Lexington, KY - May 16, 2009 - Mario Deslauriers and Vicomte D charged across the finish line to win tonight's $55,000 Mary Rena Murphy Grand Prix, sponsored by Air 51 and Audi of Lexington, at the Kentucky Spring Classic. Deslauriers and Vicomte D had completed double-clear rounds during the past three grand prix classes held during the Kentucky series to earn top placings, but the fourth time was the charm. Four horse and rider combinations qualified for tonight's jump-off round, held in the main outdoor stadium at the Kentucky Horse Park, and all completed clear efforts. Deslauriers and Vicomte D were the last to enter the ring, but they laid down the fastest time to win the class over Todd Minikus and Pavarotti.
Talented Venezuelan course designer Leopoldo Palacios laid tonight's track. Thirty-four riders competed over the first course, which included a skinny fence, a liverpool, a water jump, a double combination and a triple combination. There were 14 numbered obstacles and 17 jumping efforts with a time allowed of 89 seconds. Many riders had four and eight faults to keep them from advancing to the short course. The most difficult fence proved to be fence four, an airy white plank vertical.
Pablo Barrios, of Wellington, FL, riding Sinatra, and Debbie Stephens, of Palmetto, FL, aboard Chapeau Z, were able to leave all the fences standing and only accrue one time fault to place fifth and sixth during today's class. Kent Farrington, of Chicago, IL, with Up Chiqui, and top young rider Henri Kovacs riding Sassicaia II, owned by Plain Bay Farm of Middleburg, VA, were the fastest four-faulters and earned the seventh and eighth place awards.
The jump-off course began with an oxer followed by a direct six strides to a single vertical. Riders then continued to the oxer portion of the double combination, and proceeded to turn to the Hagyard oxer. Finally riders had to make a long gallop to the last two fences in the triple combination, and then go across the arena to the final oxer.
The first horse and rider to successfully complete the first round and attempt the short course was Charlie Jayne riding Athena, owned by the London Group of Elgin, IL. The pair was careful throughout the long course and left each rail in its cup. They tripped the timers in 44.68 seconds to pick up the fourth place prize.
Todd Minikus, of Loxahatchee, FL, stepped into the ring next aboard Pavarotti. Minikus spurred Pavarotti to the first jump and spun him through each turn. Pavarotti carefully lifted his legs over each jump with out touching a single fence. The duo galloped to the last oxer and stopped the clock at 40.89 seconds to set a blistering pace with little room to spare and his score would hold up for the second place award. Beezie Madden would make an excellent attempt to catch Minikus' score with Crème Brule. The pair also had a fast gallop to all eight fences and was able to complete a fault free effort. Madden's speed wasn't quite enough however, and they tripped the timers at 41.04 seconds, falling just behind Minikus to pick third place.
The final pair to make their bid over Palacios jump-off course would be Deslauriers and Vicomte D, owned by Jane F. Clark of New York, NY. Deslauriers knew he would have to go all out to beat Minikus, but he and Vicomte D had been preparing for this moment all week. The duo picked up their gallop and made their way to the first fence, clearing it easily. They quickly began to pick up pace and cut the turns. They had a fast gallop to the double combination but Deslauriers was careful to wait through the fences despite losing time. Once they had cleared both hurdles and were easily rivaling Minikus' time the crowd began to cheer and they sped to the final oxer. The pair galloped across the finish line in 40.03 seconds with every jump in tact, and was almost a full second ahead of Minikus to claim their opportunity to lead the victory gallop.
"I feel great, this horse has had a great two weeks here in Kentucky," smiled Deslauriers following his win. "He's a horse I started riding in Florida at WEF. He had a long break last year from June to November, so we started early in the fall and he's come a long way. In Florida we had good moments but these two weeks in Kentucky went really well. He was double clear in all four grand prix classes and got good prizes, so I think we're really on track for Calgary."
"Tonight was a tough course, and Vicomte D had already jumped three grand prix classes clear and gone fast in each of the jump-offs," he continued. "There were some delicate fences in the beginning of the course but we got over those hurdles and he finished off great. He's been sensational here."
Despite the difficulty that tonight's jump-off round posed, Deslauriers was confident in his mount's abilities. "Every time we go in the jump-off we go for the win," he explained. "I'm starting to know this horse better now and he has a huge step. It's great because I can leave out strides where sometimes other people can't and he's quick. It was a long gallop all the way to the double, and it's a little tight in there, so I couldn't come in flat out. So I took him back and he was very nice to pat the ground at A and then to finish it off with his big step, so it was an easy enough task."
Vicomte D is an 11-year-old gelding and Deslauriers has high hopes for him. His top placings with Vicomte D during the first two $30,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic classes have made him the current leader in the 2009 Hagyard Challenge Series, sponsored by the Hagyard Medical Institute. Following Kentucky Spring Series they will travel to Spruce Meadows, and Deslauriers then hopes to travel to Europe to compete. His main focus right now is making it to the 2010 World Equestrian Games.
Deslauriers has been very happy competing at the Kentucky Spring Series and has been very impressed with the renovations that have been made to the Kentucky Horse Park. "It has been great here this year," he said. "Big things are coming here, especially WEG next year. This is the best facility we have in the United States now and it's fantastic."
Tomorrow will mark the final day of competition at the Kentucky Spring Classic. Riders will have the opportunity to compete in the $20,000 Bluegrass Classic in the main outdoor stadium. Junior and Amateur-Owner Jumper Classics will also take place with championship and reserve championship prizes being awarded to the top competitors.
For more information on the Kentucky Spring Horse Shows please go to http://www.kentuckyhorseshows.com
Photo Credit: Mario Deslauriers and Vicomte D were faster than four other horse and rider combinations to win the $55,000 Mary Rena Murphy Grand Prix at the Kentucky Spring Classic. Photo By: 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/mario-deslauriers-mary-rena-murphy-05-09.html">Mario Deslauriers and Vicomte D Breeze to Victory in $55,000 Mary Rena Murphy Grand Prix</a> ~ EquestrianMag.com