Lexington, KY - May 11, 2009 - It was a beautiful, sunny day at the Kentucky Horse Park for Henri Kovacs' first grand prix victory gallop aboard Sassicaia II following the $55,000 Commonwealth Grand Prix at the Kentucky Spring Horse Show. The pair was faster than five other horse and rider combinations during Sunday's ten horse jump-off in the main outdoor stadium. Rebecca Johanson Hofmann riding Corona, and Mario Deslauriers aboard Vicomte D both attempted to catch Kovacs' time, but were unable to do so and followed with second and third place honors during today's class. Richard Jeffery designed Sunday's course, which featured 13 fences and 16 jumping efforts.
Henri Kovacs and Sassicaia II, owned by Plain Bay Farm of Middleburg, VA, entered the ring to compete in the jump-off, picking up a gallop and soared over the first jump with ease. As they continued over the course their pace picked up and the crowd began to hold their breath as they left each jump standing. Kovacs and Sassicaia II raced through the finish line in a blistering 38.84 seconds to take over the lead and win the class.
Rebecca Johanson Hofmann competed next over the short course aboard Corona, owned by Blue Hill Farm of Salt Lake City, UT. The duo came very close to taking over Kovacs' lead as they raced through the turns while still leaving every rail in its cups. Hofmann and Corona tripped the timers in 39.27 seconds, a fraction slower than Kovacs', to earn to the second place ribbon.
Next in the ring was Mario Deslauriers riding the always fast Vicomte D, owned by Jane F. Clark of New York, NY. They also posted a fault-free effort and crossed the finish line in 39.68 seconds after losing time to the last oxer and taking over the third place position. The final horse and rider combination to compete during today's jump-off was Michael Morrissey and Crelido, owned by Eugene Mische of Bradenton, FL. They also left all the fences standing, but their time of 39.91 seconds would not be fast enough to slip past the leaders, earning them the fourth place honors and securing Kovacs victory.
"This is my first grand prix win, I can't explain how happy I feel," smiled Kovacs after leading the victory gallop. "I want to dedicate it to my grandfather, Sylvester Kovacs, whom I lost a few months ago; this is for him."
Sunday marked the final day of competition for the Kentucky Spring Horse Show, but next week the Kentucky Spring Classic will get underway beginning Wednesday, May 13. The Kentucky Spring Classic will feature the $30,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic on May 14, the second class in the Hagyard Challenge Series, which includes a $50,000 Leading Rider Bonus. The $55,000 Mary Rena Murphy Grand Prix, CSI 2*, sponsored by Air 51 and Audi of Lexington, will be held on Sunday, May 17.
For more information on the Kentucky Spring Horse Shows please go to http://www.kentuckyhorseshows.com
Jumper Highlights - Wednesday through Saturday
Beezie Madden would not be stopped by rain during the opening of the Kentucky Spring Horse Show on Wednesday. The Olympic gold medalist was victorious in two classes in the new outdoor stadium at the Kentucky Horse Park. First, Madden competed with Prima in the $5,000 1.40m Open Jumper class and had a wire-to-wire victory. She then went on to ride in the $5,000 1.45m Open Jumper class where she was the last entry with Exclusive, who had the fastest double clear round.
The 1.40m Open Jumper class was the first to compete in the new outdoor stadium, with Madden and Prima, owned by Neapoliton Holding of Naples, FL, at the top of the order. The pair would post a time that was unmatchable, slipping through the timers in 60.11 seconds, and leaving all the rails in their cups. Mario Deslauriers and Tigger, owned by Jane Clark of New York, NY, were the next duo to complete a clear round, but their time of 62.507 would fall just short of Madden and Prima, earning them the second place position.
After her win with Prima in the $5,000 1.40m Open Jumper class Madden, of Cazenovia, NY, moved on to compete in the 1.45m Open Jumper class where she earned the blue ribbon with Exclusive, as well as fourth and fifth place honors.
Madden and Exclusive were the last entry to compete in the new outdoor stadium during the opening day of the Kentucky Spring Horse Show and they made their mark. After an effortless first round the pair advanced to the jump-off and again left all the rails in their cups. Madden and Exclusive raced through the finish line in 40.713 seconds, passing Minikus and Romy, and earning Madden's second blue ribbon of the day.
Wednesday was the first opportunity that Madden has had to compete on the new OTTO Riding Arena Mat system that was installed in the new outdoor stadium and she was very happy with the experience. "Thank god we had it today with all the rain we had," she said. "With this footing you couldn't even tell it had rained. In fact, I think the rain helped it. It's certainly a huge improvement."
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 on Thursday. 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.
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 during the jump-off. The pair broke 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.
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.
This 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.
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."
Henri Kovacs galloped away with his first victory aboard Cermit on Friday 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. Kovacs and Cermit were two seconds faster than Amanda Knowles and Julizi Du Brio to take the lead during the 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.
Henri 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.
"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."
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."
It was all about speed for Todd Minikus and Chellapo Z during their winning jump-off round in the $20,000 Bluegrass Classic at the Kentucky Spring Horse Show on Saturday. The duo was able to edge out Chistine McCrea riding Twister, and Beezie Madden aboard Play On during the nine-horse jump-off in the new outdoor stadium at the Kentucky Horse Park. Six horse and rider combinations completed double-clear efforts, but it was Minikus and Chellapo Z's 35.396 second time that earned the opportunity to lead the victory gallop.
Beezie Madden and Play On, owned by Alan Shore Jr., were the seventh horse and rider combination to compete in the jump-off and Madden wanted to take over the lead. She picked up a very fast gallop, cutting the turn from the double combination to the second vertical. The duo was clear and tripped the timers in 36.507 seconds to place third overall.
Todd Minikus entered the ring next with Chellapo Z, owned by Mimi Able-Smith of Middleburg, VA, and he had a challenge ahead of him to beat Madden's time. The pair picked up an even faster gallop and held it through every turn while still leaving each rail in its cup. Racing across the finish line in 35.396 seconds the pair took over Madden's lead and won the class. Christine McCrea didn't let Minikus breath too easy as she stepped into the ring next aboard Twister. The pair picked up a blazing gallop and McCrea opened Twister's stride to each fence. McCrea and Twister were clean and stopped the clock in 36.417 seconds, falling just short of Minikus, but stepping ahead of Madden to take over the second place position.
Hunter Highlights - Wednesday through Sunday
Kentucky Horse Shows LLC, hosted the second day of competition for the 2009 Kentucky Spring Horse Show series on Thursday and the professional hunter divisions were awarded championship honors after two days of competition. The week was a World Champion Hunter Rider recognized competition.
Peter Pletcher won three hunter championships in a row during Thursday's competition. Pletcher rode Sunshine to the First Year Green Hunter championship, Skara Glen's Corsani to the Conformation Hunter championship, and finished up the afternoon by riding Argentum to the Second Year Green Hunter championship. After Pletcher's winning streak, Hunt Tosh dominated the Regular Working Hunters, winning the championship tricolor with Andiamo, and the reserve championship honors with Lonestar.
The first to compete in the Stonelea Ring at the Kentucky Horse Park were the First Year Green Hunters. Twenty-three horses and riders showed in the division, and it was Peter Pletcher and Sunshine, owned by Becky Gochman, who took top honors after the two days of competition. Havens Schatt rode Bijou, owned by Pinecroft LLC and Annie Frazier, to the reserve championship honors.
Next to compete in the Stonelea Ring was the Conformation Hunter division, which Pletcher won for his second championship victory of the day. Pletcher rode Skara Glen's Corsani, owned by Skara Glen Stables, to the championship honors. The reserve championship tricolor was awarded to Perfektionist, owned by Tracey Topping, and ridden by Avery Immig.
The Second Year Green Hunter division was up next in the hunter ring and would give Pletcher his third championship win of the day. Pletcher rode three horses in the division's classes over the two days of competition, and it was eight-year-old Argentum, owned by Alta Basaldua, who took home the championship honors. Tammy Provost rode Pletch, owned by Taylor Horace, to the reserve championship win.
The final division of the day was the Regular Working Hunters and Hunt Tosh rode both top horses in the division. Tosh showed Andiamo, owned by Brad Wolf, to the championship honors, and Lonestar, owned by Mr. and Mrs. Douglas Wheeler, to the reserve championship honors.
Tosh commented on the new footing in the Stonelea ring that so many riders are excited about. "The footing is perfect; it is fabulous," he said. "As much rain as we had yesterday and there is not a mud puddle anywhere. They have done a great job with it. It is nice to ride on and the horses enjoy it, so it is really good."
Kentucky Horse Shows LLC, hosted its third day of competition for the 2009 Kentucky Spring Horse Show series on Friday and awarded championship honors to Rigoletto and Mary Jane King for their two days of competition in the Adult Amateur Hunter 50 and Over division.
The week's hunter divisions are featured as World Champion Hunter Rider (WCHR) recognized competition with some of the best horses and riders in the country participating and this Friday's top horse and rider combination in the Adult Amateur Hunter 50 and Over division was Mary Jane King and Rigoletto. King, of St. Louis, MO, had two very successful days with her eight year-old gelding Rigoletto to win the division's championship honors. Monopoly and Margaret O'Meara were awarded the reserve championship tricolor.
King has shown at the Kentucky Horse Park a lot in the past and is very impressed with the new improvements. "I love the facility and I love the new footing," she emphasized. "It is wonderful. My 19 year-old horse felt like he was nine; he just loved it."
Kentucky Horse Shows LLC, hosted its fourth day of competition for the 2009 Kentucky Spring Horse Show series on Saturday. Held at the beautiful Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, KY, the show featured the exciting $15,000 ASG Software Solutions/USHJA International Hunter Derby Satday evening, which was won by Croquet, ridden by Caroline Weeden and owned by Karen Lackinger. ASG Software Solutions, the United States Hunter Jumper Association and Dietrich Equine Insurance, featuring Walsh Harness and Saddlery, Charles Owen, and Dover Saddlery, presented the event.
The evening got underway around 6 p.m. in the Walnut Ring where course designer Bobby Murphy set a difficult track. The class was held in a two-round format, with the original 26 entries competing over the first course, and then the top twelve from the first round returning to compete over the second round handy course.
Overall class winners Caroline Weeden and Croquet mastered both rounds over the challenging course. The pair was in second place coming into the final round and secured their place at the top after scoring in the 90s from both sets of judges for their handy round. Their first round score of 169, combined with a second round score of 194 gave the pair 363 points for the exciting victory. This was the first hunter derby win for Caroline Weeden, of Lake Forest, IL, and 12-year-old Croquet.
Second place honors went to Louise Serio riding Concerto, owned by Linda Sogard. Serio and Concerto did well in both rounds of competition, scoring a 154 and a 181 for a two round total of 335.
Being from Illinois, Weeden shows in Kentucky a lot throughout the season, and loves the facilities. "We love it here," she smiled. "We think they do a great job with these horse shows. They have great course designers and now the footing is phenomenal, I am so excited. It is so nice to have the new footing in the Stonelea Ring and the double schooling rings up top. I think it is going to make a huge difference to these horses. On Wednesday it rained nonstop and we kept showing; it was great. It is really, really nice. I have the finals here in August and I am really looking forward to that with this horse, so it will be great."
Kentucky Horse Shows LLC will host the Kentucky Hunter Jumper Association Horse Show August 19-23, which will be featuring the ASG Software Solutions/USHJA International Hunter Derby Finals, presented by Dietrich Insurance and featuring Walsh Harness and Saddlery. The finals will be taking place Friday, August 21, and Saturday, August 22. The top 75 horses in the standings as of June 1, 2009 will qualify to compete for $100,000 in prize money.
Kentucky Horse Shows LLC, hosted the final day of the 2009 Kentucky Spring Horse Show on Sunday with a beautiful, sunny afternoon of competition for the $1,000 NAL/WIHS Adult Amateur and Children's Hunter Classics.
After competing in two rounds of competition, Just Jack and Annie Frazier were victorious in the Adult Amateur Hunter Classic, and Meehan Shirey and Hadij came out on top in the Children's Hunter Classic. Both classes are member events of the 2009 North American League and Washington International Horse Show championships.
The Adult Amateur Hunter Classic was the first class to compete in the Stonelea Ring Sunday afternoon, and it was Just Jack and Annie Frazier who led the way in both rounds of competition to come out in first place. Just Jack, owned by Frazier and Pinecroft LLC, achieved the highest scores in both rounds; receiving an 87.00 in the first round and an 85.00 in the second round, for a two-round total of 172.00 points and the class win.
Coming in just behind Frazier and Just Jack were Mary Tyree and Peppercorn, owned by First Partners. Tyree and Peppercorn had a first round score of 72.00, combined with their second round score of 83.00, which give them a 155.00 overall for the second place finish.
Following Frazier's win, the Children's Hunter Classic got underway in the Stonelea Ring. This class was also held in a two round format with the top 12 competitors from the first round returning to jump a second course. After both rounds of competition, 11-year-old Meehan Shirey of Lake Worth, FL, and her 12-year-old Warmblood gelding Hadij came away with the victory. Shirey and Hadij scored a 73.50 in the first round and came back even better to score an 86.00, for a combined total of 159.50 for the class win.
Second place honors went to Meredith Wegbreit and her horse Quanah. The pair scored a 72.00 in the first round and also improved with an 84.00 in the second round to end up with a total of 156.00, putting them in the reserve position.
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<a href="http://www.equestrianmag.com/article/kentucky-spring-horse-show-wrap-up-05-09.html">Kentucky Spring Horse Show Wrap-Up, May 5-10</a> ~ EquestrianMag.com