Andres Rodriguez and Darlon Van Groenhove Win $50,000 Commonwealth Grand Prix

Andres Rodriguez and Darlon Van Groenhove.

Lexington, KY – May 17, 2015 – Andres Rodriguez left no door open during the Sunday finale of the Kentucky Spring Classic, riding his own Darlon Van Groenhove to the $50,000 Commonwealth Grand Prix winged victory in an untouchable 43.193 seconds. Ireland’s Kevin Babington captured the second place just behind Rodriguez with Mark Q, while Todd Minikus (USA) closed out the competition in the third place.

The rider from Venezuela has been knocking on the door throughout the Kentucky Spring Series, riding to the second place during the $34,000 Hagyard Challenge Series at the Kentucky Spring Horse Show, and consistently putting in clear rounds during the second week of competition. Today, as the third in the order of 14 to return for the jump-off, he knew he would have to put on the pressure to keep competitors on their toes in an attempt to catch his trailblazing pace.

“I had 11 riders behind me, so I knew I had to take a big risk,” Rodriguez said. “That risk was my decision to do eight strides to the last jump. It was nine strides going forward, so I needed to angle it to try to get the eight. I am really happy with this win, Darlon jumped amazing.”

The win marks a milestone in the progress Darlon Van Groenhove has made recovering from a slight injury incurred during the 2014 Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup Finals in Barcelona, when he did not pass the jog.

“Darlon was my best horse result-wise last year,” Rodriguez elaborated. “He is coming back from a six-month rest. This is his first show back, and he is in good shape. I have high hopes for him in Calgary, and he is probably the horse I would consider for the Pan American Games. I couldn’t have expected more from him out there. It was a wonderful victory because this is his biggest win since we started competing with him again, and when you bring a horse back after so long and that you have missed for so long, it really is something special.”

The eight strides to the final oxer was not the only move that Rodriguez made to secure the win. He also left out a stride down the first line, clearing the second obstacle in only six strides, setting a pace that second place rider, Kevin Babington (IRL), admitted that he knew he could not catch.

Four riders attempted to leave out the stride down the opening line, but only Rodriguez succeeded with the leave-out, seeing either the first or second obstacle fall in a shot to catch his pace. The pressure to catch Rodriguez during the first half of the course caught Shane Sweetnam, Richie Moloney and Roberto Teran.

Pablo Barrios and Zara Leandra attempted to angle the penultimate obstacle in the same fashion as Rodriguez, but the Audi-vertical fell in their haste.

Minikus was able to lay down a clean and quick jump-off round in 45.171 seconds with Con Capilot, but the time was not enough today to catch the Venezuelan, falling short with a 1.97 second differential.

“When I heard that Andres had made his move down the first and last line, and how fast his ride was, I knew I was riding for second,” Babington laughed.

Kevin Babington and Mark Q
Kevin Babington and Mark Q

He continued, “Mark Q is 13 years old now, and I have Shorapur who has stepped up to the plate as my number one horse. It takes the pressure off of Mark Q to use him for classes like today instead of in the 1.60m or the grand prix all the time. He jumped great in the first round, and I was delighted with our results from the jump-off.”

Babington and Mark Q tripped the timers in a clear 44.835 seconds to take the second place.

Although today’s event was only nationally ranked, the Kentucky Spring Horse Show Series featured a CSI2* week and a CSI3* week, which brought many riders back to the Kentucky Horse Park. “It has been quite a few years since I have been here for the Spring and Summer shows, and honestly, it is the FEI classes that brought me back,” Babington said. “In order to be on the world stage, you have to keep your eye on your ranking points. I thought that this was a nice build up before going to Europe and I am really glad I came. I was chatting with some of the other riders and it is just incredible the level of riding; it has changed, and it is incredible. There is such a great camaraderie at these shows, and we are all trying to learn from each other and help one another. The sport is really turning a corner for very positive reasons, I think.”

Rodriguez echoed Babington thoughts, saying, “I am really happy that I made the decision to come here. Everything was top-notch. The course was really good for a CSI3*; Bernardo Costa Cabral has done an amazing job; he builds according to the horses and the riders. He makes us have to go all in. I really want to congratulate the show organizers for making this an FEI competition. I would not have thought of coming if it was not for the FEI classes; there are many venues we love, but it is our job to compete for world ranking points, so when you have the availability to get the world ranking points in a facility like this, where you can also bring other horses along, it is perfect.”

Only three other riders would ride to double-clear results.

Emanuel Andrade and Bon Jovi went clean in 45.171 seconds, a conservative pace for the otherwise speedy rider. Colin Syquia and Adventure E grabbed the fifth place in 47.427 seconds, while Hayley Barnhill and Zephire finished just under the time allowed in 51.736 seconds to round out the top six.

Today marked the conclusion of the Kentucky Spring Classic, but in July competition will continue at the Kentucky Horse Park during the Kentucky Summer Series. Throughout July and August, riders will have the opportunity to compete in top-notch hunter/jumper events, and also try to earn valuable points toward the $50,000 Hagyard Challenge Series’ Leading Rider Bonus, and the $15,000 Leading Rider Bonuses available during the Hallway Feeds USHJA National Hunter Derby Series.

For more information about the Kentucky Spring Horse Shows, please visit

Kentucky Horse Shows 2015 Horse Show Series Fast Facts

Events: 2015 Kentucky Spring Horse Shows

The Kentucky Horse Shows 2014 series includes two weeks of top hunter/jumper competitions during the month of May. The Kentucky Horse Show Series is the host of the Hagyard Challenge Series and Hallway Feeds USHJA National Hunter Derby Series.

Kentucky Horse Park, Lexington, KY, site of the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™, home to the United States Equestrian Federation.

$34,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic CSI2*
$85,000 Mary Rena Murphy Grand Prix CSI2*
$25,000 Bluegrass Classic
$25,000 U25 Classic
$15,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby
$5,000 Hallway Feeds USHJA National Hunter Derby
WCHR Recognized Hunter Competition

$34,000 Welcome Speed CSI3*
$34,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic CSI3*
$127,000 Hollow Creek Farm Grand Prix CSI3*
$50,000 Commonwealth Grand Prix
$20,000 Bluegrass Classic
$5,000 Hallway Feeds USHJA National Hunter Derby

A special thanks to the generous sponsors of the Kentucky Spring Horse Shows: Hagyard Equine Medical Institute, Hallway Feeds, Hollow Creek Farm, Audi of Lexington, Sleepy P Ranch, CWD, Farm Vet, Dietrich Insurance, Take2 Thoroughbred Program and the Official Hotel The Clarion.

8am – 5pm daily

Horse Show Exhibitors may purchase a weekly parking pass at the main Horse Park entrance for $15.00. Dogs are permitted at the Kentucky Horse Park on a leash.

The Kentucky Horse Park is located 8 miles northeast of Lexington, Kentucky at Exit 120 on Interstate 75.

Before Show – (859) 233-0492, Email:
During Show – Telephone: (859) 254-3343, Fax: (859) 231-6097
Stabling – Email Tom Blankenship at
Stable office – Before Show: (843) 269-4737, During Show: (859) 255-0605
Prize List Advertising – Email Cindy Bozan at or call (859) 608-3709
Vendors – Email Cindy Bozan at or call (859) 608-3709
Shownet –


Vendors offering equestrian equipment, apparel, jewelry and home furnishings are located adjacent to the Stonelea Ring.


CLARION HOTEL (Formerly Holiday Inn North) – 859-233-0512 – Approximately 4 miles (OFFICIAL HOTEL)
Discover the place where elegant comfort in an ideal location meets excellent service and affordability. At the Clarion Hotel Lexington, you’ll find well-appointed accommodations with options of double/doubles, double queens, king rooms or suites, exceptional amenities such as our free hot breakfast buffet, and Southern hospitality at its finest. The best hotel for Keeneland – located in the heart of Kentucky’s Bluegrass Region – home of the Kentucky Horse Park, the Lexington Convention Center, University of Kentucky, and the Kentucky Bourbon Trail – our Lexington hotel is on Newtown Pike at Exit 115 on I-75, close to all the big attractions, and is the perfect place to stay whether you’re here to get down to business or have some fun. Best of all, bring your furry friends for any trip because the Clarion Hotel in Lexington is also pet-friendly.

Reservations may not be made through the Horse Show office. To reserve a campsite at the Kentucky Horse Park for any of the horse shows, please call the Campground store at (800) 370-6416 or 859-259-4157 or email Sherry Logan at Be specific as to the show name and the dates you wish to stay. Check-in time is 2:00 p.m. and check-out is 12:00 noon. You must make arrangements with the Campground store if you plan to arrive earlier than 2:00 p.m. or stay later than 12:00 noon. Vehicles that are not removed from a campsite by check-out time will be towed.

Kentucky Horse Shows, LLC
P. O. Box 11428
Lexington, KY 40575-1428
859-233-0492 (phone)
859-233-0495 (fax)

Media Contact:
Phelps Media Group, Inc.
12230 Forest Hill Blvd.
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