Lexington, KY - May 13, 2011 - It was a great day for the riders from Ireland during the Kentucky Spring Horse Show at the Kentucky Horse Park. On the same that the Irish Nations Cup team scored an exciting and hard fought opening round win of the 2011 FEI Nations Cup tour in La Baule, France, Junior rider Christina Kelly represented her country well in the High Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumpers with the fastest double clear effort aboard HH Narcos Du Marais. Also showing for Ireland, Richie Moloney and Let's Go were able to post a victory in the 1.45m Open Jumpers, and earlier, Moloney won the 1.35m Open Jumper class with Bailey.
Today's jumper events were held in the Rolex Stadium, and tomorrow, riders will have the opportunity to compete during the $55,000 Commonwealth Grand Prix.
Today, riders in the High Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Class competed over a course designed by Anthony D'Ambrosio. There were 15 jumping efforts, which included a triple bar, an open water option, two vertical-oxer double combinations, and an oxer-vertical double combination. Eight riders were able to complete a fault-free round and advance to the short course, which also featured the triple bar and one of the double combinations, as well as two new fences.
Of the eight horse and rider combinations that moved on to the short course, six were able to go double clear, making speed the deciding factor. Kalvin Dobbs with Kolette and Megan Nusz aboard Banana D'ive Z, each lowered the height of a tall vertical for four faults and finished seventh and eight, respectively.
The first rider to master the opening round was Mary Shirley and RMW Malva. The pair then mimicked that same effort over the short course and stopped the clock at 41.480 seconds, which would be good enough for sixth place. Chloe Reid was next with Toulon, and they set a very tough time to beat at 33.331 seconds. Their effort went straight to the top of the leaderboard and was only edged out at the end of the day by Kelly, for the second place honors.
Kanna Aziz and Kandel were also able to complete a double clear round, but they tripped the timers at 34.027 to finish third. Following in fourth was Mireya Godoy and Bon Vivant, who crossed the finish line in 36.495 seconds. The last rider in the class, Nicole Bellissimo, also had a clear round with Lisalba, but a time of 35.096 seconds would take home the fourth place prize.
Although sunny skies had greeted riders for much of the class, rain had started to drizzle down when Kelly and Double H Farm's HH Narcos Du Marais entered the ring. The duo did not let the unfortunate change in weather get to them though, and they easily made their way around the first course with all the fences in tact. For the jump-off, they picked up a quick gallop and never held back, making a stunning turn after the first time. The pair blazed across the finish line in 30.657 seconds, three seconds ahead of Reid to take over the lead and eventually win the class.
"The course was actually a lot tougher than I thought it was going to be," admitted Kelly after her victory. "We walked it and it seemed like there would be few good clears, but there weren't so many. It was a good course today."
Kelly continued, "HH Narcos Du Marais us normally very straight forward, he was just very fresh today. I was a little worried about the water, because normally he jumps really high over that, so I was kind of expecting him to do that, but he was good over it."
HH Narcos Du Marais is a 10-year-old gelding that Kelly began riding during the Winter Equestrian Festival. "He's been a superstar, he really is an unbelievable horse," she smiled. "He was a little fresh this time, but he's a super horse. He's really sweet, he's always willing to try, great over the water. He likes a tiny bit of a gap and if I stay behind him and hold him, he prefers that rather than galloping off a long rein. He's mostly straightforward. A little help at the oxers to get across and that's it."
The Kentucky Spring Horse Shows are always a favorite for Kelly, who now resides nearby. "It's my favorite show in the world," she expressed. "We live here, so it's kind of like our home show. I love it so much, I love the countryside and the fact that you can ride out on the cross-country field, it's great for the horses' minds and I think they like here too."
Earlier in the day, fellow countryman Richie Moloney and Let's Go took home the blue ribbon in the 1.45m Open Jumper class. Seven horse and riders advanced to the jump-off during today's event, but only three were able to match that effort over the short course. Amy Millar was the first to do so with Top Gun, owned by Iron Horse Farm, posting a time of 32.488 seconds, which would hold up for third.
Moloney and Let's Go, owned by Equinimity, LLC, had an excellent round over the jump-off course as well. They left out a stride to the last fence and dashed through the timers in 31.452 seconds, a full second ahead of Millar to take over the lead. Kent Farrington made a very good attempt to catch Moloney's time with Valhalla, owned by Haity McNerney. They left each rail in its cups, but were just a fraction off the time, breaking the beam at 31.560 seconds. Their effort would be good enough for third, and seal Moloney's win.
"It was a nice course," commented Moloney. "There were a few tricks everywhere, the double you either did seven or a steady eight. The liverpool was little bit different, but I am happy with my horse. I've just been riding him for the last three months and this is just my second time to jump the 1.45m with him. You just have to sit very quiet and try not to do so much."
Moloney's win with Let's Go was his second of the day, as he also won the 1.35m Open Jumper class with Bailey, another mount owned by Equinimity, LLC. Moloney has been working at the stable for the last three months and is very pleased with the new relationship.
The jumper action at the Kentucky Spring Horse Show will continue tomorrow at 8:00 a.m. in the Rolex Stadium, beginning with the $20,000 Bluegrass Classic. The show will wrap-up on Sunday with the $55,000 Commonwealth Grand Prix, which gets underway at 4:00 p.m. Next Wednesday will mark the start of the Kentucky Spring Classic, which runs through May 22, 2011.
For more information about the Kentucky Spring Horse Shows, please visit www.kentuckyhorseshows.com.
Photo Credit: Christina Kelley and HH Narcos Du Marais won the High Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumpers at the Kentucky Spring Horse Show. Photo By: Rebecca Walton/PMG.