Lexington, KY - May 9, 2011- Speed was the name of the game during the first day of the Kentucky Spring Horse Show, and the Dominican Republic's Hector Florentino had it with Ultimo. The pair dominated the $35,000 Welcome Cup, clocking in at a speedy 67.530 seconds, which earned the blue ribbon prize during the speed event. Ashlee Bond stepped up to place second with her veteran mount Cadett 7, while the lead-off rider Kent Farrington, placed third with Voyeur.
Today's class was the first major event during the Kentucky Spring Horse Show, which will be hosting two Observation Events for the U.S. Show Jumping Team later in the week. To welcome the riders, course designer Richard Jeffery of Bournemouth, England, built a speed track in the Rolex Stadium that included a double combination, a triple combination, and open water with a pole, and multiple inside options. Seven of today's 24 entries completed their rounds without fault, but it was Hector Florentino and Stransky's Mission Farm's Ultimo that took home the lion's share of the prize money.
Kent Farrington was the first to tackle the course aboard Voyeur, owned by Amalaya Investments, and they did not hold back. They jumped each fence easily, leaving each rail intact with a speedy time of 69.640 to set the pace for the rest of the class.
"Today I was thinking more about the right course for the horse I am riding," explained Farrington. "We tried a new bridle and worked on Voyeur's rideability. I think he is going to be a good horse, but he needs some training to make him ride the way that I want. I think he went great today. I did what I had planned when we walked it. I didn't even think that I had a chance of winning or being in the top three, so that was nice."
The next two riders in the class were also clear, with Franklin, TN's Bylthe Marano and Riverview Farm's Urban placing seventh and Mario Deslauriers placing fifth aboard Vicomte D, owned by Jane Clark of New York, NY. The next fault-free effort came later in the class by Christine McCrea, who piloted Avenir, owned by Candy Tribble of East Windsor, CT, to the sixth place honors. Andres Rodriguez of Venezuela rounded out the top four aboard Beaufort Van Het Lindenhof, owned by Arao Enterprises of Wellington, FL.
Ashlee Bond was the first to challenge Farrington's time, riding her expert mount Cadett 7, owned by Little Valley Farms of Hidden Hills, CA. Although the talented gelding is coming back from an injury, he proved that he is still a top challenger by leaving each fence in place and breaking the beam at 68.94 seconds, which would be good enough for second.
"Today was just kind of the test to see how the rest of the week is going to go," commented Bond. "Cadett 7 likes to gallop around anyway, so I put some pressure on him, and he really rose to the occasion. I would say that he is fitness wise and mentally about 95% back to his old self, and fitness wise he is 100%. I am excited for the rest of the week."
Hector Florentino and Ultimo were the best of the day, speeding through the course in a quick time of 67.530 seconds. The pair left out a stride to the triple combination, the open water, and the final oxer, to make up the time and jump to the top of the leaderboard.
"My horse felt really good in the warm-up," stated Florentino. "Ultimo has been feeling really good; he had some time off after Wellington. I saw a few go fast today and leave out some strides in some lines. I know Ultimo has a big stride, so I was going to take on that same plan and leave out some strides here or there-it worked."
Florentino continued, "I think it was a good speed course because you had a couple of options to make turns and go fast. Even though Ultimo isn't so big, he has a big stride. He adjusts really well when you leave out a stride. He likes Kentucky, every time he comes here he does well. The weather is great, the footing is great, the course are really nice and well-designed, and the prize money is great."
"I just want to say that I am really thankful to my sponsor, Lilly Stransky and her daughter, for giving me this opportunity to ride their horses and train with them," concluded Florentino, who represents the Step-By-Step Foundation for the family of Wellington, FL.
The highlight events of the Kentucky Spring Horse Show will be Friday's $50,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic and Sunday's $75,000 Commonwealth Grand Prix. These events will be part of the U.S. Show Jumping Team Observation Events, where Long Listed riders such as Reed Kessler, Margie Engle, Beezie Madden, Mario Deslauriers, and Christine McCrea will showcase their talent to the Selection Committee.
During today's $35,000 Welcome Cup, Deslauriers and Kessler each competed aboard their Long Listed mounts and left all the rails in place. Kessler, now of Lexington, KY, had two time faults with both Mika and Cylana, and Deslauriers had three time faults with Urico, owned by Jane Clark.
Jumper action will continue tomorrow morning in the Rolex Stadium with the Open Jumper Divisions, and riders will to prepare for this week's Show Jumping Team Observation Events at the Kentucky Spring Horse Show.
For more information about the Kentucky Spring Horse Shows or to download the prize list, please go to www.kentuckyhorseshows.com.
RESULTS: $35,000 Welcome Cup
1 203 ULTIMO HECTOR FLORENTINO 0 0 0 67.530
2 109 CADETT 7 ASHLEE BOND 0 0 0 68.940
3 155 VOYEUR KENT FARRINGTON 0 0 0 69.640
4 518 BEAUFORT VAN HET LINDENHOF ANDRES RODRIGUEZ 0 0 0 69.740
5 115 VICOMTE D MARIO DESLAURIERS 0 0 0 70.920
6 394 AVENIR CHRISTINE MCCREA 0 0 0 72.240
7 22 URBAN BLYTHE MARANO 0 0 0 75.580
8 117 CELLA MARIO DESLAURIERS 0 2 2 84.370
9 140 MIKA REED KESSLER 0 2 2 84.520
10 141 CYLANA REED KESSLER 0 2 2 86.840
11 116 URICO MARIO DESLAURIERS 0 3 3 87.800
12 517 CABALLITO ANDRES RODRIGUEZ 4 0 4 66.420
Photo Credit: Hector Florentino and Ultimo won the $35,000 Welcome Cup at the 2012 Kentucky Spring Horse Show. Photo By: Rebecca Walton/PMG.