Edited Press Release
Wayne, Ill. – June 17, 2022 – Verdi O’Merveilles showcased how marvelous he is on Friday at the Lamplight Spring Spectacular II, topping the $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix with Tiffany Hammack in the irons. The duo bested a seven-horse jump-off as the last to return, winning by a full second as they sped over the course without touching a rail to go to the top of the leaderboard and earn the victory at HITS Chicago.
Verdi O’Merveilles is a new mount for Hammack, whom she only began riding in January, and this marked their first grand prix win together. “We bought him last fall and showed him in Ocala over the winter,” said Hammack of the 13-year-old Selle Francais gelding owned by Foxwood Farm. “It was our first time showing him, but we did some night classes and grand prix classes. He’s jumped 1.55m, so he’s a pretty solid citizen, and I am just figuring out how to ride him!”
Oscar Soberon designed an exacting track for the first round of competition, which included a vertical-oxer double combination as the fourth element, as well as an oxer-vertical-vertical triple combination later in the course. Soberon utilized the expanse of the Grand Prix Stadium with multiple rollbacks and long gallops. Seven advanced to the jump-off, which began with a bending line followed by two tight rollbacks to makeup time before jumping the A and B elements of the triple combination and finishing with a gallop over a wide oxer going towards the gate.
Lisa Goldman-Smolen and Ivaro N were the first pair in the jump-off that was able to finish in under 40 seconds, hastily clearing the course in a quick 38.649 seconds to earn the top spot early in the tiebreaker. They would ultimately place second. The following two competitors each lowered the height of a single fence for 4 faults, but Katie Leverick and Hardy had their eye on the prize when it was their turn to traverse the track. Although they were clear, they would slide right behind Smolen on the scoreboard with a time of 40.265 seconds, good for the yellow ribbon.
Hammack and Verdi O’Merveilles were the next and final pair to contest the track, and despite their new partnership, they put it all on the line to earn their first grand prix victory. With two smooth inside turns early in the course and enough precision to leave all the rails intact, the duo galloped through the timers in 37.522 seconds to earn the top prize.
“This is his first time at Lamplight, so just being clear in the first round and being smooth and making sure to stay within the time allowed was the main goal,” said Hammack. “I didn’t get to watch everybody else, but I was smooth in the turn back from two to three in the jump-off, and then three to four. I was pretty smooth everywhere but didn’t go crazy to the last jump; I just wanted to stay balanced.”
As a native of Hawthorn Woods, Lamplight Equestrian Center is a favorite venue for Hammack to compete at each year. “The facility is beautiful,” concluded Hammack. “The footing here is good and it is close to home, which is really nice.”
On Thursday, the last in the class once again proved to be the best of the day in a quick hoof race to the finish during the $5,000 Vita Flex 1.35m Jumper Classic. Eight produced double-clear efforts, but it was Natalie Jayne and Carlo who topped the leaderboard as the last combination to compete in the tiebreaker, stopping the clock in a blazing 36.541 seconds. Megan Bash and Jackson VDL were third in the return order and the first pair to finish in under 39 seconds, breaking the beam at 38.185 seconds, which would hold up for the second-place prize. Rebecca Gutstein and Harley David claimed the third-place honors with a fault-free round in 38.585 seconds.
Jumper action kicked off Wednesday with the $2,500 Stal Hendrix Open Welcome in the Grand Prix Stadium. after producing a double clear round as the first to compete. Hammack was the fastest 4-faulter aboard Verdi O’Merveilles for second place, while the third-place award went to Sarah Meier and Nightshade SCF.