Lexington, KY – August 4, 2011 – It was a beautiful night at the Kentucky Horse Park as the nation’s top horses and riders gathered at the Rolex Stadium to compete in the $25,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic during the Kentucky Summer Classic. Venezuela’s Angel Karolyi and James T Kirk proved to be the best of the best, topping the two-horse jump-off with the only double clear effort. Lauren Tisbo was the first to tackle the short course with Coco 135, and their four-fault round netted them the second place prize.
Tonight’s class was the fourth of seven grand prix events that make up the Hagyard Challenge Series, sponsored by Hagyard Medical Institute and presented by Pfizer Animal Health. Following the final event in the series, a cash prize of $45,000 will be awarded to the rider accumulating the most points throughout the series for the Leading Rider Bonus.
Twenty-eight riders challenged tonight’s opening track, which was designed by Leopoldo Palacios of Venezuela. For the first round, the competitors had to show over a triple bar, a liverpool, two vertical-oxer double combinations, and a vertical-vertical double combination. The end of the course proved to be the most difficult, causing many riders to incur costly penalties and elimination from the jump-off. Fence ten was a liverpool oxer off of a sharp right turn, followed by a steady five strides to the vertical-vertical double combination, and the course ended with a wide oxer just past the gate. Twelve horses had rails at fence 10, while 14 horses lowered the height of a fence in the double combination, and six then went on to add four faults to their score at fence 12.
“I walked the course and I talked to Leopoldo, and it walked quite technical and careful, not huge, but a careful course,” explained tonight’s winner Angel Karolyi. “I took my time. The time allowed wasn’t super tight, so I just made sure that I did a nice track. James T Kirk knows his job and is getting experienced; he jumped very well here in May.”
Junior rider Christina Kelly had the quickest four-fault round aboard Camirage, owned by Diamond Edge Farm of Nicholasville, KY, taking off the back rail of fence 10, but crossing the finish line in a speedy 71.858 seconds for the third place prize. Ashlee Bond and Chivas Z, owned by Little Valley Farms of Hidden Hills, CA, were close on her heels, catching four faults at the first part of the double combination to finish in 72.572 seconds to take home the fourth place award. The fifth place honors went to Debbie Stephens and Swagger, owned by Centennial Farm of Palmetto, FL, who added four faults to their score at the plank fence with a time of 75.202 seconds.
Only two riders were able to show over the course without penalty and advance to the jump-off. For the shortened course, they began over a wide oxer to a single vertical, before making a very tight right turn to the first vertical-oxer double combination. The riders then galloped across the ring to a single vertical, made a left turn to a wide oxer followed by a tall vertical, and galloped through the timers over the last oxer.
Lauren Tisbo was the first to attempt the shortened course with her talented mount Coco 135, owned by Tequestrian Farms, LLC of Wellington, FL. The duo had an excellent ride through the double combination, but after a long gallop to the next oxer, they hit the back rail and added four faults to their score. They crossed the finish line in 47.05 seconds for the second place honors.
“I got Coco 135 the last week of Spruce Meadows, so it is a fairly new relationship,” noted Tisbo. “I got him from McLain Ward and he has been super. The course was tough. It is a little hard for me to judge on him, because everything seems easy so far. The jump-off was more or less for the experience. This is only my sixth class on him, and we are still figuring things out, but our plan was to go fast.”
The final horse and rider combination in the ring proved to be the best of the day. Angel Karolyi knew he just needed to leave all the fences standing with James T Kirk, owned by Abigail Walker of Montpelier Station, VA, but it was no easy task with such a technical track. The pair was very conservative, but their effort was not wasted when they managed to leave each rail intact and break the beam at 54.52 seconds. They jumped to the top of the leaderboard and claimed tonight’s winning title.
“The jump-off was tough, there was a lot of pressure, but it worked out well and James T Kirk was jumping great,” admitted Karolyi. “You have to be careful with being conservative, because it can cause you to make a mistake and have a rail just because you didn’t have enough pace for an oxer. Wherever he had a little room I dropped the reins and let him have his natural pace, which is correct, I am usually the one who changes it up a little bit.”
Karolyi began riding the 11-year-old gelding just three years ago and they have slowly built up a very good relationship. He said, “James T Kirk has been so consistent for the last couple of years and I always knew that he was a talented horse, he has a lot of blood, he just needed to grow up, he needed time. You just have to be patient on top of him. He’s hot, but he takes a lot of leg out of the ground.”
The talented rider is currently in a partnership with Andrea King and Hollow Creek Farm of Aiken, SC. Karolyi will continue to show at the Kentucky Summer Horse Shows and then plans to travel to New York for the Hampton Classic. His main goal for the year is to make the Venezuelan team for the Pan American Games in September.
Karolyi shows in Kentucky throughout the year and enjoys competing for the Leading Rider Bonuses. “It is a great opportunity, and it is very exciting to come for the duration of the horse shows they put together here. I haven’t done well in the previous Hagyard classes, but who knows, I show here all the time so if it works out, then it works out. Hugh Kincannon puts together a great show and Leopoldo created a great course tonight.”
The Kentucky Summer Classic will continue tomorrow with the Open Jumper and Junior/Amateur-Owner classes in the Rolex Stadium. This week’s highlight event will be Saturday night’s $50,000 Rood & Riddle Grand Prix, which will begin at 7:30p.m. at the Kentucky Horse Park.
For more information about the Kentucky Summer Horse Shows, please visit www.kentuckyhorseshows.com.
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