Wilhelm Genn and his own Happy Z fly over a fence on the CWD fence en route to the winner’s circle. Photo by MH Hamm.
Patriarch Wilhelm Genn of Lebanon, Ohio and his sons Ryan and Theo took the top three placings in Sunday’s $50,000 CWD Grand Prix at the Mississippi Gulf Coast Winter Classic in Gulfport Sunday.
World-renowned, international course designer Michel Vaillancourt, originally from Montreal, Canada and now living in Aiken, South Carolina, designed the course. Vaillancourt made history by becoming the first Canadian equestrian athlete to win an Individual Olympic medal. Even more meaningfully, it was a feat he accomplished in his hometown of Montreal during the 1976 Olympic Games.
Due to the less than perfect weather last weekend, Technical Adviser, Allen Rheinheimer of Zionsville, Indiana, decided to run the class in one of the all-weather footing jumper arenas. Theo Genn commented on the move of rings: “It was the right call to put it on the sand and off the grass. It’s the first time I’ve ever seen them move the grand prix from the turf field to sand in the past seven years. But even though the weather had been less than nice, Michel [Vaillancourt] designed a pretty tough course. It was a pretty good height and technical I’m sure because of that new rule that requires a certain amount of meter fifty jumps, and it was tough.”
Bob Bell, President of the Gulf Coast Classic Company, said, “Janet, Allen and I sat ringside and made a plan because of the weather forecast. We decided to put up a second VIP tent and prepare for either rings. The morning of the grand prix, we had both VIP tents up and ready with tables, champagne and centerpieces. The weather would decide which tent and which ring was going to be used. Since the rain continued, although not pouring, just raining, we went with the all-purpose ring, Jumper 2, and opted out of the turf grand prix field,” he said. “The tent was filled and all went great. The rain stopped when they were building the course and there was no rain during the class.”
“I give Allen Rheinheimer a salute for his foresight and planning. We revised the entire schedule because of the weather last weekend. The hunters finished about noon on Sunday since Saturday’s schedule was revised and all in all, everyone, including the management team, was pleased with the how we handled the schedule and the rings while planning for the weather,” he concluded.
But despite the weather, the Genn men were the only three to go clean in the class. Wilhelm Genn rode his own Happy Z to the win in a first round score of 74.578 seconds, while his son Ryan rode Wilhelm’s Cookie Monster to a second place finish in 81.752 seconds and Theo Genn rode Thomas Bruinsma’s Paradox to the third place finish in a time of 76.614 seconds. In view of the weather, the Genn trio opted to not jump off and call it a tie. “We were the only three to go clean, so we’re going to split up the prize money evenly. We all really won,” commented Theo Genn of Lebanon, Ohio.
The fastest of the four-faulters was CWD sponsored rider, Devin Ryan of Long Valley, New Jersey, who rode Sima Mogrello’s Chantilly to the fourth place finish with four jump faults and a time of 74.741 seconds. Trapp O’Neal of Magnolia, Texas rode TKG Partnership’s Capitano to fifth place in a time of 77.098 seconds and four jump faults while Jay Land of Alpharetta, Georgia rode his and Kim Land’s own Nepal to a sixth placing in a time of 82.881 seconds and four jump faults. Eagle Valley Partners’ LLC’s Boucanier, ridden by Devin Ryan, turned in a time of 76.682 seconds and eight jump faults, finishing in seventh, while Christi Israel of Birmingham, Alabama piloted her own Cracky Z to an eighth place finish with a time of 77.637 seconds and eight jump faults. Loretta Patterson’s horses Rapid Rewards, ridden by Dani Grice of Northfield, Minnesota, and Skymiles, ridden by Holly Shepherd of Grand Bay, Alabama, finished in ninth and tenth places, respectively.
Wilhelm Genn commented, “This is our last winter circuit for Happy [Z] before we retire her and start her second career as a brood mare, so we’re very happy to see her win and add yet another grand prix to her resume. We’re hoping that she can hold onto the title of the most grand prix won in America.” Genn continued, “That’s for all mares, geldings and stallions. She has been amazing. She is a once in a lifetime horse and we have a very special relationship.”
Ryan Genn is a full time student at SCAD [Savanah College of Art and Design] in Charleston, South Carolina and was unavailable for comment. However, his brother Theo spoke on his behalf: “Ryan is a full time student at SCAD and it’s really hard for him to balance his time between riding and school… but he does it. It is really impressive that he can fly in on a Friday and jump so well on Cookie Monster and go clean on him, especially since he [Cookie Monster] is still pretty green in the grand prix. Ryan is an extremely talented rider and he will undoubtedly be one of the best in the sport,” he added.
Why did only the Genn horses go clean? Theo Genn provided his perspective: “Our horses are jumping just incredible. On Sunday, I tried to jump less in the warm up, so I jumped half of the jumps I would usually jump. I just tried to stretch him out. My Dad and Ryan and I all do our own thing in the warm up, but I would guess they probably did the same thing.”
What is the secret of their success? “I think we just try to keep the horses happy. We’re trying not to over work them. And when we work, we’re having fun with them and I think that makes them happy and love to do their job,” he added.
Genn continued, “Paradox is pretty experienced and he is having the best year he has ever had. He is 14 this year and I think he’s hitting his prime. He was a difficult, nervous horse when he was younger but as he matures, he is starting to relax and is jumping with a lot of confidence. We bought him in Germany as an un-shown six year old and brought him to the States. Thomas Bruinsma bought him from us but has kept him in training with us in order to support me and allow me to ride him. He has been very supportive and helpful and what can I say, he is an amazing, very selfless man,” he said.
“Paradox has been jumping the grand prix like they are schooling classes. Out of the last five grand prix, he has been second twice, third, fourth and tied this one for first. Top four in the last five grand prix – he is jumping so well!” he added.
FREE LIVE WEB STREAMING OF ALL WELCOME AND GRAND PRIX CLASSES!
The Mississippi Gulf Coast Classic is proud to offer everyone the opportunity to watch show jumping action LIVE! Click on this link and catch the action LIVE and FOR FREE!
The remaining schedule for free, live, web casting is as follows:
Gulf Coast Mid-Winter Classic IV
Friday February 28 at 3:00 pm $25,000 Welcome
Sunday March 2 at 2:00 pm $50,000 Grand Prix
Gulf Coast Sunshine Classic V
Friday March 7 at 8:00 am USHJA International Hunter Derby
Friday March 7 at 3:00 pm $25,000 Welcome
Sunday March 9 at 2:00 pm $77,700 Governor’s Cup Grand Prix
Gulf Coast Finale VI
Sunday March 16 at 2:00 pm $25,000 Grand Prix
Make sure to follow the IDK Media Group on Twitter at twitter@idkmediagroup.
There is no better place to watch the action than the VIP tent. Tables are only $325 a week and include complimentary wine, beer and hors d’oeuvres during the Welcome classes and Sunday’s luncheon catered by the Official Restaurant Partners of the Gulf Coast Winter Classic along with a complimentary bottle of champagne. Make sure to see Jonathan in the show office to secure your table today!
The Gulf Coast Classic Company and the Classic Company is a USHJA’s Members Choice Award winner, recognized for producing top quality show jumping events in the United States. Together, they offer the best exhibitor-friendly, top quality hunter jumper events each winter. Please visit them on the web at www.ClassicCompany.com or call them at 843.768.5503.
All sponsorship, marketing and press inquiries should be directed to Lisa Engel, Sponsorship, Marketing and Public Relations Director, at email@example.com.
See you at the ring,
The Classic Company, Ltd.
Phone/FAX: (843) 768-5503
Post Office Box 1311 Johns Island SC 29457