Lexington KY – July 29, 2012 – The final day of the Kentucky Summer Horse Show was afoot with the top amateur-owner and junior riders in the country gathering to compete at the Rolex Stadium. It was a day of domination and diligence as all of the week’s hard work culminated to the final challenging course of the jumper classics. Emanuel Andrade earned the top score in the Low Junior Jumper Classic aboard Casanova Junior, while Chloe Field guided Tiranda to the top of the standings in the Low Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic. Paige Johnson wrapped up her week with the three of her horses nabbing the top earnings in the Show Jumping Hall of Fame High Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic. It was Meg O’Mara who stood out above the rest in the Show Jumping Hall of Fame High Junior Jumper Classic with Sinatra IV, riding to one of only two double-clear victories in a speedy time of 42.663 seconds to lead the victory gallop.
The Show Jumping Hall of Fame (SJHF) Jumper Classic Series holds classes using the Grand Prix rules and specifications for amateur-owner and junior riders at approximately one hundred horse shows across the country, with the Kentucky Summer Series hosting several of the classics within its four weeks of shows. The Series is designed to give amateur-owner and junior riders an opportunity to compete at higher levels and serves as a proving ground for many riders who aspire to someday represent the United States in international competition.
Course designer Marina Azevedo of Brazil designed today’s SJHF Classic courses, using a long track to challenge the horse and rider combinations. She utilized an oxer-vertical-oxer triple combination, standalone verticals and oxers, a liverpool, an oxer-vertical double combination, and a course that forced the riders to stay on their toes as that navigated their talented mounts.
The first rider of the SJHF High Junior Jumper Classic to ride the first round clear was Taylor Alexander and Vicky. Meg O’Mara and Sinatra followed only two rounds later, riding the course conservatively and maintaining accuracy as they posted the second of six clear first round efforts. The true test, however, proved to be the challenging short track, where riders watched the rails fall to the floor with only two posting double-clear efforts.
It was a thrilling jump-off as Meg O’Mara and Elizabeth Patz went head-to-head for the victory. O’Mara watched Alexander’s attempt at the short course, understanding the turns and the places to slice the seconds. After seeing her earn an unfortunate four-fault total for the rail at the large grey oxer in the double combination, O’Mara saw what she needed to do to take the victory.
“Sinatra is a veteran and he knows exactly what he is doing,” O’Mara explained. “I have had him for three years, so we know one another really well, and over that time we have really become the perfect match. I know what he needs, and he knows what I need. When I saw that turn from the vertical in the jump-off, I didn’t even have to think about it; I knew that he could handle it and that we could make up time there.”
O’Mara continued, “He has a hot ride, and he is a little quirky. He does not have the longest stride, so we normally do the adds, but he is so careful and I know we can make up time on the ground; he is so fast with his natural speed. I really liked the course. I had to change my ride for each of the horses, but I thought that even as different as my horses are, the course rode really well for each of them.”
Patz and Chantal were next, entering the ring behind O’Mara. The pair rode the course with ease, focusing on placing at the top, but riding accurately more so than focusing on the need for speed. They laid down a beautiful double-clear effort, but their time of 48.013 seconds eventually earned them the red ribbon award.
“Chantal is a relatively new horse for me, she hasn’t had a lot of experience in the High Jumpers, and we haven’t gone clear in a jump-off before,” Patz smiled. “I tried to ride the jump-off conservatively, and I don’t think she could have done better. My plan today was to go easy and make sure that she doesn’t get nervous. We basically wanted to go clear and make all the inside turns. She is getting better and better with each experience.
O’Mara took the top finish with Sinatra IV, earning valuable qualifying points for the Show Jumping Hall of Fame, as well as picking up the SSG ‘Digital’ Riding Gloves ‘Go Clean for the Green’ promotion – a $1,000 bonus check. O’Mara borrowed the gloves from Gabrielle Bausano, and after her victory in today’s classic, she may consider buying a pair for herself. Second place winner Patz also rode in the SSG ‘Digital’ Riding Gloves, and commented on the importance they have played in her riding career.
The third place honors were awarded to Kelsey Van Ackeren and Vernon G for their four-fault effort in the fastest time of 42.706 seconds. Alexander picked up the fourth place award, while Chloe Reid and Damascus rode to the fifth place ribbon. O’Mara also captured the sixth place position aboard El Capricho Bonjour. Sydney Shulman and Little Lady D’Elle took seventh place.
The SJHF High Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic was dominated by 26-year-old Paige Johnson. She qualified all three of her mounts for the jump-off. As the pathfinder, Johnson laid down a clean first round aboard Monopoly, and later guided La Martinee and Kadena R to clear efforts, too. She entered into the jump-off with Monopoly dashing out of the in gate, and completing the course in 42.008 seconds. Nobody could match Johnson’s pace as she sliced turns and cleared the obstacles with ease. In fact, she was the only rider out of the five qualifying entrants to provide a double-clear effort.
“The course felt really long today, and that was a challenge within itself,” Johnson explained. “I think it rode great; it really made you think. But since it was so long, the horse and rider are tired by the end, so you really have to gage yourself and understand how to ride it; it’s a feat in itself. It was definitely a technical course, but it was great. It made everyone careful and we had to think about the technicalities.”
Johnson also rode La Martinee to the second place finish with a clear course, but accrued one time fault for her more conservative approach. It seemed as though she was going to capture all three of the top placings, but an unfortunate rail with veteran mount Kadena R pushed them into the fourth place position with Lisa Kent and Easy Money riding to the yellow with four faults in 43.149 seconds. Liz Atkins and Samson were awarded the fifth place award for their efforts in the jump-off.
“I thought all of my horses were great in the jump-off,” Johnson remarked. “Monopoly was quick and slick, and La Martinee was great, too. She was my little bouncing bean. They all did great. I took it a little easier with Kadena; she has nothing left to prove. She has already done it all, and my goal was to ride it conservatively and accurately. I was pleased with this entire week.”
Johnson continued, “What I truly find great is how wonderful it is to have a smart horse. In the class on Friday, Mo and I made a mistake when we cut a little bit in the turn, but we both learned from it. He was so rideable today, and I was able to note what I could change. It is so hard to be consistent in show jumping; not only do you rely on yourself, but you rely on an animal. I try to really work on the flat and get to know my horses; they all ride differently, and I try to conform to each horse to build a connection and ride them to the best of their abilities.”
Earlier in the day the Low Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic got underway with a field of 32 riding over the morning’s course. This time the course consisted of an outside oxer-vertical opening line, a challenging triple oxer-vertical-oxer combination, a tight in-and-out, standalone verticals, and a tight time allowed. Eleven riders qualified with their clean rounds to take their turn at the short track; however, only two riders were able to post double-clear efforts.
Mahala Rummel aboard Chester Cable took the jump-off in a conservative 49.409 seconds, approaching the course with accuracy in mind. She had looked out as the three previous riders accrued faults, deciding that jumping to a double-clear effort was more important than speed. Her round held the top spot on the leader board for only two more rounds, when Field stepped forward with Tiranda to capture the lead. Her fast footing and tight turns sliced 2.08 seconds from Rummel’s target time, and the pair tripped the timers leaving all rails intact. Taylor Land and Levade 35 rounded out the top three with the fastest four-fault score in 41.821 seconds.
It was Emanuel Andrade and Casanova Junior who took the lead in the Low Junior Jumper classic posting a double-clear effort in 40.676 seconds, a time that proved untouchable. Aleesha Melwani and Thunder-Ball and rode to the second place award with a clear second round in a time of 43.231 seconds, and Megan Macpherson aboard Wisteria took the third place slot in 44.117 seconds.
Today marked the conclusion of the Kentucky Summer Horse Show, but the exciting hunter/jumper action will continue at the Kentucky Horse Park on Tuesday with the Kentucky Summer Classic. The week’s highlight events include the $25,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic and the $40,000 Rood & Riddle Grand Prix. The 2012 USEF Pony Finals will get underway August 7-12, followed by the Bluegrass Festival Classic and the KHJA Horse Show.
For more information about Kentucky Horse Shows, please go to www.kentuckyhorseshows.com.
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