Lexington, KY - This summer marks Hailey Berger's first time competing at the Kentucky Horse Park, but after the two weeks that she had, she cannot wait to come back. On Sunday, the 15-year-old from Parkland, Florida closed out her enjoyable and extremely successful time at the Kentucky Summer Horse Shows by earning the win in the $1,500 NAL/WIHS Children's Jumper Classic.
"This is my new favorite show, definitely. I love it here," Berger said. "I just love the scenery. Going out to the field was definitely the best thing. It was amazing. The rings are great; the people are great. This is a true show, and that's what I love about it. Everyone's so supportive." While the Kentucky Summer Horse Shows quickly won Berger over, besting a field of 55 entries to win the Children's Jumper Classic could not have hurt her experience either. She and her own Shannondale Gino were one of 29 combinations to go clear over the Florencio Hernandez-designed course in the Rolex Stadium.
After completing the course without fault, riders had the option to return immediately for the short course or save their jump-off effort for after the conclusion of all riders' first rounds. Berger, and the vast majority of the clear riders, elected to return immediately, and she and Shannondale Gino delivered once again. This time they finished clear on a time of 32.032 seconds, which would hold through to the end as the fastest double clear.
With many in hot pursuit of tripping the jump-off timers in the fastest time, only eight of the 29 first round clear riders were able to also go clear in the second round. Of them, Avery Hinson and Vaillant came the closest to besting Berger's time, finishing on 32.939 seconds. Rounding out the top three was young rider Taje Warrick with her mount Drommels; the pair finished on 33.573 seconds. "Everything went pretty smoothly today, except coming at the last, I came at it a little crooked," Berger said. "I said 'oh Gino, come on. We can do this. We're at the last jump!' He jumped it fantastic! We landed, and I looked up and saw that we had a great time. It was a great ride. He was fantastic."
Berger, who trains with David Blake and Declan McGarry at Pine Hollow Farm, acquired Shannondale Gino at the beginning of the 2015 Winter Equestrian Festival season, and, while she says that they did not necessarily mesh instantly, they are now a strong combination. "We're really clicking now to the point where if I mess up he'll save me. He's fantastic," Berger said. "He's a jokester for sure. He's the sweetest horse ever though. He'll be on the crossties, and you can just cuddle on him, and he'll love on you. He's definitely spoiled too. My mom and I will walk up to him, and he'll nicker and run at us for treats."
Following the $1,500 NAL/WIHS Children's Jumper Classic on Sunday morning, it was the Adult Jumpers turn in the Rolex Stadium for the $2,500 NAL/WIHS Adult Jumper Classic. From a field of 36 entries, it came down to Sweet Oak Farm barn mates Logan Marksbury and Lindsey Tomeu for the top two spots. Normally if she goes clear, she wins," Marksbury joked of Tomeu. The two went back-to-back, and while Tomeu and her mount, Bonapart, did go clear, it was Marksbury's turn for the victory. She and her own Evano S took a slick inside turn to edge out Tomeu's time of 33.406 seconds, finishing on 32.972 seconds. Both girls' times would hold through to the end of the class to give Sweet Oak Farm the one-two finish.
"My horse was really good to me today. It wasn't the smoothest course for me. It was kind of a hard course with a lot of tight lines, which are hard for me because I have such a big-strided horse, but he was great," Marksbury said. After showing exclusively hunters, Marksbury just started doing the jumpers a year ago, but she is enjoying every minute of it with Evano S. "I had done hunters before that. I love it. I have one hunter, and after him I'm probably just going to do the jumpers," Marksbury concluded.
Sunday marked the conclusion of the Kentucky Summer Classic, but summer horse shows at the Kentucky Horse Park resume on Tuesday with the 2015 United States Equestrian Federation Pony Finals.
Class : 610 NAL/WIHS CHILD JPR CLASSIC II sec 2a/b Results
Place Horse Rider
1. SHANNONDALE GINO HAILEY BERGER
2. VAILLANT AVERY P HINSON
3. DROMMELS TAJE WARRICK
4. PALM JASMINE TOORCHEN
5. PISTOL MADELINE DEROSE
6. COCO CILLA EMMA KURTZ
7. POWER PLAY KURSTIN GRADY
8. SAPHIR DU BOIS NATALIA GIERBOLINI
Class : 611 NAL/WIHS ADULT JPR CLASSIC II sec 2a/b 1.10m Results
Place Horse Rider
1. EVANO S LOGAN MARKSBURY
2. BONAPART LINDSEY TOMEU
3. SINCERELY YOURS MOLLIE KOWALCHIK
4. CASANOVA W SARAH FISHER
5. ODETTE KIMBERLY LYNCH
6. FERRA-GAMMON MALLORY PFIESTER
7. COL DE KNOLTON MELISSA WELKER
8. JACCO Z SARAH GILL CAMPBELL
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