Lexington, KY- Efficient clear rounds were at a premium as elite horses and riders went to task over Richard Jeffery's demanding track in the $50,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic. Of the 23 horse and rider pairs to enter the Rolex Stadium, 15 were combinations from the USEF Long List for the U.S. Show Jumping Team for the 2012 Olympic Games.
Friday's feature Grand Prix at the Kentucky Horse Park served as the first of two classes the long listed pairs will contest in the 2012 US Show Jumping Team Observation Event at the Kentucky Spring Horse Show. Only two entries, both from the long list, were able to produce fault-free efforts over the first round course.
Beezie Madden riding Abigail Wexner's Simon collected the winner's spoils in a unique situation when Margie Engle chose not return with Indigo for the jump-off.
Madden (Cazenovia, NY) and Simon produced a tidy, efficient clear effort over the first round to be the second and final combination to qualify for the jump-off. When, Engle elected not to return, all Madden had to do was enter the ring a second time to claim the victory.
Even without jumping-off Madden was very pleased with the 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding that she is still getting to know and his performance Friday evening. "Simon was fantastic today. It was very hard to make the time allowed. He is very handy in the turns and that allowed him to get the time allowed. I thought it was a very good course."
They currently stand in 21st place on the USEF Long List for the U.S. Show Jumping Team for the 2012 Olympic Games but Madden hopes to impress in the Observation Events. "I think he is one of the best horses in the world. I got him late last year and was still getting to know him for the (Selection) Trials." Said Madden "I'm hoping if I can show he's still coming on and we can move up."
Madden also rode Wexner's 10-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding Cortes 'C' to a four fault total after lowering the height of fence 13B in the penultimate double combination.
The U.S. veteran is vying to represent the U.S. for a third time at the Olympic Games; having won Team Gold medals in 2004 and 2008. She also has Coral Reef Ranch's Coral Reef Via Volo in the mix for selection. That pair stands fourth on the long list and will head to Observation Events at Devon and Spruce Meadows.
Engle(Wellington, FL)and Garber, Griese, Hidden Creek and Gladewinds' 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding were the first entry to produce a fault-free effort over the first round 14 obstacle first round. However, Engle chose to save Indigo with the 2012 Olympic Games in mind rather than contest the jump-off. The pair jumped to top finishes earlier in the year at the FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival including claiming 2012 USEF National Show Jumping Co-Champion honors. They also represented the U.S. at the Rolex/FEI World Cup Final in The Netherlands in April.
Six combinations left all the rails in place Friday evening but time faults meant they would not qualify to return for the jump-off. Charlie Jayne (Elgin, IL) and Chill R Z were the 17th pair to enter the Rolex Stadium and produced a classy jumping effort. Pony Lane Farm's nine-year-old Zangerscheide stallion and Jayne (Elgin, IL) were poised to enter the jump-off mix until the their final time read .35 seconds over the 88 second time allowed. They finished in third place.
Cherry Knoll Farm's Cedric and Laura Kraut (Wellington, FL) jumped an immaculate round and appeared to have judged the time well. However, a mere .46 seconds over the time allowed resulted in a fourth place standing for the 14-year-old Holsteiner gelding.
Collecting fifth place honors was Reed Kessler (Lexington, KY) and her own Mika, the pair jumped a stylish round but the 12-year-old Selle Francias gelding stopped the timers a hair over the time allowed for a one fault total. Kessler also rode her top-ranked partner from the USEF Long List for the U.S. Show Jumping Team for the 2012 Olympic Games, Cylana, to a four fault total after faulting at fence 11.
Mario Deslauriers (New York, NY) and Jane Clark's Cella were another pair to fall victim to the time allowed. The 10-year-old Belgian mare jumped a tidy round but one time fault left them sixth in the standings. Deslaurier later rode Clark's Urico to a nine-fault total.
The double gold medalists from the 2011 Pan American Games Christine McCrea (East Windsor, CT) and Romantovich Take One looked well on their way to adding their names to the jump-off list with a clear jumping effort. However, one time fault kept them from returning for a second trip, Windsor Show Stables's 12-year-old KWPN geldng finished in seventh place.
Brianne Goutal and Remarkable Farms' Nice De Prissey rounded out the one time fault contingent. The 11-year-old Selle Francais stallion finished in eighth place.
Producing a five fault effort in Friday's $50,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic were long list members Kent Farrington (Wellington, FL) and RCG Farm's Uceko. The pair had an unfortunate rub at the final vertical and collected one time fault.
Jessica Springsteen (Colts Neck, NJ) and Stone Hill Farm's Vornado Van De Hoendrik lowered the heights of fences of four and eight and added one time fault for a nine fault total. While, Quentin Judge (Wellington, FL) and Double H Farm's HH Carotino collected thirteen faults and Ashlee Bond (Hidden Hills, CA) rode to a 22 fault round with Little Valley Farm's Cadett 7.
The second class of the 2012 US Show Jumping Team Observation Event held at Kentucky Spring Horse Show, the $75,000 Commonwealth Grand Prix, begins Sunday, May, 13 at 4:00pm ET in the Rolex Arena. This class will be live streamed on the USEFNetwork.com presented by SmartPak.
For live streaming, news, photos and to follow the 2012 U.S. Show Jumping Team visit: http://www.usefnetwork.com/featured/2012Jumping/
Per the USEF Selection Procedures, in order to remain in consideration for the U.S. Olympic Show Jumping Team, athlete/horse combinations are required to compete at two of the following Observation Events listed below:
The Del Mar National Horse Show
Del Mar, California May 1-6, 2012
Kentucky Spring Horse Show
Lexington, Kentucky May 8-13, 2012
The Devon Horse Show
Devon, Pennsylvania May 29-June 2, 2012
Calgary, Alberta Canada June 13-17, 2012
Following the completion of these observation events, FEI Nominated Entries will be submitted to the FEI on June 17. Twelve athlete/horse combinations can be named to the FEI Nominated Entries. The USOC Final Entries will be submitted no later than July 6, 2012.
The 2012 Olympic Games will take place July 27 - August 12.
Photo: Beezie Madden and Simon, Shawn McMillen Photography