Sports

Fellers flawless at Keg Steakhouse & Bar Grand Prix event

Rich Fellers and McGuinness won the $53,000 Keg Steakhouse and Bar Grand Prix event in a field of 33 competitors on Sunday at Thunderbird Show Park. Fellers just returned from the London Olympics with the USA team. Thunderbird’s Summer Fort Festival season culminates this Sunday (Aug. 26) at 1:30 p.m. with the $100,000 Canaccord Genuity World Cup. - Harry Hunt/Black Press
Rich Fellers and McGuinness won the $53,000 Keg Steakhouse and Bar Grand Prix event in a field of 33 competitors on Sunday at Thunderbird Show Park. Fellers just returned from the London Olympics with the USA team. Thunderbird’s Summer Fort Festival season culminates this Sunday (Aug. 26) at 1:30 p.m. with the $100,000 Canaccord Genuity World Cup.
— image credit: Harry Hunt/Black Press

Irish eyes were smiling on Sunday when Rich Fellers and McGuinness put down two flawless rounds in the $53,000 Keg Steakhouse & Bar Grand Prix. The current World Champion likely still had a little jet lag after returning only days earlier from the London Olympic Games, but that didn’t seem to slow him down. Riding against Egypt’s, Nayel Nassar, Canada’s Tiffany Fong and his own student, Jill Blunt, Fellers was the first to lay down a clear round in the jump off and post an unbeatable time.

When asked about the win, Fellers was more focused on the horse.

“I’'ve been riding McGuinness since he was five years old,” recalled Fellers. “He’s 17 now and I am very lucky to have him.”

Lucky indeed. In 2004, Fellers and McGuinness were second overall in North American prize money and just a year later, the bay gelding by Cavalier Royale was named the USA Grand Prix Horse of the Year.

International course designer, Peter Holmes, knew that it would take a challenging course to test the Olympian and the talented field of riders alongside him, so he built it big and incorporated some new elements.

"“I used a triple bar coming up to a triple combination, which I haven't used before,” explained Holmes prior to the start of the class. “The ground is just perfect, the horses are jumping well and I’m expecting a number of successful efforts today."

In the end, five riders posted double clear rounds, with less than three seconds separating them. Fellers closest competition, Tiffany Fong, delivered a repeat performance from Friday’s $50,000 Dianne Tidball Legacy GP, blasting through the course on Black Ice.

After a whirlwind year at the World Cup and London Games, Fellers is happy to be back home on North American soil, or sand as the case may be. In 2012, the Park invested $600,000 in two ring upgrades with state-of-the-art drainage and a combination silica sand / German Geo-Textile footing.

"Riding here is no different than riding at the Olympics a few weeks ago,” explained Fellers, who finished 8th overall in London. “The new rings at Thunderbird are world class and I feel so lucky to have this facility so close to me.”

The Summer Fort Festival continues from Wednesday, August 22nd to Sunday, August 26th.

·      The $10,000 Facet Advisors Welcome Classic – August 22nd at 5pm

·      The $32,000 Tommy Bahama Grand Prix – August 24th at 5pm

·      The $10,000 Luisa Cerano Parcours de Chasse – August 25th at 2pm

·      The Northern Vertex Jumper Classic – August 26th at 10am

·      The $5,000 Krombacher Classic – August 26th at 11am

·      The $100,000 Canaccord Genuity World Cup – August 26th at 1:30pm

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