Lexington, KY- August 8, 2008- The Kentucky Summer Classic's jumper courses this week are designed by world-renown course designer, Richard Jeffery. Last week, at The Kentucky Summer Horse Show, Jeffrey designed the hunter courses.
Jeffery first came to The Kentucky Horse Park in the 1980's, before the jumper rings even existed. "All the grand prix events were held in indoors, there was no outdoor ring apart from a big grass field," Jeffery recounted. Over the years, the shows at the Kentucky Horse Park grew in size, and Jeffery was called on to help expand design the facilities. "We came up with the concept of putting in the Johnson Ring and the Walnut Ring. Since that time the Kentucky Horse Park was awarded the World Equestrian Games," said Jeffery. In order to prepare for the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, the Kentucky Horse Park had to completely redo the Johnson Ring. Due to the reconstruction, some of the ring's features have been destroyed. "We had a lot of permanent obstacles, a bank and a table jump, which we've lost," noted Jeffery.
Another addition to the Kentucky Horse Park in preparation for the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games has been a change in footing. The Otto Sport footing has made its debut in the Walnut Ring. Jeffrey is very happy with the new footing, and thinks it is some of the best footing he has ever seen. "I'm finding it absolutely excellent. The horses are jumping well off of it, I haven't seen one horse slip," raved Jeffery. "The main thing I like about it is that it is slightly looser on the top. It is more like a grass field where it moves with the horses, and takes the action off the horse's joints."
Jeffery is one of the top FEI show jumping course designers, and is known for building tricky combinations. Last night, Jeffery designed the course for the $25,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic. His course consisted of 16 fences including a water jump and a triple combination. These obstacles caused most of the problems in the very eventful grand prix. The triple was a one stride to a one stride, and consisted of a vertical, oxer, vertical pattern. Most of the night's problems occurred at the middle oxer. "Most people didn't respect it enough. They were very worried about the vertical going in, so they rode very cautiously. They were worried about getting over A before they thought about B," said Jeffery. Jeffery explained that it was a very scopey combination, and because the riders had to gallop more strides than they could count from the previous fence, they picked their way down to the first vertical. "They lost their impulsion jumping over A, and that caused the problems at B," explained Jeffery.
The other obstacle that created some problems was the water jump. The water was 11'6" and an inch deep. Jeffery pointed out that the reason for many horses splashing the water was the fact that they could see the base of the tray. "Normally we put coloring in the water so you can't see the bottom of it, but we're asked not to do that at this stage," Jeffery said, "The coloring that we have here is a permanent dye, so it would affect the color of the footing if it splashed out or overflowed. It would turn the surface blue." The fact that the horses could see the water was not deep may have made them less careful and caused some to splash, a four fault offense. Jeffery noted that another reason the water jump caused faults may have been due to the obscurity of these obstacles. "We don't have enough water jumps in this country," Jeffery stated, "People have problems with waters, they override them, and horses are not brought up through it. Very often the grand prix horses don't see waters until they get to the grand prix. I would like to see a lot more waters all around the country." Jeffery has started the movement of adding water jumps to everyday competition. This week, he has included the water in the six, seven, and eight-year-old jumper classes. Jeffery believes that the absence of water jumps is a problem facing American show jumping competitions. "In Europe, the horses are jumping waters all the time, they train well and they get used to it, including the riders," proclaimed Jeffery.
Jeffery first started building courses in Europe, but has since spent most of his time designing courses in the United States. "I love course designing, so when someone says come and build I can't say no. Over the years I have gotten very in tune with American circuit and the people, and I just enjoy it," beamed Jeffery.
Jeffery has been selected as one of two course designers, along with Conrad Homfeld for the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games. "Conrad and I worked together a lot during the two years he did the World Cup in Vegas,"Â smiled Jeffery, "We will be working together as a team, which is going to be very exciting. I can think of no one better to work with, it is going to be a lot of fun!"
Before designing courses for the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, Jeffery must build tomorrow's $40,000 RV Sales of Broward Kentucky Classic Grand Prix. The big question is whether or not tomorrow's feature grand prix will include a triple combination. Jeffery confirmed there will in fact be a triple somewhere within the course. "I will possibly make the triple combination a little friendlier, just to give the horses confidence again," said Jeffery. He also said that the combination will be less scopey and more on the careful side. "What was happening yesterday was a lack of scope with some of the horses," articulated Jeffery, "I don't want to dumb it down so the weaker horses will benefit over the better horses, but at the same time I want to make sure all the people who lost confidence yesterday will regain that tomorrow night."
The $40,000 RV Sales of Broward Kentucky Classic Grand Prix will begin tomorrow, August 9th, at 6 p.m. This event will take place in the Walnut Ring at the Kentucky Summer Classic, which is held at the beautiful Kentucky Horse Park.
For more information on the Kentucky Summer Horse Shows, please go to http://www.kentuckyhorseshows.com
Photo Credit: Richard Jeffery designs exciting courses at The Kentucky Summer Classic. Photo By: Kenneth Kraus/PhelpsSports.com This photo may be used free of charge only in relation to this press release.
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<a href="http://www.equestrianmag.com/article/richard-jeffery-courses-kentucky-summer-08-08.html">Richard Jeffery Designs Exciting Courses at The Kentucky Summer Classic</a> ~ EquestrianMag.com