It was another speedy night at the Kentucky Horse Park, as six double-clear finishers raced for the top prize in the $32,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic during the Kentucky Spring Classic. Proving that they are quickly reaching top form once again, veteran duo Ashlee Bond and Cadett 7 galloped over the short track in 38.54 seconds with all the fences in place to earn the lion's share of the prize. Reed Kessler, often nicknamed Speedy Reedy, lived up to her name with Cylana to place second, while Ireland's Richie Moloney took home third aboard Slieveanorra.
Germany's Olaf Petersen Jr. built a technical track for tonight's 38 horse and rider combinations, featuring a vertical-vertical double combination, a wide liverpool oxer, an oxer-vertical double combination, a triple bar, and vertical-double combination. Ten pairs were able to complete the first round without fault and advance to the jump-off, where they had to show over two wide oxers to the vertical-oxer double combination, a skinny vertical, the wide liverpool, and finish over a vertical away from the gate. The course twisted and turned through the arena, and offered many opportunities to gallop across the ground and increase the speed.
Jonathan McCrea and Colorado, owned by Candy Tribble of East Windsor, CT, set the pace after completing the first double-clear effort in 44.83 seconds. Their time was very conservative as they focused on leaving all the fences up early in the jump-off, and they eventually placed sixth. Reed Kessler of Lexington, KY, was next with Mika, and they increased the target time to 40.87 seconds with a clear effort that earned the fifth place prize. The fourth place honors went to young Wilton Porter, who completed a double-clear round in 40. 46 seconds with Paloubet, owned by Sleepy P Ranch of Bartonville, TX.
Richie Moloney and Slieveanorra, owned by Equinimity, LLC, of Stony Brook, NY, were one of the fastest pairs early on, after clocking in at 40.39 seconds, but their lead was short lived when Ashlee Bond entered the Rolex Stadium with Cadett 7, owned by the Little Valley Farms of Hidden Hills, CA. They picked up a quick gallop to the first oxer and only increased, making sharp rollbacks and using Cadett 7's long stride to gallop easily across the ring. The pair left each rail intact and blazed across the finish line in 38.54 seconds, going straight to the top of the standings.
Reed Kessler and Cylana, currently atop the U.S. Show Jumping Long List, made Bond hold her breath as they took a similar track to try and capture the blue. The duo was very quick and easily cleared the obstacles in their path, but they broke the beam at 38.99 seconds, just short of Bond to take home second. Bond lead the victory gallop and Moloney eventually finished in third.
Also showing over the short track, Kent Farrington and Voyeur, owned by Amalaya Investments of The Woodlands, TX, had an unfortunate knockdown coming into the double combination, for four faults in 41.90 seconds to place seventh. Hillary Simpson and Nopus Du Gue Joubert, owned by Quiet Hill Farm of Ocala, FL, nabbed eighth place after lowering the height of the skinny vertical, for four faults in 42.72 seconds. Bond and her second mount had errors at both the double combination and the skinny vertical for eight faults and ninth place. Egypt's Nayel Nassar and Lordan rounded out the top ten after being the pathfinders in the first round. They washed out in the turn to the liverpool, causing Nassar to become unseated, eliminating them from the evening's competition.
After leading the lap of honor, Bond commented, "Honestly, Cadett is a very fast horse he covers the ground, he has a really big stride. During the jump-off, I went in there and just thought about balance through the turns, because I didn't want to slip and fall down, that was the only thing in my head. He is really good off the gallop. He really thrives on that open stride. There were a lot of places to just hunt down. I just kind of went for it and it worked out."
Cadett 7 and Bond have represented the United States internationally on numerous occasions, but after an unfortunate injury the pair is just starting to make their return to the show ring. "He is feeling better and better every class," she explained. "I am working my way to the big classes in Spruce Meadows. This is all a stepping-stone, and I feel as though he is really rising to the occasion in every class we do. He is getting better and better."
Bond added, "Cadett is so spunky. He is 15 years old, but he's got this little kid personality. He wants to do it his way. You just have to get out of his way. He is so naturally careful, sometimes too careful, and you have to hunt down and ride the back rail of the oxers. You really have to flow through the combinations, because he reads the fences too hard if you pick in. He is one of those horses that knows his job."
"I haven't really done a jump-off in a long time," laughed second place finisher Kessler. "Tonight it was a little bit lower tonight than what they have been jumping, so I thought I would take a little shot at it. Even though we are trying to make the Team and are concerned about going clean, we are still going to horse shows and trying to make them matter. It's like a muscle, you have to keep using it."
Kessler recently moved to Lexington, and will now be that much closer to the Kentucky Horse Park. "This is a really special place," she smiled. "Every time I go in the ring they cheer and they announce it, it is really inspiring, I love it. I would love to gain more support for the sport, so Kentucky has become magical."
Tonight's event was the second class in the Hagyard Challenge Series, which features seven grand prix events throughout the spring and summer where riders can compete for valuable points towards the $50,000 Leading Rider Bonus. A new addition to this year's Series will also be the $10,00 high point Thoroughbred Award.
"This series really gives riders the opportunity to strive for an end goal, not just go out there and win a grand prix," said Bond. "It gives them a reason to come back and a reason to go out there and do well every time for that bonus. It is great; it gives you a little more incentive."
Bond and Cadett 7 will be returning to the Rolex Stadium on Saturday for the $75,000 Mary Rena Murphy Grand Prix, sponsored by Audi of Lexington. In addition to competing for the winning title, riders will have the opportunity to win $8,000 in bonus money as a part of the SSG Riding Gloves 'Go Clean for the Green' promotion. The Kentucky Spring Classic will conclude on Sunday, featuring the $20,000 Bluegrass Classic.
For more information about the Kentucky Spring Classic, please visit www.KentuckyHorseShows.com.
RESULTS: $32,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic
1. CADETT 7/ASHLEE BOND
2. CYLANA/REED KESSLER
3. SLIEVEANORRA/RICHIE MOLONEY
4. PALOUBET/WILTON PORTER
5. MIKA/REED KESSLER
6. COLORADO/JONATHAN MCCREA
7. VOYEUR/KENT FARRINGTON
8. NOPUS DU GUE JOUBERT/HILLARY SIMPSON
9. WISTFUL /ASHLEE BOND
10. LORDAN/NAYEL NASSAR
11. ROYCE/MARGIE ENGLE
12. LACAROLUS/DEREK BRAUN
Source: Press release from Phelbs Media Group, Inc. International.
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