Lexington, KY - August 20, 2011 - There was nothing but blue skies and sunshine at the Kentucky Horse Park for the fourth day of the Bluegrass Festival Horse Show. Talented horse and rider combinations competed at the Rolex Stadium during the High and Low Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper classes attempting to post the target time and win top honors. Taking home the blue ribbon in the High Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper class was Kaely Tomeu aboard Amor Van De Rostal, completing the only clear effort of the class. Kelsey Thatcher posted the fastest time with Sorina in the Low Amateur-Owner Jumper class, a time that proved unbeatable for the remaining competitors.
Allen Rheinheimer included elements from the Hunter Derby featured in the Rolex Stadium yesterday, for today's High Amateur-Owner Jumper class. The course used several hunt-like fences with natural colors, brush boxes and shrubbery garnishing the fences. The obstacles included a liverpool, a stone wall, vertical-oxer-oxer triple combination, and a triple bar leading to a vertical-vertical double combination. For the jump-off, riders began with a single oxer taking a hard left turn to the red, white, and blue oxer, they then completed a right turn to a natural looking vertical followed by a left turn over the triple with six strides to the vertical-vertical combination. A right rollback led them to the second to last fence, and they finished over a single red and white oxer to trip the beam within the allotted time of 48 seconds.
Twenty-two horse and rider combinations attempted the first round in the High Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumpers, sponsored by Sleepy P Ranch; however, Kaely Tomeu of Wellington, FL, aboard Amor Van De Rostal was the only rider to navigate the course with all rails intact. The duo advanced to the short course where they raced against the clock. Although Tomeu had eight faults from unlucky rails and one time fault, the duo garnered the first place spot, earning the top honors for the class.
"The course was definitely different and something I was not really expecting," Tomeu admitted. "You could tell that it was set up for a Hunter Derby, and jumpers aren't really very comfortable with the hunter jumps. I didn't know how he would be with it, but I showed him everything, and once we got moving I knew he would be fine. Honestly, this course was different and fun. It was hard, and definitely tough. There were a lot of natural fences and decorations with a lot of tough turns, but he went pretty easily around it."
Considering that Tomeu has not been showing Amor Van De Rostal, she was impressed by how easily he took the jumps. "We have never shown him over natural jumps, I have never even shown him the water, but we went in there with confidence and I know he's going to go for me. It gave me more confidence riding him, especially now knowing that he will go around and jump over the spooky stuff. We are still bonding and working with each other, but today was definitely a confidence boost."
Buttercup piloted by Ashley Charpentier and owned by Ash Lee Corp. of Kitchener, Ontario, were the next duo to come close to the shortened course. The pair sliced turns and went for the clean round; however, a rail at the last fence was only good enough to earn them the second place honors with the fastest four-fault time of 70.046 seconds. The third place honors were awarded to Hayley Banas and United posting a time of 75.771 seconds, the second fastest four-fault round.
"It felt really good to be the only rider to go clear, it was definitely not something that I was expecting," explained Tomeu. "I really owe a lot of it to him. We had some difficulty in the jump-off, but the course was designed to be challenging and it was. Amor Van De Rostal was fantastic! His ride is really uphill, but he's pretty straightforward. Sometimes I get nervous because he likes to look around the ring, and at times he gets a little distracted, but he really makes you feel like you know what you are doing."
The Low Junior Jumpers were all about accuracy as the first rider of thirty to enter the ring, Shannen Cassady and Peter Rabbit out of Oakville, Ontario, went double-clear in the class. His jump-off time posed a threat; however, Kelsey Thatcher piloted Sorina, owned by Pony Lane Farm of Bluffdale, UT, to a clear first round and a jump-off time that set a new precedent for the class. Her time of 37.398 seconds could not be touched as riders navigated the course, they unfortunately could not successfully shave the seconds. Although 10 horses advanced to the shortened course, and three completed double clear rounds, Thatcher's time stood alone. She was a full 1.4 seconds faster than Doug Masters and Quebec, owned by Chris Richard,who claimed the second place honors, the pair did not touch a rail, but they stopped the clock just shy with a time of 38.799. Cassady's earlier round only proved to be good enough for the third place award aboard Peter Rabbit, leaving all rails in their cups, but stopping the timer at 42.257 seconds.
Rheinheimer designed the course for the Low Amateur-Owner Jumper class keeping many of the same jumps as the previous class; however, this course eliminated the liverpool and natural vertical which had challenged many of the previous competitors, but new obstacles awaited. This course included the vertical-to-vertical combination, the vertical-oxer-vertical triple combination, as well as a new obstacle, the hedge. The jump-off consisted of an oxer leading to a tight left turn where riders were met with the next oxer, bending to a vertical at the far end of the ring. A left rollback took riders into the vertical-vertical combination and up to one of the most threatening fences, the triple bar. With only two jumps remaining, riders had to balance accuracy and speed to go clear, heading into a sharp right turn and then to a tall single vertical bending left to the final fence Hagyard vertical to trip the beam.
"I definitely thought it was harder than it appeared, Thatcher admitted. "I was watching the High Junior/Amateur-Owner class prior to ours, and the course threw off many of the horses. The jumpers seemed to become distracted and spooked by the hunter-looking obstacles and decorations like the ponds and hounds. I overcame it by riding with a lot of connection as well as having really nice horses that will pretty much jump anything."
Sorina was purchased from McClain Ward about six months ago. Originally Kelsey's sister showed her, but eventually Kelsey tried her. "We kicked butt out in Colorado!" Thatcher exclaimed. "It was an instant click from the get go. She is a really nice mare for me, and we work really well together."
The talented duo has continued to bond with one another during their time spent in Kentucky. "I really like the venue. It is a great atmosphere and there is a large turn out for competitors, I really like how competitive it is," concluded Thatcher.
The Low Junior Jumpers wrapped up the day in the Walnut Ring, where 10 of the 32 horses showed over the short course and only three went double clean. Cecily Waud and Ozalia finished with the fastest time of 35.668; however, a four-fault penalty kept them from going double clean and claiming the top honors, earning the fourth place award. It was Claudia Billups aboard Rockefeller who took the first place award finishing with a double clean round and a time of 37.070 seconds. Michael Murphy and Ultrafox took home the second place award finishing with a clear jump-off and a time of 37.782 seconds. Samantha Pyle and Andante took a more conservative approach, clearing all the fences, but finishing in 43.823 seconds, earning the third place position.
The Bluegrass Festival Horse Show will conclude tomorrow with the USHJA National Hunter Classic in the Stonelea ring. The weeklong horse show will conclude with tommorow's highlight event, the $40,000 Bluegrass Festival Grand Prix. The top horse and rider combinations will compete for the winning title, beginning at 2 p.m. in the Rolex Stadium at the Kentucky Horse Park.
For more information about the Kentucky Summer Horse Shows, please visit www.kentuckyhorseshows.com.
Photo Credit: Kaely Tomeu and Amor Van De Rostal were the only pair to execute a clean round during the High Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper class, ultimately earning the top honors. Photo By: Kendall Bierer/PMG.