Wellington, FL - Ireland's Darragh Kenny was the winner of Friday night's $130,000 Grand Prix CSI 3* aboard a brand new mount, Red Star D'Argent, during week six at the 2016 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF). Competing under the lights in the International Ring at The Stadium at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC), Kenny topped a three-horse jump-off over Laura Chapot (USA) and ISHD Dual Star in second, and Sayre Happy (USA) aboard Ludwig's Joker B in third.
The $10,000 Artisan Farms U25 Welcome, sponsored by EnTrust Capital, and the $35,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic will both be held on the derby field at The Stadium on Saturday. The $25,000 Artisan Farms U25 Grand Prix, sponsored by EnTrust Capital, as well as the $50,000 WEF 6 National Grand Prix, will both be held on the derby field at The Stadium on Sunday. The 12-week WEF circuit runs through April 3 offering more than $9 million in prize money.
Richard Jeffery (GBR) set the course for 42 starters in Friday night's grand prix with only three clear rounds for the jump-off. Sayre Happy qualified her mount Ludwig's Joker B, but had a refusal at the second fence in the short course and chose to retire after her horse lost a shoe. Laura Chapot jumped next with Mary Chapot's ISHD Dual Star, completing a clear round in 39.48 seconds. Last to go, Darragh Kenny and Red Star D'Argent clocked in two-tenths of a second faster to take the win in a time of 39.27.
Kenny just recently got the ride on Red Star D'Argent, an 11-year-old Selle Francais stallion by Quick Star. The horse was previously shown under Spain's Sergio Alvarez Moya and is now competing with Kenny to be sold. Red Star arrived in the U.S. in the beginning of January, and Kenny has taken his time to get to know his new mount over the last several weeks before stepping up to Friday night's grand prix.
"My relationship with him is very new," Kenny detailed. "He was formerly ridden by a very good friend of mine, Sergio Moya. We had talked about the horse coming this winter for me to ride a little bit. He came about five or six weeks ago, and I have just really been getting to know him the last few weeks. He has jumped a lot of good rounds, but has had an unlucky jump down. Today he was fantastic. This was the first grand prix I have jumped him in. I have jumped some WEF (Challenge Cups) and some 1.50m (classes). I did not feel 100% comfortable that I knew him, that I had the right bridle, and everything like that. This week, he felt fantastic. He was really unlucky in the WEF, but fantastic today."
"The idea is to sell the horse, and that is why he came here for me to ride and show," Kenny continued. "I have had a lot of horses come and go lately. Some have gotten sold, some have gone to other people, and it does not really bother me because I am trying to produce new horses all of the time so that they can get sold and I can have horses to ride at the top level. The last few weeks I have been very unlucky, so to get this win is really great."
Commenting on his jump-off round, Kenny said, "I did not actually watch Laura. I know that Laura is an extremely fast rider, and the horse is a super horse. I had one of my friends, Hardin (Towell), watch her. He said that you basically just have to go for it and see what happens." "The horse is very easy to turn, and he jumps even better when you turn him back up to jumps," Kenny continued. "He really tries and is really careful, with good technique, so it makes it easy to turn really short with him."
Knowing that Red Star turns so well, Kenny had planned to show the horse in Friday night's grand prix in the smaller arena at The Stadium for the last four weeks. "I had the aim of jumping him this week. I think this venue suited him," Kenny said. "He is agile; he is good in a small ring. I knew it would be a careful course, (and) he is very careful." Chapot thought she may have been able to take more risk in hindsight, but the rider was very pleased with her jump-off round aboard ISHD Dual Star.
"I thought she jumped fantastic tonight," Chapot stated. "I do not think she even came close to touching a rail. I think I just played it too safe in the jump-off. I probably should have made at least one of the inside turns, either after the double or to the last line. But with only three in the jump-off and the first one obviously being out, I wanted to put a little pressure on Darragh and not make a mistake. With the way my horse was jumping, I probably should have gone ahead and done that, and that would have made the difference."
Although Sayre Happy had to retire from her jump-off round, the rider was happy with the way Ludwig's Joker B jumped on Friday night. The horse was double clear and fourth on Thursday and continued to jump well for his third place finish under the lights. "My partner and I bought the horse to sell, and I do not think we knew he would be as good as he is," Happy noted. "I got this horse in July and just did some smaller 1.40m, 1.45m, and this is the biggest class I have jumped with him. The stop was my fault; I was a mile away. He tries his heart out every time, and he is a really fun horse."
Speaking of the night's course, Happy stated, "I honestly thought there were going to be a few more clear. Yesterday, the course I walked was what I rode. I watched a bunch of people go and thought, 'Oh my gosh, maybe I should change my plan.' But I stuck with it. Tonight I felt the same way. It kind of rode what he set when I walked it, and I stayed with my plan. I thought he did a great job."
Kenny also spoke of the course, noting, "When I walked the course, it did not look so difficult, but always in this ring, the jumps come up so fast. It ends up riding much more difficult. It suited a smaller horse with more blood. There were a lot of questions here and there about the numbers, but in the end I think he did a super job on the course."
Chapot, agreed, adding, "This ring rides a little bit more like an indoor ring, and after coming off riding in the International Arena, which is so wide open, it was difficult for horses to adjust that quickly. I thought he posed a lot of questions all throughout the course, and he had rails everywhere."
Along with the prize money for her third place finish Friday night, Sayre Happy was presented the award for Leading Lady Grand Prix Rider for her success in week six. The award is sponsored by Martha Jolicoeur of Douglas Elliman Real Estate in memory of Dale Lawler.
Week six of the 2016 Winter Equestrian Festival continues on Saturday with more hunter and jumper action on both sides of the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. For more information and full results, please visit www.PBIEC.com.
Final Results: $130,000 Grand Prix CSI 3*
1. RED STAR D'ARGENT: 2005 Selle Francais stallion by Quick Star DARRAGH KENNY (IRL), Oakland Ventures & Sergio Alvarez Moya: 0/0/39.27
2. ISHD DUAL STAR: 2002 Irish Sport Horse mare by Quick Star x Concorde LAURA CHAPOT (USA), Mary Chapot: 0/0/39.48
3. LUDWIG'S JOKER B: 2005 Oldenburg gelding by Ludwig von Bayern x Fierant XX SAYRE HAPPY (USA), HC Sport Horses: 0/Ret.
4. FOR FREEDOM Z: 2005 Zangersheide gelding by For Pleasure x Baloubet du Rouet KEEAN WHITE (CAN), Angelstone Partners: 1/82.15
5. COUP DE FOUDRE V: 2007 KWPN gelding by Vittorio x Voltaire VALERIA SOKOLOVA (RUS), Valeria Sokolova: 2/86.94
6. PALOMA: 2006 Holsteiner mare by Canaletto S x Henzo de la Brasserie PETER WYLDE (USA), Kathleen Kamine: 4/77.64
7. ALEX: 2004 Westphalian gelding by Arpeggio x Mon Cheri AUDREY COULTER (USA), Copernicus Stables LLC: 4/78.90
8. LUCIFER V: 2006 Westphalian gelding by Lord Dezi x Grandeur HARDIN TOWELL (USA), Jennifer Gates LLC: 4/79.44
9. HOMER DE REVE: 2007 Belgian Warmblood by Nabab de Reve x Heartbreaker LORENZO DE LUCA (ITA), Stephex Stables & VDB Equestrian Stables: 4/80.33
10. ARON S: 2005 KWPN gelding by Tadmus x Karandasj KENT FARRINGTON (USA), Alexandra Crown: 4/80.40
11. BOKAI: 2006 KWPN gelding by Up To Date x Ferro HARRIE SMOLDERS (NED), Axel Verlooy: 4/80.42
12. PERLE DU MARAIS: 2003 Selle Francais mare by Diamant de Semilly JORGE MATTE (CHI), Jorge Matte: 5/82.76