Darragh Kenny (IRL) continued his recent string of successes at the Winter Equestrian Festival on Friday with a win in the $35,000 Illustrated Properties 1.45m Classic aboard Chanel for owner Kerry Ann, LLC.
The pair bested a field of 59 over a one-round speed track built by course designer Olaf Petersen, Jr. (GER). From the 48th position in the order, Kenny and Chanel, an eight-year-old Oldenburg mare (Challan x Lordanos) stopped the clock in 62.43 seconds for the win. Two trips later, Andrew Ramsay (USA) set out to take the lead, but came up nearly two seconds short with a time of 64.88 seconds to settle for second place in the irons of The Doodle Group's Cocq A Doodle.
Abdel Said (EGY) and California took third in 65.39 seconds for owner American Equestrian Association II, LLC. Conor Swail (IRL) and Cita, owned by Ariel and Susan Grange, claimed fourth in 54.50 seconds, while Margie Engle (USA) and Elm Rock, LLC's Böchmann's Lazio rounded out the top five in 65.60 seconds.
With two grand prix wins to his credit and coming off the heels of a victory in the $35,000 Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup Round 11 on Thursday, Kenny is pleased with how the 2016 season is shaping up for him and his horses.
"It's been going really well, and the horses have been great," he said. "I haven't rushed at all this circuit, and I never tried to pressure the horses. I have been waiting until they feel like they are ready to do the classes that I want to do well in and it has worked out."
Kenny got the ride on Chanel in September and has jumped the mare sparingly throughout the winter season with goals to produce it into a young rider mount for Kenny's student and owner, Kerry McCahill.
"She jumped clear on Wednesday and today she felt like she could go fast, so we did," said Kenny. "She felt great in the warm-up, and I knew she was jumping well. I was quick to fence one and two and then very tight back to three. I got there deep and she tried really hard, and then kept the pace and felt like she got better and better."
Week 11 of WEF is the first time Chanel has competed at the FEI level, and while Kenny has worked to perfect the mare's rideability, he feels she has what it takes to be competitive at the top level.
"She is still young, but she really wants to be careful," he said. "We bought the mare with the intention of her jumping big classes, and I think she is going to be very good."
Also competing in the International Ring on Friday, the $6,000 Illustrated Properties 1.40m Speed Challenge saw a win for Lucas Porter (USA) and B Once Z, owned by Sleepy P Ranch, LLC.
Source: Press release from Equestrian Sport Productions News // Picture © Sportfot
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