Grace Debney stands for presentation. Photo © Jess Windhurst Photography

A stunning scene was set below the picturesque mountains of Manchester, Vermont, on July 7, 2024, as the $24,500 CWD Grand Prix, the first grand prix of the six-week HITS Vermont Summer Festival, got underway. The class did not disappoint, signaling a start to what is certainly going to be an exciting series of competition ahead. In the end, it was Grace Debney (GBR) that piloted Jesprit H.S to a speedy victory. 

Sixteen elite horse-and-rider combinations took to the Grand Prix Ring to tackle the challenging course set by Marina Azevedo (BRA). A total of six combinations advanced to the shortened course, with four pairs jumping double-clear. Debney laid down an efficient round to finish in a time of 36.909 seconds, almost a full second faster than the second-place finisher.

Grace Debney & Jesprit H.S. Photo © Jess Windhurst Photography

“I thought the course was built really well,” said Debney. “It asked all the right questions. I think I definitely made up the time in the turns. It wasn’t so much a running jump-off; it was a lot of turning, which really suited my horse.”

Debney purchased Jesprit about a year and a half ago. As they have gotten to know each other, the pair has competed successfully through the five-star 1.50m level. While Jesprit might be a unique character, Debney believes that is exactly what gives her an edge in the ring.

David Jennings & Bionce Des Monts. Photo © Jess Windhurst Photography

“She’s really special in the head,” laughed Debney of her 10 year-old KWPN mare (Eldorado van de Zeshoek x Carosso VDL). “She’s very mare-ish and has a lot of things that go along with her, but that’s what makes her so special. She’s really smart, and I feel like our partnership has really grown. I don’t think she’ll do it for you unless you have a partnership.” 

David Jennings (USA) and Bionce Des Monts, a 13-year old Selle Français gelding (Ravage du Mars x Cenaze Du Hil) owned by Hillview Farm Sporthorses, were early to go in the jump-off, laying down a blazing time of 37.869 seconds, which would ultimately hold up for the runner-up spot. Behind Jennings, Alyssion Siopes (USA) piloted David Tromp Show Stables Inc.’s nine-year old Irish Sport Horse gelding by Sheikh It, HHS Good Times to third place.

Alyssion Siopes & HHS Good Times. Photo © Jess Windhurst Photography

Competition resumes Tuesday, July 9, with Equitation Tuesday, kicking off the second week of competition at the 2024 HITS Vermont Summer Festival. For a full list of results, please visit