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Wilhelm Genn Does It Again- Winning Central Equine Grand Prix

GULFPORT, MS.—MAR 9, 2009—Happy Z, the little chestnut mare from Lebanon, OH is proving to owner-rider Wilhelm Genn that it’s size of heart not stature that wins. The pair was victorious in both the Welcome Stake and Central Equine Grand Prix this week.

Michel Vaillancourt returned to the Gulf coast for a second tour of course designing. The 13 obstacle- 83 second challenge for Sunday afternoon required some endurance to navigate the 16 big efforts spread across the vast open grass field. Vaillancourt is a favored designer among professionals, he’s known best for hiding little tests within the course that riders might not pick up on when walking, but as Genn put it “things change quickly when you’re in the saddle out there.” Most expected the triple combination at 4abc, vertical in to an oxer out over an oxer, to be the problem spot and for six horses it was, but the surprise element in round one was the #12 vertical that fell more often than stayed up. Reasons ranged from tired horses to miscalculating the distance.

The Woodlands, TX based Meagan Nusz riding the TNT Partner’s entry Absolute Envy were first through the gate and first to go clean in a quick 79.697. Following was Genn and Happy Z turning in a second clear run in 77.476. A few downed rails later Alex Granato riding the Augustin Walch owned Vasco D Gamma added his name to the jump off list with a clean 82.136. The next seven tried and fail before owner-rider Nora McDonald-Yaney crossed the timer clear with Topliner in 78.621. As two of the busiest riders Nusz and Genn each had 5 of the 30 starting horses in the line up and Nusz succeeded in landing another clear round with second mount L.B. For Fun in 76.619. Ten more horses would fall short, until Alex Granato attempted to even the odds with Nusz and won by taking his own entry Mad Season clean in 80.663. Genn fought back with Chantal capturing the final clean round in 80.159.

The 50-second allowance for the 7-fence jump off wouldn’t be a problem for the 7 horses that made it to the final tracks. Once again the #12 Central Equine vertical fence would become the undoing of most. Meagan Nusz and Absolute Envy cantered onto the field and made it look easy with a clean run of 42.447. Stepping up to the gate next was Happy Z with an air of confidence and determination. Genn took a deep breath and whispered, “Ok girl” as they galloped towards the first fence. In 38.244 seconds it was done- another clear run and the lead. “She’s really maturing. She’s not nearly the headstrong mare who would buck up between jumps or at the end. Now she canters gracefully. She really is coming into her own.” Genn said of his partner. The brilliant chestnut mare may not grow in size, however her heart for the sport seems to have no boundaries.

By the time the audience caught their breath and pulses settled to normal, it was clear Wilhelm Genn had won his 5th straight Grand Prix- the 4th for Happy Z. “She really is amazing!” was all Genn could muster. Meagan Nusz and Absolute Envy finished second with the only other clear round in a time of 42.447. Following in 3rd place was Mad Season and Alex Granato with a time of 38.796 and 4 faults. In 4th place was Genn on the Laura Ryan-Barnaclo owned Chantal finishing in 40.135 with 4 faults. Completing the top five was owner-rider Nora McDonald-Yaney with Topliner with a time of 45.264 and 4 faults.

The Gulfport Winter Classic continues with more hunter/jumper and Grand Prix action through March15th. Admission is free and the public is invited to enjoy the exciting finale throughout the week along with two big $25,000 show jumping events- the first on Thursday afternoon followed by the Budweiser Grand Prix on Sunday at 2PM as well as the awarding of 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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