If the $50,000 Kentucky Summer Grand Prix sponsored by GGT Footing is any indication of how the Venezuelan team will perform at the 2014 World Equestrian Games in Normandy France, then they look very strong. Pablo Barrios' rule of the Rolex Stadium at the Kentucky Horse Park continued as he piloted Antares to blazing double clear victory, while fellow Venezuelan rider Angel Karolyi took home the second place honors aboard Indiana 127, just shy of Barrios' winning time.
With 46 entries in tonight's main event and only two belonging to Barrios, it might not have seemed like the odds were in his favor, but the speedy South American was ready to showcase his winning ways once again. Richard Jeffery's first round track yielded 16 clears, creating a tiebreaker where only those that took the risks would end up on top.
The pathfinder was another well-known Venezuelan rider: Emanuel Andrade with Hardrock Z. They were able to neatly make their way over each obstacle, and they set the clear time to beat at 40.945 seconds, which held up for fifth place. The next rider in the ring bested his time, which was Brazil's Paulo Santana on Taloubet. They were three seconds faster in a clear 37.803 seconds, but even that time would not claim the top spot and was beat by the next on course. Angel Karolyi, fresh off of speedy duels at the Spruce Meadows Tournament with Hollow Creek Farm's Indiana 127, was ready for the challenge. Going early in the order, he added a stride in one of the rollbacks, but left out a stride in the last line, resulting in a clear score of 36.819 seconds.
"I was just being a bit cautious going a little bit early in the jump-off," admitted Karolyi. "I was the first one to leave out to the last jump, but I wasn't ready to do two risks going so early."
Unfortunately for Karolyi, Barrios was two rounds later, and with the opportunity to watch Santana and Karolyi he knew where he could make up time with Antares. The duo sliced sharply back to the combination and galloped full speed to a vertical on the other side of the ring, resulting in a time of 35.315 seconds that would go straight to the top of the leader board and prove unbeatable. The only other rider to slip into a top five position was the United States' Chelsea Moss with Stormfront Stables' Operette St. Loise, clearing the course in 39.949 seconds to place fourth.
After Barrios' winner Karolyi said, "We're just getting ready to go to the WEG. We're focused on that, so I'm happy that if anybody beat me that it was my teammate."
"I knew that I had to take every risk, and I did it," explained Barrios after his win. "Antares responded amazingly. I'm definitely taking him to the WEG. He's just jumping great. He's strong, powerful, clever, careful and fast. Antares has everything. The only thing that he doesn't have is experience, and I think I've given him a lot of good experience in the last two months."
Barrios and Antares have only been paired together since the end of the Winter Equestrian Festival. They competed together during the Kentucky Spring Horse Shows, but Barrios admits he is a different horse now. "In May, he could jump this course clear, but there was no chance he could go that fast, so there have been huge improvements. I think he's my type of ride. We get along very well. It's a great match in a short period of time."
Although Barrios bought Antares knowing he was talented mount, he did not expect him to be ready for the World Equestrian Games this year. "I knew he had the scope, but I didn't know that he would develop this quickly," he noted. "In Calgary, I did the Queen's Cup and then the $400,000 Grand Prix and he jumped both really well. I still have a month to work with him, but I think I can be competitive at WEG with this horse. I think I can make it to the top 30 because I know he has the scope; I know he's brave, and I know he's careful."
Barrios' record at the Kentucky Horse Park is unmatched, and he knows that tonight's victory was very special. "I love this place," he expressed. "It feels like home. The first time that I came here ever I won the grand prix. It's something about this place that I feel like I belong to this place." He also knows his success would not be possible without his team at Pablo Barrios Show Stables, and his sponsors Purina, Der Dau, Choice of Champions, Healthy Coat, Animo and Devoucoux.
For more information about the Kentucky Summer Series, please visit www.kentuckyhorseshows.com.
RESULTS: $50,000 Kentucky Summer Grand Prix
1 624 ANTARES PABLO BARRIOS 0 35.315
2 2009 INDIANA 127 ANGEL KAROLYI 0 36.819
3 1245 TALOUBET PAULO SANTANA 0 37.803
4 278 OPERETTE ST. LOISE CHELSEA MOSS 0 39.949
5 1833 HARDROCK Z EMANUEL ANDRADE 0 40.945
6 869 ZONNEGLANS GEMMA PATERNOSTER 0 45.382
7 718 SOLERINA SHANE SWEETNAM 4 36.906
8 1953 DOMA SUE DAVID BLAKE 4 39.101
9 1142 TWISTER SHAWN CASADY 4 39.561
10 716 SHIVER LIZA FINSNESS 4 39.748
11 724 VENTURO 9 SHANE SWEETNAM 4 39.812
12 19 GELEDIMAR HANNAH VON HEIDEGGER 4 41.617
Source: Press release from Rebecca Walton for Phelps Media Group, Inc. International.
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