Thursday the $5,000 Horseflight Open Welcome kicked off the jumper action in the Olympic Arena for Week II of the Atlanta Spring Classics.
Fourteen horse and rider teams tacked the course designed by Paul Jewel of Lambertville, New Jersey. “The course was a great opener for Week II,” commented Jewel. “The goal here is to make the course inviting, yet challenging,” he added. “It definitely accomplished this,” he added. The first round time allowed was set at 78 seconds and a majority of the horse and rider teams advanced to the second round.
Mary Lisa Leffler of Brookeville, Maryland and Rolling Acres’ Bling Bling were the first to go and turn in a clear first round effort in a time of 73.718 seconds. Their second round resulted in four jump faults in a time of 38.689 seconds which would see them finish in eighth place overall.
M.I Hartwick, owned by Nelson Long and ridden by Aida Sanchez Long of Ooltewah, Tennessee, followed Leffler in the order. After posting a clear first round in a time of 74.042 seconds, four faults in their second round in a time of 37.870 seconds had them finish in seventh place overall.
Mandy Killam’s Black Diamond, ridden by Kris Killam of Naples, Florida, winners of the Week I $25,000 Nalley Toyota Stonecrest Grand Prix, presented by EMO, turned in the next clear first round effort in a time of 70.291 seconds. Four faults in their second round in a time of 37.366 would see them finish in sixth place overall.
Diablo D’Raquelmes, owned by Ronda Stavisky and ridden by Jennifer Ramsey of Chrystal Beach, Ontario, Canada, had a fault free first round in a time of 74.549. They had one time fault in their second round after posting a time of 44.302 and finished in fourth place overall.
Darragh Kerin’s Corini, ridden by Paul Macrae of Alpharetta, Georgia, followed with a clear first round in a time of 74.360 seconds. Their second round was also clear, and with a time of 41.907 seconds, would set the new time to beat and advance to first place.
McKenzie Kasper of Alpharetta, Georgia, in the irons of her own Carracci Blue, followed Macrae in the order and turned in a clear first round effort in a time of 75.741 seconds. Their second round was also clear and their time of 39.333 would take the lead and set the new time to beat.
HHS Louis, owned by Cerulean Stables, LLC, ridden by Amanda Forte of Glenmoore, Pennsylvania, followed Kasper. Their clear first round in a time of 76.998 seconds advanced them to the second round. Although they went clean, their time of 41.962 seconds would see them finish in third place overall.
Kasarr, owned and ridden by Erin McGuire of Cornelius, North Carolina, turned in the next clear round effort in a time of 74.126 seconds. Four jump faults and four time faults in their second round in a time of 48.972 seconds would see them finish in tenth place overall.
Jason Berry of Staunton, Virginia, winner of the Week I Horseflight Welcome, followed Kasarr in the irons of Sandra Mazur’s Luca Toni. Their clear first round in a time of 72.945 seconds advanced them to the second round, but eight jump faults in a time of 39.045 seconds would see them finish in ninth place overall.
Killam returned to the Olympic Arena in the enviable last to go position, this time in the irons of Helene Jones’ Skyfall. They turned in a clear first round in a time of 69.078 seconds, but four faults in their second round in a time of 37.069 seconds would see them finish in fourth place overall.
McKenzie Kasper, the sixteen year old and youngest rider of the field, won the Welcome on her own Carracci Blue!
“The second round had a lot of options. He [Jewel] left it open so you could be as quick and neat as you wanted to be, or you could ride the more technical options and make it a little harder,” Kasper commented. “I added in one line so I could make an inside turn, which was a little risky,” she said. “Because I knew if I had a rail, I would have been a lot slower,” she added. “But, thankfully, I didn’t!
“I had a really great 1.20 m horse which brought me to my first Children’s Nations Cup when I was 14 in Wellington,” she said. “I sold her and had one in between before we got Lenny a little over a year ago,” commented Kasper. “I started Lenny [Carracci Blue] from the beginning in the 1m and then 1.10m. I did Child Adult jumpers last year with him and to be able to compete here now and be where we are is amazing!” commented Kasper. “I love Bob’s shows and am so thankful he runs these shows here. It’s such a great experience for us!” she added.
“The new footing is so much better! It really poured last night and I’m looking at it now and it’s perfect,” Kasper said.
“We’re going to the High Junior Amateur Classes and then maybe in the Fall, Lenny and I will try a grand prix,” she said.
Kasper and her family live on a farm outside of Conyers and have Lenny as well as two miniature horses. “I am so thankful for my family’s support,” commented Kasper. “Especially my sister Olivia,” she added. “She has been helping me so much and been working so hard,” said Kasper. “I know she would like to be in the show ring and I am so thankful and appreciative of her,” she said.
What’s next for Kasper? “I always wanted to be on the Young Rider Team and compete on the grand prix level before I go off to college,” she said. “I’m not sure what the future holds for me, so I’m just going to keep working as hard as I can now,” she added.
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