Traverse City, Mich. – Aug. 1, 2021 – The conclusion to Week IV of the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival, presented by CaptiveOne Advisors, took the form of the $72,900 North Face Farm Grand Prix CSI2* Sunday afternoon. As the sun shined on the Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel International Ring, a field of 65 international athletes were hopeful to close the week out with a win. After besting a nail-biting 12 horse jump-off, it was Hunter Holloway and Pepita Con Spita who led the victory gallop and took home the top prize.
Manuel Esparza (MEX) set forth a 13-obstacle track to challenge the large field of starting horse-and-athlete pairs in order to narrow down who would advance on to the jump-off. The second pair in the order of go, Coco Fath (USA) and Exotik Sitte, set a clear pathfinding first-round course, showcasing what it would take to earn a spot in the jump-off lineup. An additional NUMBER athletes would join Fath for the jump-off, including Jessica Mendoza (GBR), Nicolas Pizzaro (MEX), Maria Brugal Gasso (DOM), Holloway (USA), Felipo Godinho Marcondes (BRA), Felipo Godinho Marcondes (BRA), Gavin Harley (IRL), Alessandra Volpi (USA), Shawn Casady (USA), Juan Ortiz (VEN) and Bliss Heers (USA) and McKenna Norris (USA).
Esparza set the stage for the jump-off with a eight-obstacle track that would challenge contenders through a pattern that zig-zagged across the expansive arena, leaving lots of space for athletes to shave seconds off the clock. First in the arena to tackle the shortened course, Fath and Exotik Sitte were the pathfinders with a clear round in 43.49 seconds, putting the pressure on the remaining competitors to produce clear efforts. Hot on Fath’s heels however, Mendoza was quick to replicate Fath’s double-clear, bettering it by crossing the timers in just 40.51 seconds with Play. Pizzaro would soon beat Mendoza’s clear time, finishing on 39.90 seconds with Hubalia to rise to the top.
Brugal Gasso would post an unfortunate 4 faults to the scoreboard immediately after to remain out of contention. Holloway and Pepita Con Spita were next to challenge, and a swift ride in 36.02 seconds that left all rails intact would take over the lead. Seven contenders would try to beat Holloway’s speedy time, but none could successfully do so, ultimately lending her the win. Godinho Marcondes and Sergio Nieto Del Rio’s Guschenka, a 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, would eventually claim second place for their time of 39.21 seconds, and Pizarro would be left in third place with his own 9-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare, Hubalia.
Holloway’s recent results have left her on a hot streak, racking up a number of top results at venues across the country. This summer, Holloway and the 10-year-old Westphalian mare owned by Hays Investment Corp., Pepita Con Spita, claimed a win at the Colorado Horse Park in the $37,000 Restylane 1.45m Welcome CSI2* and the $75,000 1.45m Grand Prix CSI2*. The pair also clinched the win in the $73,000 Tryon Resort Grand Prix CSI2* at the Tryon International Equestrian Center in May, and were second place in the $137,000 Cleghorn Golf and Sports Club Grand Prix CSI3* in June. Just earlier in the week, Holloway won the $36,600 Two-Phase CSI2* with her other top mount, Hays Investment Corp’s Eastern Jam.
Holloway’s top finishes during GLEF IV earned her valuable points toward the coveted CaptiveOne Advisors Open Jumper Rider Bonus Leaderboard, however, Australia’s Katie Laurie continues to maintain her leading position with a total of 42 points she garnered after a successful Traverse City Spring Horse Show series. Karl Cook (USA) sits in the second place position on a total of 37 points after multiple grand prix wins during the Traverse City Spring Horse Show and GLEF. After consistent top placings throughout the first three weeks of the GLEF series thus far, King moved his way up the leaderboard to sit on a total of 28 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.
Earlier in the day, the $10,000 Kasowitz Benson Torres SJHF High Junior/Amateur Jumper Classic took center stage in the Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel International Ring. Out of 40 talented entries, it was Charlie Jacobs and CMJ Sporthorse LLC’s Est Di Palatina who rode away with top honors and the lion’s share of the prize money. Charlise Casas claimed both second and third place riding Always Faithful Equine LLC’s Mustique VZ and Chaccolina D, respectively.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Hunter Holloway – $72,900 North Face Farm Grand Prix CSI2* winner
On Pepita Con Spita:
“This is an amazing horse! I bought her as an eight year old and we just kind of took our time developing her and a lot of people and a lot of effort went into making her the horse she is today, and she just continues to get better and better over time. She is a super, super fantastic horse that is always up to win as long as I don’t mess it up. It is always a good day on her. [We have been partnered together for] two years, going on three.”
On her goals with Pepita Con Spita:
“[Our goal] is to hopefully to get on some teams with her and keep developing her and go up the ranks more and more. She continues to prove herself every day and we are having a lot of fun with her.”
On the jump-off:
“I was just going to win it! I knew I had a lot of good riders after me and [Pepita Con Spita] was up for it so I just went for it, and she was up for the task today!”
On closing the week with another win:
“I wouldn’t want to close it out any other way! We won earlier in the week, then she put in a great double-clear in the [$36,600 Staller Shows Welcome Stake CSI2*], so to close it out this way just makes it a fantastic trip. We love being here – it’s a great facility, with great footing and the courses are always super, so we couldn’t be happier.”
On courses this week:
“They are always fantastic. I thought they were appropriate, definitely for the competition level we have here. I just tried to put in a solid plan and a solid effort each round.”
On what is next for her:
“[Pepita Con Spita] will take a month off and relax, then we will do the CSI2* and CSI5* in Saugerties.”
$72,900 North Face Farm Grand Prix CSI2*:
Place / Horse / Rider / Country / Owner / R1 Faults | R1 Time / R2 Faults | R2 Time
1. Pepita Con Spita / Hunter Holloway / USA / Hays Investment Corp. / 0 | 72.02 / 0 | 36.02
2. Guschenka / Felipo Godinho Marcondes / BRA / Sergio Nieto Del Rio / 0 | 72.33 / 0 | 39.21
3. Hubalia / Nicolas Pizarro / MEX / Nicolas Pizarro / 0 | 72.42 / 0 | 39.90
4. Kaiser Van Het Lambroeck / Shawn Casady / USA / Camille Leblond / 0 | 73.13 / 0 | 40.00
5. Berlinda / Alessandra Volpi / USA / Alessandra Volpi / 0 | 71.580 / 0 | 40.10
6. Play / Jessica Mendoza / GBR / Jessica Mendoza / 0 | 73.48 / 0 | 40.51
7. Toulouse Z / Juan Ortiz / VEN / Blue Trim LLC / 0 | 74.72 / 0 | 41.81
8. Exotik Sitte / Coco Fath / USA / Coco Fath / 0 | 74.74 / 0 | 43.49
9. Very Chic Du Tillard / Gavin Harley / IRL / E2 Show Jumpers / 0 | 74.18 / 4 | 37.06
10. J’Adore Flamenco / Maria Brugal / DOM / BG Stables LLC / 0 | 73.05 / 4 | 42.93
11. Lukas 1054 / McKenna Norris / USA / McKenna Norris / 0 | 73.95 / 6 | 61.52
12. Christos / Bliss Heers / USA / Bridgeside Farms LLC / 0 | 72.46 / 9 | 56.07