Lexington, KY - Another incredible crowd turned out at the new Indoor Ring tonight, this time to watch riders compete for the top prize during the $50,000 CSI-W Hagyard Lexington Classic at the Bluegrass Festival Horse Show. It proved to be an interesting night when the first four riders all completed clear rounds to start, but as the class progressed no other combinations were able to duplicate the effort and join the jump-off.
Lauren Crooks and Cincinnati La Silla led the victory gallop after they laid down the fastest clear effort over the short course, continuing their winning streak after taking the top prize in the $25,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic during the Kentucky Summer Classic.
Tonight's long and winding course was designed by Richard Jeffery. The first round course featured 16 jumping efforts and included a vertical-oxer-vertical triple combination, an oxer-vertical double combination, and a number of tall, single verticals. At first it looked as though the course was too simple when the first four riders to take to the track all posted clear efforts, but as the evening continued, the rails began to come down and no one else was able to advance to the short course.
The jump-off round began over a single oxer followed by a bending line to a single vertical. Riders then made a left turn to another wide oxer before jumping through the oxer-vertical double combination. Finally, the competitors made an inside turn and galloped to a tall vertical just before the finish line.
Michelle Spadone and Melisimo, owned by Morgan Hill Partners, were the first in the ring to show over the opening course, and with a fault free effort, she led the way back for the jump-off. As Spadone picked up a gallop to the first obstacle in the jump-off, Melisimo had a slight misstep, but that did not seem to hinder them as the duo easily made their way over each fence. It looked as though they were going to mimic their first round with a clear effort, but an unfortunate rub at the last vertical caused the rail to fall. Spadone's four-fault score in a time of 35.12 second held up for the third place prize.
The new partnership of Kent Farrington and Top Gun, owned by Iron Horse Farm, was next to tackle the short course. The pair was not as lucky during their second attempt however, incurring faults at both the third and fourth obstacles. They galloped through the timers in 35.43 seconds, and with eight faults, taking home tonight's fourth place honors.
Margie Engle and Indigo, owned by Shay Griese and Gladewinds Farm, stepped into the arena next and at that point, all they needed to do was leave all the fences standing to take over the lead. That is exactly what the incredible duo was able to do, leaping over each obstacle with an efficient track. Indigo broke the beam at 36.83 seconds, but Engle's beautiful fault-free effort would not hold the top spot for long, as they ended up taking home tonight's second place ribbon.
"No one had gone clear so I thought I would just ride medium and try and put the pressure on Lauren," commented Engle. "I didn't want to pull a rail down so she could just go around easily. It's never a shame to lose to a nice horse like Lauren's though."
Lauren Crooks and Cincinnati La Silla, owned by Glen Youell, were the final horse rider combination in the ring. After winning the $25,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic just two weeks ago, the pair knew exactly how to ride the course in the Indoor Arena. Crooks picked up a quick canter and easily made her way over the first fence, the move allowing them to leave a stride out before the second obstacle. Cincinnati La Silla stretched out her stride and as they left each rail in its cups, the duo was able to cross the finish line in 34.08 seconds, almost three seconds faster than Engle, to win tonight's class.
"This mare is amazing, I just can't say enough about her," smiled Crooks after the victory gallop. "She's so fun to ride and she gives me to much confidence, it's great! During their first round there were a lot of tall verticals so I really had to think about being patient and trusting her, but we have a good relationship and it worked out very nicely."
Crooks added, "During the jump-off I knew I had to go clear and Margie is very fast. You have to compete to beat her. I just went in, I tried not to think about that, and I rode the best track and plan I could and I ended up having a faster time. With all my turns the distance to the jump just came right up and we stayed very forward."
This is the second grand prix victory in a row for Crooks at the Kentucky Summer Horse Shows, and she also placed second during last week's $60,000 Grand Prix at Trader's Point in Indianapolis. "It's a great thing for the new business with my brother, Sean," she explained. "Once you're on a roll you're on it, so we'll see where it goes from here."
Tonight's event was a World Cup Qualifier, and now Crooks will be in the running to represent the United States at the 2011 FEI World Cup Finals in Leipzig, Germany. "This mare is very young, she's only nine years old, and she's a new ride for me, but she is at another level indoors," said Crooks. "I think she could certainly be a World Cup horse, we'll see how the future plays out."
In addition to being a World Cup Qualifier, tonight's class was the final event in the Hagyard Challenge Series, which features five grand classes throughout the spring and summer. During the Series, riders compete for points towards the $50,000 Leading Rider Award.
After the prize giving ceremony it was announced that Pablo Barrios of Venezuela was this year's winner. Barrios is currently competing in Royan, France, but during the Kentucky Spring Horse Shows he completed a one-two finish in the first $30,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic and earned a second place ribbon in the second $30,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic. Those early season totals for Barrios were enough to seal the victory for the 2010 season.
Crooks commented, "The Hagyard Challenge Series is really great thing. If I had the rider on this mare earlier in the year it is something I definitely would have gone for, it is a great goal for riders."
Equestrian Life provided a live, free webcast of tonight's grand prix. If you missed it tonight you can visit their website anytime to see the class in its entirety at www.equestrianlife.com/bluegrass.
Tomorrow, the exciting line-up of events will continue at the Bluegrass Festival Horse Show. The Final Round of the $100,000 Chronicle of the Horse/USHJA International Hunter Derby Finals will get underway at 6p.m. in the Indoor Ring. On Sunday, competition will come to a close after riders compete in the $30,000 Bluegrass Festival Grand Prix.
For more information about the Kentucky Summer Horse Shows please visit www.KentuckyHorseShows.com.
$50,000 HAGYARD LEXINGTON WORLD CUP QUALIFIER CSI-W
1 565 CINCINATTI LA SILLA LAUREN CROOKS GLEN YOUELL 0 0 0 85.330 0 0 0 34.080
2 769 INDIGO MARGIE ENGLE SHAY GRIESE AND GLADEWINDS FARM 0 0 0 86.960 0 0 0 36.830
3 406 MELISIMO MICHELLE SPADONE MORGAN HILL PARTNERS 0 0 0 88.620 4 0 4 35.120
4 888 TOP GUN KENT FARRINGTON IRON HORSE FARM 0 0 0 82.300 8 0 8 35.430
5 464 LORD SPEZI MARGIE ENGLE ASHLAND FARMS & STADIUM SPORT HORSES 4 0 4 83.230
6 314 APRIL PETER LUTZ COPERNICUS STABLES LLC 4 0 4 84.470
7 374 COMTESS III CARA RAETHER TRELAWNY FARM, LLC 4 0 4 87.870
8 180 FIEDI 3 GEORGINA BLOOMBERG GOTHAM ENTERPRIZES 8 0 8 84.930
9 483 CLEU DEBBIE STEPHENS CENTENNIAL FARM 8 0 8 88.430
10 847 TRAFFIC BOY SHANE SWEETNAM SWEET OAK FARM 8 0 8 90.000
11 272 ATHENA CHARLIE JAYNE THE LONDON GROUP 12 0 12 80.300
12 842 ZAMIRO 16 SHANE SWEETNAM SPY COAST FARM LLC 12 0 12 85.850
Photo Credit: Lauren Crooks and Cincinatti La Silla took top honors in the $50,000 CSI-W Hagyard Lexington Classic at the Bluegrass Festival Horse Show. Photo By: Whitney Campbell/PMG.