Matthew Metell Wins Career-First Grand Prix at Vermont Summer Festival

©Andrew Ryback Photography

Matthew Metell of Wellington, FL, won the first grand prix of his career in the $30,000 Vermont Summer Special Grand Prix on Saturday, July 8, at the Vermont Summer Festival, running through August 13 at Harold Beebe Farm in East Dorset, VT.

Metell, 27, who had never competed in a grand prix event before Saturday’s competition, delivered the lone clear round over a track set by course designer Paul Jewell of Ewing, NJ.  None of the other 20 entries were unable to crack the code on Jewell’s course, giving the win to Metell and Donchalant, a nine-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare owned by Wolver Hollow.

The fastest of the four-fault efforts was produced in a time of 74.54 seconds by Leann Kelly of Valatie, NY, riding Leander for owner Honorway Farm, LLC. New Zealand Olympian Kirk Webby, currently based in Ocala, FL, took third riding Brando du Rouet for owner Tolleshunt Investment Group with four faults in a time of 76.35 seconds.

Having won in the $10,000 Manchester Designer Outlets Welcome Stake on Thursday, July 6, David Jennings of Franklin, TN, remained in the money, this time with Aventador, owned by Maffitt Lake Farms. He finished with four faults in a time of 80.35 seconds for fourth place. Rounding out the top five was Canadian rider Veronica Bot of Burlington, ON, also the youngest competitor in the starting field at the age of 17, who finished on four faults in 83.16 seconds for fifth place riding Cool Down 3, owned by AEI Corp.

“I am feeling very grateful right now,” said Metell who rides and works with Theodore “Teddy” Demetriou at Wolver Hollow based in Chester, NY. “I had my mom, Julene Augusta, and Teddy here supporting me today and I am so happy. We have been coming up to the Vermont Summer Festival for a long time and always have so much fun.”

Metell is moving up to the grand prix level after a successful junior career that was highlighted by a win in the Platinum Performance/U.S. Equestrian Federation Talent Search Finals – East in 2009 under the direction of Heritage Farm’s Andre Dignelli.

Speaking about Jewell’s course, which proved difficult for most riders in Saturday’s field, Metell commented, “The course was technical but fun to ride! It looked like it was going to be a good course for this horse. She is very adjustable, so the technical parts are a little easier for her than some of the bigger horses out there.”

Metell and Demetriou imported Donchalant from The Netherlands two months ago, after the mare had previously campaigned in the international ranks with Rodrigo Silva Morgado of Portugal. “She has a lot of international experience and she made it feel easy out there,” said Metell. “We bought her as a horse to do exactly what she just did today and, obviously, couldn’t be happier with her.”

Metell will return to the grand prix ring with Donchalant during week two of the Vermont Summer Festival before making further plans, explaining, “At that point, we will then take a look at what horse shows we will point her towards at the end of the summer and the fall, but the expectations for her might be higher now.”

In recognition of his victory, Metell was awarded a scrim by Mona’s Monograms as well as a crystal trophy. In addition, the Vermont Summer Festival also recognized his groom, Rolando Amaya, with the weekly Grand Prix Groom Award in honor of his hard work preparing Donchalant for grand prix competition. Amaya was presented with a monogrammed jacket and coolerette from sponsor Glenn Geary of Horsewatch.