2007 GULF COAST WINTER CLASSICS SERIES

“Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler” in Gulfport
Week Two

Gulfport, MS—Feb 22,2007—

The Cajun expression for “Let the good times roll” became the theme as the second week of the Gulf Coast Winter Classics kicked off on Tuesday with a Mardi Gras parade through downtown Biloxi. An estimated crowd of 70,000 plus lined the streets vying for the goodies tossed from over 140 wildly decorated floats. Among which was one sponsored by Classic Company and created by Dean and Linda Hall of Specialty Arts based in Gulfport. Bob Bell [President of Classic Co] along with several guests including “first timers” Grand Prix riders Wilhelm Genn and Gautama Tschannerl threw beads, danced, and partied the afternoon away. “Wow! What an experience!” began Gautama (fondly known as G), “How many people can say they’ve ridden on a Mardi Gras float in their lifetime? This is brilliant.”

Mike Rosser & Besides That
Photo: ©Flashpoint Photography

Competition heated right back up Wednesday, beginning in the Hunter Divisions where for the second week some of the top horse-rider combinations turned in stellar performances. Holly Shepherd rode Brook Haven for owners Dr. and Mrs. Ken Garber for the Championship in the 1st Year Green Working and then picked up the tri colors in the 2nd Year Green Working aboard Avery Griffin’s Southern Come Back. Repeating victory in the Conformation Hunter divisions was Mike Rosser riding Besides That for owner Don Stewart and taking top honors in the Regular Working division was Bailey Anderson’s Alaina with Russell Frey in the irons.

The good times continue for Wilhelm Genn of Lebanon, OH as he claimed a second Lucky Sevens Welcome Stake win, this week with partner Ariado, the 10 year-old Holsteiner gelding he purchased for wife Patty’s birthday this time last year. “I had to win with him, Patty’s watching!” a laughing Wilhelm said in reference to his own mare Happy Z taking 2nd place today. He also had the 3rd position sewed up for owner Laura Ryan-Barnaclo with last week’s Grand Prix victor Chantal.

Internationally ranked course designer Michel Vaillancourt spared no punches with the Classic Equine Equip, Inc sponsored stakes class, testing the field of competitors with 11 obstacles [requiring 14 efforts] in the first round but with a generous time allowance of 78 seconds. “It was more than I expected,” today’s winner commented of the level of difficulty, “I just didn’t think it would get that hard today, but a nice course. I really like Michel’s work….and I seem to do well on his courses.” Wilhelm finished with a smile.

Of the eight first round clears in the end only Wilhelm had the double cleans.

Wilhelm Genn & Ariado
Photo: ©Flashpoint Photography

The dash for cash round of 6 jumps, asking for 7 efforts, had a time limit of 45 seconds but time would not be the deciding issue this afternoon. Twists, turns, and a little deception awaited the final eight. “Michel always builds so that you just can’t take a breath!” Wilhelm recalled a Grand Prix from last year in which he explained Michel had built a really nice course, remembering a small unassuming little vertical in particular and noted that it became the obstacle to take so many out of the game. “I now know better than to let my guards down with him. I try to stay sharp ALL the way through” The first fence of the jump off was “assumed” to be the problematic spot because the big red-white oxer had competitors jumping into the sun, however many including Wilhelm soon discovered the “unassuming” little spot Michel had laid as his real trap. “The tricky one for me was #9, because you come off the combination [15ab] then gallop out there [stretch to 9] and the horses look out at cars going by. Then you’re almost on top of a really square oxer! It looks offset, probably isn’t, but with the horses’ looking towards the road, well 4 faults there would be easy.” Wilhelm concluded.

Ariado’s winning time was a very quick 32.907, second place finisher Happy Z completed the final round in 33.041 while Chantal stopped the clock at 35.778 seconds. The fourth position went to Rex The Rascal with Douglas King riding for owners Royal Crown Stables in a time of 34.946 and 4 faults. Rounding out the top five was Marceux partnered with Matt Cyphert for owner Patricia Murphy finishing with 4 faults in 35.285. Genn will pilot all three rides in this weekend’s EMO $25,000 Grand Prix as well as possibly debuting a new young horse, Cedric, whom he co-owns with Carrie Van Wormer.

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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