Sydney Shulman Desiderio Shines in $30,000 Bellwyn Farm National Grand Prix

Sydney Shulman Desiderio and Villamoura are no strangers to the Traverse City winner’s circle, and they began their season in Michigan on a high note, topping the $30,000 Bellwyn Farm National Grand Prix during week three of the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival, presented by CaptiveOne Advisors. 

Sydney Shulman Desiderio with family and team alongside Bellwyn Farms’ Andrew Slattery. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

Only the second pair of 11 to jump clear over Manuel Esparza’s (MEX) first-round track, Shulman Desiderio, who has had the ride on Jill Shulman’s Villamoura for nearly seven years, sped to a lightning-fast time of 35.178 seconds, leaving the rest of the field to try to catch her. 

“We’ve won a lot of classes together and she’s truly amazing, so I really trust her in the jump-offs,” Shulman Desiderio said of the 13-year-old Selle Français mare by Diamant De Semilly. “I feel like I can turn as neat as I want and have half of one eye on the jump and she’s going to try and give me her all.”

Just off the pace and finishing second was Michael Murphy and the Esperanza Imports, LLC entry Catoki’s Son Z in 35.485 seconds. Taking third was Natalie Dean and Dotcom D’Authuit, owned by Marigold Sporthorses LLC, in 35.516 seconds.

Michael Murphy and Catoki’s Son Z. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

“Before her, I have never had a horse that wants to win more than I do,” said Shulman Desiderio, who hails from Greenwich, CT. “All she knows is get to the other side fast and clear. Since the day I got her she’s just tried her heart out for me. She’s all heart. She’s just incredible and we have a really good partnership. I trust her more than anything.”

Saturday’s victory was Villamoura’s first big class back after a two-month break from competition. Shulman Desiderio decided to breed her and is expecting a foal by Villmoura via a surrogate next year. Using Saturday’s class, the plan was to set the mare up for jumping CSI5* classes when the Major League Show Jumping tour returns to Traverse City in August and September. 

Natalie Dean and Dotcom D’Authuit. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

Shulman Desiderio isn’t the only one who loves showing in Traverse City; her mare enjoys the scenery and the top competition as well. “She just thrives here,” she continued. “We were joking that her dapples came out because we’re in Michigan. The footing is fantastic here; she really flies off of it. They do a great job maintaining the ground. The weather is excellent, and she just feels super comfortable like she’s at home. She won four five-star classes here last summer, so we really look forward to coming here. Today she just proved again that she loves it here.”

Show jumping action resumes Sunday afternoon at Flintfields Horse Park and closes the week with the $72,900 CSI2* Grand Prix.

Final Results: $30,000 Bellwyn Farm National Grand Prix

  1. Villamoura / Sydney Shulman Desiderio / Jill Shulman / 0/0/35.178
  2. Catoki’s Son Z / Michael Murphy / Esperanza Imports LLC / 0/0/35.485
  3. Dotcom D’Authuit / Natalie Dean / Marigold Sporthorses LLC / 0/0/35.516
  4. Onermie Van Het Weyenshof / Giavanna Rinaldi / Andrew Welles LLC / 0/0/37.491
  5. Castelissimo / Tiffany Sullivan Tiffany Sullivan / 0/0/40.090
  6. Tulara Colmine / Georgina Bloomberg / Gotham Enterprizes LLC / 0/0/40.152
  7. Castor D’Hem / Giavanna Rinaldi . Ilan Ferder / 0/0/40.618
  8. Gucci / Giavanna Rinaldi / Esperanza Imports LLC / 0/0/47.438
  9. Narcotique V/H Dingenshof / Sydney Shulman Desiderio / Ilan Ferder / 0/4/37.647
  10. A Toi De Prim / Layla Kurbanov / Andrew Bourns / 0/8/38.348
  11. Contonio / Mavis Spencer / Georgy Maskrey-Segesman / 0/WD
  12. Incento / Jacob Pope / Ash Atkinson / 1/76.456

Thames Claims Debut Victory in CWD Six-Year-Old USHJA Young Jumper Qualifier with Logiic-TFG 

Grace Thames and Logiic-TFG. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

Competition in the Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel International Ring kicked off Saturday morning with with future talent in the CWD Six-Year-Old USHJA Young Jumper Qualifier. Grace Thames of Wellesley, MA and her own Logiic -TFG were the only combination to produce a double-clear performance.

“She was awesome today,” expressed Thames. “I wouldn’t say I was at my best because I have an issue with triple combinations, but she covered me incredibly well there and definitely didn’t act her age. Today was her first time stepping up into this division too; she has really been coming together this year.”

The six-year-old KWPN mare (Twisther x Bubala) is Thames’ first young-horse project, and one she says was possible by Matt Cyphert and the team at Woodhill Stables. 

“We bought this mare when she was only four, so it has definitely been a bit of a journey,” Thames explained. “It has been a learning curve and I haven’t been perfect through it, but Matt [Cyphert] is really skilled at bringing along young horses and has been helping me through all of the highs and lows.” 

Natalie Dean piloted Marigold Sporthorses, LLC’s six-year-old Selle Français stallion Gandhy De Nantuel (Luidam x Thara Nantuel) to the runner-up position as the quickest four-fault round in a time of 62.834 seconds. Sydney Shulman Desiderio and Jill Shulman’s six-year-old Zangersheide gelding Vuiton Van De Grenshoeve Z (Vagabond De La Pomme x Ucrece Du Godion) cantered into third place on four faults and a time of 69.620 seconds. 

Sommers and Gordon Co-Champion in Amateur-Owner Hunter Ranks 

Samantha Sommers and Seaside. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

A combined 3’3”/3’6” Amateur-Owner Hunter division concluded with a California split victory for Los Angeles, CA’s Samantha Sommers riding Seaside and Libbie Gordon, of Statesville, NC, aboard Montauk. Sommers and Seaside delivered top trips across the board with three firsts, one second, and one fourth to take the first champion title.

“We’ve had a great time up here in Michigan so far,” said Sommers. “This is my first summer here and I’m so glad I listened to my friends who were telling me about it and decided to come. The courses in our class were especially fun today, and I really enjoyed showing in the main hunter ring.” 

Samantha Sommers and Seaside. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

Sommers and Seaside have been paired together for over a year, and she has been learning plenty from the experienced 15-year-old Warmblood gelding (Argentinus x Lindsay 10). 

“I have been riding him since last year, and he helped me step up to this division where we’ve been learning a lot together,” Sommers added. “Both he and Montauk were very consistent across the entire division this weekend with their placings and their way of going, and I think that came across in their wins.”

Libbie Gordon and Montauk. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

Gordon and her long-time partner Montauk, a 13-year-old Warmblood captured the second of the tricolor ribbons after also earning themselves three first place ribbons along with a second and a third place to round out their scores. 

“I previously competed with Montauk in the junior hunters, and once I aged out we moved into the amateur-owners,” Gordon detailed. “We have definitely grown together quite a bit. When I got him he was a jumper but he had a nice hunter style, and so we put in the work to transfer him to the hunters.”

Gordon also commented on the uniqueness of the courses, which she felt attributed to her horse’s success. 

“The courses today rode beautifully, and it is so nice to have different aspects added into the track,” she stated. “I think it helps keep the horses awake and engaged instead of simply cantering over the same course over-and-over.”

Libbie Gordon and Montauk. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

The hunters will take center stage on the final day of GLEF III as professionals, amateurs, and junior riders set out to secure the top spot in hunter derby competition on Sunday.