Brooke Kemper and Classified. Photos by Teresa Ramsay Photography.
Lexington, VA – April 27, 2015 – When Brooke Kemper first started showing at the Virginia Horse Center, it was aboard ponies in a ring on top of a hill. The Horse Center did not yet house its large Anderson Coliseum, and Kemper was not yet clearing the five-foot fences that she so easily sails over today. Both Kemper and the Virginia Horse Center have come a long way since the childhood days that Kemper fondly recalls spending there.
On Saturday night inside the Anderson Coliseum, Kemper claimed the $25,000 Rockbridge Grand Prix victory aboard her mount, Classified. The grand prix was one of the feature events of the AA-rated Lexington Spring Premiere held April 22-26, 2015.
“I’ve been coming here my whole life. It’s kind of like my hometown; this is where I grew up showing,” Kemper, a McGaheysville, Virginia native, said.
Kemper and the 11-year-old Classified were one of six combinations to finish without fault over the first round course to advance to the jump-off round in front of the crowd on Saturday night.
Just before Kemper entered the ring to jump off, eventual second place finishers and defending champions Maryann Charles and FVF Sailor Man turned in a quick, clear round to move to the top of the leader board.
“I was able to watch Maryann go just before; I walked in to jump off and everybody was cheering for her. I thought ‘wow, I don’t think I can go that fast, but I’ll try,'” Kemper said. “I got lucky, and everything kind of came up going forward, and I never had to pull on the reins. My horse was really good and jumped great, and I was able to go faster.”
As Kemper crossed the finish line timers, her hometown crowd went wild. Her time of 31.911 seconds put her ahead of Charles’ time of 33.228 seconds and secured her the win.
“It’s so cool to get the win here at home,” Kemper aid. “Leslie Brown, who manages the show, I have known since I was a child. It’s just special to do well here.”
Also doing well during the Lexington Spring Premiere were Caitlin Venezia and Hello Kitty, owned by Jennifer Combs. While Kemper rode away with the week’s top jumper accolades, Venezia took the top hunter honors in Friday night’s featured hunter event, the $5,000 Randolph College USHJA National Hunter Derby.
With free admission, more than 250 spectators packed picnics or enjoyed the dinner options available at the Horse Center and filled the grandstands of the Wiley Arena to watch as Venezia and 35 other top riders vied for the National Hunter Derby victory.
Finishing in second behind Venezia, who came to the Horse Center from Marston Mills, Massachusetts, were Kaitlin Campbell and Touchback, owned by Ashley Hartman.
The top hunter/jumper competition continues this week with the Lexington Spring Encore, running Wednesday through Sunday. Spectators are encouraged to come watch throughout the week and for the Lexington Spring Encore’s two highlight events: the $25,000 George L. Ohrstrom, Jr. Grand Prix and the $10,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby.
The $10,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby gets underway at 5 p.m. on Friday, May 1. The International Hunter Derby will take place in the Hilltop Ring, offering spectacular views and plenty of room for spectators.
The $25,000 George L. Ohrstrom, Jr. Grand Prix begins at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 2 in the Anderson Coliseum, and this week local young riders are invited to walk the course themselves with course designer Bernardo Costa Cabral. Cabral is an internationally recognized and acclaimed course designer, and young riders will have the rare opportunity to get his unique insight on the course he designed, prior to watching the horses compete over it.
Following the conclusion of the grand prix, there will be a ribbon toss and poster signing with the grand prix riders. Admission is free for all events held at the Lexington Spring Encore.
Find out more about the Virginia Horse Center at www.horsecenter.org.
The Virginia Horse Center is situated on a 573-acre site with eight barns to accommodate 750 horses in permanent stabling. Indoor stabling can be increased to 1,200 horses with the use of temporary stalls. The Virginia Horse Center hosts 19 show rings, including two large arenas and a five-mile Olympic cross-country course. Four of the Virginia Horse Center barns are winterized with close access to the 4,000 seat indoor coliseum. The Virginia Horse Center is recognized for the excellent footing of its show rings and the durable construction of the concrete stalls. The Virginia Horse Center also offers camping facilities and on-site food and beverage services. Find the Horse Center online at www.horsecenter.org.
Emily Riden for Phelps Media Group, Inc. International