East Dorset, Vermont – Ireland’s Kevin Mealiff topped the $10,000 Manchester Designer Outlets Welcome Stake, presented by G.H. Bass & Co., on Thursday, July 4, during opening week of the Vermont Summer Festival, running for six weeks through August 11 at Harold Beebe Farm in East Dorset, VT.
Riding Nuca 2, Mealiff was best in a field of 14 jump-off contenders and posted a blistering time of 37.52 seconds over tracks set by course designer Paul Jewell of Ewing, NJ. The Vermont Summer Festival is only Mealiff’s third show aboard Nuca 2, but the pair have become fast friends and earned their first victory together over New Zealand Olympian Kirk Webby. Riding Brando du Rouet, Webby posted a jump-off time of 38.75 seconds for owner Tolleshunt Investment Group.
“I thought I was fast enough on my first horse, but I saw Kirk go and he was quicker,” said Mealiff, who also finished third riding Viper Vrombautshoeve Z in 38.95 seconds for owner Maarten Huygens. “I did six [strides with Nuca 2] to the double instead of seven, which everyone else did, and then I got the inside turn after. That made all the difference.”
While he originally hails from Ireland, Mealiff is now based out of North Salem, NY, where he is the rider for Maarten Huygens Horse Sales. Nuca 2, a nine-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare, is a new addition to Huygens’ string after previously campaigning under the direction of Jonathan McCrea (USA) and Michael Hutchinson (IRL).
“She seems to be so genuine,” said Mealiff of the mount that he plans to step up into international competition this year. “I was very tight and close to the second-to-last oxer, and she didn’t hesitate, bounced off the ground with ears pricked, and galloped away to the next jump. She is finding a bit more scope every day, and I’m really happy with her.”
After making his debut at the Vermont Summer Festival in 2018, Mealiff plans to call Vermont home for several weeks this season, noting, “After last year, we knew we wanted to spend more time here. The town is lovely, and the atmosphere at the horse show is great. We have the two horses here this week and more arrive next week.”
In addition to his share of the prize money, Mealiff was presented with a show scrim by Mona’s Monograms as well as $1,000 in G.H. Bass & Co. gift cards from Manchester Designer Outlets representative Kelly Cutler.
U.S. riders were hungry for an Independence Day victory, but settled for two top-five placings with Colin Savaria of Ocala, FL, riding Helios to fourth for The Helios Group. They stopped the short-course clock at 40.68 seconds, while Lainie Wimberly of Ridgefield, CT, rounded out the top five with RF Quarterman, owned by Brigadoon Show Stables, Inc., in 43.89 seconds.
Jumper riders will now set their sights on the $30,000 Vermont Summer Special Grand Prix, presented by Johnson Horse Transportation, on Saturday, July 6. The Manchester Designer Outlets Welcome Stake Series continues on Thursday, July 11, with another edition presented by Vineyard Vines.
Now in its 26th year, the Vermont Summer Festival offers a dynamic competition schedule while also giving competitors an opportunity to enjoy the wide variety of entertainment, recreation, shopping, and dining options offered in Dorset, Manchester, and the surrounding area. A recent study conducted by the Center for Rural Studies at the University of Vermont cited that the total direct spending of visitors frequenting Vermont for equine-related activities is estimated at nearly $15.5 million annually.
Competition at the 2019 Vermont Summer Festival runs weekly from Wednesday through Sunday, beginning each day at 8 a.m. Admission is $5 for adults and children from Wednesday through Friday. On Saturday and Sunday, admission is $10 for adults and $5 for children with 100 percent of all gate proceeds benefiting Dorset Equine Rescue, The Dorset School, and Manchester Community Library.
The Vermont Summer Festival is a proud member of the Show Jumping Hall of Fame, the Marshall & Sterling League, and the North American League (NAL). For more information on the Vermont Summer Festival, please e-mail or visit www.vt-summerfestival.com. Like Vermont Summer Festival Horse Show on Facebook and follow @vtsummerfestival on Instagram.
$10,000 Manchester Designer Outlets Welcome Stake Presented by G.H. Bass & Co. – Thursday, July 4, 2019
Rider Hometown Horse Faults/Time
1 Kevin Mealiff Ireland Nuca 2 0/0/37.52
2 Kirk Webby New Zealand Brando du Rouet 0/0/38.75
3 Kevin Mealiff Ireland Viper Vrombautshoeve Z 0/0/38.95
4 Colin Savaria Ocala, FL Helios 0/0/40.68
5 Lainie Wimberly Ridgefield, CT RF Quarterman 0/0/43.89
6 Adrienne Iverson Canada Katmandu 0/0/44.98
7 Kevin McCarthy Ireland Catch A Star HSS 0/4/36.84
8 Kim Farlinger Wellington, FL Free Style 0/4/37.83
9 Kim Farlinger Wellington, FL Maharees Rock 0/4/38.72
10 David Jennings Franklin, TN Caddie R 0/4/39.20