Halloween Night at the 2014 National Horse Show featured creative costumes throughout the building; some on the many kids that came to trick or treat as well as those created by the riders in tonight's popular Chansonette Farm $45,000 Gamblers Choice Costume Class. Although it wasn't realized at the time, the class was over right after the first rider finished his imaginative course. Francois Mathy of Belgium, dressed as a soccer referee, raced Ornellaia through some tight tricky turns and amassed a grand total of 1340 points to secure the Friday night wire to wire win.
The 200 point Joker fence, a tall, difficult 1.65m vertical of three white poles in the center of the ring proved to be the decider for many of the competitors tonight as only 11 of the 25 riders in the Gamblers Choice were able to add the 200 points to their score. Almost all that cleared the Joker ended up in the money when the tally was finally counted. Fourteen riders saw the 200 points deducted sending them home without a prize.
Schuyler Riley came the closet to catching Mathy's top score but was still 110 points off the pace in second place. Riley, dressed as a big game hunter, rode Dobra de Porceyo to a total score of 1230 points. Third place went to cat woman Laura Kraut and Cedric with 1220 points over the Guilherme Jorge designed course.
Rounding out the top four was Shane Sweetnam, riding as Woody from Toy Story. Sweetnam piloted Cyklon 1083 to a 1210 point total.
"It is never easy in this kind of class when you go first," said Mathy following his victory gallop. "You don't have a lot of references; you don't know how many obstacles you can jump. I saw the first part was quite tricky and I had quite a few fences coming up quite quickly, and I thought if I could do that all right, the rest of the course was smoother and easier. In this kind of class what you have to do is try to keep the fences as close as possible and not run too much without jumping a fence. I think that worked out quite good in my course. I just kept going around in the same way, not too many changes of direction."
"In this kind of class I don't think you always meet everything really right, you have to improvise a little bit. As soon as you have a fence down, your whole course goes flat, and for me tonight, that didn't happen," Mathy detailed. "I was really happy. This mare is still quite green and she jumped super, and the fences were just coming. It's quite amazing what these horses can do. The fences keep coming at them every four strides and they have to jump it clear. I was really impressed, especially at the joker, a big 1.65m fence, she jumped that really, really well," he said.
And did he think his lead would hold up? "Normally not," he said. "Normally in this kind of class when you show the way, someone is going to catch you. I think my track was not so bad a track, but not so many other riders tried it. I think just two copied me. Normally when you go first you don't have a big advantage. But that worked out all right today," he smiled. "My track maybe was not the best, but it won today."
This is the Belgian's second trip to Lexington and his week was a successful one. "I've had a good show. I came last year and I enjoyed it a lot also. I won one of the big classes with a very good mare last year," he recalled. "The facility is fantastic. I think it is great sport here. The conditions are super. The ring has really good ground. The facility is exceptional with the stabling also. We have plenty of room to ride."
Mathy also has the World Cup Finals in mind. "I enjoy coming here. It's important for us because we can also get some World Cup points here and in Europe it's quite difficult to access the World Cup classes because it's a limited number of riders per nation and there are not as many World Cup shows as here," he said. "It gives you a good opportunity here."
For tomorrow's $250,000 CP World Cup Grand Prix, Mathy will saddle Royal. "The same one I jumped last week in Washington," he said. "He jumped really good, was tenth in the grand prix in Washington. Hopefully we have a good shot tomorrow - that's the main goal here this week."
Finishing in fifth place tonight was Lisona and Jessica Springsteen, decked out in pirate regalia. Springsteen scored 1100 points and crossed the finish line in 53.72 seconds to edge out Olivier Philipaaerts who also scored 1100, but finished with a slower time in 57.19 seconds. The Belgium rider was dressed out as Raggedy Andy.
Seventh place went to Cassinja S and Charlie Jacobs. The Principal of the Boston Bruins was dressed accordingly and banked a total of 1080 points. Eighth went to Balous Day Date and Candice King with 1000 points. King was decked out as Miss Captain America.
Tomorrow the jumper divisions will conclude with the Under 25 Championship Final Competition and the $250,000 CP World Cup Grand Prix. For more information on the National Horse Show, 131st edition, please visit www.nhs.org.
$45,000 Open Jumper Gambler's Choice Results
ORDER ENTRY # HORSE NAME RIDER NAME SCORE
1 306 ORNELLAIA FRANCOIS MATHY 1340.000
2 364 DOBRA DE PORCEYO SCHUYLER RILEY 1230.000
3 343 CEDRIC LAURA KRAUT 1220.000
4 368 CYKLON 1083 SHANE SWEETNAM 1210.000
5 344 LISONA JESSICA SPRINGSTEEN 1101.000
6 303 CARLITO C OLIVIER PHILIPPAERTS1100.000
7 428 CASSINJA S CHARLIE JACOBS 1080.000
8 228 BALOUS DAY DATE CANDICE KING 1000.000
9 338 ZERNIKE BRIANNE GOUTAL 991.000
10 220 SI BELLA ADAM PRUDENT 990.000
11 716 BALANCE LILLIE KEENAN 920.000
12 302 J'ESPERE DREAM NICOLA PHILIPPAERTS 890.000
Source: Press release from Kenneth Kraus and Kendall Bierer for Phelps Media Group, Inc. International.
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