Still Happy on the Gulf Coast- Wilhelm Genn Wins the $25k Magnolia Grand Prix
GULFPORT, MS.—MAR 2, 2009—“Wow.” An amazed Wilhelm Genn said as the realization of having just won 4 consecutive Grand Prix hit him. The community of Harrison County presented Sunday afternoon’s $25,000 Magnolia Classic Grand Prix and turned out in record numbers to enjoy watching some of the best show jumpers in the country compete.
With 28 in the order of go, the audience’s excitement and level of competitiveness among the starters was the perfect recipe for a thrilling afternoon. Course designer Patrick Rode’s 12 obstacle [15 efforts] test on sweeping long tracks had all the action the spectators expected, including two sets of combinations, one being the triple at 5abc, a vertical into oxer out over a vertical that caught a few riders. Rodes created a level 9 layout that had fences set at maximum heights ranging from 4’9” to 5’ and widths on a few oxers close to 5’6”, all to be completed within the 85-second time allowance. First through the gate were Michael Tokaruk and Lord Byron fresh from the competition in Palm Beach, FL with a blazing time of 79.042, but an unfortunate rail down mid way of the course. Next up was Meagan Nusz of The Woodlands, TX with mount Pikeur’s Xtatic- the pair announced to Genn he’s was in for some serious competition with the first clear round in 82.608. Following onto the field was Genn, the current series leader with his little mare Happy Z, this duo also won Thursday’s Lucky Sevens Welcome Stake, and they too went clear in 81.814. Six horses later it would be Colorado’s Alex Granato to score the next clean round with Mad Season in 83.770. Genn returned later with Chantal going clean in 82.032 to double his odds in the final round. “I thought it was a great course. Patrick spread the jumps out beautifully throughout the field and adding the natural jumps and trees was a great touch.” Today’s winner commented of the first round, where new elements had been added in the form of brush box oxers and pine trees to navigate around. “It’s great. You know it makes you ride up to the jumps a little harder.” Genn added. The troublesome spot seemed to be the number 2 fence, a blue and white oxer, when asked what made it the hot spot on course Genn offered up this opinion, “When I came around it looked to me like if you turned early you’re not jumping straight. You’re on an angle, heading towards a tree. When I was heading into that turn I saw the nice distance of an early turn, but on an angle and I thought that’s how I got a rail with Happy in the 2nd week prix so I decided I’ll take the extra time and extra stride to be straight. I think that could have been an issue for others.” The extra obstacle for horse and rider to contend with was some blustery wind as a cool front crossed over the state. Genn explained how he instructed students to deal with this condition by cantering in and turn the horse away from the wind and see how they act, because he feels a lot of horses when facing the wind will slow down. The theory being once away from the wind they [horses] will speed up. Something he and students kept in mind when as he put it, “going in a lot of different directions on course.” A summary that proved correct as student Denise Wilson and mount For Elenor went clean in 84.929 to advance to the jump off. “I could tell this was true of Happy. She was good but I didn’t feel her usual fire and sure enough the moment I turned into the wind she slowed down.” Genn concluded.
Only seven horses qualified for the infamous “Dash for the Cash” final round, two of which came with Genn and two with Meagan Nusz. The abbreviated course of 7 fences proved to be where things would get technical quickly, as the time allowed dropped to 50 seconds and the strides got dicey. Nusz and Pikeur’s Xtatic aka “Mr. Pickles” were first to return and set the pace at a clear and quick 42.992. Following them was Genn and the 11 year-old fireball mare Happy Z who zipped through clean in 40.953. “I thought the jump off was gonna be sweet rather than just quick turn backs.” Genn said with a smile, “BUT the distances were set so that to leave a stride out was really not that much of an option because the jumps were big.” then chuckling added, “On Chantal [his 2nd mount] I was considering leaving one out but then he looked at that first jump, the brush, and backed himself up. When I landed that 6 [stride] wasn’t there.” The pair’s talent and caution resulted in a clean time of 42.791 seconds.
Once the last horse crossed the timers it was still Genn and Happy Z at the head of the pack to end their 4th week victorious in the Grand Prix arena. Wilhelm also finished in 2nd place with mount Chantal. Third place finisher Meagan Nusz with her partner Pikeur’s Xtatic also had a clear final round in a time of 42.992 and the TNT Partners owned L.B. For Fun finished 4th with Nusz in the irons and a time of 41.506 with 4 faults. Wrapping up the top five was owner-rider Amanda Flint with VDL Theresa Lady in a time of 44.171 and an unfortunate rail down resulting in 4 faults.
The Gulfport Winter Classics continue with more hunter/jumper and Grand Prix action through March 15th. Admission is free and the public is invited to enjoy the exciting competition throughout the week along with a $25,000 Grand Prix each Sunday plus the race for the $10,000 Budweiser High Point Grand Prix Rider, presented to the top rider, calculated by earned points of the six-week series.
Photo: Wilhelm Genn and Happy Z ©Flashpoint Photography
*Photo may be used free of charge only in relation to this press release
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