Edited Press Release
ast Dorset, VT – July 24, 2022 – It came down to fractions during Sunday’s $40,000 Purina Grand Prix Victory at the Vermont Summer Festival, where three combinations advanced to the jump-off, and all three were double clear in 42 seconds. Mary Lisa Leffler and Zaza Z were the best of the best, leading the victory gallop ahead of Willie Tynan, who placed second and third with Ballinteskin Joe and Fenise, respectively.
“Zaza Z has the biggest heart – she always wants to go in and win,” smiled Leffler after taking the blue. “Literally every time, she brings it and tries to win. I just have to stay out of her way. I got her a year ago in June and have been doing the Grand Prixs ever since.”
The course designed by Florencio Hernandez featured a vertical-oxer double combination as one of the first technical questions, and also included a vertical-vertical double and a vertical-oxer double before riders cantered home over the final line. Leffler and Tynan were able to master the track and advance to the tiebreaker, where they had to begin over a bending line by the gate and finish with the last combination on a bending line to a final large oxer.
Each of the horses’ perfect records continued in the jump-off. Tynan and Ballinteskin Joe were the first to return, setting the Great American time to beat at 42.857 seconds with all the rails intact. Leffler was next with Zaza Z, and they also produced a faultless effort, tripping the timers in a faster 42.045 seconds. Tynan had one more chance to earn the winning title, but his time of 42.991 seconds would only be good enough for third after being just one-tenth of a second slower than Ballinteskin Joe.
“In the jump-off, I didn’t really have a set plan,” explained Leffler. “I knew Willie was fast on his chestnut horse, and I was just going to try and keep it moving. After fence one, I lost momentum, but then I tried to get going again to do the four strides right after. I know she’s fast, but while I was going, I wasn’t sure if I was fast enough. Luckily we were today!”
Leffler has been attending the Vermont Summer Festival for as long as she can remember, making it a staple on their horse show calendar. “I love this horse show,” she concluded. “We have been coming here for a very long time – probably about 30 years we have been coming here, so I’d definitely say it’s one of our favorites.”