Manuel Torres and Christofolini H. Photos by: Teresa Ramsay Photography.
Lexington, Va. – May 12, 2016 – The Lexington Spring Encore at the Virginia Horse Center always draws the country’s leading competitors for its premiere hunter/jumper event. This weekend, Colombia’s Manuel Torres and Christofolini H took home the top spot in the $30,000 George L. Ohrstrom Grand Prix on Saturday, besting a field of sixteen.
The win came after a second place finish in the Open Jumper Welcome Stake held earlier in the week for Torres and the 9-year-old Rheinlander gelding. The Welcome Stake gave a nice preview for riders of the speed of the course. “We had the Welcome Stake in the beginning of the week,” said Torres. “That ended up being a really fast jump-off, so I had to be prepared for a fast jump-off in the Grand Prix.”
Torres, a five time Olympian, rode to the top of a tightly contested class with speedy clear round. An early spot in the class did not deter Torres. “Christofolini H loves speed so even though I was very early in the class it ended up working out fine for me,” said Torres. Rounding out the top three were last week’s winner, Mary Lisa Leffler, this time aboard Carlot, for second place, while Brooke Kemper and Classified placed third with just one rail down in the jump-off.
Torres praised the facility and the course designer. “For us, it is one of our favorite shows of the year. We love the crowd, the facilities, and the stabling – the horses are very relaxed here,” he noted. “We come every year and we really like it. They always pick really good course designers to come and do these two weeks of competition, so it is very exciting for us to come here.”
Christofolini H is a relatively new ride for Torres. “I began to jump the grand prix in Ocala in the beginning of the year, so it’s a new mount for me.” He says. “I’m just getting used to him. He’s a very talented horse. Hopefully I keep getting to know him better and have a good season.”
Jason Berry was on top of his game this weekend, claiming three of the top four spots in the $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby. He picked up the victory aboard Cobalt Blue R with a score of 185.0. Elizabeth Bailey and Acido 7 scored the second place spot with a score of 173.5, while Berry also placed third and fourth on IAmWhatIAm and Attila, respectively.
Berry imported Cobalt Blue R, an 8-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Oak Ledge Farm, last year. Everything came together for them in the derby class. “For the handy tonight he was just on it.” Berry said, “From the time I picked up the canter it was like they put the jumps where I needed them to be. He was super easy to ride for that.”
A Virginia native, Berry was enthusiastic about his win at the Virginia Horse Center. “It’s definitely our home show,” he expressed. “It’s great to win a class here; it’s great to have this facility in your backyard. They have a great indoor Coliseum where they had the class tonight. To have the weather that we’ve had, pouring down rain for the last few days, the option of having a good class no matter what the weather is the best thing about the Virginia Horse Center!”
Rebecca Walton for Phelps Media Group, Inc. International