Lexington, KY - May 8, 2008 - Henri Kovacs galloped away with his first victory aboard Cermit today in the $5,000 1.45 Open Jumper Class at the Kentucky Spring Horse Show. The pair beat out six other double clear jump-off contestants in the class, held at the beautiful Kentucky Horse Park. Kovacs and Cermit were two seconds faster than Amanda Knowles and Julizi Du Brio to take the lead during today's class in the new outdoor stadium. Margie Engle and Hidden Creek's Campella also competed a fault-free short course and finished in the third place position.
Richard Jeffery designed a long course that covered the entire length of the new outdoor stadium for today's 1.45m Open Jumper Class. The first round course included a triple bar, a water jump option with only the pole scored, a vertical-to-vertical double combination, and a triple combination. The jump-off course began with three large oxers, followed by a red and white vertical off a sharp turn, to a fourth oxer. Riders then continued to the triple bar fence and finished over a tall oxer going towards the gate. The time allowed for the first round was 71 seconds and the time allowed for the jump-off was 45 seconds.
Beezie Madden and Onlight, owned by Team Onlight of Cazenovia, NY, were the first to compete in the class and after a successful first round they advanced to the jump-off. The pair would set the tone for the rest of the class when they were fault-free during the short course as well. Madden and Onlight stopped the timers in 39.205 seconds, which would hold up for fifth place honors. Next in the ring was Amanda Knowles riding Julizi Du Brio, owned by Bayshore Farms of Toronto, ON, and the duo quickly took over the lead from Madden after posting a double clear effort in a time of 37.618 seconds.
Knowles' victory was short lived when Henri Kovacs stepped into the ring with Cermit, owned by Caroline Lloyd of East Hampton, NY. Kovacs and Cermit were able to leave all the jumps standing during the first round and quickly stepped up to make their bid during the jump-off. Kovacs picked up a fast gallop to the first jump and held it throughout the course, not touching a single rail and blazing across the finish line in 35.655 to take over the lead and win the $5,000 1.45m Open Jumper Class.
Madden would make a second attempt to win the class with Prima, owned by the Neapoliton Holding Company of Naples, FL, but the pair would not be fast enough after tripping the timers in 41.233 to earn the sixth place honors. Margie Engle riding Hidden Creek's Campella made a valiant effort to catch Kovacs time, but they weren't quite fast enough, stopping the clock at 38.661 seconds to place third in today's class with their double clear effort. Hidden Creek Farm is based in Oak Creek, WI. The final entry of the day was Madden with her third mount, Exclusive, and they also completed a fault free jump-off round. Exclusive is owned by Elizabeth Busch Burke and John Madden Sales of Cazenovia, NY. The duo crossed the finish line in 38.908 seconds to be the fastest of Madden's mounts and capture the fourth place award, securing Kovac's victory.
"I'm really happy," smiled Kovacs. "He's getting really good now. He did 1.40m classes in Florida and now he's becoming a 1.45m horse. I'm really happy to have this win."
Kovacs admitted that the 8-year-old Holsteiner can be slow at times, but today he really stepped up. "Cermit is a little bit slow so I really have to think about the time allowed. Especially in a big field like this, I have to gallop," he explained. "There was a tight double vertical combination in the first round but he was great there. The water jump wasn't difficult because he doesn't spook. There was also a triple combination, and there was an option to add or leave a stride out, but he jumped great in the first round. I thought he was jumping great so for the jump-off I thought I could go really fast. I just flew to number one and then to number two and just all around the place!"
Kovacs is an 18-year-old rider from Hungary and he trains with Katie Prudent. "I've always known I wanted to ride, I was born into it," he said. "I've been with Katie for two years. My mom called her and told her that she had a son with some talent, so I went to their barn in France and Katie trained me for a week. I guess she liked me because I've been with her ever since then."
This is Kovacs first time competing at the Kentucky Horse Park, which will be hosting the 2010 World Equestrian Games (WEG). Kovacs has already qualified for WEG with his grand prix mount, Sassicaia II, owned by Plain Bay Farm of Middleburg, VA. "I am planning to compete so it is great to see the place and know where I am coming," he noted. "The Kentucky Horse Park is amazing; it's beautiful."
The Kentucky Spring Horse Show will continue tomorrow with the $20,000 Bluegrass Classic in the new outdoor stadium beginning at 8 a.m. The Walnut Arena will host the $15,000 ASG Software Solutions/USHJA Hunter Derby at 6 p.m. On Sunday the $55,000 Commonwealth Grand Prix will be taking place at 4 p.m. in the new outdoor stadium. The second week of competition, the Kentucky Spring Classic, begins next week on Wednesday, May 13, 2009.
For more information on the Kentucky Spring Horse Shows please go to http://www.kentuckyhorseshows.com
Photo Credit: Henri Kovacs and Cermit had the fastest double clear effort to take the win in today's $5,000 1.45 Open Jumper class at the Kentucky Spring Horse Show. Photo: Rebecca Walton Photograph may be used only in relation to this PMG press release.
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<a href="http://www.equestrianmag.com/article/henri-kovacs-jumper-class-kentucky-spring-horse-05-09.html">Henri Kovacs and Cermit Top 1.45m Open Jumper Class at Kentucky Spring Horse Show</a> ~ EquestrianMag.com