BY KRISTIN PITZER
Katy, Texas – February 27, 2021 – The highly anticipated $100,000 Lone Star State Grand Prix took place Saturday evening, February 27, at the Great Southwest Equestrian Center (GSWEC) during the Texas Winter Series Week IV. Twenty-three entries jumped through round one, with four qualifying to come back for the jump-off.
Bjorn Ikast on Crespo VDL, Kaitlin Miller-Roberts on Giant, Martien Van Der Hoeven on Morris Horta and Daisy Ford on Gatsby each took a second spin around the ring, with Ford and Gatsby coming out on top as the only team to produce a double clear effort. For the win, they were presented with the Lone Star State National Grand Prix Trophy, donated by Olva Stewart Pharo, along with a check for $30,000.
“This is my first grand prix win, so I’m incredibly excited,” Ford said. “Last year I jumped clean but went off course, and it was heartbreaking, so I’ve been kind of focused on this all year long. This is the best outcome that could have ever happened.”
Ford went into the first round as number 22 in the jump order, so she had seen many of the other riders struggle at different spots in the course. She knew she had a good horse that she believed in, though, so she put her trust in him and tried to take it one fence at a time.
The pair jumped a clear round and then prepared for the jump-off. They were slated to go last, and prior to them, the other riders each knocked down one rail. Though she typically likes to go as fast as she can to try to win, Ford realized she needed to stay calm and try not to rush her horse.
“I was like, ‘I know I’m on a horse that’s super careful; I know I’m on a horse that can do it,’” Ford said. “As soon I saw that those [other] three had a rail down, I was like, ‘OK, breathe, go in and let him jump.’ He did just that. He really helped me in a lot of places. He was such a good boy.”
Ford has owned Gatsby, a 15-year-old Oldenburg, for almost seven years. She started in the low children’s jumpers with the gelding and has worked up to the grand prix level with him.
“I never thought I would have a grand prix horse like this,” Ford said. “He’s my once-in-a-lifetime [horse] for sure. It’s very hard to find a horse that can teach a child and take them all the way up. He’s amazing. Winning with him was my big goal — I’ve thought, ‘I have to win a grand prix before I retire him.’ That was my lifelong dream.”
Ford has been showing at the GSWEC since she was 8 years old, competing in C shows until she could lease a higher-level horse. The 21-year-old is from Houston but currently goes to school at Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas.
“Winning here is a big deal to me because this is home,” Ford said.
Martien Van Der Hoeven and Morris Horta, a 9-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding owned by Maarten Huygens, placed second in the class with four jumping faults and a jump-off time of 38.741 seconds. In third were Bjorn Ikast and Crespo VDL, Skylark Equestrian LLC’s 14-year-old KWPN stallion. Rounding out the top four were Kaitlin Miller-Roberts and Giant, a 15-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding owned by Condorado Investment Horses LLC.
The Texas Winter Series Week IV wraps up on Sunday, February 28. Be sure to watch live on Horse & Country TV here!
In addition to hosting the Texas Winter Series, the Great Southwest Equestrian Center is home to the Pin Oak Charity Horse Show, which will celebrate its 75th anniversary March 24 – April 11, 2021. Learn more about the Pin Oak Charity Horse Show here, and visit the Great Southwest Equestrian Center’s website here.