Williamsburg, Mich., July 24
Ryan Genn let his father ride his horse for just a few weeks, and what does he do? He goes out and wins the $30,000 Grand Prix of the Great Lakes with her!
Wilhelm Genn took the reins on Marlo for the last two weeks because Ryan was sick, and he and the talented gray mare made short work of conquering a speedy 10-horse jump-off for the top check.
Wilhelm and Marlo were fourth to go, and Wilhelm knew he had to set a quick pace to keep the lead. “This mare is very efficient through the turns and in the air, but the last thing you want to do is to rush her,” he said. “If you hurry her pace, she tends to want to put her feet down a bit. So my goal was to be quick through all the turns, but not get her too quick.” When the gray mare stopped the timers in 36.90 seconds, Wilhelm knew he had to just sit back and watch the remaining six riders try to catch his time.
They ran, but they just couldn’t quite get it done. Charlie Jacobs came close on Leap Of Joy, finishing clean just .2 of a second slower than Marlo. But he was to be the only other clear jump-off round. By the time Jacobs came back as last to jump off on his second ride, Flaming Star, Wilhelm and Marlo’s lead looked somewhat untouchable.
But Jacobs made it clear that he was gunning for the win. He left a stride out to the second fence—a wide oxer—making the crowd gasp. But Flaming Star flipped his hind end and cleared it. As they turned to the last line, they were burning up the clock, but Flaming Star just dragged a hind toe over the Mackinaw Bridge vertical and toppled it on the way to the last oxer. They’d have the fastest time of the afternoon after shaving more than 4 seconds off Wilhelm’s time, but the rail put them into fourth. Jacobs gave Wilhelm a hearty handshake of congratulations after the class.
“I think Charlie and I were the only ones to do five [strides from the double combination] to the liverpool oxer,” Wilhelm said. “Everyone else did six strides there.”
Marlo, a 14-year-old Dutch Warmblood, is a veteran, having competed at the grand prix level with Danielle Torano, Jimmy Torano and Hillary Dobbs over the last four years. The Genns bought her in February for Ryan, 19, to ride in the grand prix classes. “She tries so hard, and she’s so careful,” Wilhelm said. “She’s a little bit opinionated, like all good mares are, but if you do it her way, she’s great.”
Ryan shows Marlo in both the amateur-owner division and the grand prix. They were fourth in the $35,000 Outback Steakhouse Grand Prix at the Atlanta Summer Classic II (Ga.) and fourth in the $30,000 Tractor Supply Grand Prix at the Nashville Classic (Tenn.) in June.