Wilhelm Genn and Van Gogh Close Great Lakes Equestrian Festival Week I with $50,000 GGT Footing Grand Prix Win

Traverse City, Mich. – July 7, 2019 – The first week of the 2019 Great Lakes Equestrian Festival (GLEF), presented by CaptiveOne Advisors, LLC, concluded Sunday with its finale event and the first grand prix class of the six-week circuit, where a field of competitive exhibitors rode for a chance at the top prize in the $50,000 GGT Footing Grand Prix, presented by JTWG, Inc. and 4G Surfaces. Proving to be the best of the day, Wilhelm Genn of Rheinland Farm in Warren, Ohio, and Van Gogh came out on top, marking the second GLEF Week I grand prix victory for Genn. One year ago, Genn was also victorious in the $50,000 Great Lakes Grand Prix, presented by East Wind Farms, aboard Bugatti to commence the 2018 series.

Wilhelm Genn and Van Gogh. Photo: Andrew Ryback Photography

For the first round track, course designer Keith Bollotte offered exhibitors a technical pattern, with only four pairs out of the original list of starters managing to keep all of the rails in the cups within the time-allowed. Second to take to the ring, Theo Genn and Bridlebourne Stables LLC’s Chaccomo 11 logged the first clear effort of the afternoon, followed immediately by Shane Sweetnam and Gerko, owned by Seabrook LLC, to force a jump-off. As the class progressed, Sweetnam qualified a second mount, Seabrook LLC’s Bijzonder, for the tiebreaking round, and another Genn added his name to the list, this time in the form of Wilhelm and Van Gogh, owned by Wilhelm and Patty Genn.

Returning for the jump-off, two of the four horse-and-rider partnerships successfully tripped the timers fault-free, with Theo and Chaccomo 11 serving as the early pathfinders in 40.923 seconds. The younger Genn was soon overtaken by his father with the ride on Van Gogh, breaking the beam in a blazing 35.648 seconds. Sweetnam laid down valiant efforts with his two mounts but was ultimately unable to catch Wilhelm and Van Gogh, solidifying them as the champions of the $50,000 GGT Footing Grand Prix, presented by JTWG, Inc. and 4G Surfaces. In 2018, the combination finished in fifth place during the series’ Week I grand prix and returned one year later to improve upon their performance to take home the 2019 title during the opening week of the festival. It was a good day for the Genn family, as Theo and Chaccomo 11 captured second place, with Sweetnam and Bijzonder rounding out the podium spots.

Wilhelm Genn and Van Gogh. Photo: Andrew Ryback Photography

New in 2019, the $25,000 CaptiveOne Open Jumper Rider Bonus will be awarded at the conclusion of the circuit in August. Points are calculated based on prize money earned throughout the six-week festival in Open Jumper classes 1.45m and above, and fans and athletes can follow along and check the $25,000 CaptiveOne Open Jumper Rider Bonus leaderboard, posted on www.greatlakesequestrianfestival.com, to track their favorite riders and see who is leading in the standings. With Wilhelm’s victory Sunday, he has positioned himself as the early frontrunner and standings leader towards the $25,000 CaptiveOne Open Jumper Rider Bonus.

Week II of GLEF will kick-off with the first Equitation Tuesday of the circuit on July 9, followed by World Championship Hunter Rider (WCHR) week. Additional show jumping highlights for Week II include the $50,000 Meijer Grand Prix on Sunday, July 14, with the $30,000 Welcome Stake preceding it on Friday, July 13.

FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE

Wilhelm Genn – $50,000 GGT Footing Grand Prix, presented by JTWG, Inc. and 4G Surfaces, winner

On Van Gogh:
“Van Gogh is 11 years old this year. We bought him as a 5-year-old coming 6. We saw a lot of talent in him as a young horse, and Theo [Genn] rode him and developed him very properly. We gave him a lot of time because he was a little bit slow. As a big horse he was a little sluggish, but we saw the talent. We gave him the time and Theo did great with him. I needed a good second horse so Theo was nice and said, ‘Dad, you should ride him.’ I took over the ride about a year and a half ago, but he did all the developing.”

On his jump-off strategy and performance:
“Like always, [my strategy was to] go fast and clean! I knew Shane [Sweetnam] was coming after me, and Van Gogh is usually better in the jump-off so I knew I had a good horse for it. The only thing I was not happy with was [our approach] to number seven. I had the distance as one stride less, but I didn’t want to get there too early and he was leaning a little bit, so I gave him a couple half-halts on the left to stand him up. He was so quick and he thought we were going left instead. I had to correct and add one more stride. I’m not happy with myself there, but the horse was fantastic because he listened perfectly. I just blame myself and I thought, ‘If I lose the class because of that, I won’t be able to sleep tonight.’ It was great and fun. The course and footing were great.”

On competing in Traverse City at the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival:
“We always love coming up here. There is great competition. The footing has always been great, but all the other improvements are wonderful. The seating area by the [VIP] tent is great, and the second jumper ring is really nice. The footing is good — I think Kyle [Gould of 4G Surfaces] did that and it is very good. Every year there is something new and we love it. We just love being up here and the whole town of Traverse City. At the hotel, the same people work there each year that know us already, so it is really fun and like one big family.”

RESULTS

$50,000 GGT Footing Grand Prix, presented by JTWG, Inc. and 4G Surfaces:
Place / Horse / Rider / Owner / R1 Faults / R2 Faults / Time
1. Van Gogh / Wilhelm Genn / Wilhelm & Patty Genn / 0 / 0 / 35.648
2. Chaccomo 11 / Theo Genn / Bridlebourne Stables LLC / 0 / 0 / 40.923
3. Bijzonder / Shane Sweetnam / Seabrook LLC / 0 / 4 / 34.542
4. Gerko / Shane Sweetnam / Seabrook LLC / 0 / 4 / 40.182
5. Quadros 3 / Ashley Fleischhacker / Ashland Show Stables LLC / 2 / 83.398
6. Binja / Chris Ewanouski / Castle Point Farm LLC / 4 / 75.383
7. Dieta / Ryan Michael Genn / Shannon Reid/ 4 / 79.027
8. Loro Piana Ballyleck Royale / Alma Bjorklund / Alma Bjorklund / 4 / 79.342
9. Ziezo / Scott Lenkart / Fleur De Lis Farms / 4 / 79.979
10. Win For Life / Spencer Brittan / Spencer Brittan / 4 / 81.287
11. Essince W / David Beisel / David Beisel / 8 / 78.742
12. Quality On Top / Erin Haas / North Face Farm / 12 / 78.011

For more information, please visit greatlakesequestrianfestival.com