 0/4/42.594
8. Madiba AG Z / Ashley Vogel / Ashley Vogel / 2/85.954
9. Juanito van de Zeilhoek / Natalie Jayne / Oakland Ventures, LLC / 4/78.161
10. GQ / Kaylee Rayner / Kaylee Rayner / 4/80.048
11. Irocco Blue S / Olivia Williams / Olivia Williams / 4/80.150
12. Dublin van Overis / Emmanuelle Greenberg / 4/81.738