Darragh Kenny Dashes to Grand Prix Victory at Vermont Summer Festival

East Dorset, Vermont — Ireland’s Darragh Kenny won the $30,000 Battenkill Grand Prix, Presented by Johnson Horse Transportation, on Sunday, July 17, at the Vermont Summer Festival in East Dorset, VT.  The six-week equestrian competition is running at Harold Beebe Farm from July 6 through August 14, 2011.

Course designer Anthony D’Ambrosio of Red Hook, New York, set a first round track that saw five of the 15 entries advance to the jump-off.  First back, Devin Ryan of Long Valley, New Jersey, and No Worries were quick, posting a time of 34.36 seconds, but dropped a rail at the vertical two from home to eventually place third.

Kaitlin Campbell, the winner of Friday’s $10,000 Five Seasons Open Welcome Stake, was the next rider to attempt the shortened jump-off track.  Riding Rocky W, Campbell of Brookeville, Maryland, left all the rails in place, crossing the timers in 36.98 seconds to move into the lead.

It was short-lived, however, as Kenny and Bazooka de Muze were also fault-free, coming home just fractions of a second faster than Campbell in 36.73 seconds.

Danielle Torano of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, incurred a rail with Capitano to place fourth while the final jump-off challenger, Judy Garofalo Torres of Dover Plains, New York, turned in an eight-fault jump-off performance with Wriomf take fifth.

Victory in the $30,000 Battenkill Grand Prix, Presented by Johnson Horse Transportation, went to Kenny, who had also won the event in 2009 riding Palona and placed second in 2010 with Bazooka de Muze.  The 23-year-old from County Offaly, Ireland, was pleased to be back in the winner’s circle.

“I thought the course was excellently designed, and I personally love Anthony as a course designer,” said Kenny of track set by D’Ambrosio, who had the honor of being the course designer at the 2009 World Cup Final.  “He built some interesting lines, put jumps in difficult places, and put the height at the right place for the amount in the class.  He built to give the crowd a good jump-off.  I thought he got a great jump-off, and it was perfect for the crowd.”

Kenny, whose parents both ride and are involved in the horse business, has been based with John Brennan and Missy Clark of Warren, Vermont, since he was offered a job riding for the well-known trainers in May of 2009.  Clark owns Bazooka de Muze, a 10-year-old chestnut Belgian Warmblood gelding sired by 2004 Olympic gold medal horse, Baloubet de Rouet.

“Missy, John and I had a talk yesterday about the best way to ride the horse, and it turns out they know something,” smiled Kenny with typical Irish humor.  “He is really careful and quick.  He has a large stride, and he is quick off across the ground.”

Turning more serious, he continued, “I am very lucky.  I am very grateful for everything they have done for me, and for the horses they have put under me.  A lot of people would like to have my job.”

Since he began riding for Brennan and Clark, Kenny has represented his native Ireland on five Nations’ Cup teams including Rome, St. Gallen and La Baule.  In 2010, he competed at the World Cup Final in Geneva, Switzerland, riding Obelix.

The Vermont Summer Festival is one of Kenny’s favorite horse shows in the United States.

“I love this show,” said Kenny, who will also be competing during the sixth and final week of this year’s Vermont Summer Festival.  “The people are really nice, the crowds are good, and the people who run the show try very hard.  Touch wood, this has been a lucky show for me.”

The third week of the Vermont Summer Festival will begin at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, July 20.  Featured events include the $10,000 Betsey Johnson Open Welcome Stake, Presented by Manchester Designer Outlets, on Friday, July 22, and the $30,000 Otter Creek Grand Prix, Presented by Devoucoux, on Sunday, July 24.

Offering more than $750,000 in prize money, the Vermont Summer Festival is the richest sporting event based on purse in the state of Vermont.  The first five Sundays of the Vermont Summer Festival feature a $30,000 Grand Prix at 1 p.m., culminating with the $50,000 Vermont Summer Celebration Grand Prix on Sunday, August 14.  In addition to the $10,000 Open Welcome Stake, Presented by Manchester Designer Outlets, held each Friday, the weekly $10,000 Show Jumping Hall of Fame Junior/Amateur-Owner Classics are hotly contested. New for 2011, the Vermont Summer Festival will host a $5,000 Hunter Derby each Thursday five of the six weeks.

Competition begins at 8 a.m. daily, Wednesday through Sunday.  Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for children, Wednesday through Saturday.  On Grand Prix Sunday, admission is $7 for adults, $5 for children.  As always, 100 percent of the gate proceeds benefit the Friends Foundation for MEMS, (Manchester Elementary and Middle School).

For over 20 years, the Vermont Summer Festival has attracted exhibitors and their families to the Manchester region each summer.  For more information about the Vermont Summer Festival, please e-mail: info@vt-summerfestival.com or visit www.vt-summerfestival.com.

$30,000 Battenkill Grand Prix, Presented by Johnson Horse Transportation
1.    Darragh Kenny  Bazooka de Muze   0:0    36.73
2.    Kaitlin Campbell  Rocky W   0:0    36.98
3.    Devin Ryan   No Worries   0:4    34.36
4.    Danielle Torano  Capitano    0:4   42.69
5.    Judy Garofalo Torres   Wriomf   0:8    42.41
6.    Chasen Boggio  Hennessey  4
7.    Jimmy Torano   Winner  4
8.    Kirk Webby   La Rocca Junior   4
9.    Kirk Webby   Quintero 14    4
10.  Theodore Demetriou   Cautso   4
11.  Juan Gallego   Ban Ban   4
12.  Samantha Schaefer     Canute    4

Photo: Darragh Kenny and Bazooka de Muze won the $30,000 Battenkill Grand Prix, Presented by Johnson Horse Transportation, on Sunday, July 17, at the Vermont Summer Festival in East Dorset, Vermont.  Photo credit - David Mullinix Photography