Lexington, Ky. – Aug. 19, 2018 – The final day of the Bluegrass Festival Horse Show at the Kentucky Horse Park saw 32 athletes and their mounts vying for the top prize in the $40,000 Bluegrass Festival Grand Prix, sponsored by Audi of Lexington. At the end of the competition, it was Kady Abrahamson and her mount, Charline 28, who finished strong with a clean and clear round to take home the blue ribbon. Additionally, Abrahamson walked away with the Envisian Leading Rider of the Week award thanks to accumulating the most points in the jumper divisions throughout the week.
Ken Krome’s 16-effort track proved tricky for the 32 horse-and-rider combinations, as only four produced a fault free round to advance to the jump-off. The time allowed for round one of competition was set to 84 seconds; however, after some athletes struggled to make that time, it was adjusted to 88 seconds. The technical track not only caused time difficulties for many, athletes also struggled with the triple combination (vertical-oxer-vertical) in the final portion of the course, which resulted in many fallen rails.
Abrahamson and Charline 28, a 13-year-old Mecklenburg mare, were the third to go in the jump-off round. Although she was not able to watch the first two competitors, Daisy Farish and Liza Finsness, go in the jump-off, she knew that she had to push her mare for a quick round, with the first two rounds going clear and only differing by a tenth of a second. Ultimately, Abrahamson was able to put in the winning round with a time of 43.228 seconds thanks to her mare’s quick step and quick jump.
Charline 28 and Abrahamson have been paired together for three years, and although they had a rocky start, the two now have an exceptional relationship that has led them to success. Last week, they won their first grand prix together at the World Equestrian Center in Wilmington, Ohio.
Coming in second place was Daisy Farish and her own Great White. Farish and her 10-year-old Holsteiner gelding were second to go in the first round of competition. While the pair left all the jumps standing, they accrued three time faults. However, after the following athletes continued to acquire time faults, the decision was made to adjust the time allowed which put Farish and Great White through to the jump-off. First to go in the jump-off, Farish set the bar high for the three remaining competitors with her swift time of 45.001 seconds.
Third place was captured by Liza Finsness and Shiver, who placed also third in Friday night’s the $25,000 Hagyard Lexington Grand Prix. The pair has had a successful summer on the show circuit, having just recently placed first in the $50,000 Meijer Grand Prix of Michigan in Traverse City.
Hesslink Takes Blue in $5,000 Hallway Feeds USHJA National Hunter Derby to Earn Series Title
Lexington, KY – Aug. 21, 2016 – Before she heads to the Hampton Classic on Monday, Tori Colvin snuck in one more victory aboard Take The High Road LLC’s Cafino in the $40,000 Bluegrass Festival Grand Prix, sponsored by Audi of Lexington, on the final day of Bluegrass Festival Horse Show.
“This is my favorite week because the course designers bring the cool jumps out,” Colvin said. “It’s amazing to win on Cafino. I knew he was ready today, so I was really going for it out there. I’m really happy to have him going so well. Karen [Long Dwight] has been the one who helped us with him, and she’s the sponsor and the owner. She’s wonderful, and Cafino is just perfect.”
Bobby Murphy’s course still contained many elements from last night’s USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship, including the obstacle that certainly stuck in most riders’ minds: the 1.57m wall, which was set at 1.54m for the grand prix.
“The only thing I thought was just stay on at the wall, and I’m good,” Colvin laughed. “That’s it; just hang on. I loved having the wall out there. I loved this course because it was like half hunter derby and half grand prix.”
Murphy’s hunter-esque course saw 37 entries in the first round, with six entries eventually advancing to compete over the short course.
Among the jump-off-qualified horse-and-rider combinations was Shane Sweetnam and Main Road, who is owned by Sweet Oak Farm and Seabrook LLC. After a second place finish in another grand prix during the Kentucky Summer Horse Show series, Sweetnam said he was looking for a win aboard the gelding.
The duo came close, turning in the first clear round of the afternoon and setting the early time to beat at 41.775 seconds in the jump-off.
“Main Road is a very good horse,” Sweetnam said. “He’s only 8; he’s had a good summer. It was a difficult course, but I think he jumped really good in both rounds.”
It was not long until Colvin and Cafino overtook their lead, however, turning in a fast round and tripping the timers in 41.23 seconds. Colvin’s lead would hold out for the win, while Sweetnam settled for second.
“I could’ve been maybe a bit quicker turning after the double,” Sweetnam said. “I think it would’ve been harder for them to beat me if I had turned quicker. I think that’s what cost me the win. He’s still learning.”
Colvin said she began riding Cafino about a year ago, and she loves the soft, easy ride the gelding gives her.
“Cafino is the easiest thing to ride,” Colvin explained. “You literally just loop the reins. When he lands, it’s like you’re on a cloud. He’s perfect. He doesn’t land hard, he’s just soft. He has a little quirk, because he will buck when he gets a little excited, but I just have to hold on.”
A final challenger, Sloane Coles, piloted the Spring Ledge Group’s Esprit to the third place spot with a clear round completed in 43.573 seconds. Clocking a faster time, but unfortunately picking up 4 faults in the jump-off, was Sweetnam and another entry, Spy Coast Farm LLC’s Chaqui Z. Fifth place went home with Blythe Marano and Virginia Ingram’s Figeac De Reve with 4 faults and a time of 44.007 seconds. Aaron Vale and Sarah Turner’s Acolina R turned in another very fast round in 43.267 seconds, but unfortunately lowered two heights to finish on 8 faults and in sixth place.
Hesslink Takes Blue in $5,000 Hallway Feeds USHJA National Hunter Derby to Earn Series Title
It was the 20-year-old, newly-turned professional rider, Geoffrey Hesslink, who took home not only the blue ribbon and championship cooler for Sunday afternoon’s $5,000 Hallway Feeds USHJA National Hunter Derby, but also for the entire Hallway Feeds Hunter Derby Series. Saturday’s derby marked the last leg of the popular series, held during the Bluegrass Festival Horse Show at the Kentucky Horse Park.
Hesslink piloted Garland Alban’s Esco to victory, after receiving an 89 in the classic round and an 83 in the handy, collecting a lead score of 172 points to seal the win. He successfully tackled three high-option fences. While Hesslink has competed in the Alltech Arena more times than he can count due to his illustrious equitation career as a junior, it was Esco’s first time in the intimidating indoor arena.
Hesslink, of Shelburne, Vermont, said, “I started riding Esco post-circuit at the Winter Equestrian Festival this year. He’s been great. He does the Performance Hunters and the derbies. He’s been perfect.”
Hesslink enjoys participating in the Hallway Feeds National Derby Series so much that he has not missed one this year. “I love the derbies because I feel like it’s a great place to show off your horse and your handiness as well as how smooth and soft you can be,” Hesslink said. “Esco really excels at it because he doesn’t care about any of the jumps. He never spooks at anything.”
Although it was Esco’s first time in the large indoor venue, and their partnership is fairly new, Hesslink was not concerned about the 8-year-old Rhinelander.
“I know he’s always a steady eddie and he doesn’t care about those things. For sure, it’s more spooky. There’s more pressure on the horses with this atmosphere,” Hesslink acknowledged.
Hesslink has made a smooth transition into his budding career as a young professional under the guidance of Tim and Kelly Goguen of Boggs Hill Farm, as well as the generosity on behalf of Dina Testa and Garland Alban.
As the winner of the Hallway Feeds USHJA National Hunter Derby Series, Hesslink took home the $10,000 Hallway Feeds Leading Rider Bonus. “I think it’s amazing,” said Hesslink. “I think that it really helps to advertise and get the name out there for the derbies and I think it drives people to want to do them more and participate. I know Taylor [Kain], Aaron [Vale] and Sydney [Shulman] all came back and wanted to do them again and I did the same. I think it’s a great program and it’s a good thing for people who are here.”
Earning second place honors in this weekend’s derby was Courtney Baggett’s Highmark, ridden by Amanda Dougherty. She took on three high options and judges awarded the pair with an 82 in the classic and 85 in the handy. Tori Colvin rode Rivercross Onyx, owned by Rivercross Farm, to third-place honors with a total score of 167.5 points.
Hallway Feeds’ close proximity to the Kentucky Horse Park provides ample opportunity to utilize the freshest feed, manufactured with time-honored commitments to high standards of quality and the latest scientific advancements. Combining a premium nutrition package with a professional level of dedication in horsemen and women provides equine athletes with the formula for success.
The Hallway Feeds USHJA National Hunter Derby series would not be possible without many generous sponsors including Hagyard Equine Medical Institute, Fenwick Equestrian Products, EquiVision, Inc., Caddel Equine Therapy Center, Bauer Hay & Straw, Alfagreen Supreme, Trouw Nutrition, The Andersons, Mark Fischer Inc., Double S Liquid Feed Services, Inc., Agri-Business Insurance Services and Sweet PDZ Horse Stall Refresher.
The $40,000 Bluegrass Festival Grand Prix, sponsored by Audi of Lexington, marked the conclusion of the Bluegrass Festival Horse Show. The action will continue at the Kentucky Horse Park during the KHJA Horse Show, which begins on Wednesday.
Sophie Michaels and Wallenberg Race to Victory in the High Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumpers at Bluegrass Festival Horse Show
Lexington, Ky. — Aug. 20, 2016 — A hush fell over the Kentucky Horse Park’s Rolex Stadium as the final two riders prepared to take the stage in the 2016 USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship. As Jennifer Alfano and the SBS Farms team looked on anxiously from the sidelines, Kristy Herrera entered the ring with Miss Lucy and laid down the trip of a lifetime to secure the sweetest victory, bringing a true fairytale ending to life for the SBS Farms team during the Bluegrass Festival Horse Show.
“I still can’t believe it,” Herrera said, fighting back tears of joy. “This is obviously a dream come true, and of course I have to first thank Jen for letting me ride Miss Lucy. I can’t believe it. Miss Lucy loves being in that ring, and I just steered, really. She just rose to the occasion. It’s unbelievable. I was in there riding, and I knew Jen was riding from the side for me. Every jump felt unbelievable, especially the last one.”
Sitting snugly in third place after Friday’s classic round, Herrera gathered her composure before heading into the ring for Saturday night’s handy round. Herrera was able to shake off the pressure and put her faith in Miss Lucy to lay down a spectacular trip, earning scores of 90.5, 90.5, and 92.5 from the three judging panels to combine with her 25 handy points and all of the high options. Herrera’s round brought Alfano to tears.
“I’m still in shock, also,” Alfano said, also fighting back emotion. “Everyone knows that that horse has such a special place in my heart for a lot of reasons, and so does Kristy. It was hard for me to be here not riding, but I was in tears and had goosebumps. It was so beautiful to watch the two of them together. I’m so proud of both of them. It was meant to be.”
After sustaining an injury in late May at the Devon Horse Show, Alfano was rendered unable to finish the season on Helen Lenahan’s 14-year-old derby star, Miss Lucy. Herrera, a former student of Alfano’s, rose up to fill Alfano’s shoes, taking over the ride on Miss Lucy just three weeks ago.
Beginning at the young age of 9, Herrera started training at SBS Farms, where, under Alfano’s tutelage, Herrera began to blossom into the rider she is today. Saturday’s victory truly marked a mentorship coming full circle for the two riders, as Alfano quite literally handed the reins to her student, putting her faith in Herrera and looking on as the duo filled her with pride.
“I really didn’t imagine this,” Alfano said. “I’m so happy. To be honest, I was a little nervous about tonight. Miss Lucy is an incredible horse, and Kristy is an incredible rider, but when you come to these handy rounds, that is when you really need to have a partnership with your horse. You have to know where all the buttons are. I think Kristy did something tonight that not a lot of people could have done.”
In a heartbreaking twist of fate, Kelley Farmer and Baltimore, who were leading after the classic round with a high score of 291 points, watched the win slip away as a piece of the final fence fell with Baltimore’s back hooves, bringing an unfortunate ending to an otherwise perfect round.
Standing proudly at 1.57m, the final fence not only marked the tallest obstacle on course, but also the tallest one in hunter derby history. The daunting wall dashed the dreams of many a rider, but Farmer’s mishap was easily the most devastating of the night.
“You know what, it is what it is,” Farmer said. “That horse did nothing to let me down tonight. It just happened to be a little bit of bad luck. The way Kristy went, and the way her horse went and with the scores she got, deservedly so, I wasn’t going to beat her doing anything else but trying to jump the high options. It’s not my nature to take the easy way out or jump the low side or anything. Kristy went beautifully, and she deserved to win. The only way I was going to beat her was to give it a shot.”
All hope was not lost, however, as Farmer still brought home the reserve championship aboard Nina Moore’s Kodachrome with scores of 89, 91, and 88 tacked onto 22 handy points, resulting in a grand total of 582 points. Another round laden with emotion, Farmer dedicated her ride to the late Russell Frey, who had the ride on Kodachrome until his passing in May. Making her stellar round even more special, Saturday’s finale happened to fall on Frey’s birthday.
“That horse had to carry the weight of the world over the past months, and he’s done nothing but get better and better,” Farmer said. “To walk out there and go like that, I couldn’t be more proud of him. Nina bought that horse for Russell to come to Derby Finals. When she sent him to me, she said that’s what she wanted him to do. She told Russell that he would, so I’m honored that she gave me the opportunity to keep going.”
Before heading to the Kentucky Horse Park, last year’s champion, Liza Boyd, kissed her superstar, three-time Derby Finals champion, Brunello, and teared up as she drove down the driveway without him. Boyd brought a piece of Brunello’s tail with her, which she tucked safely in her pocket and rubbed before her round aboard O’Ryan. With some luck from Brunello’s tail, the duo turned in the best handy round of the night, earning scores of 91, 90 and 92 in addition to a total of 27 bonus handy points for a total score of 578 points to finish in third place overall.
“On a lighter note, I was a lot more laid back than Kelley and Kristy,” Boyd said, laughing. “With the pressure that these two had, I don’t know how they did it. I just had fun on my junior hunter, and he stepped up for me, and I couldn’t be happier. I thank the owners, the Styslingers, for letting me do this with him. I honestly wasn’t sure I was going to be in this press conference without Brunello, so I was glad to be here.”
Course designers Bobby Murphy and Danny Moore said that they were looking to raise the stakes with Saturday’s course, challenging the derby riders by pushing them to new heights. Murphy and Moore also decorated the ring with elaborate sand sculptures, crediting the generosity of donors such as Hugh Kincannon, Rob Murphy, Diane Carney, Ron Danta and the Gochman family for making that a possibility.
“If you have more people in the hunter industry that will step up to finance these courses, then we can create more spectacular courses,” Murphy said. “It comes down to money with this, and tonight moved this program a step in the right direction. I’m sure the Hunter Derby Program created new fans tonight through this course and through these riders, and through them jumping this gigantic wall. It was an exciting class. The specs say in bold, ‘no maximum height,’ so we’ll treat this as a hunter puissance, and we’ll just keep inching up. That half inch counts!”
Sophie Michaels and Wallenberg Race to Victory in the High Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumpers
Sophie Michaels was aboard Serenity Equestrian Ventures’ Wallenberg to capture the win in the High Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper speed class at the Bluegrass Festival Horse Show out of 15 entries. Michaels currently trains with Andre Dignelli and Patricia Griffith at Heritage Farm in Katonah, New York.
The 18-year-old rider, of New York, New York, sped to victory in an impressive time of 59.69 seconds that no one else could top. Despite the rain in the Rolex Stadium, Michaels was able to keep her composure and come out on top. Her mount, a 13-year-old Hanoverian by Stakkato, has also seen success in the jumper ring with another accomplished young rider, Kelli Cruciotti.
“I’ve had Wally since Florida. I leased him from Kelli,” Michaels said. “He’s been really great. He is really conventional and he’s really broke so he’s fun to do speed classes on. I can feel like I have a shot because he’s on his game to do neat turns and go fast.”
The plan going into the class was simple, to go fast, and Michaels was confident in her partner’s ability to do so.
“My trainer told me just to have the fastest time. I knew I could do it because he’s really good at going fast and I feel comfortable on him,” she said.
In addition to Saturday’s win in the High Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper speed class with Wallenberg, Michaels won the High Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumpers with her mare, Balouba, on Friday.
“I’ve had her for a few years now. She’s been so great – she’s super careful and really fun. I got to go last, so it was an advantage, for sure.”
She also won the Medium Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumpers on Friday with Darero. Michaels took MCB Maya in Friday evening’s $25,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic, where they put down a clear round but were 0.5 seconds over the time allowed.
Michaels is looking forward to beginning her freshman year of college at Yale University, where she will be able to continue training at Heritage Farm and gearing up for equitation finals in the fall.
Anna Beth Athey guided her own Samoa to the second place position behind Michaels, with 60.014 seconds on the clock. Banda De Hus earned third place honors with Ashley Fleischhacker in the irons. The chestnut mare is owned by Ashland Show Stables, LLC, of Lexington, Kentucky.
In the 1.40m Open Jumpers, Kyle Timm reigned supreme aboard his own Georgie B. He was able to navigate the course against 18 other competitors and finish clean. In the nine-horse jump-off, Timm and the 10-year-old Irish Sport Horse rose to the top to claim the victory in a time of 40.46 seconds.
Timm, of Apex, North Carolina, trains at Apex Equestrian Center, where they specialize in importing, buying, selling, and training high-quality hunter, jumper, and equitation horses in the Raleigh and Durham areas. An international show jumping star, Timm grew up in Calgary Alberta, Canada.
Coming in second place behind Timm was Carlos Quinones aboard Michelle Navarro-Grau’s Sagu. The pair just missed Timm’s time, clocking in at 43.232 seconds. Quinones also took the third-place ribbon in the class, with Alhalil, also owned by Michelle Navarro-Grau. Alhalil galloped through the timers with a 43.585 second finish.
The Bluegrass Festival Horse Show will wrap up on Sunday with the $5,000 Hallway Feeds USHJA National Hunter Derby and the $40,000 Bluegrass Festival Grand Prix, sponsored by Audi of Lexington.
Kelley Farmer and Baltimore (Photo: Shawn McMillen)
Aaron Vale and Finou 4 Win $25,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic at Bluegrass Festival Horse Show
Lexington, Ky. – August 19, 2016 – Out of 66 entries in the first classic round of the USHJA International Hunter Derby at the Bluegrass Festival Horse Show, Kelley Farmer had four of the rides. Not only did the hunter derby veteran qualify two of her mounts, Baltimore and Kodachrome, for Saturday’s handy round, but she also took first and second place honors for Lane Change Farm.
Baltimore, owned by Jane Gaston, was the first ride of the day for Farmer. She took the 11-year-old Oldenburg around the course, designed by Danny Moore and Bobby Murphy, to earn scores of 92, 95, and 92 for a total of 291 points going into Saturday’s handy round. Farmer also chose to jump all four high-options. Contrary to the USHJA Pre-Green Incentive Championship, where the top 30 qualified horses go into the final round with a clean slate, the classic points will carry over to merge with Saturday’s handy round score.
Although Farmer had three other rides left, she was able to maintain her first place position with Baltimore throughout the entire class. As much as the other riders tried, Farmer’s near-perfect scores could not be beat as the class continued. Since she got the ride on the bay gelding by Balou du Rouet, Kelley has also earned many titles and championships in the Regular Conformation Hunters and High Performance Working Hunters.
Kelley did not let the thought of going early on in the class take away from her concentration.
“He was amazing. He was unbelievable. He went first last week in Saugerties and I sort of was glad to get it over with,” Farmer said. “It was a little nerve wracking that I had to do him first, but he was unbelievable. I mean, he tried so hard and he’s so brave. He can jump so much, so I never worry about what they build.”
Larry Glefke of Lane Change Farm added, “I never say this, but it was flawless. Because usually, I have a lot to say when she comes out of the ring. Flawless.”
Friday was bittersweet for Farmer, because her usual winning derby mount, Mindful, is currently out of commission. However, Farmer was happy as he is set to get back to work at the beginning of next week.
“It is what it is, but he’ll be back for Florida,” Farmer said about her longtime partner. “He’s been a great horse for me and I’ll be excited to have him back.”
Coming in second place during Friday’s classic round was Farmer and Kodachrome, owned by Nina Moore. Although Farmer has not had the ride on him for very long, the pair still laid down a beautiful trip to earn the red ribbon and a grand total of 280 points.
Trainer Larry Glefke was also extremely pleased with Kodachrome’s performance, saying, “He fits in with Mindful and Baltimore. He has that kind of ability to pop at the jumps. He has a freaky jump, and it gets bigger every week because he’s getting stronger. Both of those horses have quality; [Miss] Lucy has the same quality.”
He continued, “They walk to the jumps every day and they don’t want to knock them down. I mean, things go wrong, things can happen, but they make an effort to jump the jumps every day. You never have to ask them to do too much. Their sincerity is to jump this high over everything.”
Farmer agreed, “It’s a nice feeling when you know that no matter what you aim at, they not only can jump over it, but they can jump over it high, clean and well.”
Kristy Herrera had the ride on Helen Lenahan’s Miss Lucy, who is normally Jennifer Alfano’s mount, and took third place in the classic round. Alfano is currently injured from a fall that occurred at the Devon Horse Show, so she entrusted her longtime friend, Herrera, to take the reins for her. Herrera only had one other show under her belt with Miss Lucy, so she was a little nervous going into Friday’s classic round on the “quirky” mare.
According to Alfano, “She has a little bit of a funny canter, and she doesn’t really like you to touch the reins.”
“It’s Lucy’s way or no way. I was the one that needed to adjust to her,” Herrera said with a laugh. “She has her own way of going and it is different from a lot of other horses I’ve ridden, but she’s so incredibly athletic and smart that once you get it, you don’t have to do anything else.”
She continued, “I was nervous about it, but she walks in that ring and puts her ears forward and gives you the confidence that you can jump anything. It was awesome.”
While Alfano was a little sad that it was not her in the irons aboard Miss Lucy, she was very proud of Kristy and Miss Lucy’s trip that received a combined total of 276.5 points.
“I couldn’t be more thrilled. I was so nervous, I thought I might have a heart attack. I mean, I’m not going to lie, I woke up this morning and I was a little sad and feeling sorry for myself. Watching her go around, it made me teary eyed. That was a hard thing she did today,” Alfano said.
“And I don’t think if anyone else was standing on the ground, I could have walked in there on a horse like that,” Herrera said.
Alfano said that her efforts were a result of trust and friendship built over many years. Alfano had faith in Herrera to take the ride on Miss Lucy, and Herrera trusted Alfano to instruct her as to how best ride the mare.
“I think what made it easier was that we have such a long-standing relationship. We’ve been together since she was 9 years old,” Alfano said. “She may not know the horse, but she and I are so in sync. Lucy is a little different. Kristy has the faith in me to say, ‘Okay, if that’s what you say to do, then that’s what I’m going to do. I’ll take your word for it and do it.’ I could not be any more proud of either one of them.”
Thirty horses and riders have qualified to compete in Saturday’s handy round, which will take place at 6:30 p.m. in the Rolex Stadium. Keep your eyes out for Kelley Farmer and her two horses, as well as Kristy Herrera and Miss Lucy.
Aaron Vale and Finou 4 Win $25,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic
After winning the 1.40m Open Jumpers on Thursday, Aaron Vale was looking to continue his winning streak under the lights on Friday night. The Ocala-based professional and Finou 4 did just that, stealing the win from Shane Sweetnam and Cobolt in the $25,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic at the Bluegrass Festival Horse Show.
“This was a great class,” Vale said. “It was good fun, and I’m glad I came out on the long end of the stick. It ended up being an entertaining class. You get a little flavor this week with the jumps for [USHJA International Hunter] Derby Finals. The horses are so used to jumping stripes, so tonight we got more of a natural tone to some of the obstacles, so that was a fun thing.”
Bobby Murphy’s first-round course produced a 16-horse lineup for the jump-off, with Sweetnam and the Blue Buckle Group LLC’s Cobolt going double clear and setting the early lead with a time of 36.909 seconds.
Vale re-entered the ring aboard Thinkslikeahorse and Don Stewart’s Finou 4, and used his horse’s massive stride to his advantage, cutting his turns and tripping the timers in a blazing fast 33.035 seconds.
“Each horse you have to ride to their strengths, you know,” Vale said. “Finou has a big enough stride that I can leave a stride out, even in a forward line. It’s a strength of his, covering ground.”
Two more challengers came close to Vale’s time. Sharn Wordley and the Sky Group’s Famoso D Ive Z were the first to come within seconds of the lead, clocking a time of 35.84 seconds to eventually finish in third, bumping Sweetnam down to finish in fourth.
Going second-to-last in the order was Benjamin Meredith and Shader Sporthorses LLC’s Anabelle 28. Meredith and Anabelle finished strongly in second place after stopping the clock in 34.022 seconds – just fractions of a second behind Vale, whose time proved unbeatable.
“I didn’t see Aaron go, but for sure I was going to try to beat him,” Meredith said. “The only place I could have gotten ahead of him was the first line. I jumped the first jump, and I landed and said there’s no way I can leave a stride out. But the rest of the course Anabelle kept up with him. We tried to win again, but we just couldn’t get there.”
Vale said he began riding Finou 4 about a year ago. Surprisingly, the gelding is blind in his left eye. Vale said that Finou 4 is instinctively very protective of his body, and will swing himself around worriedly to be able to see.
“He’s a little difficult to train because he’s working against his instinct and he’s worried,” Vale explained. “When he has a good day he usually wins. He’s got enough stride, he has a lot of ability, and he can be really fast in the jump-off. When I have his brain right, he gives me a great class. There were a few things I was worried about for him tonight, but he handled it all.”
Making his victory even sweeter, Vale has reclaimed the top spot from Pablo Barrios in the Hagyard Challenge Series standings, moving one step closer to earning the leading rider bonus.
“We’re all chasing the $50,000 bonus,” Vale laughed. “I’ve got a wedding next week, so I’m missing that class. I know Pablo was at the Olympics this week, so he missed this one. You’re not supposed to count points. You’re supposed focus on riding your horse in the class, so it’s just an added pressure. For people like me it makes a difference, so thankfully we got it done tonight. Hopefully we can come out on the right end of the bonus, because it’s a great thing for Hagyard to do and Kentucky to put it on. We love coming here.”
The Hagyard Challenge Series consists of seven grand prix classes to be held during the 2016 show series at the Kentucky Horse Park. Following the final event, a cash prize of $50,000 will be awarded to the rider accumulating the most points throughout the series as well as a $10,000 prize for the reserve champion.
The series concludes with the $65,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic held during the Kentucky National Horse Show. Following that exciting competition, the winner of the $50,000 Leading Rider Bonus will be announced and presented with the cash prize by the Hagyard Equine Medical Institute. New this year is the $200 Best Turned Out award, sponsored by Bob Mickler’s, which will go to a well-deserving groom following each grand prix. In addition, a Hagyard’s Handsomest Hound contest will also be held at each grand prix, sponsored by MedVet Medical & Cancer Centers for Pets.
The title sponsor, Hagyard Equine Medical Institute, is one of the oldest and largest equine veterinary practices in the world. Founded in 1876, the institute offers a staff with qualifications unparalleled by any single non-university veterinary group in the equine industry. Hagyard veterinarians have dedicated themselves to the health and well-being of the horse.
The facility at Hagyard Equine Medical Institute offers 13 digital radiology systems, 1.5 Tesla Siemens MRI, nuclear scintigraphy, an on-site laboratory, an on-site pharmacy, full medical and surgical services, 24-hour emergency services and hyperbaric medicine. The practice has performed veterinary medicine for more than 137 years and is currently composed of over 50 experienced veterinarians, with 13 board certifications in specialty areas of medicine, surgery and theriogenology. For more information on the Hagyard Equine Medical Institute, please visit www.hagyard.com.
The Bluegrass Festival Horse Show will resume on Saturday with the finale of the 2016 USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship. Other highlight events include the $5,000 Hallway Feeds USHJA National Hunter Derby. Jumper highlights include the $40,000 Bluegrass Festival Grand Prix, sponsored by Audi of Lexington.
Aaron Vale Victorious in 1.40m Open Jumpers at Bluegrass Festival Horse Show
Lexington, Ky. – August 18, 2016 – Scott Stewart’s name is synonymous with winning hunters, and Thursday at the Bluegrass Festival Horse Show was no different. Stewart had a total of seven entries that qualified for the final round in the USHJA Pre-Green Incentive Championship, but it was Rivers Edge’s Storm Watch, who was in the lead after Wednesday’s second round with 520.5 points, who took home the prize. For the top thirty horse and rider combinations, it was an even playing field going into the championship round, as everyone had a clean slate.
Stewart and Storm Watch were the second pair to compete in the 3’3″ section, but as soon as the 6-year-old Oldenburg landed from the final fence, it was obvious that the pair had impressed the judges as well as the crowd outside the Kentucky Horse Park’s Walnut Arena. The three judging panels awarded them with scores of 91, 88, and 85.5 for a grand total of 264.5 points.
Thursday’s stellar performance by Storm Watch proved that Stewart had made the right decision to make time to try him out during his vacation in Holland.
“I bought him off a video. Randy Hendri sent me a video and I couldn’t go over to look at him, so it was almost two months before I got to go and the horse was still there,” Stewart said. “He was in Holland, and the week after the National Horse Show, we went over. We didn’t go over specifically to look at horses, but he was sort of in the area so we looked. It was supposed to be a vacation, but it was on the route.”
Stewart has recently returned to the show ring after time off from a pinched nerve in his neck. During his time recovering, Ken Berkeley took the reins for Stewart to prepare the horses before coming to Kentucky.
“Ken has been riding him at home, so he really got the horse ready for here,” Stewart said. “I wasn’t able to ride for a month or so, right after Devon. I got through the last day of Devon and this is my first show back. I rode at home last week, then came to Pony Finals. I went to some very good doctors in New York and they said I just needed physical therapy.”
Stewart said that Storm Watch’s way of going is slightly different than what he prefers, but the gray gelding is improving every day.
“He’s pretty laid back and quiet. He’s naturally a good jumper, but his balance is a little low.” Stewart continued, “He doesn’t pull, but it’s a little of a different ride for me. I don’t really like them that low, but he’s getting better and better.”
In addition to the tricolor ribbon, wool cooler, and generous prize money, Stewart was awarded a free lease for one year on a Sundowner Charter SE two-horse trailer.
Coming in second place was Lisa Hankin’s Hanoverian, Puissance R, ridden to victory by California’s Jenny Karazissis. The duo won the first round of the USHJA Pre-Green Incentive Championship on Tuesday, and Thursday’s efforts in the 3’3″ section proved that the mare is ready to show at the Capital Challenge Horse Show in October. Judges awarded them scores of 88, 89, and 87 for a total of 264 points.
“This is my first time doing the USHJA Pre-Green Incentive Championship. I’m so excited to be here. We were going to choose between here and Capital Challenge,” Karazissis explained. I said, ‘She can come here and if she does well, she could do both.’ So I’m really glad that we made the trip and it was so worthwhile.”
In third place overall was Hunt Tosh and Douglas Wheeler’s Chicago, who campaigned in the 3’3″ section. Tosh led the 8-year-old gelding around the course to finish up with scores of 86, 84, and 92 for a total of 262 points.
All three hunter professionals agreed that the USHJA Pre-Green Incentive Championship was a step in the right direction for the hunter sport. It is a great way to showcase the younger horses and it features good prize money, which attracts the owners.
The next event for hunter fans during the Bluegrass Festival Horse Show is the 2016 USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship, which will take place over the course of two days. Some of the same hunter riders who went head-to-head Thursday will set their eyes on the prize for the derby championship, which starts on Friday at 8 a.m. in the Rolex stadium.
Aaron Vale Victorious in 1.40m Open Jumpers
After coming close to winning the 1.40m Open Jumper class on Wednesday, Aaron Vale and Acolina R returned on Thursday, this time taking home the blue ribbon with their double-clear round during the Bluegrass Festival Horse Show.
Going near the middle of the order in the Rolex Stadium, Vale and Sarah Turner’s Acolina R tripped the timers in 36.069 seconds in the jump-off and unseated Kyle Timm and Georgie B from their leading time of 37.727 seconds.
“I tried out a different bridle today,” Vale explained. “Acolina is hard to find the right bridle for, so more than anything I was trying a new piece of equipment, and it seemed to suit her pretty well. She kind of likes to go. I caught the fences off the turns really well, so she just ended up being really fast today.”
Vale said he got the ride on the 11-year-old mare about a year and half ago. Together, the duo has had top placings in grand prix events at a number of horse shows, including the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival and Kentucky Horse Shows.
“She gets a little wound up,” Vale explained, laughing. “Her energy probably gets in the way more often than it helps us, but when things come up right and I can do the turns smoothly and keep that gallop, her forwardness is definitely good. Controlling her across a technical course can be difficult, though. You live by the sword; you die by the sword.”
However, Vale said the course rode perfectly for the mare, who was unfazed by the sand sculptures that dotted the ring.
“She wasn’t worried about the sand at all,” Vale said. “It’s nice having the decorations for the [USHJA International Hunter] Derby fences. It livens the ring up. It’s such a big ring, but with the decorations there was more ambiance out there. The courses themselves were really fun and balanced today, and I really liked the tracks. It was a pretty course for my eye.”
Earlier in the day, Sharn Wordley continued his successful week with a win in the 1.35m Open Jumper division aboard Didienne.
“I just got Didienne,” Wordley said. “She’s a cool horse. I gave her a little warm-up yesterday to see how she was in the ring and get to know her, and she was really good. I thought today I’d give her a little try to see how fast she was, and she was really fast. I was only just cruising, and she was just naturally very fast and careful. She’s such a good horse in the ring.”
Wordley purchased the mare with Steve Tinti in Morocco about six months ago. After riding the 8-year-old for the past three weeks at home, this marks the duo’s first appearance together in the show ring.
“She’s a special horse,” Wordley said. “We kept her at our barn in Belgium for six months. My rider there did some shows with her there and got her trained up, because she hadn’t seen a whole lot yet when we got her. This is my first show on her, and she’s turned out to be a real pleasure of a horse; I really like her, and I’m excited about her future.”
Wordley said he plans to continue showing the mare in the 1.35m division, and will try her out in the 1.40m division next week.
“The 1.35m is probably enough for her now,” Wordley said. “She’s had a couple of months off, so from now on, we’ll just see where she’ll be comfortable. She’s improved so much in her rideability in the past three weeks that I’ve had her, so I’ll just see how quickly she wants to go, and she’ll tell me.”
The Bluegrass Festival Horse Show will resume on Friday with the beginning of the 2016 USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship, which will take place over the course of two days. Other highlight events include the $5,000 Hallway Feeds USHJA National Hunter Derby. Jumper highlights include the $25,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic, and the $40,000 Bluegrass Festival Grand Prix, sponsored by Audi of Lexington.
Sharn Wordley Claims Win in 1.40m Open Jumpers at Bluegrass Festival Horse Show
Lexington, Ky. – August 17, 2016 – Scott Stewart guided Rivers Edge’s Storm Watch into the new leading position on the second day of the USHJA Pre-Green Incentive Championship with a total of 520.5 points. Storm Watch is a 6-year-old Oldenburg by Chacco Blue, and even as a relatively new addition to the River’s Edge team, he has made his mark at the Kentucky Horse Park during the Bluegrass Festival Horse Show.
“We bought him at the end of last year, when he was still a stallion,” Stewart explained. “He got castrated, and then he was shown a couple times in Florida in the Pre-Green Hunters. Then, he did Kentucky Spring Horse Show and I haven’t really shown my horses since then, so he’s just been at home getting trained.”
The gray gelding placed fifth over the Patrick Rodes-designed course, after being tied for second place Tuesday.
“He was awesome. He was great both rounds. He’s very laid back. He likes to go like a hunter with his head and neck low,” Stewart said. “He’s probably one of the best jumpers I’ve ever had. He really tries hard every time over these jumps that are kind of small for him.”
Stewart’s plan for Thursday’s third and final round of the USHJA Pre-Green Incentive Championship will be simple and straightforward.
“He’s pretty laid-back, so I only jump a few verticals before I go in. He’s brave, so I’m not going to do too much. He’s pretty quiet as well,” Stewart said.
He continued, “Today, I only jumped three jumps and went in. They’re all getting a little tired.”
When asked about the USHJA Pre-Green Incentive Championship, Scott said, “I think it’s great. It’s nice prize money for these young horses and we get to showcase them a little bit. It’s a very good thing for the hunters.”
While Storm Watch is currently in the lead overall, it was Tim Goguen and Davidson that captured the blue ribbon during the second over-fences round of the USHJA Pre-Green Incentive Championship.
Goguen was quick to mention that Davidson really tries to give it his all in the show ring, and that is what helped him both days.
“He went really well today and yesterday,” Goguen stated. “He’s just a trier; he’s been really good. He’s been going well for the past two days. He got a low score the first day from one of the judges. I think he was like 25th overall going in, but I think today moved him up a little bit.”
Davidson, a homebred warmblood, has only been showing under the expertise of Goguen since the end of June. Despite their short time together, Davidson has made it to the winner’s circle every time out.
“I started riding him at the Country Heir Horse Show, which was in June or July, and I’ve shown him maybe three times,” Goguen shared. “He’s been champion all three times. He’s just been a great horse.”
Davidson enters Thursday’s phase in the ninth place position, with a total of 513.5 points.
Dr. Betsee Parker’s Liberty Road is now in second place overall with 519 points. Chicago, owned by Douglas Wheeler, narrowly missed the second place spot with 518 points. Both horses were ridden by esteemed hunter rider, Hunt Tosh.
On Wednesday afternoon, a new winner for 2016 will be crowned as the championship will culminate after the top 30 horses battle it out for the coveted title. The course walk for the third and final round is set to begin at 3:15 p.m. and officials can begin walking the course at 4:15 p.m. The opening ceremonies will take place at 4:30 p.m., and the championship round is planned for a 5 p.m. start.
Sharn Wordley Claims Win in 1.40m Open Jumpers
As the jumper action began on Wednesday in the Rolex Arena, it was Sharn Wordley and Glamour Van De Kakebeek who brought home the blue ribbon in the $5,000 1.40m Open Jumper division at the Bluegrass Festival Horse Show.
The Rolex Arena was filled with intricate sand sculptures, fully decorated and ready for the USHJA International Hunter Derby Finals, which begin on Friday. Despite the decorations and the light rainfall, Wordley and Glamour Van De Kakebeek navigated the course successfully, going clear in a time of 66.018 seconds.
“My plan was to just go fast,” Wordley said. “There were a lot of fast people in this class, including Aaron Vale and Tori Colvin. I had to go reasonably quick if I wanted to beat those guys. With the course, I know Glamour Van De Kakebeek doesn’t spook at anything, so the sand sculptures didn’t bother him at all. I could have jumped over the sand pile, and it wouldn’t have mattered to him. He felt great today.”
Wordley said that he got the ride on the Kerry Anne LLC entry two months ago, and has been showing the 10-year-old gelding to successful finishes in the 1.40m division. His goal is to eventually show the gelding in FEI ranked classes.
“It’s been really easy getting to know him,” Wordley said. “The first show I went to with him, we won a class. The second and third shows, he was champion in the 1.40m. I’d say I’ve done about seven classes with him, and he’s won five of them.”
The gelding was previously owned by Darragh Kenny, who alerted Wordley when he realized the two would be a great match.
“I had a horse that I bought from Darragh,” Wordley explained. “But he called me saying he had another horse that would be more suited to me. So, he sent me Glamour Van De Kakebeek, and he was right – this one is a great little horse. He’s a real winner, and he just wants to get out there and go as fast as he can.”
Finishing second to Wordley was another rider known for his speedy rounds – Aaron Vale. Vale turned in a clear round aboard Acolina R, tripping the timers just behind Wordley in 66.871 seconds. With a time of 67.328 seconds, Wordley also came in third with Caiman De Sequoias, who is owned by Sharn Wordley and The Sky Group.
Earlier in the day, the 1.35m Open Jumpers had the stage in the Rolex Arena, and it was Richard Rinehart and Virginia Bartholomay’s Donnalaris who swept the field of 32 entries to earn the win.
“I took it as a good sign that it stopped raining before my round,” Rinehart said. “Donnalaris was just awesome. My plan was to try not to take any chances, but to save time where I could. I’m really lucky to have Donnalaris to ride.”
Rinehart, who is based in Indianapolis, said he began riding the 8-year-old mare during July of last year.
“She’s got girl-power,” Rinehart laughed. “She’s very brave, and she gets it done. She’s so nice to ride, and she’s really obedient. I feel like she’s always trying to please. And she likes this ring, even with the sand. I just really wanted her to jump the Diane Carney jump clean, because she’s my trainer, so I’m happy that she did.”
The Bluegrass Festival Horse Show will resume on Thursday with the finale of the USHJA Pre-Green Incentive Championship. Other highlight events include the 2016 USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship, which will take place over the course of two days, and the $5,000 Hallway Feeds USHJA National Hunter Derby. Jumper highlights include the $25,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic, and the $40,000 Bluegrass Festival Grand Prix, sponsored by Audi of Lexington. For more information, please visit www.kentuckyhorseshows.com.
Media Contact: Rebecca Walton
Phelps Media Group, Inc. International
phone 561.753.3389 fax 561.753.3386 PhelpsMediaGroup.com
Lexington, KY – Aug. 16, 2016 – For Jenny Karazissis, making the journey to Kentucky from Calabasas, California has already proven to be worthwhile. Karazissis and Puissance R bested a field of 132 top-caliber entries to win round one of the 2016 USHJA Pre-Green Incentive Championship at the Bluegrass Festival Horse Show on Tuesday.
Going later in the order, Karazissis unseated Scott Stewart and Storm Watch from the top spot, taking over his score of 261.5 points with her score of 262.5 points. The course provided the riders with an option from fence one to two, with two lines available to choose from.
“I really loved the fact that the course designer gave us the option of left or right lead to the first fence,” Karazissis said. “I chose the left-lead option. I knew immediately, and I never doubted that option. Pui is very brave with the jumps, so I knew that was not going to be a problem. I went in there very confidently with my plan, and the whole way around she gave me her all.”
After arriving on Saturday, Karazissis said she rode Puissance R, or Pui, as she’s called, on Monday and knew she was ready to shine in the ring.
“When we schooled in the Walnut yesterday, I jumped maybe three or four jumps, and I felt like I just shouldn’t do anymore because Pui just felt so good and ready,” Karazissis explained. “Today was the same thing in the warm up. She just jumped like four or five jumps beautifully, and I said, ‘you know what, she couldn’t be any more ready.'”
This year marks Karazissis’ first time back showing in Kentucky since 2007.
“I showed in the inaugural [USHJA International Hunter] Derby Finals in 2007, and I have not been back to show myself since,” Karazissis said. “I’ve been here with students showing at Maclay Finals a couple times, but I haven’t shown since then. And I haven’t done the Pre-Green Incentive, so this was really a new experience for me.”
Karazissis said she got the ride on the 10-year-old mare last year when her owner, Lisa Hankin, moved from New York to California. When Hankin found the mare at 6 years old, she was doing dressage.
Hankin explained that she had another horse, Madison Avenue, by the same sire who she absolutely loved, and was interested in buying a younger version of him, which led her to Pui.
“Jenny has been riding her ever since she’s been at Far West Farms,” Hankin said. “They’ve built a beautiful partnership. Pui has been more than I ever could have dreamed, but it never would have happened without Jenny. I’m so happy. Pui is going to get the entire box of Mrs. Pasture’s cookies when she gets back to her stall!”
Karazissis echoed Hankin’s love for the mare, saying, “The very first time I sat on her I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I just love her.’ She just gives you the best feeling. I actually have goose bumps just thinking about it. She’s lovely. She’s a chestnut mare, and she proves me wrong every day with that myth or stereotype.”
Heading into Wednesday, Karazissis holds the lead, while Stewart and Storm Watch are tied for second place with Kristy Herrera and Helen Lenahan’s Girl Crush. For Wednesday’s final round, Karazissis said she will be focusing on letting Pui do her job.
“Pui is ready,” Karazissis stated. “I just have to be careful to not get in her way and overdo it.”
The Bluegrass Festival Horse Show will resume on Wednesday with round two of the USHJA Pre-Green Incentive Championship. Other highlight events include the 2016 USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship, which will take place over the course of two days, and the $5,000 Hallway Feeds USHJA National Hunter Derby. Jumper highlights include the $25,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic, and the $40,000 Bluegrass Festival Grand Prix, sponsored by Audi of Lexington. For more information, please visit www.kentuckyhorseshows.com.
Media Contact: Rebecca Walton
Phelps Media Group, Inc. International
phone 561.753.3389 fax 561.753.3386 PhelpsMediaGroup.com
Lexington, KY – August 14, 2015 – For David Beisel, the Bluegrass Festival Horse Show holds incredible memories, yet there is one in particular that stands out for him. It was three years ago exactly that David Beisel and Ammeretto, owned by Equine Holdings, LLC, entered into only the second grand prix of their show jumping partnership during the week of the USHJA Hunter Derby Finals, and they won. Friday night, under the lights of the Rolex Stadium, it was déjà vu for Beisel as he entered into a 12-horse jump-off with the small but mighty warmblood stallion, winning the $25,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic, presented by Zoetis.
“Before the jump-off, as I was getting ready to go over the course, I was thinking to myself that it was three years ago that he competed his second grand prix, and now, here were are,” Beisel smiled. “I knew that if I had a little faith in him, and with the good partnership we have now, that it all would work, and it did.”
Out of a field of 47 horse and rider combinations, Beisel and Ammeretto rose to the top of the leader board, besting 11 fellow contenders during an exceptionally fast jump-off. Shane Sweetnam and Easy Contact Humlan, owned by Sweet Oak Farm, were the first to tackle the shortened course, designed by Allen Rheinheimer. Although they posted the quick time of 40.487 seconds, he left the door open just enough to let Beisel take his shot.
Beisel sat ringside during the course change, observing Rheinheimer’s changes to the track. He noted that deeper cups were added to the skinny, warranting a tight turn back, and the black oxer originally the 11th obstacle of the opening track was narrowed, allowing for a tight rollback. It was the race to the final oxer with Ammeretto that would have spectators on the edge of their seats.
“I knew I really had to take a shot to the last one,” Beisel explained. “Allen had made the black oxer quite narrow, and I hoped to turn back as tight as I could and trust that he would hop over it. It didn’t come up exactly how I would imagine, but he gave a huge effort. I tried to be smooth to the in-and-out and then trusted him to fly to the Hagyard. He did just that.”
Ammeretto and Beisel have a special partnership, rooted in time and trust. Ammeretto originally found a home with Beisel as a 3-year-old, and now, seven years later, the pair has an unspoken understanding.
Beisel continued, “He is such a smart horse; he really truly enjoys competing and jumping. I think he totally understands to adjust his speed out there and slow up for the jumps. If I have an error in the jump-off it is usually because I am pulling on the reins and mess up his rhythm. I think staying out of his way is the best way to go.”
Beisel and Ammeretto stopped the clock in an astonishing 38.229 seconds.
Sweetnam did not want to take no for an answer tonight. Having already lost the lead to Beisel, as well as to the 18-year-old Emanuel Andrade who posted a clean and speedy effort in 39.962 seconds, he returned on his second qualified mount, Eregast Van’t Kiezelhof.
Although Sweetnam gave it a gamble on the course, his time would still fall 1/10th of a second shy of Beisel’s winning time, landing from the oxer in 38.332 seconds for the second place, pushing Andrade into third.
“This horse was also second in the most recent Hagyard Challenge I did two weeks ago. He was close then and close again tonight. David is a very fast rider,” Sweetnam said. “Eregast Van’t Kiezelhof is not the fastest horse in the world, but he’s learning to be faster, as you saw tonight. He makes my job quite easy. I just have to find the jumps, and I think we’ll have a chance.”
All three top finishers plan to return to the Rolex Arena on Sunday afternoon for the $40,000 Bluegrass Festival Grand Prix, sponsored by Audi of Lexington. For Beisel, he is aiming for even bigger purses and dreams.
“We plan to jump the HITS Saugerties $1 Million Grand Prix and the [American] Gold Cup and to keep trying to climb up the ranking list,” Beisel concluded. “It is a dream of mine to get on the short list for Team USA, so I want to keep chipping away at getting more points and prove that [Ammeretto] is a competitor. I cannot thank Equine Holdings enough for their support; you cannot do this without owners; I am blessed to have them and for them to back our goals.”
Fourth place was awarded to Sweetnam for his earlier round aboard Easy Contact Humlan as the first of the class, while fifth place was won by Victoria Colvin and Echo Von T Spieveld with a clear effort in 42.645 seconds. Amanda Derbyshire and Lady Maria BH rounded out the top six as the last of the clear efforts in a conservative 48.232 seconds.
Liza Boyd, Kelley Farmer, and Sandy Ferrell Lead the Way in Day One of the USHJA International Hunter Derby Final
The question of impending retirement has been in the air recently for 17-year-old chestnut Brunello, famously ridden by Liza Boyd to two USHJA International Derby Championships in the last two years, but the elder horse put those rumors to rest in the Rolex Stadium Friday as he earned three top marks above 90 for a cumulative score of 287 to secure the lead after the Classic Round. Kelley Farmer and Mindful, one of Farmer’s numerous mounts of the day, closely trail the current frontrunners headed into the second day of competition, featuring the handy round. Sandy Ferrell, having just come off a reserve showing in the Pre-Green Incentive Finals Thursday, kept her momentum going by clinching the third position with El Primero ahead of the 76 other entries.
“I think we can say that he is not retired. That is a question I have gotten a lot this year and I don’t think he wants to be retired. He just felt like he was six years old again,” Boyd gushed. “The horse is amazing. I will never have a horse like this again. I get a little emotional about him. He tries so hard; he loves what he does and he makes my life so easy. He is just really, really special; I can’t thank him enough.”
Although Brunello, co-owned by Boyd and Janet Peterson, has a few more notches in his belt than his younger counterparts, Boyd feels that the Hanoverian horse is still in great shape, which can be attributed to the training and fitness regimen she keep him on at home in Landrum, South Carolina. She credited lots of trail riding, treadmill workouts, turnout, and double rides on some days as their secret weapons to keeping him looking and feeling his best, a recipe that has shown successful.
“We do really focus on fitness, and this horse doesn’t have to show super often. The week before I locked him up in the stall and barely did anything with him. He had a massage, and I had a facial,” Boyd laughed. “I wanted him to be as fresh as possible.”
The winning pair laid down a stellar trip, proving that the best was saved for last as the final in the order to go over designer Steve Stephens’ classic round track, which presented riders with 13 efforts to show off their talents. Four fences offered high and low height options, giving competitors a chance to earn up to 12 additional points, four from each of the three judges, to their score. Boyd and Brunello opted for all the high options, contributing to their seamless round.
“I think it [the course] is typical Steve [Stephens]. You walk it and it seems pretty straightforward, but you get out there and they get a little wiggly; the horses don’t know where they are. It isn’t so much the height or that he didn’t test us with a lot of numbers. We only had one line. It was really where he placed the jumps,” Boyd said. “Even starting out with fence one, they didn’t expect the jump to be there; it was away from the in gate. He definitely placed them in tricky spots, but it was very rideable for a young horse and kept an old horse enthusiastic and sharp. Once again, he did an unbelievable job.”
As the two-time defending champions, Boyd and Brunello felt the pressure headed into the ring, but did not exude any of that anxiety to the crowd or, more importantly, the judges. The duo’s 287 score was pieced together of 90.5, 91.5, and 93.0 scores from the judges, plus the bonus 12 earned due to the high fence options.
“Last year was a thousand times less stress. I think I should have another baby before next year because last year I was just hoping to hold on and have fun. This year was a lot more stress; my palms are still sweating. I was super nervous,” Boyd reflected.
Currently in the reserve position, hometown rider Kelley Farmer aboard veteran mount Mindful, owned by Larry Glefke and Kensel, LLC, are hot on the heels of Boyd and Brunello, only a singular point behind the current leaders. She and the black gelding Mindful have an impressive résumé together, having accrued lifetime prize money topping $97,000, of which $65,000 was won this year alone.
“I can’t say enough about that horse. He is a fantastic horse, and he went beautifully today. I hope it goes the same tomorrow. I made some mistakes on some of the others, but the course was nice and the horses went well,” Farmer said.
Farmer also earned a stop amongst the frontrunners in the saddle aboard Dalliance, who is owned by Avatar Real Estate, LLC out of Coral Gables, Florida. The pair rode to a 276.600 score to claim the sixth position headed into the handy round.
On the opposite side of the age spectrum from Brunello sits El Primero, the 6-year-old bay stallion navigated to third in the standings by Sandy Ferrell of Bernville, Pennsylvania. The talkative horse whinnied all the way around the ring, but that did not detract from the strong performance as he proved to not only talk the talk, but also walked the walk to the tune of a 280.250 score in his first Derby Finals.
“He is a newcomer to the derby world. He just turned six this year, and he is a baby, and must be the youngest out there. I think that we are just seeing the beginning of his career. He was a little bit talkative out there today; I think he was wondering where his friends went because he couldn’t see anybody. He was talking all the way around the ring,” Ferrell said.
El Primero, owned by Bryan Baldwin and Meralex Farm of Brandon, Florida, is known as ‘Sexy’ outside the ring and was imported from Europe as a jumper, but smoothly transitioned into the hunter ring, where he has shined under the tutelage of Louise Serio.
“As a horseman, you are going to fall in love with that horse. Whether it is his look, his athletic ability is endless; his desire to perform is endless. He is an amazing horse, and I think great things are only yet to come,” Farrell commented. “It is rare that a horse comes out of the jumper ring in Europe and plops into the hunter ring and off we go. He is just an incredible animal. He has such a wise soul. He is so in control of everything.”
The top six horse and rider partners are separated by 11 points headed into Saturday’s handy phase. Trying to surpass the top three will be Cassanto, ridden by Brady Hamilton and owned by Emily Perez of Pittsford, New York, the current fourth place contenders, as well as Jennifer Alfano and Miss Lucy, owned by Helen Lenahan of Buffalo, New York, who rank fifth. Alfano also claimed the seventh and eighth position with Maggie May, owned by Billie Steffee of Noelty, Ohio, and Jersey Boy, owned by SBS Farms Inc. of Buffalo, New York. Farmer and Dalliance round out the top six.
Tomorrow the hunters will return to the Rolex Stadium at the Kentucky Horse Park for the Handy Round, which serves as the USHJA International Hunter Derby Final during the Bluegrass Festival Horse Show.
Lexington, KY – August 13, 2015 – For grand prix rider Tracy Fenney, the 2015 USHJA Pre-Green Incentive Championship was nerve-wracking, yet it did not keep the Texan from riding to the top of the hunter championship event on Thursday. Fenney ranked second after the first day of competition, and stayed consistent throughout the three-day event, topping the leader board with MTM Personalized and besting a field of the 30 top qualified horses from the original 160 entered.
“It really is a lot of pressure. I am so much better in the jumpers,” Fenney laughed. “This is so special. When he did well the first day, I got so nervous for the second day. I feel so privileged to ride against such prestigious hunter riders. You hear about them, you read about them, you see them and it is just amazing. What a great group of people to ride with.”
A fixture in the grand prix ring, Fenney and partner Michael McCormick operate MTM Farm out of Flower Mound, Texas, training and selling horses imported from Europe. MTM Personalized arrived at the Pin Oak Charity Horse Show while Fenney was competing in the grand prix, and from the moment she saw him she knew that the 7-year-old grey gelding was going to be special.
Fenney noted that McCormick always looks for two things, conformation and size, saying, “Sexy is number one, because everyone wants a pretty horse, and big is number two.” MTM Personalized lives up to both of those eye-catching qualities.
As only the fourth horse in the order, Fenney utilized MTM Personalized’s big stride and elegant movement, opting for the outside route where many of the other riders took handier options with an inside strategy. Her plan caught the judges’ eyes, earning them the scores of 91, 92 and 90 points. Her score would prove untouchable, with Fenney and MTM Personalized leading the class from start to finish.
“You take it step by step; they are horses. You are dealing with a whole other emotion, not just your own. Aside from mine, which is nervous,” Fenney smiled. “It’s not like tennis where you only have to worry about your swing and your racket. That horse is just so elegant how he canters so slow; I think he stands out on his own. He carries himself so well that the more time he is in the ring the better; he just does it so well.”
Twenty-five rounds later professional hunter rider Sandy Ferrell rode Grand Luxe, owned by Rebecca Stepanoff, to the second place finish with scores of 89, 89.5 and 88.5 to fall six points shy of Fenney. This was Ferrell’s first time competing in the USHJA Pre-Green Hunter Incentive, with a bit of good luck on her side helping her gain the ride aboard the Mecklenburg gelding.
Grand Luxe has an interesting background, one rooted in an entirely different discipline – dressage. The 9-year-old gelding only began showing in the Baby Greens last year, and has continued to impress his owner and those fortunate enough to sit in his saddle.
“All I know is that he needs to be in this ring,” Ferrell said of the second place horse. “I think it is safe to say that his jump is incomparable to most horses out there. He just tries incredibly hard at all the jumps, which is his natural way of going. He is actually pretty small, so to be able to jump that high and have that much scope is an amazing feature. He taught me to be tight in the tack. He wasn’t going to lower [his jump] any time soon.”
The 2015 USHJA Pre-Green Incentive Championship is the kick-off event for the annual USHJA Hunter Derby Championships, the capstone event of the Bluegrass Festival Horse Show. The Stonelea Arena was lined with spectators, providing a sense of camaraderie that Fenney appreciated and elaborated on its importance.
“It is such an incredible week, this whole week. Now we are headed up to the ring to ride the derby horses,” Ferrell said. “The quality of the horses is just incredible. They are presented so well, trained so well; it is just one nice horse after another. This event helped to level the playing field; it is different than the Derby Championships; they are all young and new at the game, and everyone was so supportive.”
It was up and coming rider Molly Sewell of Winter Park, Florida, who claimed the third place finish with Casparo, owned by White Hill Farm of Greenwich, Connecticut. Over the course of the competition, Casparo consistently placed high scores, building every day to rank with the best of them.
“He tries so hard,” Sewell described. “He gives 100 percent all the time, and he always rises to the occasion. He was so good; his scores just kept getting higher and higher. I am so proud of him.”
Sewell is not new to the hunter game, but she is thrilled to be moving up in the ranks, especially at her first Pre-Green Incentive Championship.
“This is my first year doing it, and I never imagined that I would be third place. I just wanted to make the top 30; even to begin to imagine where I got tonight is unbelievable,” Sewell grinned. “The quality of the program showcases the younger horses. I think it promotes owners to buy young horses and bring them along which is great for the sport.”
Riding over the final oxer of the course is a moment that Sewell will never forget, and when she saw her scores of 88, 89 and 88, she was nothing but smiles.
“He jumped amazing the whole trip and I galloped down to that last oxer and he just fired over it,” expressed Sewell. “It was so exciting and everyone was so supportive. I am the ‘little man’ in this group of people. It is fun to be in there and start making a name for myself. It feels like everything is coming together.”
Fenney echoed Sewell’s enthusiasm, saying, “This is what we do, and it is so fun. It is such a wonderful feeling, the pleasure of bringing them along, seeing how far they have come. To have that feeling of accomplishment that you made a horse into something that someone else wants.”
Hunter championship competition continues tomorrow with the Classic Round of the 2015 USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship in the Rolex Stadium.
Emanuel Andrade and Shane Sweetnam Top Open Jumper Leader Board at Bluegrass Festival Horse Show
With Thursday marking the last day to prepare for the $25,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic that will take place Friday night, riders took to the Rolex Stadium in the 1.40m Open Jumper class. Emanuel Andrade and his own Rufus De Violaines proved to be the best of the field, speeding to the fastest double clear ride over 42 other entries.
“This was the first 1.40m class for me, since I just got here yesterday, so I thought it was pretty big, but it went well,” Andrade said. “There were more than 40 horses and there were not a lot of clear rounds. The time was very tough. It’s never easy to win here, as there’s always tough competition, but I have been coming to the Kentucky horse shows for a very long time and I love it here.”
Andrade and his horse were one of fourteen pairs to advance to the jump-off, which eight navigated to another trip that left all the jumps in the cups. With a time of 30.640 seconds, and no other contender coming within a second of their mark, it appeared that Alejandro Karolyi and Arena Du Pachis would be crowned champions, until Andrade and his gelding took their turn as one of the final entries. Andrade and Rufus De Violaines trumped the standard set by Karolyi and his mount after tripping the timers in 30.059 seconds.
“He is a very nice horse. I got him less than a year ago. He is very competitive, and I am very happy with the result of all of our training,” Andrade said of his horse. The pair showed to considerable success in Wellington this past season, and after a stint apart while Andrade showed on the grass surfaces at Spruce Meadows, not Rufus’ favorite footing, the two were reunited and have been off to a good start in Lexington.
Andrade plans to vie for the lion’s share of the purse in Friday’s Grand Prix with multiple mounts, Rufus De Violaines being one of them. After hopefully earning more accolades in Kentucky, Andrade will head north to the Hampton Classic, followed by a trek across the pond for European competition.
Sharn Wordley in the irons aboard Crown Jewel, owned by Ashland Farms out of Wellington, Florida, clinched the reserve spot with a 30.470 second time, followed by Alejandro Karolyi and Arena Du Pachis, owned by Nicolas Mignon and Karolyi Showjumping, also out of Wellington, Florida, whose 30.640-second time was quick enough to land them in the third position.
Shane Sweetnam produced two strong rides in the morning’s Seven Year Old class, riding to both first and second places aboard Main Road, owned by Sweetnam’s Sweet Oak Farm, again out of Wellington, Florida, and USA D’Horset, of the same owner. Sweetnam had the final two entries of the class, and needed to surpass the 34.665 second standard set by another Andrade ride: HH Rochambeau. In his first of two attempts, Sweetnam cut time to the tune of 33.968 seconds, roughly half a second ahead of Andrade, with Main Road. He and USA D’Horset once again sped past the bar set by the previous leader, which landed them in second position after tripping the timers in 34.068 seconds.
“I think the course designer [Allen Rheinheimer] did a nice track today. I’m sure it will be tougher on the final day of the Seven Year Olds, but for the middle day, I think it was nice. There were a few lines where rideability was important,” Sweetnam said.
Sweetnam and Andrade were not the only ones to qualify for the jump-off. Of the 11 total entrants, nine navigated the 13-effort course without fault. Although seven of those nine laid down another clean and clear round around the short track, Sweetnam and Main Road outmaneuvered them all.
“I’ve only had him about two months. He is a very talented horse and we have big plans for him for the future. He’s very competitive, a very quick horse,” Sweetnam commented. “With his age he keeps improving every time he goes in the ring. The more he is doing, the better he is getting.”
Sweetnam is no stranger to the Bluegrass horse shows, with owners Spy Coast Farm, a recurring client, just a stone’s throw away from the Kentucky Horse Park. Following the conclusion of the Kentucky circuit, Sweetnam’s schedule stays busy, highlighted by the Hampton Classic, U.S. Gold Cup at Old Salem, and a showing in New York City.
Tomorrow the jumpers will return for the $25,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic Grand Prix. The Bluegrass Festival Horse Show features five days of jumper competition; the highlight jumper events in the Rolex Stadium include the $25,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic on Friday and the $40,000 Bluegrass Festival Grand Prix on Sunday.
Peter Wylde and Royal Flush Go All In for the Win in the 1.40m Open Jumpers at Bluegrass Festival Horse Show
Lexington, KY – August 12, 2015 – It was nearly one year ago that Jennifer Alfano spotted Castle in a schooling ring in Houston, Texas. Fellow professional rider Tracy Fenney was aboard the bay gelding, and after Alfano saw him take two jumps, she knew that she wanted to be the rider in his saddle. Her instincts proved correct as she topped the 2015 USHJA Pre-Green Hunter Incentive leader board Wednesday with the warmblood, owned by Sharon O’Neill of Snyder, New York, on the second of the three-day championship event.
“He was great; he is just so easy and so fun to ride,” Alfano said. “He has been an easy horse right from the start. He is quiet, and he doesn’t look at anything. He is just so straightforward. Today he was awesome.”
Alfano rode Castle to the scores of 86.5, 89 and 91 to not only take the first place as the high scoring round of the day, but also guaranteeing a return spot in Thursday’s championship round.
“Castle was great both days; he is really consistent. He is one of those horses you can really count on. You can really depend on him,” Alfano described.
Her cumulative score of 527.55 points from the two days of competition allows for them to return as the 10th horse and rider combination of the class on Thursday. Alfano nearly duplicated her effort with The Exchange, who she placed third with on the opening day, yet an unfortunate lead change would drop them from the top 30 qualified for the championship round.
“I was trying to redeem myself from the other round,” Alfano laughed. “It is hard in a class like this when you are just trying to get to the top 30; you put so much pressure on yourself. I just hope for the best, but I know I can always count on him.”
Castle’s owner, O’Neill, was thrilled with Alfano’s ride. “Jennifer picked him, she found him, she rides him, although I jumped every jump with her today,” she smiled. “I don’t know how he got us both around, but he did. It was thrilling, and it is something that you think about, but you never count on.”
Alfano has been a proponent of the USHJA Pre-Green Incentive program since its inception in 2013. Over the last three years, she has watched it continue to grow exponentially, and is thrilled with the increase of owners and riders at the 2015 Championship.
“I think it is great to see this many Pre-Green horses, and for the owners it is spectacular,” Alfano said. “It makes people want to own Pre-Green horses; it makes them want to invest in young talent. Look at how many people are watching this championship. It makes the owners really want to do this, and want to be involved.”
O’Neill commented, “It means a lot to see Jennifer finish at the top today. I have been in this business for a long time, and it is nice to have a good horse and a good rider; it really is.”
Going into the championship round on Thursday, Alfano and Castle will have their slate wiped clean. She is relying on his consistency to help her clinch the victory, a feat which has narrowly evaded her in the past.
Alfano concluded, “I feel good [about tomorrow]. He has been great for two days, so hopefully we can pull it off again; if not, then we have today!”
Scott Stewart continues to lead the overall ranks with Evermore, returning as the last contender of the event. They hold the lead with a total of 529 points, but Thursday will become anyone’s game.
“Evermore was good,” Stewart said of the 6-year-old gelding. “I thought he was almost as good as yesterday. He landed right after the outside line and he is a perfect lead changer; it was weird that he landed right, and I think I was a little rough forward, just being nervous, but I thought the rest of the round was as good as yesterday.”
Stewart also qualified Wish, owned by Rivers Edge, ranking fifth during the second over fences phase, and tied with Hunt Tosh and Liberty Road, owned by Betsee Parker. Although Stewart took the second position with William Hill during the second round, their first-day rail will keep them from the final phase of competition.
“Evermore is so laid back; I hope he has some energy left, but I think he will be good,” Stewart smiled.
The 2014 USHJA Pre-Green Incentive Champion said of defending his title with his two mounts, “It is the same as always. There is pressure, but I am just hoping to do well.”
Third place was awarded to Kelley Farmer and Clever Conversation, owned by Kensel, LLC. Farmer qualified five mounts for the final round, holding the best odds as the busiest rider of the class. Tosh finished in fourth place with Valhalla, owned by The Wheeler Family, qualifying three mounts for the concluding round.
The 2015 USHJA Pre-Green Incentive culminates Thursday with the third and final round of the competition, where the top 30 horses from Tuesday and Wednesday’s rounds will compete in a final over fences round. The final round will feature a “clean slate” format, meaning the scores from Tuesday and Wednesday will not carry forward.
By: Kendall Bierer
Peter Wylde and Royal Flush Go All In for the Win in the 1.40m Open Jumpers at Bluegrass Festival Horse Show
Lexington, KY – August 12, 2015 – Now into its second day of competition, the Bluegrass Festival Horse Show brought 23 eager entrants to the Rolex Stadium to compete in the first day of jumper action, highlighted by the 1.40m Open Jumper class that concluded the afternoon. Riders faced off against the clock over a speed course, and mid-way through the pack, Peter Wylde and Royal Flush, owned by Kathleen Kamine of Oldwick, New Jersey, took their chance at the blue. They bested the current leader’s time of 63.274 seconds, set by Denise Wilson and Nimbus, with the faster 62.467 second round.
Although 11 pairs tried to chase down Wylde and his speedy mount, none were able to overtake them.
“All I really need to think about is taking the winning track. If I take the plan that I think will put her on the right stride, typically she will take care of the jumps for you,” Wylde said of his strategy with Royal Flush. “She was quick pretty much everywhere. She made really fantastic turns, even to the triple, which we made a really tight turn to and she handled that well. She’s a really good turner and very competitive that way. You can turn very short to jumps and never worry that she is going to knock them down.”
Looking at her pedigree, Royal Flush has a lot to live up to, but she seems to have taken the challenge in stride and has been living up to her name, perhaps even making a name of her own.
“Royal Flush is a wonderful horse. She was bred by the people that own her, the Kamine family. She is the daughter of Royal Kaliber, which was their Olympic horse, and she is out of a mare called Wildana, another grand prix horse that they owned. She is really home-bred,” Wylde said.
In the past four competitions in which the mare has participated, she has earned two champion finishes, two reserve spots, and two third place positions, rarely finishing off the podium. In the only Grand Prix of her show career, Royal Flush finished an impressive third. Wylde picked up the ride on the 9-year-old at the end of last summer, and sung nothing but praises for the horse that he thinks is one of the next up-and-comers in the jumper ring.
“We have been bringing her along, and she has really come into herself in the last year. She is really hitting her stride and every time we go to the ring with her, she has been incredibly competitive,” Wylde commented. “She is very careful, very smart, and is really a winner. She has an incredible spirit about her. It’s great and so exciting. It is fun to have such a wonderful horse at our stable.”
The time set by Wilson and Nimbus was good enough to maintain their place just behind the first place finishers, followed by Meagan Nusz aboard Vesuvius, owned by Amalaya Investments of Houston, Texas, in the third position. The horse and rider tripped the timers in 64.709 seconds. Eight other duos mastered designer Allen Rheinheimer’s course, leaving all the jumps up and crossing the timer within the time allowed.
In the 1.35m Open Jumpers, which took place just prior to the 1.40m Open Jumpers, 25 hopeful entrants took to the expansive ring of the Rolex Stadium to vie for the top prize. Unlike the 1.40m class, where half of the total entries rode to a clean and clear trip, only six pairs conquered the colorful track to make it to the jump-off. The lead consistently changed hands as quicker and quicker trips were produced by each subsequent jump-off effort. It appeared that Carlos Quinones, with the ride aboard Yidam, would be named the winners with their time of 69.803 seconds, that is until Kyle Dewar and his own Gomez Van De Withoeve, nearly the last to go, edged out the frontrunners with their quick marks of 69.282 seconds.
Dewar has owned the towering 9-year-old ‘Gomez,’ as he is dubbed outside the show ring, for a year and a half, and the two are starting to put up good numbers after a rocky start to their career together.
“He did some grand prix as an 8-year-old, and some days were amazing and some days were terrible, which I think was due to an underlying muscle problem. He was sick through Florida, but now he is very healthy and has won a lot of prizes; we’ve been much more consistent. Since the beginning of June he has been awesome. He is my upcoming grand prix horse,” Dewar said.
Gomez is perhaps the definition of a gentle giant, standing at nearly 18 hands and exuding nothing but friendliness. Although he does not exemplify the typical image of a fiery jumper type, his owner has deemed his calm demeanor and hard-working attitude as a major factor in their success.
“He is the best character at the horse show. He is not the best jumper, not the most careful, not even the bravest, but he is the best guy in the world; he is so kind,” Dewar noted. “My 3-year-old daughter can go into his stall, and they’ll lie down and hang out. She gives him carrots and loves on him; he is the best.”
Dewar and Gomez will try to prolong their winning ways this Friday Night in the $25,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic.
Quinones and Yidam, owned by Michelle Navarro-Grau of Wellington, Florida, retained their second place position, followed by Daniel Begoya in the saddle for Eduardo Leon of Houston, Texas, aboard Prestige, who claimed third place with their time of 70.260 seconds. Dewar, Quinones and Begoya were the only three to ride to double-clear rounds, with the other three jump-off riders succumbing to downed rails.
The Bluegrass Festival Horse Show features five days of exciting jumper competition. The highlight jumper events in the Rolex Stadium include the $25,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic on Friday and the $40,000 Bluegrass Festival Grand Prix on Sunday.
By: Elaine Wessel
For more information on the Kentucky Summer Horse Shows, including this week’s Bluegrass Festival Horse Show, visit www.kentuckyhorseshows.com.