Lake Placid, New York - Darragh Kenny of Ireland rode Gael Force to victory in the $75,000 Hermès Grand Prix CSI 2* for the Whitney Perpetual Challenge Trophy to close the 41st Annual Lake Placid Horse Show. Only five entries from the starting field of 24 succeeded in completing the 16-jump, first-round course designed by Olaf Petersen, Jr. of Germany without penalty. They returned for the nine-jump, jump-off at the North Elba Showgrounds.
First to go was Callan Solem of Chester Springs, PA, who set the mark to beat by finishing fault-free in 47.00 seconds on VDL Torlando. Solem's ride was interrupted when wind blew over a fence, forcing her to break stride and wait while the fence was re-set. Two rides later, Kenny, 22, moved Solem out of the lead with a clean ride in 46.39 seconds on his 12-year-old, Irish horse, owned by Missy Clark and North Run and formerly ridden by Solem.
Kenny returned immediately on Armani, the Jeffery Welles mount with whom Kenny had been paired for less than 48 hours following a fall in Friday's $30,000 Intercat, Inc. Open Jumper Classic CSI 2* in which Welles injured his knee and back. Kenny's time on Armani beat his time on Gael Force, but a rail down at the last fence cost him the win on the mount owned by Abigail Wexner and Triton Ventures.
The final two entries failed to crack the top two, with Jimmy Torano of Ft. Lauderdale, FL, taking third place on Vince by turning in the only other clean ride with a time of 48.32 seconds. Fourth place went to David Tromp on Casey with four faults in 43.89 seconds with Kenny and Armani, the 2006 winner of the class with Welles, taking fifth.
"Gael Force has been unbelievable for me since the first time I rode him last year," said Kenny. "You're only as good as the horse you're on and I am truly fortunate to ride with Missy and John who do so much to make sure the horses are always ready.
"I also have to say how thankful I am to Jeffery and Abigail that they would trust me to ride their best horse. I feel so badly for Jeffery who had to miss out after taking that fall on Friday. I consider it a privilege to ride such a quality horse."
Solem was completely gracious and understanding of her bad luck in having to stop and re-start during her jump-off round. "When I saw the planks down, I slowed down a little but kept going till I heard the tone," she said. "The judges are so good and I think they handled it really well, but it is a difficult situation. I know he has a lot more classes in his future and I'm not going to complain about second place in a class like this."
Other winners on Sunday included Amber Henter on Olinda in the Pepsi Bottling Co. High Junior Jumper Classic and Jennifer Waxman on Shakira in the Mirror Lake Inn High Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic. Both Classics are member events of the Cavalor Show Jumping Hall of Fame Jumper Classic Series.
After an off day on Monday, the 33rd Annual I Love New York Horse Show opens at the same site and runs July 6-11. The I Love New York Horse Show is highlighted by the $75,000 Le Grand Prix Hermès CSI 2* on Saturday, July 10, following which the Richard and Diana Feldman Perpetual Challenge Trophy for Excellence will be awarded to the rider who has won the most combined prize money in Lake Placid's two Grand Prix.
The 2010 Lake Placid Horse Show and I Love New York Horse Show sponsors include: A&M Beverages, A Placid Life, Adirondack Life, Adirondack Store, Alessandro Albanese, Animal Planet, Anonymous, Brandy Parfums, Ltd., Brook Ledge, Inc. Horse Transportation, The Brown Dog Café and Wine Bar, Carr-Hughes Productions, Chair 6, Champlain Valley Equipment, Chevy, Jane Forbes Clark, C.M. Hadfield's Saddlery, Inc., Clifton Park Rental Center, Community Bank, NA, The Cottage Café, Crossroad's Caterers, Crowne Plaza Resort & Golf Club, David R. Fowler Custom Tack Trunks, Deeridge Farms, Der Dau Custom Boots and Shoes, Eastern Hay, EquiFit , FarmVet, Fox Run, Ltd., The Fulchino Family, Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort, Graymont, Grill 211, Mr. James Harpel, Hermès, High Peaks Resort, The Hooker Family, HorseWatch, Intercat, Inc., J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines, Jake Placid Doghouse, Janney Montgomery Scott, LLC, Juliam Farm, Lake Placid Lodge, Lake Summit Resort Hotel & Suites, The Levy Family, Dan & Cynthia Lufkin, Meadow Grove Farm, Mirror Lake Inn, Mountain Horse, Bobby & Melissa Murphy, Nicola's On Main, On a Fence Designs & Rentals, ORDA/Whiteface Mountain, Paradysz Farm, The Pepsi Bottling Group, Price Chopper, Purina Mills, Quiet Hill Farm, ROOST - Lake Placid/Essex County Visitors Bureau, Ruthie's Run, Sand Castle Farm, Michael & Lora Schultz, Sidelines, SmartPak, Storm Ridge Capital LLC, Stretton Enterprises, Time Warner Cable, Town of North Elba Park District, Woodlea Farms, WPTZ News Channel 5, and Y106.3 - Mountain Communications LLC.
For more information on the 2010 Lake Placid and I Love New York Horse Shows please contact the Lake Placid Horse Show Association at (518) 523-9625 or visit www.lakeplacidhorseshow.com.
Photo: Callan Solem and Torlando at Devon earlier this year.