Jacob Pope (USA) fulfilled a lifelong dream Saturday afternoon, scoring his first grand prix victory in the $30,000 Traverse City National Grand Prix at Great Lakes Equestrian Festival (GLEF), presented by CaptiveOne Advisors, aboard Highway FBH. As one of ten pairs to jump clear over Bernardo Costa Cabral’s (POR) first-round track, Pope’s strategy in the jump-off paid off and he took home top honors aboard a horse he recently just met.
“This is only my third class with him,” Pope said of the 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding by Plot Blue. “He’s just incredible. We got him two weeks ago and I did a 1.30m and a 1.40m, then the Grand Prix. You can just keep kicking and he keeps jumping higher. Needless to say, I’m super happy with him and pumped for the future.”
Of the ten jump-off contenders, Pope went third, so he did not know what would be required to take the win but strategized well regardless. “My strategy was to not go as fast as I possibly could but just to be tidy and clear and that seemed to be what really made it happen today,” Pope explained. “Everyone after [me] was trying to do one less in the first line or turn even tighter and ended up having rails. In the end my tidier clear track going early was a smart move.”
Several pairs were quite quick on the clock but pulled rails, awarding Pope the win as the class came to a close. Second place went to Taylor Madden with Fata Morgana Di Villagana in 33.765 seconds, and Ty Simpson took third place with the Copperline Farm, LLC entry Maestro Van De Volkaert in 34.596 seconds.
Highway FBH, owned by Team Rakowsky Equestrian LLC, has a bright future, already competing up to the CSI4* level, and Pope looks forward to many bigger tracks and more victories to come.
A first grand prix victory isn’t the only thing the Pope family will be celebrating tonight. “It’s also my dad’s birthday so that’s exciting,” Pope continued. “He wrote to me after and said, ‘Thanks for a great birthday present.’ This is something I’ve always wanted. It’s an awesome feeling. I’m thrilled to be able to do it in such a great place. I’m so happy with the team behind us and the owners of Highway.
Show jumping action culminates during the second week of GLEF on Sunday with the $72,800 NetJets CSI2* Grand Prix.
Final Results: $30,000 Traverse City National Grand Prix
1. Highway FBH / Jacob Pope / Team Rakowsky Equestrian LLC / 0/0/33.194
2. Fata Morgana Di Villagana / Taylor Madden / Taylor Madden / 0/0/33.765
3. Maestro Van De Volkaert / Ty Simpson / Copperline Farm LLC / 0/0/34.596
4. Haitie / Sandra Dalman / Dalman Show Jumping / 0/0/34.700
5. Castelissimo / Tiffany Sullivan / Tiffany Sullivan / 0/0/35.386
6. High Nitro / Cathleen Driscoll / Margaret Frank / 0/4/31.806
7. Sunny Boy 372 / Shawn Casady / Rabbit Root Stables LLC / 0/4/34.083
8. Eastpoint / Hillary Johnson / Hillary Johnson / 0/4/37.408
9. Fire Flash Toltien / Jamie Sailor / Carolyn Mittler / 0/8/32.376
10. Escapado S / Jamie Sailor / Mountain View West Farm LLC / 0/8/33.622
11. Contonio / Mavis Spencer / Georgy Maskrey-Segesman 4/70.182
12. Aladin Des Brimbelles / Lisa Carlsen / Jenna Lee Gottschlich / 4/71.396
A Whirlwind Win for Laurie Barna and Hundred Acre
Laurie Barna’s travel plans into Traverse City didn’t go as planned, but she didn’t let that discourage her from having a stellar week in the Great Lakes Golf Cars Adult Amateur Hunter 36-50 division, claiming the championship after two strong days with her partner, Hundred Acre.
“My flight was canceled Thursday night so I flew in Friday morning and went straight to the ring,” Barna, of Dallas, PA, said. “My trainer, [Elizabeth Perry] had [Hundred Acre] all ready and I got on and did my two trips.”
“It feels so exciting to win during WCHR week here,” said Barna, who won two over-fences classes on her way to claiming the championship. “It’s very unexpected and very exciting. With how it went getting here I was a bit worried it was setting the bar for how the weekend was going to go, but it was a fantastic experience and I’m thrilled. I have to give props to my trainer for getting him ready for me with me showing up so last minute.”
“This is our first time in Traverse City, Barna continued. “It was a whirlwind but we’ve had a little more time to explore here today and it’s just beautiful. We really are enjoying the area, too. It’s nice to have a little town alongside the horse show for things to do. The setting of the horse show is really nice.”
“He’s such a good athlete,” Barna said of “Milo,” a 15-year-old Westphalian gelding she’s been showing in the Adult Amateur Hunters for three years. “He’s just a spectacular athlete and has so much scope. He is such a great fit for me; we get along really well and he knows his job and loves doing it. As long as I stay out of his way and let him do his thing, he shows himself off beautifully.”
Reserve championship honors in the Great Lakes Golf Cars Adult Amateur Hunters 36-50 were awarded to Elizabeth Tarumianz and Mahalo.