Back-to-Back Wins for Bliss Heers in $137,000 Southern Arches Grand Prix CSI3* at Great Lakes Equestrian Festival

Bliss Heers and Antidote de Mars

Traverse City, Mich. – Aug. 8, 2021 – Week V of the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival (GLEF), presented by CaptiveOne Advisors, came to a pinnacle Sunday, August 8, bringing international show jumping athletes back to the Flintfields Horse Park for another day of top sport. Taking center stage in the Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel International Ring, a field of 38 athletes representing nine countries would vie for the $137,000 Southern Arches Grand Prix CSI3* title. After two triumphant rounds, it was the United States’ Bliss Heers and Antidote de Mars who wore the blue rosette for the second time during Week V as they led the victory gallop.

Bliss Heers and Antidote de Mars

Course designer Guilherme Jorge (BRA) built the 13-obstacle first round track that took advantage of the expansive arena. Immediately challenging the horses’ scope, the first fence was a triple-bar at the far end of the arena. The CSI3*-worthy course did not stop there,  however, continuing with a series of combinations and delicate verticals that were easily knocked to the ground. As a test of focus, the final line of the 1.50m track led straight to the out-gate, requiring horses to keep their composure in the final line in order to clear it. 

The first clear of the class would be seen from the third combination on course, Victoria Heurtematte (PAN) and her very own Flying Dutchman. Just six trips later, the winners of Friday’s $36,600 Welcome Stake CSI3*, Heers and Bridgeside Farms LLC’s Antidote de Mars, would force a jump off after putting forth the second clear round of the class. Three athletes, Nicholas Dello Joio (USA), Lauren DiTallo (USA) and Gabriela Reutter (CHI), would be left out of contention for the top prize after suffering from just one time fault on the clock. Eight additional athletes would add their names to the jump-off order-of-go after leaving all of the rails in the cups within the time allowed, including Camilo Rueda (COL), Ailish Cunniffe (USA), Alex Matz (USA), Jim Ifko (CAN), David Blake (IRL), Gerardo Pasquel Medez (MEX), Cathleen Driscoll (USA) and Natalie Dean (USA). 

Natalie Dean and Don’s Diamant

As the pathfinder for the 8-fence jump-off track, Heurtematte set the standard, leaving all of the rails intact in a time of 45.59 seconds. It was clear Heurtematte played it safe as the first rider to navigate the track, as Heers and Antidote de Mars knocked four seconds off of the leading time, crossing through the timers in a clean and quick 41.40 seconds. Heers’ efforts proved victorious as seven competitors to follow would either incur faults or fall short of her efficient and tidy time. 

Ailish Cunniffe and Vivaldi Du Theil

The last pair to tackle the jump-off track, Dean and Don’s Diamont, owned by Marigold Sporthorses LLC, would put their best foot forward for one final shot at unseating the unstoppable Heers and Antidote de Mars. Though Dean managed to navigate the course fault-free, her time fell just short of Heers’ lead, ultimately lending her the second place honors with a jump-off time of 42.05 seconds. Third place was awarded to the only other double-clear effort of the group, Cunniffe and Grayish LLC’s Vivaldi du Theil for their time of 43.80 seconds. 

Bliss Heers and Antidote de Mars

Heers’ back-to-back top finishes have earned her a total of 21 points toward the coveted CaptiveOne Advisors Open Jumper Rider Bonus Leaderboard, currently seating her in the thirteenth position. It is Australia’s Katie Laurie who continues to maintain her strong leading position with a total of 42 points she garnered after consistent success during the three-week Traverse City Spring Horse Show series. After his win during Thursday’s $36,600 Winning Round CSI3*, as well as consistent top placings throughout the GLEF series thus far, Kyle King (USA) sits in the second place spot on a total of 38 points. Karl Cook (USA) holds the third place position on a total of 37 points after multiple grand prix wins during the Traverse City Spring Horse Show and GLEF. 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.


Bliss Heers – $137,000 Southern Arches Grand Prix CSI3* winner
On Antidote de Mars:
“Antidote is incredible. He has the biggest heart. He has all the talent in the world and he just wants to do good. It’s not just about having a nice horse in my string. Antidote was basically what brought me back when I was coming back from my bad injury and we built up a relationship together. In all honesty, I have a relationship with all my horses, but he is really, truly one of my best friends.”

On the jump-off:
“My strategy was just to turn tight. I wasn’t sure if the turn back inside to the vertical to vertical [combination] was going to be faster than to go around, but I figured I would take my chances because that is probably what was going to catch people the most if they tried to do that. Going early I just tried to do something fast and technical and hope the other people would make a mistake.”

On claiming two wins in one week:
“I have no words, it’s so exciting. To have my horse in form like this and to feel him jump like this for three days this week, he is amazing.” 

On Traverse City Horse Shows:
“Traverse City has been fantastic. The Morrisseys have done a fantastic job. We were expecting a lot of rain today and someone asked me if I thought we would be able to jump, and I said, ‘Without question!’ The facility is fantastic and I was so happy to be able to ride the courses from Guilherme [Jorge] this week. He is a fantastic course designer and any time I get a chance to ride his courses it’s always really fun for me. They have brought excellent course designers the entire series and it’s been a pleasure to be here.”