Harrisburg, PA - October 18, 2013 - Ireland's Darragh Kenny was the crowned the 'speed demon' of the evening at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show, capturing the $33,000 Keystone Classic Speed Stake with PROF DE LA ROQUE, owned by Postage Stamp Farm, LLC, as well as the Open Jumper Speed Championship with TOP GUN IV, owned by Oakland Ventures LLC.
Fellow Irishman Alan Wade designed the course, which consisted of 13 obstacles set at 1.45 meters high, with an allowed time of 76 seconds. There were nineteen starters in the competition, but only five jumped clear. Second last to go, Kenny and PROF DE LA ROQUE made the course look easy with smooth turns and approaches, producing a beautiful clear in 62.28 seconds - over a second faster than his compatriot Conor Swail and ARIANA, who stopped the clock in 63.84 seconds and finished in the runner-up spot.
"I am very lucky - he's an amazing horse", said Kenny. "He's very easy. I only ride him in a full-cheek snaffle. He had a little bit of trouble the first two days acclimatizing to the indoor [show] - I think he felt a bit claustrophobic - but as the week went on he relaxed and today he was absolutely fantastic".
Kenny, 25 years old, is humble about his accomplishments. "I can't say enough times how lucky I am. I have great horses, I have great owners, I have great staff, and I have great people around me. That's the key to everything. That's the key to success in this sport. They are the ones that get you here. I just have to walk in the ring and do my job. I'm so lucky at such a young age to have such a great opportunity".
Earlier in the day Beezie Madden and BREITLING LS won the $7,500 Open Jumper II class, beating nine other riders in the jump-off with a clear round in 35.486 seconds. Second place went to Shane Sweetnam and DIKTATOR VAN DE BOSLANDHO who also jumped clear, but crossed the timers in 35.905 seconds.
In the $3,000 Amateur Owner Jumper II speed class, it was all about going clear and fast. Kelsey Thatcher and EVERTHING did exactly that, beating 21 other competitors with a faultless round in 57.704 seconds. Mary Claire McDonal and CHICAGO LYNGRIIS finished in 62.597 seconds to take second place.
It was an fun night filled with additional special events. Joey, the larger-than-life puppet star of the musical War Horse, made a visit to the main arena and even 'spooked and snorted' at the show jumps! The puppeteers demonstrated how they make Joey move and mimic a real horse.
A real crowd pleaser was the Celebrity Challenge 5 Drum Barrel Racing, where the Canadian Cowgirls took on some of the jumper riders in a barrel race competition on the Cowgirl's western horses. There was a lot of cheering from the crowd, and the jumpers had to compete against each other in the final heat!
The Canadian Cowgirls closed the show again with another dazzling and dangerous drill team performance, much to the crowd's delight.
The Pennsylvania National Horse Show, the 2011 National Show Hunter Hall of Fame Horse Show of the Year and the sixth ranked horse show in North America in the 2012 North American Riders Group (NARG) annual rankings, is one of the largest indoor horse shows in the U.S. It hosts horses and competitors from across the country with 10,000 spectators attending from the Mid-Atlantic region.
With over 1,400 qualified horses competing for $450,000 in prize money, the show features Hunter and Jumper competition and is the site of the Pessoa/US National Hunter Seat Medal Final Presented by Randolph College, the Randolph College/USEF National Junior Jumper Championships, North American League (NAL) National Finals and the $85,000 Grand Prix de Penn National.
In addition to world-class equestrian competition, the horse show offers a unique shopping environment with boutique vendors that offer everything from fine art to custom jewelry, clothing, accessories and horse show memorabilia.
Proceeds from the event benefit community equine and youth programs. Since its inception in 1945, the Pennsylvania National Horse Show Foundation has donated over $1.5 million to charitable entities.
For more details on show events, competitors and vendors, please visit the show's website, www.PAnational.org or contact the Pennsylvania National Horse Show at 717-236-1600 or by email, eventinfo@PAnational.org.