Tracy Fenney and MTM Personalized.
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.
By: Kendall Bierer and Elaine Wessel
For more information, please visit www.kentuckyhorseshows.com.