East Dorset, Vermont – New Zealand Olympian Kirk Webby claimed the $30,000 Vermont Summer Special Grand Prix, presented by Johnson Horse Transportation, on Saturday, July 6, during opening week of the Vermont Summer Festival, running for six weeks through August 11 at Harold Beebe Farm in East Dorset, VT.
It has been several years since Webby, 48, has competed in the mountains of southern Vermont, but he spared no time in leaving his mark with a win riding Brando du Rouet. They topped a field of 24 horses over courses built by Paul Jewell of Ewing, NJ.
Four horses jumped clean to advance to the tie-breaking jump-off, two of which were piloted by Webby. Leading the way in both rounds, his mount Jumanji finished the short course with two rails on the ground in its first ever 1.45m test. Young Canadian Alexanne Thibault, 21, also pulled a rail with Chacco Prime, leaving the door open for David Jennings of Franklin, TN, to handily take over the lead with a fault-free effort in a prompt 35.33 seconds riding Caddie R.
Webby returned last and ended the speed duel in his favor. Brando du Rouet, owned by Tolleshunt Investment Group, stopped the timers with more than three seconds to spare in 32.14. In recognition of his victory, Webby was awarded a crystal trophy by Julie Karpan of Johnson Horse Transportation and a show scrim from Mona’s Monograms.
“This is a special horse,” said Webby of Brando du Rouet, a 15-year-old Oldenburg gelding (Baloubet du Rouet x Caretano Z). “He’s so fast that I have to tell myself to slow down. In the welcome a few days ago, I was a little too cautious, but today I had luck on my side
Brando du Rouet was spotted for Webby in Poland by friend Seth Valhonrat and joined Webby’s string in 2015. But their partnership didn’t come without hurdles.