Alex Granato Tops Major League Show Jumping $72,900 Honor Hill Farm 1.50m CSI5* Aboard Carlchen W

Alex Granato and Carlchen W

Traverse City, Mich. – July 16, 2021 – World class jumper competition continued Friday at the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival (GLEF), presented by CaptiveOne Advisors. Following an exciting first day of classes in Week Two’s kick-off of the inaugural Major League Show Jumping (MLSJ) tour, riders were eager to return for more action and their shot at taking home top honors in the competitive divisions. The newly introduced 2021 Major League Show Jumping tour hosted at North America’s premier equestrian venues will feature eight teams of six high performance show jumping athletes from across the globe, and will offer over $6 million dollars in prize money throughout the ten events. In addition to three events hosted in Traverse City, the Major League Show Jumping tour will travel to Canada, Mexico and California at some of the most renowned venues in North America.

Alex Granato and Carlchen W during the awards presentation

Forty-two horse-and-rider combinations convened to tackle the 16-obstacle track that course designer Marina Azevedo (BRA) fashioned for competitors in the highlight of the day, the $72,900 Honor Hill Farm 1.50m CSI5*. As the first CSI5* event of the week, the order of go saw the sport’s top international riders battle it out for top honors. The technical first round track proved challenging for some pairs, requiring them to accurately adjust their strides between the course’s various double and triple combinations in order to leave all the rails intact and earn a ticket into the jump-off round.

First to enter the ring was Natalie Dean (USA) aboard Chance Ste Hermelle, a 13-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare, riding carefully and efficiently to jump clear within the time-allowed and set the standard for the rest of the class. Also adding their names to the jump-off list was veteran show jumper Margie Engle (USA) on her longtime mount Royce, Kristen Vanderveen (USA) on Bull Run’s Risen, Shane Sweetnam (IRL) on last week’s $36,600 Keyser Welcome Stake CSI3* winner Ideal, and Karl Cook (USA) on Caillou 24, who claimed the $137,000 Meijer Grand Prix CSI3* last Saturday.

Alex Granato and Carlchen W during the victory gallop

With a star-studded lineup set to go in the jump off round, Vanderveen was the first to return to allow Dean’s mount, who pulled a shoe in the warm-up, ample time to prepare.

Schuyler Riley and Robin De Ponthual

Riders who returned for the shortened track were unable to ride faultlessly until Arturo Parada Vallejo (MEX) and Coachella 4 entered the arena, riding the 8-effort course in 42.6 seconds. Schuyler Riley (USA) and Robin DePonthual took the challenge head on, setting yet a new leading time with a clear effort in 40.36 seconds. Ready to prove his quick foot speed and technical savvy, Alex Granato (USA) and Carlchen W blazed around the course next, taking over the top spot with a clear effort in just 38.69 seconds, two seconds faster than the previous best. While the remaining riders did their best to overcome Granato’s time, none were able to cross the finish with a quicker time and clear effort. Granato took the top prize and a victory gallop at the conclusion of the class, while Riley and Robin De Ponthual took home second place, and Nicolas Pizarro and Oak Grove’s Enkidu finished in third.

Nicolas Pizarro and Oak Grove’s Enkidu

MLSJ $36,600 NetJets 1.45m Speed Stake CSI2*

The MLSJ $36,600 NetJets 1.45m Speed Stake CSI2* opened up Friday’s MLSJ competition. Mexico’s Luciana Roberta Gonzalez Guerra was the first to clear the course aboard Ehrens, a 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, setting the pace at 76.300 seconds. Fiftieth to take the ring was Ireland’s Paul O’Shea and Chancelloress, a 12-year-old Hanoverian mare, turning up the heat and taking home the victory with a time of 69.570 seconds.

MLSJ $1,000 1.40m Two Phase CSI5*

The next event for MLSJ was the $1,000 Two Phase CSI5* where competitors went head-to-head to prove who was the fastest and most accurate rider. Only eight riders went clear through the technical track, with Vallejo taking the lead aboard Wisconsin PS, an 8-year-old Holsteiner gelding, with a time of 29.580 seconds. Coming in second with a close time of 30.180 seconds was Lauren Crooks (USA) and Louisana Van de Moortelshoeve, making sure to clear every corner and leave every jump untouched. Riley and Quilimbo successfully rounded out the top three with a clear time of 30.560 seconds.

MLSJ $3,000 Cabana Coast 1.25m Speed Stake CSI2*

Claudia Ballesteros (MEX) and Destiny Second Life Z were first to take on the MLSJ $3,000 Cabana Coast 1.25m Speed Stake CSI2*, setting the pace at 76.170 seconds. Emily Aitken (USA) and Binja took to the ring next, swiftly navigating the course and taking the lead with a time of 58.160 seconds. Shawn Casady (USA) and Mistral VD Kakenbeek rode strong with zero faults but fell just short with a time of 64.51 seconds, putting them in second. Claiming the third place prize at 70.28 seconds was Claire Wen and Carlitzek N.

MLSJ $2,000 Callidae 1.15m Speed Stake CSI2*

The MLSJ $2,000 Callidae 1.15m Speed Stake CSI2* closed out Friday’s MLSJ competition. The technical track yielded just three rounds for the jump-off. Aitken was the first to return with Caretinhus, setting the pace to beat with a clear round in 70.60 seconds. Emily King (GBR) and Corancer were right on their tail, leaving all rails intact and galloping across the finish line in 69.120 seconds to take home the victory while Aitken dropped to second. Taking the third place prize with 4 faults was Xaviera Maurer Buch and Chapella on a time of 70.61 seconds.

Australia’s Katie Laurie maintains her top spot on the 2021 CaptiveOne Advisors Open Jumper Rider Bonus leaderboard with a whopping 42 points after a successful Traverse City Spring Horse Show series. Karl Cook (USA) sits in the second place position on a total of 33 points after his win in the $137,000 Staller Grand Prix CSI3* during the final week of Traverse City Spring Horse Show, and another victory in last week’s $137,000 Meijer Grand Prix CSI3*. Currently rounding out the top three on the leaderboard is Tiffany Foster of Canada with 27 points. Offering show jumping competitors the chance to accumulate points throughout the 12-week Traverse City Horse Shows series, the bonus is awarded to the athlete with the most points at the conclusion of the 2021 $230,000 American Gold Cup Grand Prix CSI5*, presented by CaptiveOne Advisors. The CaptiveOne Advisors Open Jumper Rider Bonus is a highly sought-after prize among the field of international competitors that attend Traverse City Horse Shows.

Top-tier jumper competition will resume Saturday, July 17, with the Major League Show Jumping $200,000 Team Competition CSI5* taking center stage in the Turtle Creek Casino & Resort International Ring. The arena will also host the MLSJ $36,600 Innovo Development Group Speed Stake CSI5*, MLSJ $15,000 Cabana Coast 1.25m Jump-Off CSI2*, and MLSJ $7,500 Callidae 1.15m Jump-Off CSI2*.


Alex Granato – Winner of MLSJ $72,000 Honor Hill Farm CSI5* 1.50m

On Carlchen W:
“He’s great — he’s my long time partner, I’ve had him since he was five coming six years old. He’s 13 [years-old] this year and feeling better than ever. This is our first week up here, we spent our spring and summer prepping for these next couple of weeks – he feels great stepping in, so I’m really excited.”

On the jump-off:
“I didn’t actually get a chance to walk the jump-off, I was actually busy at another ring so I got a quick look and got to see two of the riders go. Again, I’m lucky I’ve had my horse for so long because I think you needed to have a lot of trust in your horse and they needed to believe in the plan because there were a lot of tight turns to start it off. He felt great so I rode my plan going in and it paid off.”

On his strategy in the jump-off:
“Well luckily he’s so quick across the ground anyways and he’s fast in the air. The first three turns were really tight and I think a lot of people were getting lost on their pace and their decision, especially in the turn to the NetJets vertical. I didn’t see exactly what I wanted initially but I trusted him enough and kept coming forward till he knew where we were at and that worked out. Then from there I tried to keep as smooth and forward as possible.”

On Major League Show Jumping competition this week:
“It looks amazing already — it’s a great group of riders that are all here with their top horses, all prepped and ready for the next two weeks especially. I think we’re in for a lot of good show jumping in the next few classes.”

$72,900 Honor Hill Farm 1.50m CSI5*
Place / Horse / Rider / Country / Owner / Faults | Time

1. Carlchen W / Alex Granato / USA / The Bright Lights Group / 0 | 74.87 / 0 | 38.69
2. Robin De Ponthual / Schuyler Riley / USA / Katherine Gallagher / 0 | 79.98 / 0 | 40.36
3. Oak Groves Enkidu / Nicolas Pizarro / MEX / Nicolas Pizarro / 0 | 79.66 / 0 | 41.12
4. Coachella 4 / Arturo Parada Vallejo / MEX / Jesus Francisco Orantes Haua / 0 | 77.25 / 0 | 42.60
5. Gakhir / Erynn Ballard / CAN / Ilan Ferder & Esperanza Imports LLC / 0 | 79.57 / 0 | 43.26
6. Ideal / Shane Sweetnam / IRL / Sweet Oak Farm / 0 | 78.78 / 4 | 42.80
7. RMF Chacco Top / Cormac Hanley / IRL / Rushy Marsh Farm LLC / 0 | 79.37 / 4 | 43.15
8. Cat Ninja / Jaqueline Steffens / USA / Eye Candy Jumpers / 0 | 80.29 / 4 | 43.16
9. Royce / Margie Engle / USA / Gladewinds Partners LLC / 0 | 80.51 / 4 | 44.95
10. Chance Ste Hermelle / Natalie Dean / USA / Marigold Sporthorses LLC / 0 | 78.64 / 4 | 45.04
11. Opium Du Soufflet / Nicholas Dello Joio / USA / Rocking D Ranch / 0 | 80.84 / 4 | 45.83
12. Bull Run’s Risen / Kristen Vanderveen / USA / Kristen Vanderveen / 0 | 79.10 / 8 | 47.01