Lexington, KY - May 17, 2009 - The sun was shining during the final day of competition at the Kentucky Spring Classic, and for the second year in a row Pablo Barrios and LaGran were victorious in the $20,000 Bluegrass Classic. Six horse and riders qualified for the jump-off during today's class in the main outdoor stadium at the Kentucky Horse Park but only two completed double-clear efforts. Barrios and LaGran were able to set a time of 40.851 seconds to edge out Tiffany Foster riding Carlos De Noel, and win today's class.
Fellow Venezuelan, Leopoldo Palacios, designed today's course. The thirteen fences in the first round featured an open water fence, an airy plank jump, a stonewall, and three double combinations. The last double combination was followed by a liverpool fence which proved to be a difficult line for many riders. Six riders were able to complete clear rounds and advance to the jump-off. The short course began over a single vertical, followed by the option to make a tight inside turn to a single oxer and then continued to a double combination. The riders then had to gallop to a single oxer and make a tight turn to the plank, followed by another sharp turn to the liverpool fence. Finally riders galloped home to a single oxer on the opposite side of the arena.
Beezie Madden and Play On, owned by Allan Shore of Bedford, NY, were the first to complete the first round without fault and have the opportunity to compete in the jump-off. Riders had the opportunity to complete an immediate jump-off or wait until the completion of the class, and Madden chose to do an immediate jump-off with Play On. The pair had a difficult trip, bringing down rails at the first three fences as well as the liverpool. They tripped the timers in 41.713 seconds with a 16-fault score to finish in the sixth place position.
The five other combinations that completed clear first round efforts chose to wait to jump-off until the completion of the class, including Madden and her second qualified mount, Desilvio.
Pablo Barrios, of Wellington, FL, and LaGran entered the ring first during the 2b jump-off portion of the $20,000 Bluegrass Classic. With four more riders to follow Barrios knew he would have to be clean with a fast time. He spurred LaGran towards the first jump and they sailed over it with ease. They quickly began to gallop across the course, easily leaving each jump standing. The pair galloped across the finish line in 40.851 seconds. Their fast pace and clear effort would be enough to take over the lead and win the class.
Tiffany Foster, of Schomberg, ON, attempted to challenge Barrio's lead with Carlos De Noel and came close. The pair laid a clean track and were able to stop the clock in 44.695 seconds, just behind Barrios to pick up the second place ribbon. Madden competed next with Desilvio, but the duo had rails at the first vertical, the beginning of the double combination, and the plank fence to pick up 12 faults. They tripped the timers at 42.563 seconds and earned the fifth place prize.
Henri Kovacs and Cermit, owned by East Hampton, NY, stepped into the ring next and the crowd wondered if they would be able to pick up their third 1.45m victory. There was a collective groan when a light rub lead to the pole dropping off of the top of the in jump of the double combination and Kovacs accrued four faults. He and Cermit broke the beam at 42.904 seconds and earned the day's third place honors. The final horse and rider combination of the day would be Peter Leone and Candide, owned by Haphco LLC of New York, NY. They would also have difficulty at the beginning of the double combination for a four fault score. The pair stopped the clock at 43.169 seconds to place just behind Kovacs and pick up the fourth place ribbon, sealing Barrios' victory with LaGran.
"I'm very happy," expressed Barrios. "I've been riding LaGran for a little over a year, and his first big victory was last year in this class. He's been doing really well since then, especially during WEF this year; he's coming along very, very well."
During the past two weeks Barrios has competed with 10-year-old LaGran in the $55,000 grand prix classes and the $30,000 Hagyard Lexington Classics, with excellent placings in all of them.
Barrios had a set plan for today's jump-off, and his main worry was Kovacs and Cermit who have been very competitive during the last two weeks. "I wanted to go as fast as I could," he said. "I was the first one in the jump-off so I wanted to put down a good time to make the other riders go for it and make a mistake. Henri has been pretty hot these last two weeks; he's been winning a lot. Cermit is pretty fast in the jump-off and Henri is a pretty fast rider so I knew he wanted to go for it. I think my time was good enough to make him try for it."
Barrios will now continue to Spruce Meadows to compete and will return to Kentucky at the end of July to compete during the Kentucky Summer Series. "The Kentucky Horse Shows are wonderful," he smiled. "The footing is amazing and the weather has been very nice. I can't wait to show in the World Equestrian Games."
Earlier in the day the Amateur-Owner Jumpers and Junior Jumpers completed their third day of competition. Jennifer Waxman captured the High Junior Jumper championship award with Shakira, while Liberty Lady and Christina Kelly earned the reserve championship honors. Paige Johnson and La Martinee, owned by Salamander Farm of The Plains, VA, earned the championship tricolor in the High Amateur-Owner Jumper division, while Kristie Dobbs and Koltee tied with Brittany Sutton and Pim, owned by Geoff Sutton of Wellington, FL, for the reserve championship prize.
Today marked the conclusion of the Kentucky Spring Classic. The Kentucky Summer Series will begin at the end of July with the Kentucky Summer Horse Show, held from July 22-26, and the Kentucky Summer Classic held from July 29- August 2. The Kentucky Summer Horse Shows are a part of the Hagyard Challenge Series. The series offers a $50,000 Leading Rider Bonus to the rider who accumulates the most points in the series. The Kentucky Summer Series also offers top prize money grand prix events every Saturday. The Kentucky Summer Horse Show will be featuring the $40,000 Kentucky Summer Grand Prix on July 25 in the Walnut Arena. The $40,000 Kentucky Classic Grand Prix sponsored by Air 51 and Audi of Lexington will be taking place during the Kentucky Summer Classic August 1.
To learn more about the Kentucky Summer Horse Shows or to download the prize list, please go to http://www.kentuckyhorseshows.com
Photo Credit: Pablo Barrios and LaGran were victorious for the second year in a row during the $20,000 Bluegrass Classic 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/pablo-barrios-lagran-bluegrass-classic-05-09.html">Pablo Barrios and LaGran Sweep $20,000 Bluegrass Classic for Second Year</a> ~ EquestrianMag.com