Days for Wilhelm Genn and Happy Z-
GULFPORT, MS.—FEB.24, 2008–
It was a perfect birthday present for Patty Genn, wife of rider Wilhelm and co-owner of the brilliant Happy Z, today’s winners of the $25,000 EMO Grand Prix of the Gulf Coast, held at the Harrison County Equestrian Center in Gulfport, Mississippi.
Genn bested 29 contenders for the top spot, including leading rider Bjorn Ikast, who has dominated the circuit lately with his three mounts, Anchor Man, Brave Heart, and Monte Cristo. But when the dust cleared following the swift jump off round, Genn had surpassed all and more accurately survived the trials and tribulations put before them.
“You need to have a fit horse-You need to have a horse that still focuses,” said Wilhelm, who had nothing but confidence in his beautiful chestnut 10 year-old mare, in regards to the endurance needed to clear the first track. “I didn’t run her in the Welcome, let her have a little rest for the weekend.” Genn shared, almost as if he had a premonition of what was to come. Or maybe he’d like the birthday girl, his wife Patty to believe it was just part of a planned present. Whichever the case, a beaming Patty was quite tickled with her day.
The course, designed by the internationally recognized Pierre Joliceur, had only seven clean 1st rounds from the starting field. Its 13 obstacles with 85-second allowance tested the contenders not only in the technical aspects but also in endurance. “It’s difficult,” began Wilhelm, “when you have short distances on the end of a long course. Everybody has to stay sharp.”
The rider noted that the latter section of the course was particularly tough in the first round “you’re turning for home, horses got a little heavy on the front end. They had to rock back and get on their hind end so that they can still jump up and be careful”, that seemed to get a lot of people. Wilhelm rode 4 mounts in total bringing three, Chantal-clean in 79.58, the coming 8 year-old Loredo-clean in 84.18 and Happy-clean in 80.68 to the final round. Happy who went last in both the first and jump off round enjoyed a nice advantage in being able to take note of the others on course.
With a time allowed of 48 seconds in the final round, Genn was first to return with the more seasoned Chantal, but an unknown element alarmed the bay catching Wilhelm by complete surprise. “I have no idea what happened, he must have seen something I didn’t. I was so caught off guard that I almost came off.” Wilhelm laughed and added, “Just proves anything can happen.” The pair finished in 52.686 with a total of 13 faults.
Next to take on the 8 fence- 9effort challenge was Woodlands, TX favorite Meagan Nusz with the first of her two mounts, Pikeur’s Xtatic-loving known as “Mr. Pickles”, however they fell victim to the double vertical line and time penalties to finish in 56.608 and 13 faults. Wilhelm followed with Loredo, “I did a six [stride] from fence 1 to 2” smiling with this illustration of just how big a stride the youngster processes. Scope and stride landed them the first double clear round as they stopped the clock at 47.747. Determined not to go out quietly, last weekend’s victor Bjorn Ikast and Anchor Man stepped onto the grass ready to rock the crowd and as they approached the final turn it looked like an upset in the making, but an unlucky rail in the end dashed their hope of a repeat win.
The pair finished in a fast 46.663 with 4 faults. College student Meagan Nusz had another shot at unseating Genn with her second mount For Fun, the pair were poised and fluid throughout but unfortunately faulted on the final two jumps to give them a finish of 44.871 seconds and 8 faults. Veteran rider (and owner) Belynda Bond aboard the popular Sea Cove entered next, the duo also fell victim to faults and time penalties finishing in 56.210 with a total of 13 faults. The only other clear round in the jump off belonged to Happy Z, fondly referred to as “the little mare who can” due to her smaller stature when compared to the competitors who often tower over her. The agile and very quick little mare showed no trouble tackling the task before her, going clean yet again in 45.723 to cinch the win.
Winning his 18th Grand Prix with Happy, whom he’s been competing since she was 5 years-old, and taking first place over such a tough field, Wilhelm’s comment was “How much better could it be than to win a grand prix on my beautiful wife’s birthday!” Asked how they would celebrate Patty said just a nice meal with the family…soon as her favorite chestnut was rewarded and tucked in for the night. Something else for the Genn clan to rejoice over is, today’s win clearly put Wilhelm in the lead for the series $10,000 bonus to be awarded at the conclusion of week five to the grand prix rider with the most calculated points earned over the length of the competition. And with three more weeks of grand prix events this should prove to be an exciting series to watch.
Official results for the EMO Grand Prix are; Wilhelm Genn with Happy Z in 1st place and with Loredo, owned by Micaela Kennedy in 2nd place with a clear time of 47.747. Third place went to rider-owner Bjorn Ikast aboard Anchor Man with a time of 46.663 and 4 faults. Fourth to Meagan Nusz riding For Fun for owner TNT Partners in a time of 44.871 with 8 faults and completing the top five was rider-owner Belynda Bond in the irons of Sea Cove with a final time of 56.210 and 13 faults.
The Gulfport Winter Classic continues with more hunter/jumper and Grand Prix action through March16th. 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 over the five-week series.
For more information or results on the 2008 Gulf Coast Winter Series, please visit www.classiccompany.com or call the show office at (228) 832-0080.