Horse shows wrap with exciting finish

Devin Ryan and his horse Eddie Blue pose for a photo after winning the $100,000 Great American Insurance Group Grand Prix on the final day of the Lake Placid Horse Shows on Sunday at the North Elba Show Grounds in Lake Placid. (Provided photo — The Book LLC)

LAKE PLACID — A win by Devin Ryan in the $100,000 Great American Insurance Group Grand Prix provided an exciting climax to the 48th annual Lake Placid Horse Shows on Sunday.

After 12  of 27 entries qualified for the jump-off by riding fault-free over the 16-effort, first-round course designed by 2016 Rio Olympic course designer Guilherme Jorge, Ryan was the first to return for the eight-effort tiebreaker on Eddie Blue. Ryan rode his 8-year-old, Dutch Warmblood gelding to a clean ride in 35.220 seconds to set the mark to beat.

After the next 10 riders failed to catch Ryan’s time, it came down to Jimmy Torano, winner of the first week’s $75,000 Devoucoux Richard M. Feldman Grand Prix of Lake Placid. Torano succeeded in riding Daydream to a clean round, but his time of 35.604 seconds left him just shy of Ryan and prevented him from joining Leslie Burr Howard, Debbie Dolan-Sweeney, Margie Goldstein Engle, Jeffrey Welles and Darragh Kenny as the only riders to sweep both Lake Placid Grand Prix in the same year.

“He’s not the fastest horse but he has such a big stride and in a big field like this I was able to take advantage of that,” Ryan said. “There were two places on course where I was able to leave out a stride and I think I finished about as fast as I could have with him today.”

Torano’s second-place finish, combined with his win the previous week, earned him the Richard and Diana Feldman Trophy for the best combined finish in Lake Placid’s two Grand Prix. The award was presented at the close of the horse show. Also presented at the end of the horse show was the Lora Schultz Award which is presented to a rider for outstanding performance in the Hunter Ring combined with excellence in turnout and sportsmanship. Winning the award for the second time was Nicole Oliynyk.

Torano also earned a win in the $15,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby held just prior to the start of the Grand Prix. Torano won over a starting field of 26 horses on Exclusive. He finished the two-round competition with 373 points to top another Grand Prix rider, Amber Harte. Harte, who placed fifth in the Grand Prix on Austria 2, finished second in the Hunter Derby with 357 points on Style.

“I’m fortunate to have a lot of good horses to ride and I’m used to doing both the hunters and the jumpers,” Torano said. “Exclusive gave me two beautiful rounds and then I hustled over to the Grand Prix ring and while I wasn’t able to catch Devin at the end, it was a pretty successful day.”

Despite several days of heavy rain over the two weeks, the all-weather footing in the E. R. Mische Jumper Ring, the Kovacs-Williams Hunter Ring, the Main Hunter Ring and the Hooker Ring held up well and not one class scheduled in those rings was cancelled.

“The footing in the hunter rings was truly amazing,” said Nicole Oliynyk who, in addition to winning the Lora Schultz Award, rode Sea Walker to the Adult Amateur Hunter Grand Championship during the first week. “It took the rain and help up perfectly.”

Trainer Stacia Madden of Beacon Hill was also impressed with the footing. She said, “The footing here could not be better. With all the rain we got, we did not scratch one single horse because of it. This footing allowed the horse show to go on without a hitch.”

Even the natural-terrain, all-grass Richard M. Feldman Grand Prix Field survived the rain well.

“There’s not a field in the country that can take the water this field can take and still ride well,” Torano said. “There’s absolutely no question that the footing at this horse show, in all the rings, is second to none.”

The Lake Placid Horse Shows’ second week also featured the horse shows’ 25th annual Doggie Costume Contest, sponsored by the Lake Placid Lodge. The contest was won by Caroline Desfor’s 9-year-old Corgi, Fluffy, dressed as a “Lake Placid Pool Party.”

Also featured was Horse Club Junior Day with local 4-H and other horse groups visiting for an inside look at the horse show. Children got to learn first-hand from professionals on the horse show circuit including Dr. Emily Bruschi, a veterinarian with Miller & Associates; Dave Raisor and Eric Nagy of HEART Equine Ambulance; farrier Tony Bucci; course designer Steve Stephens; and trainer Ann Braswell of Terrapin Hill Stables.

The horse show also announced the winners of its “Best Dressed Barns” contest for week two. Taking top honors was North Run with second place going to Deeridge Farms. Third place went to Affari Farm and Honorable Mention went to Beacon Hill/Stonehenge Stables and Beechwood Stables.

Additional information on the Lake Placid Horse Shows is available by calling the Lake Placid Horse Show Association at 518-523-9625 or visit online at