The top riders in the country gathered to compete for the winning prize inThursday's $25,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic, but in the 15-horse jump-off only the fastest and most accurate would have the chance at the prize money. Venezuela's Pablo Barrios and Zara Leandra scored the lion's share of the cash after making a mad dash across the finish line in a scorching 43.662 seconds for the win. The pair was two seconds faster than Kaitlin Campbell of Georgetown, KY, and her veteran partner Rocky W, who placed second, while Germany's Christian Heineking picked up third place with NKH Selena.
The first round for Thursday's highlight event was designed by Richard Jeffery of Bournemouth, England, and featured an open water with a scored pole and lath, an oxer-vertical-oxer triple combination, and a final vertical-oxer double combination. It eventually yielded fifteen clear rounds for the jump-off.
"When I walked I was expecting seven or eight clear. I didn't think it was that easy, but the time allowed was very friendly," noted Barrios. "The footing made the horses jump really well."For the speed round, riders began with an oxer-vertical rollback to the first two fences in the triple combination. They then galloped across the ring to two single oxers, before finishing over a skinny plank to the final oxer.
Ireland's Richie Moloney was the first to leave all the fences intact over the short course with Let's Go, owned by Equinimity LLC of Stoneybrook, NY, but finished a fraction over the time allowed. They incurred one time fault to net the fifth place award. Moloney had a repeat performance with his second mount, Call Me Number One, once again leaving the rails in place but going too slow and adding a time fault to his score for sixth place.
The first rider to finish the course without a single fault was Blythe Marano and Urban, owned by Riverview Farm of Franklin, TN. They easily cleared the obstacles, but broke the beam at a slow 51.246 seconds for fourth place. Christian Heineking made a statement when he entered the ring with NKH Selena, owned by NKH LLC of Dallas, TX, picking up a strong gallop and never holding back. The duo soared over each fence and stopped the clock at 47.676 seconds for an early lead that eventually claimed third.
The winners of the first $25,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic in May were ready for action today. Pablo Barrios and Zara Leandrea, owned by the ZL Group of Wellington, FL, had a blazing pace and as they wound their way over the track they were able to find each distance to create sharp angles and easily leave a stride out at the final oxer. They zipped through the timers in 43.662 seconds to lead the evening's lap of honor.
"I came very fast to the Hagyard vertical, which made me catch the next vertical very quickly too," explained Barrios. "I caught the perfect distance to the last line that even with a tight turn let me do six strides. I think that was the key."
Twenty-one-year-old Kaitlin Campbell was not going to give away the win though when she had her chance next with Rocky W. She has owned the Dutch Warmblood for six years and knows him inside and out. Campbell quickly steered her mount over the fences and managed to cross the finish line in 45.662 seconds for the second place award. "Pablo was really fast, and his horse is a little more careful than Rocky is, especially to the skinny jumps," explained Campbell. "I just wanted to go in and jump a neat, fast clear round, but I wasn't going to try and kill myself. Rocky is really good about all the tight turns back since he's so experienced. The inside to the skinny is where I think I lost my two seconds. Rocky was a little bit fresher than I would have liked him tonight, but he figured it out in the jump-off."
Zara Leandra and Barrios have just returned from five weeks in Spruce Meadows, which made the mare very ready for tonight's class. "I think it was a super jump-off for her," he smiled. "This is the best horse I've ever had and she's only 9-years-old. She came with a huge stride from Calgary and she was leaving strides out. She was a little high over the fences, so I struggled a little bit the first round, but I think it helped in the jump-off. She had that big pace already from the last five weeks in Calgary. This is the fastest I have gone in jump-off with her. She has more confidence doing the angles and the tight rollbacks. She's getting better and better."
Tonight's class was the third event in the seven-part Hagyard Challenge Series, which features a $50,000 Leading Rider Bonus to the top rider at the end of the season. In 2010, the winner of the Series was Barrios, who has made it goal for this year as well. "I won it three years ago and I think it's a nice opportunity for the riders to compete for more money," he commented. "It's a good incentive and I am definitely trying to win this year."
Hagyard Equine Medical Institute is one of the oldest and largest equine veterinary practices in the world. Founded in 1876, the institute offers a staff with qualifications unparalleled by any single non-university veterinary group in the equine industry, and Hagyard veterinarians have dedicated themselves to the health and well-being of the horse for more than 130 years.
Several generous sponsors have helped make this exciting series event happen. These gracious supporters include: title sponsor MWI Veterinary Supply, and presenting sponsor Zoetis, as well as Audi of Lexington, Dean Dorton Allen Ford, Hagyard Flex-tra HA, Johnson Horse Transport, Hallway Feeds, Kirk Horse Insurance LLC, Pike and Preston, and Stoll Keenon Ogden.
RESULTS: $25,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic
1 57 ZARA LEANDRA PABLO BARRIOS 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 43.662
2 651 ROCKY W KAITLIN CAMPBELL 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 45.662
3 220 NKH SELENA CHRISTIAN HEINEKING 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 47.676
4 317 URBAN BLYTHE MARANO 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 51.246
5 991 LET'S GO RICHIE MOLONEY 0 0 0 86.167 0 1 1 53.038
6 1334 CALL ME NUMBER ONE RICHIE MOLONEY 0 0 0 0.000 0 1 1 53.091
7 663 PALM SUNDAY AARON VALE 0 0 0.000 4 0 4 45.002
8 1388 COCO SCOTT KEACH 0 0 0 88.126 4 0 4 47.900
9 1019 EVERLYCHIN DE LA POMME SHANE SWEETNAM 0 0 0 0.000 4 0 4 48.059
10 1313 SOLERINA SHANE SWEETNAM 0 0 0 0.000 8 0 8 43.179
11 1020 FINEMAN SHANE SWEETNAM 0 0 0 0.000 8 0 8 46.676
12 555 QUIDAM 13 SYDNEY SHULMAN 0 0 0 0.000 8 0 8 46.930
Source: Press release from Phelps Media Group, Inc. International
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