Bridgehampton, NY - Darragh Kenny, 22, of County Offaly, Ireland, had the "luck of the Irish" on his side winning both jumper classes in the Grand Prix ring at the Hampton Classic Horse Show on Tuesday.
Kenny won the Brown Harris Stevens Open Jumper (1.40m) FEI Table A class riding Looping Star and the Newsday Open Jumper class (1.35m) earlier in the day on Bazooka de Muze. Both horses are owned by Missy Clark and North Run Farm and both are stunning chestnuts with bold blaze faces.
"To win one class at the Classic is great," said Kenny. "To win two is unbelievable! I was here last year and finished second in a lot of classes, so it is really nice to win. It's actually a really important show for me because it is one of the biggest outdoor shows."
There were already 14 clear rounds in the Harris Stevens Open Jumping class before it was Kenny's turn to go, so time was the key factor.
"This was a really quick class, but he jumped fantastic," said Kenny of Looping Star. "We only just got the horse three weeks ago and this is only the second class I have done on him. He's a great horse."
Halfway through the Harris Stevens Sloane Coles and Annie 66, owned by Ri-Arm Farm, took the lead with a fast clean round in a time 58.17 seconds, but it was short-lived. Two rides later Kenny came into the ring and ripped around the Guilherme Jorge designed course in 55.12 seconds taking over the top spot. Kate Levy and her Dutch Warmblood mare Starlight, came close with a clean round time of 57.46 seconds, but it was only good enough for second. Coles and Annie 66 ended up in third.
Earlier in the day Kenny also won the Newsday Open Jumper class amongst a massive crowd of 98 entries. Kenny and Bazooka de Muze clocked in a faultless round in 64.462 seconds, but they went early and had a long, long wait.
"I was tenth in the lineup so it was lucky that I held on, but he's a quick horse, a really good horse," said Kenny. "There were a few people that went a little bit faster, but were unlucky and had a fence down. It was just his day."
It looked like Molly Cawley and Ulana, owned by Alexis Stein, might beat them. As the 62nd pair to go they left all the rails up, but in a time of 65.524 seconds leaving them second. McLain Ward and Vocas, owned by Louisburg Farm, were third in a clear round time of 66.373.
It took two years to win at the Classic, but it will be a long time before Kenny forgets this day. "This is great. I'm really, really happy."
The Hampton Classic Horse Show is moving the $50,000 Spy Coast Farm Grand Prix Qualifier CSI**** from Friday afternoon to Thursday afternoon at 2:00 PM in anticipation of possible bad weather stemming from Hurricane Earl.
The horse show is also instituting other schedule changes and the revised schedule for Thursday and Friday is available on the Hampton Classic website at www.hamptonclassic.com.
The Hampton Classic Horse Show is one of the most prestigious horse shows in the nation and features competitors at every level from young children in leadline to Olympic veterans. The Classic continues through Sunday when it culminates with the $250,000 FTI Grand Prix and FEI World Cup Qualifier.
For those who can't make it to the show grounds, WVVH-TV, the official Long Island television station of the Hampton Classic, is broadcasting up to five hours of competition and highlights each day during the Classic. These broadcasts can also be seen online at www.wvvh.tv.
Hampton Classic Horse Show, Inc. is a 501.c.3 charitable corporation. It benefits Southampton Hospital and has contributed more than $1.5 million to the hospital since it began. For more information on the Hampton Classic Horse Show, please visit the Hampton Classic website at www.hamptonclassic.com or call (631) 537-3177.
Photo: Darragh Kenny by James Leslie Parker