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Darragh Kerins Breaks Through With $20,000 1.50m Classic Win on Night Train

Wellington, FL – March 3, 2007 – A stellar field of top American riders, plus international competitors from ten different countries dotted the line-up for today’s main event at the 2007 Winter Equestrian Festival, at the Palm Beach Polo Equestrian Club in Wellington, Florida. In addition to the riders from the United States, competitors from Canada, Ireland, France, Germany, Belgium, The Netherlands, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, and Argentina, all took part in the afternoon feature. When all was said and done in today’s $20,000 1.50m Classic, it was the Irish flag that was flying for Darragh Kerins, as he broke through for his first major win of the season on Night Train, topping a jump-off field of eleven for the victory.

Sixty-one starters took to the field for today’s feature, scored under USEF Table II, Sec 2(a) – Time First Jump-Off. Olympic Course Designer Leopoldo Palacios of Caracas, Venezuela, is designing the challenges in the Internationale Arena this week. And today’s class, like most so far this week, proved to be another tough test. In fact, it was either feast or famine today for the riders in the main event.

Eleven of the sixty-one starters, plus two riders that came home with a single time fault, appeared to have no problems whatsoever with today’s first round test. On the other side of the ledger however, were the fifteen horse and rider combinations that had sixteen faults or more, including five with scores of thirty faults or greater. In addition, nine riders were eliminated or elected to retire within the round. Thirteen duos had four faults, and four riders had two rails down or a foot in the open water.

By the time the first round was finally completed, only four countries, Ireland, Switzerland, Canada and the United States, would be involved in the dash for the cash, in the jump-off against the clock.

Today’s winner, Darragh Kerins and Night Train, first to return for the tiebreaker, went wire to wire for today’s victory and a first place check of $6,000.

Kerins raced around the short course in 32.792 seconds without penalty, and then held his breath as one challenge after another fell by the wayside in their attempt to catch his pacesetting time.

Eric Lamaze, with two chances in round two, failed with both, picking up four faults with Narcotique De Muze II, in 36.579 seconds, and then later in the speed round, dropping two rails with Sun, in 36.541 seconds.

Ainsley Vince of Canada came the closest to catching Kerins, riding out of the third spot in the order. Aboard the flashy grey, Cantero Z, Vince got hung up just slightly around the roll back turn headed home in the jump-off, and that cost her precious fractions. She breezed home just 1.3 seconds off the Irish rider’s pace in 34.115 seconds.

Canada’s Jonathan Millar scored eight faults with Noble 1, tripping the timers in 35.875 seconds, followed by Cian O’Connor who elected to go for the slow clear, but saw that plan foiled when the final fence came down on his jump-off ride. O’Connor’s finish time with four faults was 39.061 seconds.

Addison Phillips, a winner of the 1.50m Classic just two weeks ago, failed in her bid to win her second with Regina V. Phillips had one knockdown, and crossed the finish line in 34.249 seconds.

Following Phillips’ ride, Switzerland’s Markus Fuchs also elected to go for the slow, careful clear with Nirmette. His plan was successful as he cruised home without jumping penalties, but exceed the jump-off time allowed, picking up a single time fault in 40.459 seconds. That would earn the former World Cup Champion third place.

Maggie McAlary, a stable mate of Addison Phillips, pulled one rail with Pedro, clocking in at 37.375 seconds to nail the sixth place finish. Beezie Madden and Select were the final challengers on the day, but a near disaster at the third fence on the speed course luckily only cost her four faults. The time spent getting back together after that however, cost her additional time penalties. She finished with 18 faults in 49.528 seconds.

Ellen Holtgers, earlier in the deciding round, suffered a very hard fall with Cinderella, but eventually walked out of the ring under her own power.

Today’s winner Darragh Kerins has been knocking on the door all season, but with no major wins to his credit until this class. “I knew I’d win one eventually. I was coming up to the last jump today saying to myself, don’t blow it again,” he laughed.

“The horses have all been going great all season. This horse especially,” he said. “We’ve just been jumping him in the 1.40m and the 1.45m, trying to bring him up slowly. And today was his first time ever in the 1.50m, and he was exceptional.”

Did Kerins think his time would hold up through the ten tough riders that followed him? “No, I didn’t,” he said bluntly. “There were options up the first line and the second line and I decided to do the eight and eight, and it worked out well. I did do the inside cut, but I thought for sure I was going to be caught. But, luckily it worked out well.” And then he added, “I think I had the riders chasing after me a bit and that worked too. It was my lucky day.”

“I went to the make the inside turn, and I think the horse sighted in for a second on the other jump,” explained second place finisher Ainsley Vince. “We ended doing a little left-right, left-right, so I think I lost a little time there. And, maybe I could have been a little quicker to the last jump, but to be honest, that’s a new horse for me, and that’s the first time I really tried to go fast in a jump-off, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. But, I’m very happy with the outcome today.”

“He’s a horse I began riding at the end of last summer,” Vince explained. “He’s been great so far but it’s been a lot of adjustments; getting the bit right, and the program right. So, hopefully today indicates that we’re on the right track. I find that things don’t work forever, but for right now, so far, so good. I think we’re headed in the right direction.”

The $100,000 Zada Enterprises LLC Masters Cup, Sunday’s main event at WEF, is the richest class of the season so far. In addition the top prize money, the class is one of only two East Coast League World Cup Qualifiers remaining on the schedule, and the class is a member event of the AGA Grand Prix Series of Show Jumping. The festivities get underway at 2 p.m.

Rank Num Horse Name NAT R1 Faults R1 Time J/O Faults J/O Time

Results of 1001- $20,000 1.5M CLASSIC - Zada Enterprises Wellington Masters - March 3, 2007

T/A: 83.00 T/A: 40.00

1 1150 NIGHT TRAIN DARRAGH KERINS 0.00 82.968 0.00 32.792

DOUBLE H FARM

2 1075 CANTERO Z AINSLEY VINCE 0.00 79.451 0.00 34.115

IRON HORSE FARM

3 2766 NIRMETTE MARKUS FUCHS 0.00 81.762 1.00 40.459

JURI ADOLFO

4 1225 REGINA V ADDISON PHILLIPS 0.00 77.814 4.00 34.249

ADDISON PHILLIPS

5 1469 NARCOTIQUE DE MUZE II ERIC LAMAZE 0.00 80.752 4.00 36.579

ASHLAND STABLES

6 2017 PEDRO MAGGIE MCALARY 0.00 82.121 4.00 37.375

BEAVER BROOK PONIE

7 3149 IRISH INDEPENDENT ECHO BE CIAN O'CONNOR 0.00 76.620 4.00 39.061

CIAN O'CONNOR

8 634 NOBLE 1 JONATHON MILLAR 0.00 81.440 8.00 35.875

KELLY SOLEAU

9 1477 SUN ERIC LAMAZE 0.00 81.698 8.00 36.541

ASHLAND STABLES

10 1954 SELECT BEEZIE MADDEN 0.00 81.957 18.00 49.528

ELIZABETH BUSCH BURKE

11 2960 CINDERELLA ELLEN HOLTGERS 0.00 78.680 elim.

GUT EINHAUS

12 3080 MAHON POINT MICHAEL MORRISSEY 1.00 83.755

MCLAIN WARD

Photo Credit: Darragh Kerins and Night Train win $20,000 1.50m Classic on Saturday at the Winter Equestrian Festival. © 2007 PMG Pictures/Peter Llewellyn

 

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