Matthew Metell of Wellington, Florida, won the $30,000 Vermont Summer Special Grand Prix for the second year in a row onJuly 7, during the opening week of competition at the 25th annual Vermont Summer Festival, which runs through August 12 at Harold Beebe Farm in East Dorset, Vermont.
From a starting field of 20 horses, Metell and Donchalant, owned by Wolver Hollow, were one of only two pairs to jump clear over a difficult first-round course designed by Paul Jewell of Ewing, New Jersey. In the jump-off, Lainie Wimberly of Ridgefield, Connecticut, had a rail down in a time of 50.98 seconds riding RF Quarterman, owned by Brigadoon Show Stables, Inc. The pressure was on Metell when an early rail fell, but the 28-year-old made up for it on the clock with a time of 47.65 seconds to take the win.
Hailey Rogge of Lafayette, Louisiana, finished third with two time faults for exceeding the time allowed aboard Flame Van De Dassenloop, owned by Top Line Sporthorse International. Karyn Foley of Wilton, Connecticut was fourth with the only four-fault effort riding Felix, owned by Orpen Horses, while Colombia’s Mario Garcia rounded out the top five aboard Fabbries.
The Vermont Summer Festival has become hallowed ground for Metell since earning his first career grand prix victory there in 2017. He and Donchalant are also the reigning winners of the $50,000 Vermont Summer Celebration Grand Prix, which takes place during the sixth and final week of competition.
“There is something about Vermont!” said Metell, who also won Thursday’s $10,000 Manchester Designer Outlets Welcome Stake and considers the Vermont Summer Festival his favorite horse show. “We have good luck here, but I think I do better when I don’t expect a win. I figured that, statistically, there was no way I was going to win again. I can’t believe it happened!”
“The triple was tight and that was a trouble spot for a lot of horse,” Metell said of the course. “I watched Jenny [Kocher] go and her horse has a big stride, and it was really hard for him. I actually altered my plan a little after that.
“But it worked out for me, and she backed off nicely,” continued Metell of Donchalant, the 10-year-old grey Dutch Warmblood mare (Larino—Nonchalant, Amaretto I) he has piloted for just over a year. “It was bigger and wider than it was in the welcome, so we had to work a little harder today, but I got lucky.”