Lexington, KY - The $30,000 Hagyard Classic was held tonight at the Kentucky Horse Park during the Kentucky Spring Classic, and with a 13 horse jump-off it proved to be the most exciting event thus far. Marilyn Little-Meredith raced to the top spot with Blue Curacao, beating Pablo Barrios and G & C LaGran by just tenths of a second. This event was the second competition in the Hagyard Challenge Series, which features a $50,000 Leading Rider Award.
Conrad Homfeld designed the technical course in the Main Stadium, which will host the show jumping events for the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™. The first round featured 13 numbered obstacles with a liverpool and three double combinations. A surprising 13 horse and rider combinations managed to complete the opening round without fault and advance to the short course. They began over a single oxer before making a long left turn to a single vertical and continuing to an oxer-vertical combination. Riders then had a long gallop off the right lead to an oxer before making a sharp left turn to a tall vertical. Finally, riders galloped home over a single oxer towards the gate.
Reed Kessler was the youngest rider in the class aboard Mika and the pair entered the ring aiming for the wind. As they came off of the double combination they picked up the pace and Mika lengthened his stride. The duo stopped the clock at 36.97 seconds with all the rails in their cups, which held up for the fourth place award.
Paige Johnson was next in the ring with Chiron S, owned by Salamander Farm. The twosome amped up the excitement as they tried to beat Kessler's time. Chiron S was low to the ground and stretched out as he made his away across the ring to each jump. They completed the round without fault and broke the beam at 35.00 seconds to take home the third place honors.
When Pablo Barrios entered the ring with G & C LaGran, owned by G & C Farm, Gustavo & Carolina Mirabal, the crowd was waiting to see how the incredible speed pair would perform. They did not disappoint as they easily cleared all the fences and were ahead at the split. The duo continued their blazing pace and tripped the timers at 34.51 seconds to take over the lead, but the class was not over yet.
Marilyn Little-Meredith was completely focused on the task at hand when she stepped into the arena aboard her talented, young mount Blue Curacao, owned by Mary and Paul Lober. She was careful not to watch any rounds before her so that she would not be chasing anyone's time. Meredith let Blue Curacao pick-up a fast gallop to the first fence and never let-up as they soared over each obstacle. Their speed was amazing and they dashed across the finish line in 34.35 seconds, beating Barrios by just 2/10ths of a second to the night's victory gallop.
"Blue Curacao was on fire tonight; she was really amazing and it was an absolute blast," smiled Meredith. "I did not watch anyone because I thought coming off of last Saturday would just go at the pace she seems comfortable with and be as fast as I can. She's fast, but I think if I had to do it again I could not go any faster."
Meredith was surprised by how many riders went clear during tonight's first round because she felt the course was very technical. She knew when she made it to the short course that she would have to go all out. "I just kind of lucked out," she commented. "The distances were good off the turns, things were coming up right. I just kept going with it, put all the chips on the table and it worked out.
Blue Curacao was very fresh coming into tonight's class and Meredith was worried that she made a mistake giving her a few days off. "I thought that she would be too fresh coming into a night class where there was a lot of distraction," said Meredith. "She was very serious from start to finish. The moment I got on her tonight she was really on her job and I thought she was going to go really well."
Pablo Barrios thought he had laid down a winning time with G & C LaGran, but he decided to add a stride to the final course. "LaGran felt really good," he explained. "I knew I left a little gap on the last line. I saw the same eight strides that Marilyn saw but I decided to be a little more conservative. She ended up winning because she took the risk that I did not."
Barrios and his outstanding group of horses have dominated the circuit during 2010. He joined with G & C Farm, Gustavo & Carolina Mirabal, and together they have started a very special partnership. "I know Gustavo from a long time ago, we started riding together when we were kids," he noted. "Gustavo decided to move to Wellington and started buying horses. Now we have a big organization with a lot of horses, a lot of things to do, a lot of plans."
Tonight's class was part of the Hagyard Challenge Series, which features five classes throughout the spring and summer. The final event, the $50,000 Hagyard CSI-W Lexington will be held August 20, 2010 during the Bluegrass Festival Horse Show. The rider who accumulates the most points during the Series will receive a $50,000 Leading Rider Award.
"Series that offer rider bonuses are a fantastic incentive for riders to really keep coming out and giving it a go," acknowledge Meredith. "When there is an overall incentive bonus it really keeps everybody galloping and keeps everybody running for it."
Dr. Andy Clark, DVM/MBA, and CEO of Hagyard Equine Medical Institute, was on site to watch tonight's exciting event. "I think it was an awesome class," he smiled. "We are very excited to be involved with this because it is an opportunity for us to help support an industry that is growing in our area."
The Kentucky Spring Classic will continue this week with more exciting jumper action in the Main Stadium. The highlight event will be the $55,000 Mary Rena Murphy Grand Prix, sponsored by Audi of Lexington, which will be held Saturday, May 22, at 6 p.m. The following morning the $20,000 Bluegrass Classic will get underway at 8 a.m. during the final day of competition.
For more information about the Kentucky Spring Horse Shows please visit www.kentuckyhorseshows.com.
RESULTS: Class 231, Hagyard Lexington Classic CSI2* 1.50m
1 340 BLUE CURACAO MARILYN LITTLE-MEREDITH MARY LOBER AND PAUL LOEBER 0 0 0 81.510 0 0 0 4.350
2 489 G & C LAGRAN PABLO BARRIOS G & C FARM, GUSTAVO & CAROLINA MIRABAL 0 0 0 79.920 0 0 0 34.510
3 444 CHIRON S PAIGE JOHNSON SALAMANDER FARM 0 0 0 82.590 0 0 0 35.000
4 89 MIKA REED KESSLER REED KESSLER 0 0 0 82.600 0 0 0 36.970
5 609 NOTRE STAR NORMAN DELLO JOIO LA NUTRIA 0 0 0 81.870 0 0 0 38.330
6 623 SKARA GLEN'S DAVOS CANDICE KING SKARA GLEN STABLES 0 0 0 83.510 0 0 0 46.060
7 943 PAVAROTTI TODD MINIKUS TODD MINIKUS, LTD 0 0 0 84.500 4 0 4 36.820
8 593 CHAPEAU Z DEBBIE STEPHENS DEBBIE STEPHENS & STEVE STEPHENS 0 0 0 83.790 4 0 4 38.830
9 436 MADISON ALEXA PESSOA ALEXA PESSOA 0 0 0 81.650 4 0 4 38.910
10 425 BALOUBET JUNIOR Z CHRISTINE MCCREA CANDY TRIBBLE AND WINDSOR SHOW STABLES 0 0 0 81.540 4 0 4 40.360
11 633 VALHALLA KENT FARRINGTON HAITY MCNERNEY 0 0 0 81.890 8 0 8 35.030
12 267 GRAF LANDO ROBERT KRAUT MEGHAN MORAN KRAUT 0 0 0 82.820 8 0 8 40.190
Photo Credit: Marilyn Little-Meredith galloped to victory in the $30,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic at the Kentucky Spring Classic. Photo By: Rebecca Walton/PMG.