2007 GULF COAST WINTER CLASSIC SERIES

Wilhelm Genn turns the Heat Up at Gulf Coast Winter Opener
Week One

Gulfport, MS—FEB 18, 2007—

Thermometers may have been up and down but Wilhelm Genn has been hot all week. He scorched the competition this afternoon at the $25,000 Gulf Coast Premier Grand Prix presented by Budweiser, which opened the five weeks of thrilling equestrian action at the Gulf Coast Winter Classics. Chantal, ridden by Genn for owner Laura Ryan-Barnaclo, raised the temperatures and pulse rates of an amazed community who welcomed the exhibitors back in record numbers.

Wilhelm and the 8-year-old Holsteiner gelding that he trains out of the home base in Lebanon, OH, bested nine jump-off contenders with a clean go in the nine-obstacle final round designed by Allen Rheinheimer that tested both riders and horses with it’s technical questions as well as the ability to make nana second decisions. “I’ve got a talented group here so why not really challenge them,” Allen began, “the level and scope of horses in this field are some of the best and they expect nothing less from my courses.”

Rheinheimer did not disappoint with a 14-obstacle layout set at maximum heights of 4’9 and widths of 5’6”, along with tight rollbacks and fast tracks to combinations. 

Wilhelm Genn on "Chantal"
Photo: ©Flashpoint Photography

Genn piloted three rides in the class, held on the lush grass Grand Prix field of the Harrison County Equestrian Center. All three mounts made the jump off.  “I actually felt all three horses jumped well,” said Wilhelm following his victory gallop. Two, Happy Z and Ariado, both owned by Genn had one rail down. “It was a challenging course, very fair but just the fact that a lot of them are coming out of the Indoors made it difficult,” he added, “I think this was an event more for concentration, carefulness, maneuverability, and preparations.”

Bjorn Ikast, who captured the victory in Thursday’s Open Welcome Jumper Stake with Wilhelm coming second to him, found himself in that position finishing right on Chantal’s hooves with Anchor Man. A mere two strides made the difference, Ikast noted: “It’s not bad to lose when it’s to a better rider.” he continued. “At least until next time!” Bjorn laughed, “You have to be on your hooves with him [Chantal].” Bjorn and Anchor Man’s first round stopped the clock at 97.35, well below the 101 second allowance, as a follow up they blazed through the jump off in 46.937 seconds but still not enough to catch Wilhelm’s winning time of 44.866. (Far under the 50-second limit)

Genn in previous weeks has won multiple Welcome Stakes and Grand Pries at the Folsom, LA and St Louis, MO winter shows.  “He’s an outstanding young horse,” said the German native of his mount’s 4th Grand Prix win. “I have big hopes for him! I hope that he can start the World Cup classes next winter. He’s careful and has all the right factors; big stride but can shorten up easily, and scopey. That’s a hard combination to find in one [horse]. I like this guy a lot.” Wilhelm arguably is a force to be reckoned with in show jumping these days as his list of victories and high placings continue to spur him up the current Grand Prix standings.  He plans to challenge Ikast’s string of winners several more times over the next 4 weeks of the Winter Classics. “I’m always excited to compete against Bjorn,” added Wilhelm, Bjorn also qualified 3 mounts for the jump off, “he [Ikast] raises the bar each time and is a true horseman” Chantal and Wilhelm’s first round was a quick 96.24. 

Bjorn also cinched the 3rd position with Brave Heart in a clear round time of 47.112, in 4th place was owner-rider Michael Tokaruk with Lord Byron finishing with 4 faults in 45.503, and completing the top five was Wilhelm with his own Ariado in 45.965 and 4 faults. “I think the competition on this grass field is only going to get better each week,” today’s winner said of his inaugural visit to the Gulf Coast, “The facility is wonderful. The footing in both the jumper and Grand Prix rings is great. The horses are very comfortable in this environment. We’re looking forward to the next 4 weeks here.”  

Presenting awards to the victorious this afternoon was Classic Company President and Co-Chair of the Gulf Coast Winter series Bob Bell, who said, “and this is just the first week! As they say, the best is yet to come.” A still smiling Wilhelm added, “Yes! And I get to ride on a Mardi Gras float Tuesday!” Blue skies, sunshine, and lots of laughter all together made for the perfect end of a near perfect first week on the Gulf Coast as Janet McCarroll, Co-Chair of the series and local resident’s parting words echoed across the field, “Ya’ll come back next week.”

The Gulfport Winter Classics continues with more hunter/jumper and Grand Prix action through March 18th. Admission is free and the public is invited to enjoy the exciting competition throughout the week along with another $25,000 Grand Prix each Sunday as well as the race for the of the $10,000 Budweiser High Point Grand Prix Rider, presented to the top rider, calculated by earned points, of the five-week series.

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