Kirk Webby Leaves His Mark on Vermont Summer Festival
New Zealand Olympian Kirk Webby’s win in the $30,000 Battenkill Grand Prix, presented by Hampton Inn & Suites Manchester, on Saturday, July 13, secured him and Brando du Rouet back-to-back grand prix victories at the Vermont Summer Festival, running for six consecutive weeks through August 11 at Harold Beebe Farm in East Dorset, VT.
2018 World Equestrian Games (WEG) course designer Alan Wade of Tipperary, Ireland, set a challenging course with only three riders advancing to a tie-breaking jump-off from a starting field of 32 horses. Ireland’s Kevin Mealiff led off over the short course riding Nuca 2 for owner Maarten Huygens. A single rail fell in a time of 35.72 seconds, leaving the door wide open for Webby.
Quick and clear, Webby and Brando du Rouet broke the timers at 33.01 seconds with only Irish rider Kevin McCarthy and Catch A Star HSS left to come. Coming off a win in Thursday’s Welcome Stake, McCarthy and his fast mare had the time but pulled a rail coming into the combination to finish runners up in 32.33 seconds and leaving Mealiff in third.
Saturday’s victory went to Webby, and it wasn’t the first time he made McCarthy settle for second best this week. “I played him in golf yesterday at The Equinox and beat him 17 holes to one, so I knew I was already in his head,” joked Webby. “He beat me easily in the Welcome, and both he and the other Kevin are two very fast riders, so I got a bit lucky today. You always need that luck at some point.”
Webby has found a seasoned partner in Brando du Rouet after competing on the gelding for the past four years. Of their consistency together, Webby noted, “He’s just a great horse. He jumped five classes here [in Vermont], won three and was second in the other two.
“I plan to ride this wave for as long as he’s feeling really healthy and jumping fantastic,” continued Webby of his future plans for Brando du Rouet, a 15-year-old Oldenburg gelding owned by Tolleshunt Investment Group. “As long as I can keep him fresh, he always has a shot.”
In recognition of his victory, Webby was awarded a crystal trophy by Dan Duvernoy, Susan Dionne, and Steve Nichols of Hampton Inn & Suites Manchester, as well as a show scrim from Mona’s Monograms.
Webby’s wife, Robin, and son, Zachary, took on the tall order of grooming responsibilities for his three mounts during the Battenkill Grand Prix. As a result, Zachary was presented with the weekly Grand Prix Groom Award in honor of his hard work preparing the Brando du Rouet for grand prix competition. He was presented with a monogrammed jacket and coolerette from sponsor Glenn Geary of Horsewatch.
Rounding out the other top placings in Saturday’s feature event, Kirk was fractions of a second away from having two horses in the jump-off and finished fourth riding Jumanji, owned by Navy Stables, with a single time fault in the opening round. David Raposa of Clinton, NY, capped the top five by riding Iliona to the fastest four-fault round.