Ireland’s Kevin Mealiff won the $30,000 Manchester & the Mountains Grand Prix on Saturday, August 3, during week five of the Vermont Summer Festival, which continues through August 11 at Harold Beebe Farm in East Dorset, VT.
Ten horse-rider combinations advanced to jump off over the short course set by Gerry Briggs of Smyrna, TN. Mealiff and his mount, Idylle van de Eikhoeve, were the last to return for the jump-off, and they crossed the finish in 40.11 seconds to narrowly edge out New Zealand’s Kirk Webby for the win.
With Mealiff besting Webby’s time of 40.40 seconds by just tenths of a second, Webby, the winner of both the week one and week two grand prix events at the 2019 Vermont Summer Festival, would finish in second with Brando du Rouet, owned by Tolleshunt Investment Group.
“With 10 in the jump-off, I knew it was going to be very fast,” said Mealiff. “I was lucky enough to go last. I’d seen everyone go, and I knew Kirk was very fast, so I knew I had to do something between the last two jumps. I left a stride out there and just picked him off at the end, so it was great.”
Mealiff only took over the ride on Idylle van de Eikhoeve a week ago, but the 11-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare’s style suits him well.
“She likes to take a hold and kind of run at the jump, so then you just have to sit against her,” said Mealiff of the mare owned by Freedom Hill Farm. “That’s my type of ride, and I just seem to get on really well with her.
“It’s a super mare,” continued Mealiff, who is based out of North Salem, NY. “She’s very careful and seems very consistent, so she has a big future ahead of her. In the jump-offs, you can turn her back tight, and she just pats the ground and leaves. She’s so careful and just has a lot of good quality.”
In recognition of his victory, Mealiff was awarded a crystal trophy, as well as a show scrim from Mona's Monograms. Fernando Bentora, was presented with the weekly Grand Prix Groom Award in honor of his hard work preparing Idylle van de Eikhoeve for grand prix competition. He was presented with a monogrammed jacket and coolerette from sponsor Glenn Geary of Horsewatch.
Following Saturday’s win, Idylle van de Eikhoeve will enjoy a few days off at home before returning for the final week of the Vermont Summer Festival and the culminating $50,000 Vermont Summer Celebration Grand Prix.
Likely to join Mealiff in the finale grand prix are many of Saturday’s other top finishers including Matthew Metell of Wellington, FL, who rode to third place with a jump-off time of 40.78 seconds aboard Donchalant, and Cian McDermott, also of Wellington, FL, who finished in both fourth and sixth place with clear jump-off times of 43.33 seconds and 47.81 seconds aboard Newcastle and Feliciano van d’n Otterdijk, respectively. Fifth place with a jump-off time of 47.75 seconds went to Colin Savaria of Ocala, FL, riding Felex.
Now in its 26th year, the Vermont Summer Festival offers a dynamic competition schedule while also giving competitors an opportunity to enjoy the wide variety of entertainment, recreation, shopping, and dining options offered in Dorset, Manchester, and the surrounding area. A recent study conducted by the Center for Rural Studies at the University of Vermont cited that the total direct spending of visitors frequenting Vermont for equine-related activities is estimated at nearly $15.5 million annually.
Competition at the 2019 Vermont Summer Festival runs weekly from Wednesday through Sunday, beginning each day at 8 a.m. Admission is $5 for adults and children from Wednesday through Friday. On Saturday and Sunday, admission is $10 for adults and $5 for children with 100 percent of all gate proceeds benefiting Dorset Equine Rescue, The Dorset School, and Manchester Community Library.
The Vermont Summer Festival is a proud member of the Show Jumping Hall of Fame, the Marshall & Sterling League, and the North American League (NAL). For more information on the Vermont Summer Festival, please visit www.vt-summerfestival.com.
$30,000 Manchester & the Mountains Grand Prix – Saturday, August 3
Rider Hometown Horse Faults/Time
Kevin Mealiff Ireland Idylle van de Eikhoeve 0/0/40.11
Kirk Webby New Zealand Brando du Rouet 0/0/40.40
Matthew Metell Wellington, FL Donchalant 0/0/40.78
Cian McDermott Wellington, FL Newcastle 0/0/43.33
Colin Savaria Ocala, FL Felex 0/0/47.75
Cian McDermott Wellington, FL Feliciano van d’n Otterdijk 0/0/47.81
Kevin McCarthy Ireland Catch A Star HSS 0/4/39.90
Kevin McCarthy Ireland Easton 0/4/42.03
Lincoln Russell Columbus, NC Lotus 0/4/48.03
Colin Savaria Ocala, FL Helios 0/8/46.01