Friday marked the first of two Observation Events during the Kentucky Spring Horse Show, where the victory went to long listed rider Beezie Simon aboard Simon during the $50,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic. Only two horse and rider combinations were able to complete the course without jumping or time faults, but after a long winter, second place finisher Margie Engle withdrew from the jump-off with Indigo to save him for another day. Six entries left all the fences intact during the class, but were just over the time allowed to add a time fault to their score. The fastest of the group was Charlie Jayne with Chill R Z, who took home the third place honors.
The course was designed by Richard Jeffery of Bournemouth, England, and featured a triple bar-oxer double combination, an oxer-vertical double combination, and a vertical-oxer liverpool double combination. A number of faults came at the second jump, a tall vertical near the gate, and the first and last double combinations. The biggest factor was time though, with only five riders completing the course without additional infractions due to time, and only two were able to do so while leaving all the rails in place.
The first to complete the opening round without any faults at all was Margie Engle of Wellington, FL, riding Indigo, owned by Griese, Garber, Hidden Creek, and Gladewinds. The veteran pair barely made it, crossing the finish line in 87.99 seconds, with a time allowed of 88 seconds. The only other duo that would match the effort was Beezie Madden with Simon, owned by Abigail Wexner of New Albany, OH. When it was the for the tie-breaker though, Engle chose to save Indigo's jumping efforts for another day, withdrawing and making Madden the automatic winner of the class.
"My horse felt great the first round, and I was very pleased with the way he went," said Engle. "We did just go to the World Cup Finals and we had to fly all the way to Europe and back. I was hoping to save him for Sunday. There will probably be more in the jump-off on Sunday; we have a lot of jumping ahead, so I just wanted to save him."
Madden was also very pleased with Simon's performance during the first round. "I thought Simon was fantastic today," she expressed. "It was hard to make the time allowed. I think he is very handy at turning on the end of the ring and after the fences. I think that was where I was able to make up some time. I thought Cortes 'C' also went around and cantered smoothly, but he had a rub and four faults. I am very happy with both of my horses, I thought it was a great course and great competition."
Simon and Madden are a new combination, and only began showing together at the Winter Equestrian Festival. They competed during the Olympic Trials, but had some unfortunate errors and are currently ranked 21st, so they have a long way to climb to make the squad.
"I think we have a tough road, but today didn't hurt," admitted Madden. "Despite being low on the rankings, I think Simon is one of the best horses in the world. I got him kind of late in the season to be ready for the Trials, so I am hoping that if I can show that I am coming on and in good form with him, then I still have a chance."
At the very bottom of the list is the third place finisher, Charlie Jayne with Pony Lane Farm's Chill R Z of Bluffdale, UT. "I had a bit of an unfortunate event with my horse in the tent the day before the Trials started," he explained. "He had to get stitches and be in his stall for two weeks to worry about infection. This is his first show back, and it didn't seem to put him out of anything. He did fabulous; we'll see where it goes from here."
Engle is ranked second on the list after tying for the USEF National Championship during the Olympic Trials with young rider Reed Kessler of Lexington, KY. She had a disappointing performance with Indigo at the 2012 World Cup Finals in the Netherlands, but she is focused on the path ahead. "I probably shouldn't have even been riding at the World Cup, I had a concussion and some other things," noted Engle. "Indigo still was trying hard. I don't think I gave him a good ride there. He feels as though he jumped easier today, as easily as he did in Palm Beach, he feels in good form. I don't think he did terrible there, I just kind of over rode in a few places. He feels good now."
All eyes were certainly on the leading Long List rider, Reed Kessler, who also had a solid performance with both of her mounts. She picked up fifth place aboard Mika after only having one time fault, but placed 11th with her leading mount Cylana after lowering the height of a tall plank vertical near the end of the course.
The fourth place award went to Laura Kraut and Cherry Knoll Farm's Cedric, who had a bye for the Selection Trials. They produced a clear round just over the time allowed. The other combinations with just a single time fault included Mario Deslauriers with Jane Clark's Cella, Chirstine McCrea riding Romatovich Take One, and Brianne Goutal aboard Nice De Prissey.
In addition to being an Observation Event, it was also the first class in the Hagyard Challenge Series, where riders compete in seven grand prix events throughout the spring and summer for a chance to win the $50,000 Leading Rider Bonus.
The $50,000 Hagyard Challenge was also the first event in the SSG Riding Gloves 'Go Clean for the Green' promotion, offering $30,000 in bonus money, for the 2012 spring and summer horse shows. Riders wearing the SSG 'Digital' Riding Gloves with the SSG horse head logo clearly visible during all rounds of competition in designated events are eligible for the bonus. Unfortunately, Madden was not wearing the gloves, but the bonus will carry forward to the next grand prix event, bringing the total bonus offered to $4,000.
The $75,000 Commonwealth Grand Prix will be the final Observation Event for the U.S. Show Jumping Team at the Kentucky Spring Horse Show, and is scheduled for 4 p.m. in the Rolex Stadium on Sunday, May 13, 2012. Riders will compete for the lucrative prize money, as well as the attention of the Selection Committee as we near the 2012 London Olympics.
For more information about the Kentucky Spring Horse Shows please visit to www.kentuckyhorseshows.com.
RESULTS: $50,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic
1 SIMON/BEEZIE MADDEN 0-RT
2 INDIGO/MARGIE ENGLE 0 -WD
3 CHILL R Z/CHARLIE JAYNE 1/88.35
4 CEDRIC/ LAURA KRAUT 1/88.46
5 MIKA/REED KESSLER 1/88.96
6 CELLA/MARIO DESLAURIERS 1/90.02
7 ROMANTOVICH TAKE ONE/CHRISTINE MCCREA 1/90.41
8 NICE DE PRISSEY/BRIANNE GOUTAL 1/91.89
9 CORTES 'C'/BEEZIE MADDEN 4/85.23
10 G & C SINATRA/PABLO BARRIOS 4/87.18
11 CYLANA/REED KESSLER 4/87.44
12 UCEKO/KENT FARRINGTON 5/90.44
Source: Press release from Phelbs Media Group, Inc. International
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