Abigail McArdle and Cosma 20.
Lexington, KY – May 15, 2013 – The heat was on as the Kentucky Spring Classic got underway today at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, KY. Five riders produced double clear rounds during the 1.45m Open Jumpers, but it was the last do so that proved to be the fastest. Abigail McArdle and Cosma 20 broke the beam at 30.378 seconds for the win by 3/10ths of a second over Reed Kessler and Soraya De L’Obstination. Earlier in the day, Pablo Barrios took home his second blue ribbon in a row during the 1.40m Open Jumpers speed class with Colgate.
Today’s 1.45m Open Jumper track was created by Conrad Homfeld and featured a long bending line to begin, as well as a vertical-oxer-vertical triple combination and an oxer-vertical double combination. Nine competitors advanced to the jump-off, where they began with a bending line to the double combination, before rolling back to two oxers and finishing over vertical near the gate.
The first to show without fault over the short course was Abigail McArdle’s trainer, Katie Prudent. She and V, owned by Michael Smith of Winchester, VA, were able to break the beam in 32.945 seconds, which was good enough for fourth place. The next to complete the jump-off with all the rails intact was Ramiro Quintana and Ollywood Des Horts, owned by Remarkable Farms LP of New York, NY. They increased the speed by almost two seconds, stopping the clock at 31.263 seconds and claiming the eventual third place honors. Margie Engle chose to be more conservative with Cabras, owned by Elm Rock LLC of Bronxville, NY, leaving all the fences in place, but crossing the finish line in 34.614 seconds for fifth place.
Olympian Reed Kessler of Lexington, KY, was one of the last riders to show, and she had her eye on the prize with Soraya De L’Onstination. She was able to top her trainer Katie Prudent as well as Quintana, speeding through the timers in 30.655 seconds. Unfortunately, her time would only hold up for second place, as Abigail McArdle was next to advance to the tiebreaker with Cosma 20. The reigning North American Junior Jumper individual gold medalists are well known for their speed, and today was no exception. McArdle laid on the gas, leaving out a stride through the first bending line and speeding to the final obstacles without even a rub. The duo clocked in at 30.378 seconds to take home the winning prize.
“During the first round, I wanted to see how the first bending line in the jump-off rode, and I was able to shape it and leave a stride out there,” explained McArdle. “Then we still added to the double combination but made up time after the combination and then over to the last line.”
McArdle added, “I was really happy with the way she went; she was super. This was a nice 1.45m win and then we will do the Hagyard Classic tomorrow night. This was a nice way to boost our confidence before that.”
Cosma 20, a nine-year-old chestnut mare, has been partnered with McArdle for a little over a year. “I feel like I really know her well,” she commented. “I know we having been moving up slowly, but she’s green at this level and it’s still new for me, so it’s important to build up slowly. I’m lucky to have such a wonderful horse. After Kentucky, we will go to Spruce Meadows and then Europe to show in Chantilly, Dinard and Valkenswaard.”
Based out of Barrington, IL, the Kentucky Spring Horse Shows are always on McArdle’s schedule. “I love these shows and the facility is great,” she noted. “Management is great and they have nice prize money. For us, it’s basically our backyard, and we love showing in Kentucky.”
Earlier in the day, Venezuela’s Pablo Barrios matched his effort in the 1.40m Open Jumper speed class with Colgate for the second week in a row. Nine riders were able to complete the course without fault, but it was Barrios and Colgate that set the time to beat, finishing in 62.397 seconds. Emanuel Andrade stopped the clock at 66.933 with Crossfire 10, owned by Hollow Creek Farm of Aiken, SC. They were almost five seconds slower for second place. Alison Robitaille was one of the first to show with Candle Light, owned by Mr. & Mrs. Bertram Firestone of Upperville, VA, and finished the course in 67.418 seconds to round out the top three.
“I really tried to go as fast as possible,” said Barrios. “I really liked the course for her because there were a lot of lines and I could leave strides out. She has a very, very big stride. The course was the perfect for her. She’s starting to like to jump at that pace, and she’s being careful. I think she could be a speed horse.
Barrios added, “I’m going to do the Hagyard with her again tomorrow night. I think she’s schooled enough to keep her brain quiet enough to jump tomorrow, but I’ll have to see.”
The jumper action will continue in the Rolex Stadium tomorrow afternoon with the $25,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic. It will mark the second event in the seven-part Hagyard Challenge Series featuring the $50,000 Leading Rider Bonus. Riders will also have the opportunity to showcase their mounts during Saturday’s evening’s $75,000 Mary Rena Murphy Grand Prix, sponsored by Audi of Lexington, and Sunday morning’s $20,000 Bluegrass Classic.
For more information about Kentucky Horse Shows, LLC, please go to www.kentuckyhorseshows.com.
Rebecca Walton for Phelps Media Group, Inc. International