Gulfport, Miss.—March 9
Bugatti may be new to grand prix competition, but now that he’s in the game, he’s not wasting any time. He and Wilhelm Genn topped today’s $77,000 Governor’s Cup Grand Prix, in that horse's fourth grand prix start.
“I thought he’d be in the ribbons, but I didn’t think he’d win,” admitted owner Eduardo Leon.
The 8-year-old gelding was one of four horses who cleared Steve Stephens’ first round course without penalty, but even then Genn didn’t think he’d go for the win. Genn was more concerned that the still green jumper develop his confidence rather than gun for the top check, and Bugatti felt a bit tired thanks to a warm afternoon and a second-place finish in the $25,000 Welcome Grand Prix two days earlier.
So Genn checked in with Leon and they formulated a plan: if the first two horses, both experienced grand prix competitors, were fast and quick, they’d scratch Bugatti from the jump off. If the pathfinders ran into trouble, Bugatti would give it a go. Both Chantilly (Devin Ryan) and KT Cher (Timothy Maddrix) pulled rails, so Genn took Bugatti in for the jump-off, leaving all the poles in the cups. Shannon Hicks couldn’t replecate the performance on Yes Sir, giving Bugatti with his first grand prix victory in the feature class of the Gulf Coast Sunshine Classic V.
The win tasted especially sweet as Bugatti has been recovering from a minor setback over the last few weeks. The first week of the Gulf Coast circuit, he took exception to one of the sponsor fences, so Genn dropped him down, and started schooling him over white coolers to simulate the jump.
“Every second I had in the ring I went to that jump, even if it wasn’t in the class,” said Genn, Lebanon, Ohio. “Normally he doesn’t spook at the jumps that much, but I made a point to get in early and hang out by that jump.”
That schooling paid off today, as the fence—the Beau Rivage vertical—was in both the first round and the jump off.
Genn’s had the ride on Bugatti for four years, and brought him up through the young jumper program. He’s been easing him up the levels, working to keep the naturally uber-careful horse’s confidence high.
“This winter I really felt a switch,” said Genn. “He started doing the 1.40-meter classes in November, and in December all the sudden you could feel his confidence. He’s starting to have fun and he was proud of himself when he had a good round.”
Bugatti will take next week off, and Genn will focus on two other younger grand prix mounts for the final week of competition during the Gulf Coast circuit.
For full results visit Horse Shows Online.
Do you need a little pick-me-up? Check out professional hunter rider Tom Brennan’s amazing response to negative comments about his riding.
We'll have a full report from Gulf Coast Sunshine Classic V in the March 31 issue of The Chronicle of the Horse magazine.