Bellis Show Jumping Kicks Off Equifest I with Top 3 Spots in 1.40m Jumpers
Steve Schaefer and Zarkava went to the top of the leader board in the 1.40m jumpers at Equifest I. Photo Emma Miller/Phelps Media Group
Wayne, Ill. – July 24, 2019 – Competition in the Grand Prix Arena at Lamplight Equestrian Center got underway on Wednesday, seeing eager competitors return to the ring for the three week long Chicago Festival of the Horse. The 1.40m Jumpers kicked-off the week, with some of show jumping’s most talented personalities taking to the ring. Ultimately, it was professional rider Steve Schaeffer and his very own Zarkava who secured two clean rounds, crossing the finish line with the quickest time of the day.
Steve Schaeffer and Zarkava
In the course designed by Peter Grant, riders were asked to navigate their mounts through the track comprised of eleven different obstacles in the first round, with a time-allowed of 74 seconds. The course required the athletes to be thoughtful, with a wide oxer for fence six going into a bending line to a two-stride combination at seven, and the combination at ten heading straight to the in-gate. The jump-off course, made up of seven obstacles with a time-allowed of 50 seconds, was equally challenging, featuring a combination of new and old fences for horses and athletes to face. Schaeffer first piloted one of his three mounts in the class, Valinski S, across the finish line in a time of 70.035 seconds as the first combination to go clear. They kept up the pace in the jump-off, finishing in a speedy 43.208 seconds that would prove difficult for other riders to challenge.
Steve Schaeffer and Zarkava
Schaeffer and Valinski S’ agility and speed were unmatched until Caelinn Leahy rode Dymendy, owned by Schaeffer, into the ring. The pair rode a clean first round with a time of 71.34 seconds, and carried that trend into the jump-off, tripping the timers in 43.869 seconds right on Schaeffer’s heels. Ready to set an even faster pace, Schaeffer then rode his second mount in the ring, his very own 11-year-old mare Zarkava. They were careful to leave up all the rails and finished their first round in a solid 70.304 seconds. Determined to beat his own time, Schaeffer and Zarkava expertly navigated the jump-off course and crossed the finish as the winner with a time of 42.232 seconds.
Steve Schaeffer and Valinski S
Jumper competition for Equifest I will continue at the Lamplight Equestrian Center on Thursday, July 24, and will feature the $25,000 Welcome Grand Prix at 4:00 p.m.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Steve Schaefer – Open Jumper 1.40m winner
On Zarkava: “Zarkava is 11-years-old. She is a new partnership for me. We have owned her for about a year now and she is just coming into her own. I started working with her back in Florida this year and I did a little bit with her at the end of summer. She had a fantastic [season in] Tryon. I teamed up with Ronnie [Beard] and Michael [Dorman] from Wyndmont and the mare loved that combination — she flourished in Tryon. She was double clean in her last 1.45m Grand Prix there and then she picked up right where we left off here, answering the call today. She is right on track.”
On his plans for the remainder of the year: “We are definitely going to go back to Tryon at some point. We will finish out these three shows and then get together at the end to figure out where we want to go from here. Fall is more on our radar from here. Caelinn (Leahy) will do indoors with her mare and the Prix de States team to keep rocking on.”
On his rounds: “The courses were good. They rode great for Valinski. My mare [Zarkava] is a little fractious so you don’t always know what is going to come up but she answered the call great. She was really pretty smooth and the course was a great development course for her. It was definitely the right course at the right time.”
On Valinski S: “I am blessed to be able to ride this horse. He was a Rio Olympian and I know not many people get to say they have ridden one that has been in the Olympics. Ronnie [Beard] and Michael [Dorman] have shown a lot of confidence in me by letting me have that ride so I am taking it and going as far as I can with him. He is getting up there in age but he loves his job and he has a lot of jump in him. He is just awesome.”
On Lamplight: “I grew up in the area in the Barrington, St. Charles area. I have always loved Lamplight so it feels great to be back. The weather is beautiful, the venue is beautiful and the rings always ride nice. We are looking forward to being here for the whole three weeks.”
1.40m Open Jumpers Place / Horse / Rider / Owner / R1 Faults / Time / R2 Faults / Time 1. Zarkava / Steve Schaefer / Steve Schaefer / 0 / 70.304 / 0 / 42.232 2. Valinski S / Steve Schaefer / Wyndmont Farm Inc. / 0 / 70.035 / 0 / 43.208 3. Dymendy / Caelinn Leahy / Steve Schaefer / 0 / 71.34 / 0 / 43.869 4. Dieta / Ryan Michael Genn / Shannon Reid / 0 / 73.721 / 0 / 45 5. Dante’s Inferno / Ryan Michael Genn / Wilhelm & Patty Genn / 1 / 74.345 6. Catch Me 52 / Katie Leverick / Char Suter / 1 / 74.449 7. Boucanier / Theo Genn / Taylor Blackman / 4 / 71.007 8. Freaky Liefhebber / Jacqueline Steffens / Double C Stables / 4 / 71.062 9. Grande Dame / Charlie Jayne / Charlie Jayne / 4 / 73.92 10. Hachianda Musterd / Jill Gaffney / Freestyling Farms LLC / 11 / 76.809