Lexington, VA - May 6, 2015 - Harold Chopping's spring schedule has him traveling up and down the east coast, but this year he made sure to add a stop at the Virginia Horse Center - a stop that he is glad he made. During the Lexington Spring Premiere, Chopping rode to the win in the $25,000 George L. Ohrstorm Jr. Grand Prix and finished second in the $10,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby.
The win in the Lexington Spring Premiere's feature jumper event, held Saturday night, came aboard Basje, a 9-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Kendra Bullington. Chopping was one of three pairs to navigate the Bernardo Costa Cabral designed first round course and advance to the jump-off, where he turned in another clear effort in a time of 40.507 seconds to clinch the victory.
Also advancing to the jump-off were third place finishers Kaitlin Campbell and Gabriel and the second place combination of Marylisa Leffler and Carlot, who finished double clear in a time of 42.820 seconds.
"I was fortunate enough to go last in the jump-off and be able to see what was leading and to have a good handle on what I needed to do, and Basje responded beautifully," Chopping said.
Chopping continued, "We've had him since the end of his 7-year-old year, so we've had him a little while. He won two grand prix last year. He's a horse that I think is going to end up jumping at a very high level. He's super careful and really scopey. He jumped so well in Lexington. It was nice to see him jump so well and really handle everything we asked him to do."
Basje was one of 12 horses who accompanied Chopping's Solo Show Stables to the Virginia Horse Center for the duration of the Lexington Spring Premiere. Among the other top performing mounts was 15-year-old Danish Warmblood, Caramo, owned by Caroline Russell Howe. Chopping and Caramo rode to the second place finish in Friday night's $10,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby.
"He's just so reliable in those derbies. He's had a number of wins over the past couple of years," Chopping said. "This horse really is a pro at that job. He's super competitive, and he did his thing on Friday night."
Love Game Makes Winning International Derby Debut with Evan Coluccio
The win in the $10,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby went to Evan Coluccio and EMC International's Love Game. For Coluccio, victory in the Lexington Spring Premiere's $10,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby is not his first taste of success at the Virginia Horse Center. In fact, significant wins at the Virginia Horse Center have marked Coluccio's extremely successful career thus far. In 1995, he was victorious at the U.S. Pony Finals, held that year at the Virginia Horse Center, and in 2006, he clinched Individual Show Jumping Gold medal at the North American Junior-Young Rider Championships (NAYRC), also held at the Horse Center.
"Lexington has always been a successful show for me. It's always been a really good facility for me," Coluccio said. "It's one of my lucky places."
That luck, coupled with great talent, showed through on Friday night and throughout the week with Love Game. The Lexington Spring Premiere marked the 6-year-old Dutch Warmblood's very first horse show stateside, and the hopeful start of a successful hunter and derby career.
"I'm really excited about him," Coluccio said of Love Game. "He came to America about five or six weeks ago. I knew he was going to be really special. I just gave him a little time to adjust to America and getting him looking good. Then I brought him there, and he was amazing.
I did him in the First Years and the Green Conformation. He had just little tiny green mistakes each day. So I thought, 'let's do the derby.' They moved it inside, and I think with that atmosphere he really rose to the occasion that much more. He was unbelievable."
The Virginia Horse Center is situated on a 573-acre site with eight barns to accommodate 750 horses in permanent stabling. Indoor stabling can be increased to 1,200 horses with the use of temporary stalls. The Virginia Horse Center hosts 19 show rings, including two large arenas and a five-mile Olympic cross-country course. Four of the Virginia Horse Center barns are winterized with close access to the 4,000 seat indoor coliseum. The Virginia Horse Center is recognized for the excellent footing of its show rings and the durable construction of the concrete stalls. The Virginia Horse Center also offers camping facilities and on-site food and beverage services. Find the Horse Center online at www.horsecenter.com.