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Chicago Riders Rack Up Wins at Great Lakes Equestrian Festival

Olivia Lawton and Caelinn Leahy Capture $7,500 NAL Low Amateur-Owner and Junior Jumper Classics During Week Two at Great Lakes Equestrian Festival
Giavanna Rinaldi and Romance Win $1,000 Junior Hunter Classic

Olivia Lawton and G.P.S. Brilliant Disguise won the $7,500 NAL Low Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic during Week Two at the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival. 
Traverse City, Mich. - July 16, 2016 - Olivia Lawton, an amateur rider from Burr Ridge, Illinois, and her 12-year-old grey Holsteiner gelding, G.P.S. Brilliant Disguise, outrode a field of 27 horse and rider combinations to win the $7,500 NAL Low Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic on Saturday during Week Two of the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival (GLEF) held at the Flintfields Horse Park. In addition, prior to the $7,500 NAL Low Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic, it was Caelinn Leahy and Caribe, owned by Steve Schaefer, who bested a field of 22 competitors to take home the blue ribbon in the $7,500 NAL Low Junior Jumper Classic.
 
Eight exhibitors had clean rounds over the first round track in the $7,500 NAL Low Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic, but only four were able to achieve double clear rounds. Bethany Bolen and her own Sullivan were the early double clear pathfinders, setting the pace for the jump-off round at 35.119 seconds as sixth in the order. Lawton followed Bolen four trips later and challenged her time with a double clear performance in 34.240 seconds to move into first.

Olivia Lawton and G.P.S. Brilliant Disguise
 
Kelsey Thatcher, who won the $5,000 NAL Low Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic during Week One of GLEF, entered the ring on Pony Lane Farm's Hannah one round later to finish fault-free in 35.288 seconds - just 1/10th of a second behind Bolen. Thatcher returned as the final entry to take on the course once again however on the last of her four mounts of the class, Stella Luna, owned by Pony Lane Farm, to secure second place honors in 34.814 seconds with Bolen claiming third and Thatcher also grabbing the fourth place ribbon.

Kelsey Thatcher and Stella Luna
 
"He definitely loves to compete," said Lawton of G.P.S. Brilliant Disguise. "He has a lot of antics when we're going in the ring, but it's all for show. He's such a nice horse to ride. All the jumps show up nicely and he tries his heart out every time we go in. He definitely helped me in a few spots I wasn't sure at today. I love him for that.
 
"The course was really nice," continued Lawton. "It was difficult because there were a couple of tricky places, like the long line down the center where you kind of had to choose between nine or ten and the bending lines. They also had moved an oxer from the junior classic to our classic so you had to kind of rethink your jump-off, but I liked it. It was challenging."

 Olivia Lawton and G.P.S. Brilliant Disguise 
 
Lawton will be at GLEF through next week, and chose to compete at the Flintfields Horse Park for her last show of the summer before gearing up for her freshman year of college at the University of Georgia where she will be competing on their NCEA equestrian team.
 
"I've been here before," said Lawton. "We've come here a couple of years. It's probably my favorite horse show of the year. It's like a vacation and a horse show all rolled into one. This is my last horse show before I go off to college. I'm riding at the University of Georgia on their team. I'm going to be a freshman. I'm so excited!"
 
Leahy was the first to tackle Thomas Hern Jr.'s track in the $7,500 NAL Low Junior Jumper Classic with Caribe. They finished the first round in a clear effort, allowing them to continue on to the jump-off, eventually finishing fault-free in 31.876 seconds.
 
Leahy has been riding Caribe on and off for the last two years under trainer Steve Schaefer. The talented junior rider normally rides the 13-year-old stallion from Argentina during the winter months at shows such as the Winter Equestrian Festival, while Schaefer takes him on for the summer to compete with in the grand prix classes. However, this year, due to a back injury, Schaefer offered the ride to Leahy for the summer.

Caelinn Leahy and Caribe
 
"He is really fun," said Leahy of Caribe. "He's super cool. He's definitely a really big horse and has a huge personality. He thinks he's the man and he loves his job. He's so easy and he's so elastic. He's very fast with his turns and just loves his job and is super careful. He definitely hunts for the turns in the jump-off and he's very quick. It's like he knows we are doing the turn before I do. It's really great. The jump-off was really fun.
 
"The first round was great as well," continued Leahy. "There were technical parts, but I kind of ride him through every course with a little bit of a speed, not necessarily going fast but just kind of carrying that pace, and I think that definitely helped me. When I have that pace it's easier for me to slow down. The triple - that was definitely a really good exercise because it was on the rail and you had to turn into it. Overall I think the course was great and definitely had plenty of challenges."
 
Abbey Soffer and her own Violetta were the first to finish double clear in the class in 35.929 seconds. However, Leahy returned to the Grand Prix Ring twelve trips later and took over the lead, garnering Soffer the red ribbon. The class saw four in total go on to finish with no faults with Briley Koerner and her own Up'An Go St Druon rounding out the top three in 36.393 seconds.

Abbey Soffer and Violetta
 
Although Leahy has competed at the Flintfieds Horse Park before, this is her first year competing in the Grand Prix Ring.
 
"Last time I was here was around three years ago," said Leahy. "I was in the Jumper Annex doing the Low Children's Jumpers and now I'm doing the High Juniors. Next we're headed to Equifest, but I had a blast here. It's been a lot of fun. It's been awhile since I've been here, but it's been great and a lot of my friends are here. It's just been a really great experience."

Caelinn Leahy accepted her $7,500 NAL Low Junior Jumper Classic award aboard her second mount of the class, Sonas Douglas.

The Grand Prix Ring at GLEF kicked off on Saturday at 8 a.m. In the $500 Adult Jumper class, Lindsey Tomeu and Bonapart, owned by DBHC, Inc., led the victory gallop in a double clear performance in 47.104 seconds. Rachel Boggus and her own Wiedam trailed Tomeu's time by 2/10ths of a second, grabbing second place in a double clear time of 47.351 seconds, while Madeline Cooley and Jennifer Santana's Rosario LN finished double clear and not far behind in 49.644 seconds to take third.
 
Following the Adult Jumpers was the East Wind Farm Children's Jumpers, which saw Hailey Berger and her own Shannondale Gino best a field of 28 to take the top spot in 46.335 seconds. The class had 15 horses and riders produce clear rounds in the speed competition with Mackenzie Snider following Berger by one second aboard Melissa Hirt's mount, Roc N Groovy, in 47.740 seconds. Concluding the top three was Jesse Soares and her own Atlanta Z, tripping the timers in 48.017 seconds.
 
GLEF will continue to welcome riders and thrill spectators over the next two weeks throughout the first series of competition, which runs July 6-31. Week Two will conclude on Sunday with the highlighted main event, the $50,000 Grand Prix of Michigan, presented by Peninsula Capital Management and Craig Rosenberg, to be held in the Grand Prix Ring at 2 p.m. 

Giavanna Rinaldi catch rode Amanda Derbyshire's Romance to win the $1,000 Junior Hunter Classic on Saturday at the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival.

An unfamiliar pairing was spotted in the Main Hunter Ring at the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival as Giavanna Rinaldi piloted a new horse, Romance, around the Small Junior Hunter division. Romance, a mount owned by Amanda Derbyshire, is normally seen competing with Mimi Gochman, but the circumstances were different for Saturday afternoon's show.

After Gochman sustained an injury on Friday, she took the rest of the show weekend off, leaving Romance without a rider to finish the Small Junior Hunter division. Rinaldi was asked to step in to help with the division as well as compete in the $1,000 Junior Hunter Classic.

"The horse was super nice," Rinaldi said of Romance. "He gave a great feeling over the jumps, was super smooth and always gave one hundred percent effort. Mimi did a great job with him yesterday too."

Sophie Gochman and VIP Z

Rinaldi and Romance earned a spot in the top twelve call back for the classic after receiving an 87 during their first over fences round. The pair topped their score, earning an 88 and bested the field of 19 riders to win the blue.

Gochman watched from the sidelines as Rinaldi patted Romance after their winning round.

"It was amazing!" Gochman said of Romance's performance with Rinaldi. "I've known Romance for a really long time, maybe the most out of all of my horses. He was my first horse to ride, which is really special. You have to know him well, and Gia knew him really well, and did awesome."

It was a successful day for the Gochman family as Sophie Gochman piloted VIP Z to the second place finish in the $1,000 Junior Hunter Classic with scores of 83 and 85. Rounding out the top three was Brett Burlington on Due West, earning scores of 83 and 80.

Sophie Gochman pats VIP Z

Rinaldi also helped Gochman earn the overall championship title in the Small Junior Hunter division after winning two blue ribbons on Romance. During Friday's portion of the division, Gochman rode Romance to a first place in the handy round as well as a fourth and a seventh.

When Gochman was asked if she was feeling better and getting ready to compete again, she excitedly replied, "Yes! I'll start showing again next week."

Emma Wujek and Puppet returned to the Large Junior Hunter 15 and Under division defending their championship win from Week One. After earning two firsts, two seconds and a third place ribbon, Wujek and Puppet, owned by John and Stephanie Ingram, now have two consecutive championship wins under their belt.

Of Puppet, Wujek said, "He was good, he's just super tired, but he's such a great horse. His canter is just like you're floating on a cloud!"

Emma Wujek and Puppet

Wujek also dominated the Large Junior Hunter division riding Cuba, an entry owned by Missy Clark. Wujek and Cuba earned two first place ribbons as well as two seconds and an eighth to clinch the reserve championship title.

Wujek added, "I had to do Cuba second. Puppet was awesome, he was feeling good. Then I came in and beat him on Cuba! They were both awesome. Cuba is cool. He's more up and down where Puppet is more big and long. He has a great jump, and he's really fun!"

For the Large Junior Hunter 16-17 division, Summer Hill took home the win riding Holly Orlando's Eclypse. Hill and Eclypse almost swept the division, accumulating four firsts and a third during their two days competing in the division. Brett Burlington and Popish Farms, LLC's Due West took home the reserve champion ribbon in the division.

Competition for World Championship Hunter Rider week at the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival will conclude Sunday, July 17, after the Glory Days Farm, LLC $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby. 

Emma Wujek and Puppet

Horses are not the only form of entertainment lined up for this year'
s Great Lakes Equestrian Festival. The festival has teamed up with top musicians and entertainers from around the country to offer fun-filled evenings for this year's concert and dinner series.
 
To kick-off Summer Evenings at Flintfields, Porterhouse Presents hosted the Dirty Bourbon River Show's unique New Orleans Funk, Jazz and Americana sounds on Friday evening. The event was sponsored by East West Equine Sports Medicine, and featured North Peak Brewing Company and Black Star Farms products. The night kicked off at 6 p.m. with unique and entertaining music as well as New Orleans and Cajun food that was enjoyed by all.
 
The second week of the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival, held July 13-17, has completely sold out of stabling space with limited spots remaining for Week Three, July 20-24. Act now to reserve stabling spots for August, and do not miss out on the chance to compete during the all-new FEI Great Lakes Equestrian Festival series in August.
 
Series Two kicks off on August 10 and runs through August 28 featuring three weeks of hunter and jumper competition with a FEI CSI2* rating Week Five and Six and a FEI CSI3* rating during Week Seven culminating in the $100,000 Grand Traverse Grand Prix on Sunday, August 28.
 
The Great Lakes Equestrian Festival is set on 88 beautiful acres and showcases five world-class competition rings in addition to spacious schooling rings. The property features don't stop there as the park offers convenient on-site campgrounds and weekly nights of entertainment for a truly unique attendee experience.
 
For more information, please visit www.greatlakesequestrianfestival.com.
 
To apply for media credentials, please click here.
 
For sponsorship opportunities, please contact Brooke Berganza at brooke.berganza@greatlakesquestrianfestival.com
 
For questions and comments, please contact info@greatlakesequestrianfestival.com.