Jennifer Kocher Crowned Grand Prix Winner at Vermont Summer Festival
Jennifer Kocher of Chester, NY, stormed to a victory in the $30,000 Battenkill Grand Prix, presented by The Equinox Resort, riding Carlos on Saturday, July 14, during the 25th annual Vermont Summer Festival, which runs through August 12 at Harold Beebe Farm in East Dorset, VT.
Alan Wade of Tipperary, Ireland, set the courses for a field of 19 with only two horses advancing to the tie-breaking jump-off. Irish rider Kevin Mealiff returned first aboard Goldbreaker, owned by Maarten Huygens, and pulled one rail in 42.36 seconds, leaving the door open for Kocher. She and Carlos, owned by her husband Andrew Kocher, also knocked one rail for four faults but had the foot speed to stop the clock at 42.21 seconds for the win.
Mealiff also picked up third riding Itile Horta, owned by Huygens, with just three time faults keeping them from the jump-off. After a banner two weeks at the Vermont Summer Festival, Matthew Metell of Wellington, FL, produced the fastest four-fault trip in the first round to finish fourth riding Donchalant for owner Wolver Hollow. David Jennings of Franklin, TN, rounded out the top five riding Gracieux van Seven Oaks, owned by Mary Katherine Hargreaves, with four faults in the opening round.
“We bought Carlos off a video two years ago,” said Jennifer of the 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding formerly piloted by Dutch rider Peter Geerink. “Andy bought him as a horse for him to ride, but he has turned out to be perfect for this level as well as the high amateurs. I started showing him in Florida this year, and he was really big and strong for me—I didn’t think I was going to be able to ride him.”
“I spent a lot of time with him, took my time getting to know him really well, and I think once he realized he didn’t have to jump that big he was a different horse,” continued Jennifer. “The best thing about him is that he is 100% brave and will never let you down. I’m getting to know his stride now, so he is much easier for me to ride.”
In recognition of her victory, Jennifer was awarded a scrim by Mona’s Monograms as well as a crystal trophy. In addition, the Vermont Summer Festival also recognized her groom, Sara Zeerip, with the weekly Grand Prix Groom Award in honor of her hard work preparing Carlos for grand prix competition. She was presented with a monogrammed jacket and coolerette from sponsor Glenn Geary of Horsewatch.
“Sara started working for me this spring and is one of the most dedicated people to the horses that I have ever met,” said Jennifer. “She rides Carlos for me at home and would spend all day and night with him if she needed to. She knows everything there is to know about him—if he needs something, if he didn’t get enough sleep, and even if he wants one more treat. That’s really important for the team to have somebody like that.”
Jennifer will give her horses a week of rest before moving on to compete in Canada, saying, “I wish I could stay here all summer. The feeling of this show is enjoyable. The footing, in my opinion, is almost perfect; the course designers are great, and the jumps are nice. I have had a really good couple weeks here!”