Tag Archives: Bluegrass Festival

Notice of Cancellation of Bluegrass Festival, KHJA, USEF Jr. Hunter Nat’l Championship – East Coast

Lexington, Ky. – August 4, 2020 – After weighing the impact of multiple positive COVID-19 cases following the Kentucky Summer Classic and the cancellation notice of USHJA’s upcoming championships, Kentucky Horse Shows LLC and US Equestrian have decided to cancel Bluegrass Festival (Aug. 11-16), KHJA (Aug. 19-23), and USEF Junior Hunter National Championship – East Coast (Aug. 23-24), scheduled to take place at the Kentucky Horse Park.

We have been notified that three additional individuals have tested positive for COVID-19 after attending the Kentucky Summer Classic for a total of seven reported cases. The majority of reported cases are associated with one barn and none of the individuals have returned to the facility.

This is a decision not taken lightly and we are mindful of the negative effect this will have on exhibitors’ plans and schedules, but feel this is the only way to ensure a safe outcome for all. No fees of any kind have been charged to anyone who has entered the shows. Exhibitors do not need to take any action with regard to the show office and all entries will be canceled. We hope that moving forward our exhibitors and members will place their safety and the safety of others above all else during these trying circumstances.

If you believe you have been exposed to the virus, please follow the ten recommendations from the CDC, found here.

Information about testing for COVID-19 can be found here.

Please be reminded that if you test positive for COVID-19 within fourteen (14) days following a competition you attended, you must notify the competition organizer and USEF.

For additional information, please contact Hugh Kincannon at hak@kentuckyhorseshows.com

For additional information on USEF Junior Hunter National Championships, please contact hunterdept@usef.org.

Prize Lists for 2020 Bluegrass Festival Horse Show & KHJA Horse Show Now Available

Lexington, Ky. – June 9, 2020 – Kentucky Horse Shows LLC is pleased to announce that the prize lists for the 2020 Bluegrass Festival Horse Show and the KHJA Horse Show are now available online. Following the Kentucky Summer Horse Shows and USEF Pony Finals, these two shows offer an additional two more weeks of top-notch hunter/jumper competition at the breathtaking Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky.

On top of regularly scheduled competition, the Bluegrass Festival Horse Show will also host the Platinum Performance/USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship, as well as the Platinum Performance/USHJA Green Hunter Incentive Championship. An addition to the KHJA Horse Show, top junior hunter riders will gather at the Kentucky Horse Park for the 2020 USEF Junior Hunter Finals – East Coast on August 23-24.

The prize list and entry forms can be accessed here.

At this point in time we are planning to proceed as scheduled with our shows.  Entries and stall reservations by mail and online are open immediately. PLEASE NOTE: FOR A STALL RESERVATION TO BE ACCEPTED AND PROCESSED, IT MUST BE ACCOMPANIED BY AN ACTUAL HORSE ENTRY. TACK STALLS MAY BE REQUESTED AT 1 TACK STALL PER 3 HORSES. Entries and stall reservations may be secured online by credit card and by mail with a check. However, no credit cards will be charged and no checks deposited until we are certain that the shows can be held safely. At that time, all entries will be considered definite entries and will become subject to the show policy regarding scratches as outlined in the prize list.

We have developed protocols to ensure the safety of everyone involved in the horse show environment once horse shows start again. These procedures were arrived at with the guidance of state and local health authorities as well as USEF, and will be published soon for review. The driving force for all involved will be the health and safety of all exhibitors, their employees, and show staff.

We will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation and maintain communication with the Kentucky Horse Park, state and local health officials, and USEF. Should we determine that the shows can’t be held safely we will notify all affected parties immediately. In the meantime, we will distribute any updates by email and social media. You can also monitor our website at www.kentuckyhorseshows.com.

For the 2020 show season, all Kentucky Horse Shows prize lists will only be available in digital format. For more information about the Kentucky Summer Series, please refer to the prize list on www.kentuckyhorseshows.com.

David O’Brien and La Belle SCF Capture Win in $40,000 Bluegrass Festival Grand Prix

David O’Brien and La Belle SCF.

Lexington, Ky. – Aug. 18, 2019 – The final day of the Bluegrass Festival Horse Show at the Kentucky Horse Park concluded with the $40,000 Bluegrass Festival Grand Prix, sponsored by Audi of Lexington. Despite high temperatures, 28 horse-and-rider pairs contested Ken Krome’s course attempting to walk away with the lion’s share of the prize money. At the end of a competitive jump-off, it was David O’Brien and La Belle SCF who walked away with the day’s top honors, in addition to winning the Envisian Leading Rider of the Week award thanks to accumulating the most points in the jumper divisions throughout the week.

Luminosity Shines Bright with Geoffrey Hesslink to Win $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby

The Bluegrass Festival Horse Show was bookended by the $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby, sponsored by World Equestrian Center and Kentucky Horse Shows, on Sunday to complete a week of exciting equestrian action. In their first ever class together, Geoffrey Hesslink and Luminosity topped the scorecard following two standout rides to top the field of 40 starters and earn the lead spot in the victory gallop.

Website: www.kentuckyhorseshows.com

Contact: Rebecca Walton
phone 561.753.3389
rjw@phelpsmediagroup.com

Scott Stewart and Sara Taylor Top Scorecards in USHJA Green Hunter Incentive Championship

Scott Stewart and Sandstone.

Lexington, Ky. – Aug. 15, 2019 – The finale of the 2019 Platinum Performance/USHJA Green Hunter Incentive Championship took place at the Kentucky Horse Park on Thursday afternoon, with champions crowned in both the 3’/3’3″ and 3’6″/3’9″ sections. After leading the first two days of riding, Scott Stewart held onto his top placings to capture the win in the 3’/3″ section with Dr. Betsee Parker’s Sandstone, while Sara Taylor and Ingrid Avera’s Noah emerged victorious over the larger fences to clinch the 2019 title for the 3’6″/3’9″ group.

Hardin Towell and Angel Twist Top the Leaderboard in Classic Champions, Inc. Developing Jumper Tour 7-Year-Old Jumpers

Young, developing horses were the focal point of the Rolex Stadium on Thursday during the Bluegrass Festival Horse Show as pairs gained valuable show experience as well as chased qualifying points towards the Classic Champions, Inc. Developing Jumper Tour weekend championships. Many horse-and-rider partnerships were also using Thursday’s classes as one of their final opportunities in the show ring to prepare for the year-end championships in September. Proving to be the best of the day in the Classic Champions, Inc. Developing Jumper Tour 7-Year-Old Jumpers, Hardin Towell and Taboo Holding’s Angel Twist sped to victory to add a win to the horse’s growing record. In the 6-year-old section, Mattias Ekeroth and Haydee M led the pack, while David O’Brien and Octavius SCF topped the leaderboard for the 5-year-old class.

Website: www.kentuckyhorseshows.com

Contact: Rebecca Walton
phone 561.753.3389
rjw@phelpsmediagroup.com

Scott Stewart Sweeps Top Three Spots in Day Two of USHJA Green Hunter Incentive Championships

Scott Stewart with top three finishers Mayflower, Sandstone, and Charlemagne.

Lexington, Ky. – Aug. 14, 2019 – The second phase of the 2019 Platinum Performance/USHJA Green Hunter Incentive Championships at the 3′ and 3’3″ heights brought more than 140 exhibitors back to the Walnut Ring on Wednesday, with each horse-and-rider pair aiming at qualifying for Thursday’s championship round by earning a place in the top 30 finishers. Maintaining momentum, Scott Stewart retained his status as the frontrunner aboard Mayflower, laying down another high-scoring performance to earn Wednesday’s victory over fences and the overall top spot on the leaderboard. Adding to his success, Stewart claimed the second-place and third-place spots ahead of the pack with Sandstone and Charlemagne, respectively.

Jill Gaffney and Dayla 6 Go Double Clear to Win $5,000 1.40m Open Jumpers

Jumper competition in the Rolex Stadium kicked off Wednesday at the Bluegrass Festival Horse Show with the $5,000 1.40m Open Jumpers serving as the highlight event. Competing over a course of 13 obstacles, athletes vied for both clear and quick rounds. At the end of the two-phase competition it was Jill Gaffney and Freestyling Farm LLC’s Dayla 6 who stole the show to walk away with the blue ribbon as the only double-clear combination of the class.

Website: www.kentuckyhorseshows.com

Contact: Rebecca Walton
phone 561.753.3389
rjw@phelpsmediagroup.com

Scott Stewart and Mayflower Lead Day One of USHJA Green Hunter Incentive Championships

Scott Stewart and Mayflower. Photo: Shawn McMillen Photography.

Lexington, Ky. – Aug. 13, 2019 – Day one of the Bluegrass Festival Horse Show kicked off with the first round of the 2019 Platinum Performance/USHJA Green Hunter Incentive Championships. After 141 horse-and-rider combinations tried their hand at the 3′ and 3’3″ heights during Tuesday’s competition, it was Scott Stewart and Dr. Betsee Parker’s Mayflower who stole the show with a score of 267 points to take the lead and the blue ribbon. Heading into Wednesday’s second phase of competition, the pair looks to earn a slot in the top 30 that will qualify to compete in Thursday’s championship round.

Website: www.kentuckyhorseshows.com

Contact: Rebecca Walton
phone 561.753.3389
rjw@phelpsmediagroup.com

Kady Abrahamson and Charline 28 Finish First in $40,000 Bluegrass Festival Grand Prix

Photo: Kady Abrahamson and Charlene 28.

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.

Contact: Rebecca Walton
phone 561.753.3389 fax 561.753.3386
rjw@phelpsmediagroup.com

Tori Colvin and Cafino Capture $40k Bluegrass Festival Grand Prix at Bluegrass Festival Horse Show

Tori Colvin and Cafino.

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.

Geoffrey Hesslink and Esco
Geoffrey Hesslink and Esco

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.

For more information on Hallway Feeds, please visit www.hallwayfeeds.com.

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.

To learn more about the Kentucky Horse Shows, please visit www.kentuckyhorseshows.com.

Media Contact: Rebecca Walton
Phelps Media Group, Inc. International
phone 561.753.3389 fax 561.753.3386
PhelpsMediaGroup.com

Kristy Herrera and Miss Lucy Capture 2016 USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship

Kristy Herrera and Miss Lucy.

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.

Sophie Michaels and Wallenberg
Sophie Michaels and Wallenberg

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.

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

Kelley Farmer Dominates during First Day of USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship

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.

Aaron Vale and Finou 4
Aaron Vale and Finou 4

“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.

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