Littlestown, PA - May 14, 2015 - Kirk Webby and Brando Du Rouet racked up top ribbons throughout the winter at HITS Ocala, and now the talented combination is continuing their winning ways in the North East. The pair kicked off their spring show season with a victory in the $7,500 Blue Rock Classic Welcome Stake on Thursday evening at Swan Lake Stables.
From the field of 23 starters, Webby and Brando Du Rouet were one of eight combinations to advance to the jump-off round. As the very first rider in the ring, Seth Vallhonrat was the first to advance, setting the jump-off time to beat right out of the gate. He elected to complete his jump off round immediately following his first round, and he and his own Cuesta Mucho set the standard for the rest of the class with a clear jump-off time of 39.128 seconds. At the end of the night, that time would be good enough to secure Vallhonrat the fifth place finish.
Just two trips after Vallhonrat, Mary Lisa Leffler and Carlot, owned by Rolling Acres, toppled the top time, going double clear and crossing the jump-off timers in 36.171 seconds, a time that only Webby would later be able to best.
"In the jump off I thought he was great," Leffler said of the partner she has had for four years. "He is such a ham in the barn, but he is so feisty out there. I have to be careful because he will find something to spook at. You really have to be on him."
Immediately following Leffler, Webby gave the course his first go aboard Cellisto, owned by Vallhonrat. Webby turned in his first of two double clear performances as he and Cellisto slid into the eventual fourth place spot with a time of 37.704 seconds.
Also breaking into the top five were Hugo Huesca and Sati De La Violle who clinched an impressive third place finish with a double clear effort in a time of 37.251 seconds.
It was Webby and his second mount, Brando Du Rouet, however that blew the other jump-off times out of the water, clinching the victory by nearly two seconds, finishing in 34.573 seconds.
"He's naturally quick so I didn't have to go crazy in the jump-off," Webby said of the 11-year-old Oldenburg gelding. "It was a pretty nice course really, compared to what he'd been jumping a bit in the winter it was just nice for him to get back into it here."
Webby continued, "I got this horse at the start of Florida, and it's already had some nice results. We're just firing up for the summer now. We're just having a nice jump around here before we go to Devon. Then hopefully he'll head to Upperville and then Lake Placid."
Webby is based out of Tolleshunt in Whitehouse, New Jersey, and this is his second time competing at Swan Lake Horse Shows. It's beautiful weather, and it's very nice here," Webby said. "They've made the ring a bit bigger which is great, and the footing's great."
Jumper competition in the main grand prix ring continues Friday beginning at 9 a.m. and concluding for the day with the $5,000 Speed Derby.
Melissa Feller Tops Impressive Field of Performance Working Hunters
For Melissa Feller and 9-year-old Brandenburg gelding Serafino, competing in the Blue Rock Classic at Swan Lake was a first, but after her overwhelmingly positive experience, Fellers plans to return for years to come.
The pair came together to top an impressive field of 3'3"/3'6" Performance Hunters and to take home the champion title in the division. Feller can credit her success at the Blue Rock Classic to her long partnership with the gelding and the quality of the event.
"This is my first time here, and we absolutely love it," Feller said. "The rings are great, and the course rode really nicely. I also have two second year horses competing. I have been really happy with the experience, and definitely think that we will be coming back. Serafino and I will do the derby tomorrow; I think it should go well."
Feller and Serafino, owned by Elisabeth McFadden, were victorious in two of the division's over fences classes and finished second in the handy round. Giving the top combination a run for their money were Heather Ann Cahill and "horse of a lifetime," Hullabaloo, who took the first place spot in the handy round and the reserve championship in the division.
"Hullabaloo is just a rock star," Cahill said. "You never have to worry about anything when you're on him. It's like he is on auto pilot, and you just try to stay out of the horse's way. You don't do anything and you don't help him. He just does everything on his own."
She continued, "He really just is the horse of a lifetime. The scarier the jump, the better he jumps it. This horse will jump over fire, and he has a heart of gold. It is like riding a cloud."
Cahill believes Hullabaloo's rideability and barn personality make him impossible to not fall in love with. "His favorite thing to do is eat Doritos with our barn manager Colleen O'Keefe," Cahill said. "He can eat an entire bag of Doritos a day. He is so funny."
Cahill has had the ride on Hullabaloo for owner Elizabeth Kalaris for nearly six years, riding him in the professional hunter divisions while Kalaris competes him in the amateur-owner hunters.
With her trusty mount by her side, Cahill has been thrilled with her experiences at the Blue Rock Classic so far is looking forward to the rest of the week.
"It's a really lovely horse show and the footing is great and it is great to be here," Cahill said. "It's a nice and relaxed atmosphere and they really do what they can to get it right."
Also earning championships on Thursday morning were Ken Krome and Louna Primm's Camille and Mary Lisa Leffler and Cartagena BD, owned by Dana Davies. Krome and Camille clinched the top honors in the Conformation Hunters, while Leffler and Cartagena BD were named the Green Hunter grand champions.
The Blue Rock Classic offers the full-range of hunter divisions and highlight classes including Friday's $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby. All exhibitors are invited to come watch the derby and enjoy a free western-themed barbecue dinner, beginning at 4 p.m.
Exhibitors and spectators can also enjoy Swan Lake Horse Show's generous hospitality during Saturday night's cocktail party. The cocktail party kicks off at 5 p.m. and runs ringside at the grand prix ring in conjunction with Saturday night's $25,000 Blue Rock Classic Grand Prix.
Find more about the Blue Rock Classic online at www.swanlakehorseshows.com.
Blue Rock Classic Horse Shows Fast Facts
Swan Lake Stables
381 Flatbush Rd
Littlestown, PA 17340
When: May 13 - 17, 2015
$25,000 Blue Rock Classic Grand Prix
$5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby
$1,500 Pre-Green Incentive Stake Class
$7,500 Rock Welcome Stake
$5,000 SJHOF High Junior/Amateur Jumper Classic
$3,500 Adult Jumper NAL/WIHS/M&S Classic
$2,500 Children's Jumper NAL/WIHS/M&S Classic