Traverse City, Mich. – July 19, 2019 – Professional hunter competition returned to the 2019 Great Lakes Equestrian Festival (GLEF), presented by CaptiveOne Advisors, LLC, for the first half of Week III, where a series of new champions were crowned. In the High Performance Hunters, Caitlyn Shiels of True North Stables, based out of Illinois and Florida, piloted Cassius to the top of the scorecard to claim the division title, while Ailish Cunniffe and Fabulous nabbed the championship in the Performance 3’6” Hunters.
During Wednesday’s first day of riding in the High Performance Hunters, Shiels and Durpetti Equestrian LLC’s Cassius accrued valuable points towards the division title with two second place finishes over fences and in the handy round, plus a fifth place under saddle. The duo returned to the Polk Family Main Hunter Ring on Thursday with improved performances, garnering results of first and second place over fences to propel themselves as the division’s leaders and secure the tricolor.
Just behind Shiels in the overall points tally, Greg Crolick and Renaud Farm LLC’s Corallo Z earned the reserve championship thanks to a series of strong rounds that included two first place finishes in over fences classes.
In the Performance 3’6” Hunter division, Cunniffe and Whipstick Farm, Ltd.’s Fabulous rode away with the victory ahead of a talented field of horse-and-athlete partnerships following two days of consistent exhibitions. The team started strong Wednesday and were awarded first place in the hack, second place in the handy and third place over fences to kick-off the first half of the division. On Thursday, Cunniffe and Fabulous rode to two more top results over fences, earning a first and fifth place to solidify themselves as the Performance 3’6” Hunter champions.
Corlando 49, owned by Elizabeth Becker, and Melissa Donnelly claimed the reserve honors thanks to top results earned over two days of riding, most notably a first place finish in the handy round.
Week III of the 2019 GLEF will continue throughout the weekend, with hunter highlights including the $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby, which is slated to begin at 9 a.m. on Sunday in the Polk Family Main Hunter Ring.
Caitlyn Shiels – High Performance Hunter champion
“[Cassius] loves the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival! We have had him for about three years, and he is 11 years old this year. We have been campaigning for the [Platinum Performance/USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship] in a couple weeks. Last week, he hung out and did the national derby on Sunday, and then we did the High Performance Hunters this week. Next week, he will do the High Performance again and also the derby. He was great today. He gave me a really nice effort and the courses were nice, so it worked out in our favor.”
On the horse show’s improvements:
“The horse show looks amazing. It looks like a whole new horse show at the bottom of the hill. They did a fantastic job. We can’t wait for many years to come. This is our favorite horse show of the year. We love being here. The new pavilion is beautiful and a great place for people to hang out, [especially at] the happy hour parties in the afternoon. Everything at the horse show looks great.”
On activities around Traverse City:
“We have done a lot. We have done some shopping in the cute boutique shops in town, we went on the jet skis the other day and we are hoping to get out on the boat on Monday on Torch Lake. We have had amazing dinners at the great restaurants here. There is just so much to do outside of the horse show and we love it.”
Ailish Cunniffe – Performance 3’6” Hunter champion
“She is recently a hunter. I bought her when she was 5 years old — my parents own her. She did the jumpers with Paul O’Shea as a 6-year-old and then I rode her as a 7-year-old. I did her in the high amateurs and the little grand prix [classes], and then we decided she would make a good hunter so she went to Lake Placid last week and was really good for her first time doing the hunters. This is her second time and she is really proving herself.”
On Fabulous’ performances:
“She was awesome. She loves the hunter ring and the hunter jumps. She naturally goes like a hunter and knows she is really pretty so she likes to show off a little bit. I will do her in the derby this week and next week, hopefully.”
“We love it here. The improvements are amazing and the footing is great. We have a lot of jumpers here also, and the rings are equally as good as the hunter rings. We are very happy to be here.”
For more information, please visit greatlakesequestrianfestival.com.