Lexington, KY - The Split Rock Jumping Tour hit the mark in multiple ways this past weekend. With a mission to create an "unparalleled show jumping experience", the second event in Lexington, KY, was spectacular from the ground up. The intimate equestrian event was well-attended and received high praise.
The first investment that Split Rock Jumping Tour founder and President Derek Braun made after the May event was in the footing. ESI stepped in and the results were tested by rain, sun and plenty of galloping hooves and quick turns. After a deluge of rain on Friday, the show went on without a hitch and the footing was excellent.
Conor Swail made a successful stop at Split Rock. He won two classes on Ilan Ferder's Viva Colombia and earned the Leading Athlete Award, driving away in a brand new Toyota RAV4. "It's my first time here, and Derek has done an amazing job. The VIP is excellent, and he's put on a couple of functions at night where we can have a bit of fun. Obviously the new footing is fantastic, and the jumps are superb. The owners are delighted, and we're looking forward to coming back."
Jonathan McCrea and Special Lux were masterful in the $100,000 CSI3* Grand Prix, presented by Split Rock Farm, taking the win in a five horse jump-off. An Irish native who now rides for the U.S., McCrea, and his wife Christine competed, and his in-laws, the Tribbles, were watching. "It is special to get to travel with your wife. My in-laws support me week in and week out. For them to be here when the horse wins is also very special." Before walking away with his well-earned, oversized check for $33,000, McCrea was presented with another honor, the award for Best Fist Pump of the Bourbon International CSI3*. With the award comes a $500 shopping spree with award sponsor FarmVet.
Christine McCrea also commented on her Split Rock experience. "I'm totally overwhelmed, it's been such a great event. I hadn't been here before, so I didn't really know what to expect, and Derek has put together an incredible show. It's really quite well done. The footing is perfect, the jumps are beautiful. The whole flow of the horse show is great - the ring feels intimate, so when there's people all around, you can really feel the excitement. The food in the tent is ridiculously good. Everyone's having the best time - it's just been lovely."
Runner-up for the Athlete Award and the winner of the Equis Boutique Award for the Best Presented Horse at the FEI Horse Inspection, Molly Ashe compared her experience to one of North America's best. "Split Rock is just a great show. It's probably the closest show to Spruce Meadows in terms of hospitality and how sponsors, riders, owners are treated. It's in a league of its own here in the United States. Derek's done a super job, and he's going to really help the sport."
Mac Cone came down from Canada to show. "We're very excited to come to Kentucky, especially this time of year - it's just gorgeous here. And this show is just outstanding - if we could do this every week, and make a living doing it, it'd be wonderful. Great competition and they couldn't have treated us any better."
The Split Rock Jumper Tour's Bourbon International CSI3* left no stone unturned when it came to details. The caterers, Lexington's own Apiary, were top notch with delectable and innovative selections for every meal. The announcer, Andrew Pollard, and host commentator, Steven Wilde, were imported from England. EqSportsNet was on the grounds, providing a live stream with Wilde and Brian Collins doing commentary and Oliver Kennedy handling on-air interviews. Add that to warm greetings from staff daily, over-sized ribbons, crystal trophies, parties, podium presentations, great prize money, CSI3* rating, live music, vendors and activities for kids.
Braun's vision was truly realized this past weekend. "I'm a show jumper, first and foremost. So this is really close to my heart. I wanted to create an intimate experience, one where everyone - the exhibitors, the spectators, the owners - could feel the action."
Year two of the Split Rock Jumping Tour continues in May of 2016.
For results and additional information, please visit splitrockjumpingtour.com