East Dorset, Vt.—July 15
Matthew Metell won his second consecutive grand prix at the six-week Vermont Summer Festival, taking victory in the $30,000 Battenkill Grand Prix.
Having won the $30,000 Vermont Summer Special Grand Prix during opening week, Metell returned to win again in Week 2, topping a starting field of 28 entries.
Metell and his mount, Donchalant, were the only pair to turn in a double-clear performance over the track set by Ireland’s Alan Wade, who will be the course designer at the upcoming 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games in Tryon, N.C.
“She’s easier and better than I ever thought she could be,” said Metell of his winning mount, Donchalant, a 9-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare (Larino x Amaretto I) owned by Wolver Hollow. “She feels so careful in the ring. There are bigger classes that, hopefully, we will get to jump and we will see how she steps up for those in the future, but we couldn’t be happier with her.”
Metell and Wolver Hollow trainer Theodore “Teddy” Demetriou first tried Donchalant in the Netherlands just three months ago, having received a call from Demetriou’s business partner, Robert Puck, about the mare.
“When I first saw her, we were in a tiny indoor arena where you could barely jump a three-stride,” recalled Metell. “We jumped a few jumps, she seemed like the right type for my riding style, and that was that. I didn’t even sit on her again after five or six jumps. She’s obviously more than we could have hoped for.”
Lauren Fischer, 19, of Bedford Hills, N.Y., qualified two mounts for the tie-breaking jump-off. She placed second aboard Rissoa d’Ag Bois Margot with 4 faults in a time of 47.61 seconds and took third with one rail down in a time of 48.03 seconds riding My Pleasure.
Having won the $10,000 Vineyard Vines Welcome Stake on July 14, Jimmy Torano of Wellington, FL, took fourth in the grand prix with a four-fault jump-off round in 49.03 seconds, this time riding Dutch Lady.
After celebrating the first grand prix victory of his career last week, Metell’s expectations were back in check when he rode into the ring for the $30,000 Battenkill Grand Prix, presented by The Equinox Resort.
“I thought this was the last thing that was going to happen after last week and just went in and tried to have fun,” said Metell. “It felt like more course than last week, which I expected it to be because it was a more competitive class. I don’t know if it’s the horse or that I am just not used to jumping classes like this, but it feels easy for her.
“The track reminded me of my equitation days,” continued Metell, 27, who enjoyed a successful career in the equitation ranks, including a win in the Platinum Performance/U.S. Equestrian Federation Talent Search Finals—East in 2009. “There were a lot of bending lines but she is nice and adjustable, so bigger courses in a ring like this don’t feel like they are that much work for her.”
Second-place finisher, Fischer, jumped her first grand prix at the Vermont Summer Festival in 2015. She returned to the event this summer before starting her sophomore year at Pace University in New York, N.Y., this fall.
“I am so proud of them all the time,” said Fischer of her two mounts. “Rissoa d’Ag Bois Margot is a new horse for me and I just started showing him in May. I have had My Pleasure for two years, so he is a very good friend. They both always jump so amazing for me and I had a lot of fun out there today, which certainly helps.”