Genn bests 26 competitors at Gulf Coast Winter Classics Horse Show

Wilhelm Genn with Happy Z after coming in first in the grand prix.
Wilhelm Genn with Happy Z after coming in first in the grand prix.

HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Wilhelm Genn is the winner of this weekend's jumper class in the 16th Annual Gulf Coast Winter Classics Horse Show at the Harrison County Fairgrounds.

A few hundred watched as 26 riders and their horses competed in the grand prix.

Quick and focused, the riders and their horses made their way around a grassy course. Officials say the thoroughbreds and warmbloods are just like NFL athletes.

"There aren't a lot of them that can compete and jump jumps like this and so they're athletes," said President of the Gulf Coast Classic Company Bob Bell.

Of the 26 riders, 12 took home their share of the $50,000 prize for the grand prix.

"This class is the one that goes the fastest without knocking anything down. So if they knock a rail down then they get four points," said Bell.

Making the fastest, fault-free time at 41.37 seconds was Wilhelm Genn and his 16-year-old, chestnut colored, Dutch Warmblood named Happy Z.

"Just a wonderful circuit, we love the people here. The fans are awesome. The people are fantastic here. We love coming here," said Genn.

Officials say Genn is a superstar in the equestrian world. And though he's won numerous grand prixs, he admits Sunday's course design required quick thinking while under the clock.

"Some new jumps the horses haven't seen which was a little spooky. So you have to have a plan and you have to have a backup plan," said Genn.

Fans excitedly watched the victory gallop with Genn, second place winner Devin Ryan and in third place  Genn's son, Ryan. In the final two weeks of the classic more than 1,000 horses are expected to be featured in the show.

Genn won $15,000 on Sunday. Officials say, Happy Z has been credited for being the leading horse in the country for grand prix wins.

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