Accomplished Reed Kessler Pilots Flight to the High Junior Jumper Victory

Lexington, KY - Yesterday's class to watch at Kentucky Spring Horse Show was the High Junior Jumpers in the Main Stadium.  The Kentucky Horse Park, host of the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™, was once again a perfect venue to view jumper riders at their best.  Reed Kessler had an exciting yet bittersweet win on her 16-year-old horse Flight in the High Junior Jumpers, and earlier in the day Kent Farrington and Notre Star won the $5,000 Open Jumper 1.45m class.

Today's course, designed by Richard Jeffery of Bournemouth England, was identical for both the High Junior Jumpers and the 1.45m classes.  The course possessed 11 numbered obstacles with an open water jump option.  The course was fast and the last oxer coming home, number 11, proved to be the most challenge for many pairs.  The jump-off consisted of an oxer coming home to an inside left hand turn to a vertical, riders then had a few strides on a bending line to plan for an oxer to a right rollback turn to a single.  Each pair then had a moment to regroup as they approached an added oxer that was not in the original course.  After the wide oxer riders took a quick right slice to the last oxer, number 11, as they made their way across the finish line.

Yesterday, Reed Kessler had an exciting win on her horse Mika in the first class of the Hagyard Challenge Series, the $30,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic.  The pair earned the fourth place prize in the evening's grand prix adding another great finish to their year. Kessler has been very successful in 2010, with big wins during the winter circuit on many of her mounts.  Today's win on Flight was thrilling, yet bittersweet. Kessler explained, "I had a lot of fun on Flight.  He is 16 this year so he is a little bit older. By the end of the year I am going to have to give him to my mom to do in the Low Amateurs.  It is about time that he moves down. Every single class now is precious because it may be my last class with him."

Kessler and Flight were the third pair to go clear over the long course.  When Kessler began the short course she had to beat Kim Land on Merlin, who completed two fault-free efforts and stopped the clock at 32.014 seconds.  Merlin and Land had held their top position even after Christina Kelly and Toliver challenged them.  Kelly and Toliver were nimble but too slow to catch Land, breaking the beam at 33.318 seconds and earning the third place prize.  Kessler knew she had to be quick with her trusty horse to beat the current leader.  Kessler sliced fence number 13 and took off to the last fence, number 11. She sprinted through the timers, halting the clock at 31.082 seconds to beat Land's time by a second and win the day's class.  

No one else was able to catch Flight and Kessler's time of 31.082 seconds.  The next pair to leave all the rails in their cups was Lucy Blundon aboard Uthaliet Utopia. The pair tripped the timers at an exact 34.00 seconds moving them into the fourth place position. Paulena Johnson and Anyway were next to complete both courses without fault, and the duo stopped the clock at 33.576 seconds. Their excellent effort moved Blundon into fifth place, Johnson took home the fourth place honors, and Kessler's victory was sealed.

Kessler certainly did not feel as though she was riding an older horse during the short course. She laughed, "Flight is still acting like a young guy.  He was bucking around a little in the first round and was just being wild."

Kessler was very proud of the duo's time in the High Junior Jumpers and enjoyed the course. "Flight is great at natural fences so the water did not bother him," she explained. "The slice on #2 through the gap in the jump-off was a little unclear and we did not know exactly where we were going, but Flight did great.  At 16 he has seen it all.  Addie Phillips had him before I got him and there really is not a turn that Flight has not seen.  There was a whole lot of long galloping at the end that really got the other riders and it seemed that the last two jumps especially were taken very flat."

The pair has been together for a while now and they have experienced many thrilling victories.  Kessler commented, "Flight is so versatile, he doubles as my equitation horse and he was in the final four at USET finals three times. I even rode him in the Prix de States one year when we won team gold."

Flight is an accomplished horse and Kessler has been thrilled to have such a great mount.  She noted, " He is really smooth and a lot of fun.  He likes to hunt to the jumps and jumps so square. He could even do the hunter derby if we wanted him to on Friday but I decided to just wait until Sunday to show."

As for Kessler's plans for the future, she hopes to continue to do many Grand Prix classes.  Unfortunately, Kessler is too young to show in Sunday's grand prix event at the Kentucky Spring Horse Show, so she will be participating in the 1.50m and next week's Thursday grand prix event.  After next week, the next time Kessler will be back in Kentucky is for Young Riders and then on to Spruce Meadows.  Kessler noted, "I hope to be back again.  This show has been absolutely gorgeous.  Everything here is for the horses, every little thing, and it is a beautiful area."

Prior to the High Junior Jumpers class, Kent Farrington and Notre Star, owned by La Nutria, conquered the $5,000 Open Jumper 1.45m class. The duo was sixth to complete a fault-free first round and advance to the short course.  As Farrington approached the jump-off course there was only one horse prior that had completed a fault-free effort. Next to complete a double-clear round was Cataro Ask and Mark Bluman. The pair made a valiant effort to catch Farrington, but and their time of 34.343 would not come close enough and they earned the third place prize. Baloubet Junior Z and Christine McCrea were the final duo to leave all the fences standing during the short course. The pair had a very efficient track and slipped through the timers in 33.471 seconds, resulting in a second place finish.

Farrington's finish was exciting since this was only the second time he has ridden Notre Star.  He noted, "The class went fast. I did not think the course was massive but it had technical spots such as the triple bar line and the open water.  I think this is a good division to get the horses in the ring and step young horses up.  This was the second time I showed Norman Dello Joio's horse so I was just trying to figure him out."

The young stallion is by Quick Star and has a great future. Farrington said, "He jumps really high with his body and is a really nice horse. He is just starting to step up and I am sure Norman is getting ready to show him in some grand prix classes because he is a pretty promising horse."

The exciting jumper action will continue tomorrow with the $20,000 Bluegrass Classic beginning at 8:00 a.m in the Main Stadium.  On Sunday, riders will have the opportunity to compete for the winning title in the $55,000 Commonwealth Grand Prix, which will begin at 4:00 p.m. in the Main Stadium.

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Results of the High Junior Jumpers:
1  90   FLIGHT  REED KESSLER  REED KESSLER   0   0   0   0.000   0   0   0   31.082
2 901   MERLIN  Francis land  FRANCES LAND   0   0   0   0.000   0   0   0   32.014
3 334   TOLIVER  CHRISTINA KELLY AYLYN FARMS, INC.  0   0   0   0.000   0   0   0    33.318
4  43   ANYWAY  PAULENA JOHNSON  PAULEXI LLC   0   0   0   82.644   0   0   0   33.576
5 330   UTHALIET UTOPIA   LUCY BLUNDON   RAYLYN FARMS   0    0    0    76.695    0    0    0    34.000
6 643   VALENTINO   JAZZ MACE   JAZZ MACE   0   0   0   0.000   0   0    0    35.023
7 494   KOURGANN DE REIS  JUAN ANDRES LARRAZABAL  ANABEL SIMON    0    0    0    0.000    0    0    0    38.441
8   2   LAETITIA   CAITLIN ZIEGLER   ARTISAN FARMS LLC    0    0    0    82.310    4    0    4    34.488
9 497   SIL MCCARTHY   LUIS LARRAZABAL   ANABEL SIMON    0    0    0    0.000    4    3    7    46.297

Results of the $5,000 Open Jumper 1.45m:
1 609    NOTRE STAR    KENT FARRINGTON    LA NUTRIA    0    0    0    79.438    0    0    0    31.438
3 818    CATARO ASK   MARK BLUMAN   MARK BLUMAN   0   0   0   0.000   0   0   0   34.343
4 605    KELLINE FONROY   CLEMENTINE GOUTAL   CLOVERLEAF FARM   0   0   0   82.771   0    0    0    36.290
5 1022   LANCO   CHRISTIAN FRIES   CHRISTIAN FRIES   0    0    0    32.597    4    0    4    32.597
6 481    ARNADO   PABLO BARRIOS   G & C FARM, GUSTAVO & CAROLINA MIRABAL   0    0    0    0.000    4    0    4    32.909
7 430    SWEETHEART   CHRISTINE MCCREA  CANDY TRIBBLE AND WINDSOR SHOW STABLES   0   0   0   0.000   4   0   4   34.113
8  526   LYONELL  CARA RAETHER  TRELAWNY FARM LLC   0   0   0   82.821   4   0   4   36.007

Photo Credit: Reed Kessler wins the High Junior Jumpers with Flight at the Kentucky Spring Horse Show Photo By: Lindsay McCall/PMG.