Lexington, KY - The curtain closed on the Kentucky Summer Horse Show, the first in the summer series, and the last event of the week did not disappoint. The week featured classes such as the NAJYRC finals and the $30,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic, and the most prize money was offered in this evening's $40,000 Kentucky Summer Grand Prix, sponsored by Audi of Lexington.
As the sun set over the Kentucky Horse Park's Main Outdoor Stadium it was 20-year-old Hungarian Henri Kovacs garnering the win with Plain Bay Farm's Sassicaia II in their third Grand Prix victory as a team here in Lexington.
Thirty-two entries competed over today's 13-obstacle, 1.50 m course, designed by Olaf Petersen, Jr. The technically demanding track included a wall fence, triple bar, a double combination and a triple combination. The distances in the related lines required control of the mount, and a tight time allowed required a precise route to break the beam within the 80-second time allowed, which already had been lengthened from the original 72 second limit.
The first pair to take on the course was also the first duo to go clear: Addison Phillips with her 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare, Teirra, proving that the course could be conquered. Another clear round came nine trips later as Colombian rider Mark Bluman left with his 15-year-old gelding Cataro Ask.
For the next 24 rounds it seemed Phillips and Bluman might go head-to-head in the jump off. The oxer-vertical-oxer triple combination resulted in the most knockdowns, and two riders voluntarily withdrew.
Kovacs and Sassaicaia II were in the middle of tonight's order and had the third clear round. The pair has been a successful duo at the Kentucky Horse Park in the past three years, and Kovacs had a confident style with his competitive mare who has earned top wins internationally.
The next two clear rounds came from two German riders, Christian Heineking with River of Dreams and Christoph Schroeder with Sequoyah Farms Utopia.
The second round of the Grand Prix was even more technical, asking riders to start on a four-stride line included in the first course, then continue on to the double combination by the in-gate. A long run to jump 15, an oxer not in the first round, came next, and it had to be sliced to gain time to bend to the wall fence following it. A roll back to a vertical came next and finally riders galloped home over a large oxer.
Addison Phillips was the first to go in the jump off. Twenty-year-old Phillips did her best, but the outcome was eight faults, as she had a knockdown at the oxer in the first line of the course and again at the "A" element of the double combination.
A bold, fast ride came next from Mark Bluman, and his double clear effort in 40.708 seconds seemed to be a shoo-in for the blue ribbon. Bluman galloped between the fences and sharply sliced fence number 15, and his run home to the last fence had the crowd holding their breath.
Repeating his first fast, clear round was Kovacs, as he bested Bluman's time as the next in the arena. Kovacs and his mare shaved 1.6 seconds off Bluman's blistering pace thanks to his on-a-dime turns.
The next riders to attempt the jump off took to the arena, but Heineking had a rail resulting from slicing fence number 15 and took a block off the wall for an eight fault total and the fourth place award. Fellow countryman Schroeder knocked down fences 15 and 8 as well, but with a slower time, securing Kovac's victory.
"I went in and I knew my mare is very fast, so I just had to be tight with my turns and coming to the last jump I knew I was on it," said Kovacs of his jump off round. "She was very good at turning, that's probably where I won it."
Kovacs will return to Lexington this fall for the upcoming 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™, as a show jumping representative from Hungary.
"I love it here, first of all because I win," Kovacs laughed while talking about the Kentucky Horse Park. "It's such a lovely place, a lot of room. I love it when you can go out and let your horse be a horse."
Competition will resume at the Kentucky Horse Park next Wednesday, August 4 with the Kentucky Summer Classic, and the featured events will be the $25,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic on Thursday, August 5; the $50,000 Rood & Riddle Kentucky Grand Prix on Saturday, August 7, 2010.
For more information on the Kentucky Summer Horse Show Series, please visit www.kentuckyhorseshows.com.
$40,000 KENTUCKY SUMMER GRAND PRIX NAT.ST. II 2a
1 619 SASSICAIA II PLAIN BAY FARM. PLAIN BAY FARM. 0 0 0 3.000 0 0 0 39.088
2 1392 CATARO ASK MARK BLUMAN MARK BLUMAN 0 0 0 2.000 0 0 0 40.708
3 676 SEQUOYAH FARMS UTOPIA GK PERFORMANCE HORSES, LLC GK PERFORMANCE HORSES, LLC 0 0 0 5.000 4 0 4 47.532
4 201 TEIRRA ADDISON PHILLIPS ADDISON PHILLIPS 0 0 0 1.000 8 0 8 45.280
5 275 RIVER OF DREAMS KAI HANDT KAI HANDT 0 0 0 4.000 8 0 8 45.660
6 1472 CLEU CENTENNIAL FARM CENTENNIAL FARM 0 1 1 80.270 0 0 0.000
7 1617 THE REAL DEAL RACHEL CLINE RACHEL CLINE 4 0 4 73.770 0 0 0.000
8 935 CREME BRULE TEQUESTRIAN FARMS, LLC TEQUESTRIAN FARMS, LLC 4 0 4 75.416 0 0 0.000
9 1602 VENTURO JENNIFER WAXMAN JENNIFER WAXMAN 4 0 4 76.646 0 0 0.000
10 429 CARLOS DE NOEL TIFFANY FOSTER TIFFANY FOSTER 4 0 4 76.651 0 0 0.000
11 52 APOLLO VAN EVENDAEL MAURICE BEATSON MAURICE BEATSON 4 0 4 77.792 0 0 0.000
12 50 JEDI WARRIOR MAURICE BEATSON MAURICE BEATSON 4 0 4 78.134 0 0 0.000
Photo Credit: Henri Kovacs and Sassicaia II won the $40,000 KY Summer Grand Prix at Kentucky Summer Horse Show. Photo By: Kenneth Kraus/PhelpsSports.com.