Lexington, KY - May 7, 2009 - Two-time Hagyard Challenge Series leader Kent Farrington began the 2009 series right when he and Up Chiqui galloped away with the $30,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic victory today at the Kentucky Spring Horse Show, held at the Kentucky Horse Park. Seven horse and rider combinations went clear during the 12 horse jump-off but Farrington and Up Chiqui were the fastest of the evening, stopping the clock two seconds ahead of second place finishers Mario Deslauriers and Vicomte D.
Richard Jeffery designed tonight's track in the spacious new outdoor stadium. The first round consisted of a water jump with a larger vertical over top, a triple bar, a double combination, and a triple combination. For the jump-off course riders began over a large oxer and then made a sharp bending turn to a vertical followed by another bending turn to an oxer on the diagonal. Then riders continued to a third oxer and made a sharp turn to a vertical-to-oxer double combination. The course ended by making a sharp turn to a tall vertical and then galloping home over the last oxer.
Thirty-seven riders competed during today's first round and 12 were able to complete the course without fault and advance to the jump-off. Ljubov Kochetova and Chamertino were the first in the ring to compete over the short course and had a very successful round. The pair was steady and clear, leaving all the fences standing, and stopping the clock in 48.44 seconds to set the standard for the next 11 riders.
Mario Deslauriers and Vicomte D, owned by Jane Clark of New York, NY, were ready to take over the lead when they stepped into the ring. The pair galloped past Kochetova's time, breaking the beam at 43.55 seconds while still leaving all the rails in their cups. Their excellent time would hold up for the second place position. Pablo Barrios tried to catch Deslauriers' time with LaGran and also had a clean round, but fell just short when they crossed the finish line in 43.58 seconds, three-hundredths of a second slower to finish in third place.
The jump-off truly became a speed class when Beezie Madden and Comtess III, owned by Trelawny Farm of Bedford, NY, were the fourth horse and rider combination to complete the short course without fault. The pair stopped the clock in 43.70 seconds and moved into the fourth place position. Kochetova entered the ring next with her second qualified mount, Aslan. The duo was very careful and left all the jumps standing but they were not fast enough to catch the leaders and their time of 48.73 earned them the seventh place honors.
Next on course were Farrington and Up Chiqui. Up Chiqui is owned by Alex Boone, William Dobbs, and Kent Farrington. The crowd held their breath, knowing that if anyone were to catch Deslauriers' time it would be this extremely fast combination. Up Chiqui soared over each jump and carefully maneuvered each turn with speed and grace. The pair galloped across the finish line with every jump in tact in 41.20 seconds, two seconds ahead of Deslauriers to take over the lead.
Eliza Shuford made an excellent attempt to catch Farrington's lead with her mount, Little John. The pair had a clean round but their time of 44.56 seconds would not be fast enough and would earn them the pink ribbon.
Farrington was very happy with today's win after returning from the Rolex FEI World Cup Finals with Up Chiqui. "I feel good," smiled Farrington. "When I took him to the World Cup Final I knew that was going to be a big, big stretch for him. He went in there one day and he just didn't want to go. He was just kind of telling me that was a whole lot of course for him. So I came back here and jumped a few tiny courses early in the week just to kind of get him going again."
To start today's class Farrington wanted to build Up Chiqui's confidence up after being at World Cup Finals. "My plan going into the first course was to try and have a smooth round and just let him feel comfortable jumping around again and know that it wasn't going to be a huge, huge effort," he explained. "With 12 horses I knew the jump-off was going to be a speed class, but luckily I have a speed horse, so that helps. He's just naturally so fast by himself that it's just a matter of having a neat track and trying not to screw it up."
This evening's class was the first of the seven Hagyard Challenge Series events, sponsored by the Hagyard Equine Medical Institute. The series concludes in September at the Kentucky National Indoor Horse Show, and a $50,000 Leading Rider Bonus will be presented after the $50,000 CSI-W Lexington Grand Prix to the rider who accumulates the most points throughout the series. Kent Farrington has been the recipient of the Leading Rider Bonus for the past two years and hopes to win it again this year.
"We're off to a good start and we'll try to keep up the good work," Farrington laughed. "This is a world-class facility and it's a great place to bring a lot of horses. We will do a couple more grand prix and when I come back in the summer I'll be showing more of my young horses, the next up and comers."
Farrington is very pleased with the new improvements that have been made to the Kentucky Horse Park's facility. "I think the efforts they've put into having top quality footing here is excellent," he said " This is a much needed facility in the United States, and I'd like to see more places be able to have the same footing or a similar type."
The Kentucky Spring Horse Show will continue tomorrow with the $5,000 1.45m Open Jumper Class in the new outdoor stadium. On Saturday the stadium will host the $20,000 Bluegrass Classic at 8 a.m., and on Sunday the $55,000 Commonwealth Grand Prix will begin at 4 p.m.
For more information on the Kentucky Spring Horse Shows please go to http://www.kentuckyhorseshows.com
Photo Credit: Kent Farrington and Up Chiqui scored the first victory in the Hagyard Challenge Series during the $30,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic 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/kent-farrington-hagyard-lexington-classic-05-09.html">Kent Farrington and Up Chiqui Speed to Victory in $30,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic</a> ~ EquestrianMag.com