BY BROOKE GODDARD
PARKER, Colo.— On Saturday morning at Summer in the Rockies Continued I, only three horse and rider pairs found the key to a demanding track designed by Michel Vaillancourt, keeping all the poles up within a tight time allowed. It was Caroline Donnally and her catty mare, Always Me, who sealed the victory in the $25,000 LEG Grand Prix. In second place was Bjorn Ikast and Classini owned by BBB Show Jumpers, LLC., and taking the third place prize was Johanna Siefert and Chico Ask owned by Jill Davidson.
After topping the Open Welcome Classic on Thursday, Caroline declared that she felt ready for the grand prix: “I feel like I’m finally clicking my mare. Last week, I was a bit nervous going into the grand prix and now I feel ready.”
Caroline was right.
“My mare was awesome and the jump off was speedier than I even thought possible,” Caroline said. “I just got lucky and we nailed it. I loved Michel’s course because it was so technical. There was a triple bar to a tight five stride line, and you had to meet it just perfectly.”
Johanna Siefert was first to jump off, dropping the first rail and leaving the door open for Caroline to put the pedal to the metal. “Johanna opened up the stride quite a lot on her approach to the first fence and the distance just didn’t show up,” explained course designer Michel Vaillancourt. “She had too much rhythm to begin with, ended up deep at the first fence, and unfortunately her plan didn’t work out.”
Caroline went second in the jump off and knew she had to make Bjorn chase her time. “The winner was hard to beat,” said Michel. “Caroline’s horse was quick off the ground, quick in the air, and super careful.”
Bjorn Ikast, who clinched last week’s $35,000 LEG Grand Prix, tried to catch up to Caroline with Classini but couldn’t quite get it done. “Classini was double clear both weeks before this and today I had a chance to win the class,” Bjorn commented. “The first rider had four faults and then Caroline was blistering fast. I took an inside option, but I was still a second and a half slower. Caroline’s horse is lightning fast off the ground, and even my inside track wasn’t enough.”
“Sometimes you win, and sometimes you don’t. As long as my horses jump well, I am really happy,” Bjorn added. “Michel built a tough course and Classini is an 11-year-old, experienced horse. You needed that experience today.”
After her win, Caroline is now in contention for a LEGIS Rider Bonus if she clinches another grand prix victory with her horse during the 2020 LEG Colorado Horse Shows. The LEGIS Rider Bonus Program, sponsored by LEGISequine.com, rewards riders who win multiple grand prix classes or hunter derby classes on the same horse. “I love rider bonuses because they give us something else to be working toward,” Caroline said. “My mare feels super and I’m excited to see what next week brings.”
“I wouldn’t be here without the support and confidence from my husband, my barn, and most importantly our grooms, who are number one,” Caroline added. “As always, it’s an honor to compete against Bjorn. I just tried to give it my best shot and I’m grateful for my mare. Over the past few months, we spent a lot of time bonding on the ground, doing horsemanship, and connecting, which I think has helped us a lot in the show ring.”
Read on to learn about how Laura Simpson and Beaming TF topped the USHJA National Hunter Derby presented by Littleton Equine Medical Center, winning the Vita Flex Victory Pass Award.
Be sure to follow LEG on Facebook and Instagram to stay up to date with horse show happenings and keep sharing your #RibbonsintheRockies on social media. Visit langershows.com under the Programs tab to view your circuit points, trainer incentive standings, and LEGIS Rider Bonus standings.
Stay tuned for information and prize lists coming soon for our Autumn in the Rockies series. In the meanwhile, now is a great time to start planning your accommodations at our official hotel partner, Holiday Inn Parker.