Traverse City, Mich. – July 5, 2019 – The first week of the six-week 2019 Great Lakes Equestrian Festival (GLEF), presented by CaptiveOne Advisors, LLC, returned to Traverse City, Michigan, on Wednesday, where hunter exhibitors took to the rings to once again vie for top honors during the show’s fifth annual installment. The circuit commenced on a high note for Courtney Lenkart and Tiffany Morrissey, both of whom navigated their mounts to division championships after a series of strong performances during the first two days of the circuit. In the Performance 3’3” Hunters, Lenkart piloted Lori Mathews’ Captain America to the top of the scorecard, while Morrissey and Lauren Bialy’s Billboard reigned supreme in the Green 3’ Hunter division.
Held in the Polk Family Main Hunter Ring, the Performance 3’3” Hunter division saw a field of talented entries aiming for the tricolor, with Lenkart of South Haven Farm based in Bartonville, Texas, and Captain America ultimately besting them all. Following Wednesday’s initial half of competition, the duo positioned themselves as the pair to beat with results of first place over fences, first place under saddle and third place in the handy round, putting them as the division frontrunners with only two classes left to contest.
Though the pack chased them down Thursday, none were able to usurp the early leaders, solidifying Lenkart and Captain America as the division victors. Lenkart and Captain America will return to the ring Sunday, where they will compete in the $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby. Thanks to a number of high-scoring rides, Kelly Goguen and Garland Alban’s Decoy captured the reserve championship honors, adding a blue ribbon Thursday to their earlier collection of second, third and fourth place finishes.
Also adding a tricolor to their resume, Morrissey, head trainer of East Wind Farms based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and Billboard maneuvered their way to an impressive triumph in the Green 3’ Hunters, never finishing lower than third place across five classes. On Wednesday, the horse-and-rider partnership garnered results of first and third place over fences to kick-off the division, and returned to the ring Thursday to improve upon their performance by finishing in first and second place over fences in addition to first place in the under saddle to secure the overall division championship.
The reserve championship honors were awarded to Caroline Weeden and Stephanie Harris’ Spellbound, who earned first and fourth place results Wednesday and returned Thursday to collect second place honors in the hack as well as sixth place over fences.
Hunter competition during GLEF Week I will continue throughout the weekend with the $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby, presented by the Ingram family, serving as the highlight event Sunday, where the winner will receive the first Platinum Performance Hunter Horse of the Week award of the circuit.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Courtney Lenkart – Performance 3’3 Hunter division champion
On Captain America:
“Captain America is a 6-year-old Warmblood that we imported last fall. Lori Mathews bought him and has him for me to ride until he is ready for her to do the amateurs on. He actually is a pre-green horse, but we decided this week, because we got to ride in the big ring, that we were going to do the 3’3” Performance only on the first day and then do the national derby on Sunday. We are aiming for the [Platinum Performance/USHJA Green Hunter Incentive Championship] in August so we wanted to have a more challenging experience for him.”
On Captain America’s performance in the division:
“He loved it. He galloped across the ground and jumped beautifully. This was actually our first week at 3’3” — we have only been doing the Green 3’ [Hunters] until this week. He was awesome. He won [Wednesday] and won the flat, so we decided not to show [Thursday] and leave him fresh for Sunday.”
On the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival:
“They have done an unbelievable job. The rings and the footing are perfect. Down below, the configuration they redid gives us all a place to ride when we are not showing. The hospitality is beautiful and everything is so well done. Everyone, including ourselves, as trainers, and clients, loves it. The restaurants here [in Traverse City] are unbelievable. The family comes up here for the summer and it is awesome.”
Tiffany Morrissey – Green 3’ Hunter division champion
“Billboard is owned by Lauren Bialy, a customer of ours from Davie, Florida. She isn’t here this week, but she is coming next week to start showing him herself. He is great, and he is good for her. She currently shows him in the Low Children’s Hunters in the 2’6” division and I have done him a few times, since we bought him in Florida, in the Green [Hunter] division.”
On competing at the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival:
“We are always excited to be here in Traverse City. We actually come early to be here for two weeks before we start showing, and we are happy to be back. My favorite part [of Traverse City] is the horse show of course and the weather is beautiful. It’s very hot in Florida right now. We love coming. We love the town, the restaurants and everyone is super happy to be here.”
For more information, please visit greatlakesequestrianfestival.com