Back in the saddle

LAKE PLACID – When it comes to stops on the equestrian show jumping tour, grand prix competitions are the main event that riders want to win.

This summer, there are three grand prix competitions during the three weeks of the horse shows in Lake Placid, and on Sunday, Jeff Welles rode to victory in the first one as he guided Prem Dollar Boy to the top of the field in the $75,000 Devoucoux Grand Prix in the Richard Feldman Ring at the North Elba Show Grounds.

Welles, who lives in Newtown, Connecticut, won two grand prix events in Lake Placid in 2000 and 2006 and returned to the horse shows here this summer after not competing in the Adirondacks during recent seasons. Obviously, the 52-year-old is happy to be back.

“This is the biggest class at this horse show,” Welles said. “This is as big as it gets in horse shows of this size. I haven’t shown here in the last four or five years, and I wanted to come back to support the horse shows here. This is a great grass arena, and there are very few like this left for us to jump in.”

The contest started with a first-round that featured 15 jumps and a field of 27 entries. There were five horse-and-rider combinations that made it cleanly over the opening course to advance to the speed round. Welles was one of four veteran riders who reached the eight-jump speed round, which also saw 16-year-old Victoria Colvin compete on her horse Chanel B2.

Welles and Prem Dollar Boy, a horse owned by former child actress Mary Kate Olsen, were the first two go in the jump-off, and they finished with a clear ride in 40.600 seconds on what proved to be the winning run. The next-closest team was rider Laura Chapot and her mount Quointreau Un Prince, who were runner-up in 42.775 seconds. Third place went to Todd Minikus and Macoemba, with Colvin finishing fourth.

Olympian Margie Engle and her horse Royce also reached the jump-off but were a scratch in that round, which landed the team in fifth place.

“I really didn’t think my time would hold up,” Welles said. “I thought that both Laura and Tori (Colvin) would be faster. I thought I’d take a good shot, and fortunately, this time they weren’t.”

Welles also won aboard Prem Dollar Boy on Friday in the Lake Placid Horse Show’s Brook Ledge Open Jumper Classic.

“He’s a new ride for me,” Welles said of the 11-year-old French bred horse. “He’s a very careful horse. He’s very quick across the ground.”

Sunday’s grand prix marked the conclusion of the 45th annual Lake Placid Horse Show. The 37th annual I Love New York Horse Show will begin on Tuesday and runs through July 6, with the highlight event taking place on Saturday as riders look to gain a share of the $75,000 in prize money up for grabs in the second grand prix of the summer here. Then, for the first time, the I Love New York Horse Show will be followed by a third week of competition in the inaugural Adirondack Horse Show, which features the $100,000 Woodlea Farms Grand Prix.