Lexington, KY - August 18, 2012 - It was a clear, crisp morning at the Kentucky Horse Park for the fourth day of the Bluegrass Festival Horse Show. A select group of talented riders looked on to the High Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper course at the Rolex Stadium with anticipation in hopes of posting the best-marked time.
Taking home the division's blue ribbon, Meagan Nusz outclassed other top riders with Vesuvius, riding to one of only two double-clear efforts. Placing the lead score until bested by Nusz was Alexandra Duval aboard Cipriani Z, who expertly navigated a faultless short course and received second place in the class.
The course, designed by Allen Rheinheimer, featured elements from yesterday's Hunter Derby at the Rolex Stadium, to provide accents for the High Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper class today. The course used several natural colored hunt jumps, sponsor fences and an option fence offering the liverpool to the left and an oxer to the right. The obstacles of the short course included a vertical-oxer-liverpool triple combination, stonewall pillar oxers, and a vertical-vertical-oxer triple combination. For the jump-off, riders began with a single oxer taking a hard left loop to the Sleepy P Ranch oxer, they then completed a right turn to a natural looking vertical and long line to natural oxer. The rider then rode a line to the right over the vertical-liverpool combination, taking a left to finish over a brick pillar oxer to break the beam within the allotted time of 47 seconds.
"He is an incredible course designer," Nusz revealed. "You really have to ride and think. He put lines in there that make your horse have to think, and you have to ride it correctly. Our jumpers aren't really used to some of the decorations that we're out here from the derby. When you do it, and you do it correctly, you feel like you have accomplished something. When there are three clean you feel good. You did your homework and it paid off."
Seventeen horse and rider combinations attempted the first round jump course; however only three pairs rode faultless and moved immediately to the challenge of the jump-off course. Meagan Nusz of The Woodlands, TX, aboard Vesuvius her second horse entry, conquered the first course with a qualifying time of 68.773. Last in the order of go, the pair again cleared the course, besting previous leader Duval and Ciprani Z's time, tripping the short course timers at 38.077 seconds. Nusz and Vesuvius's fierce finish earned them a first place victory in the division.
Vesuvius is Nusz's select amateur horse, creating a legacy for himself by placing well in the amateur classes this year. "He is naturally a spooky horse. I have to have a specific plan with him. I was a little worried with him and how much there was to look at out there with the brush, carriages, and the barrels. I wasn't really sure how he was going to handle it. He was fabulous though. He was fantastic. I have so much fun riding a horse like that-every time he goes in the ring he wants to win. It is such an honor for a rider to have a partner like that. Some horses we make them do their jobs, Vesuvius wants to win and do a good job," Nusz remarked.
The first horse and rider team to take on the short course, Alexandra Duval of Huntington, NY, and Cipriani Z qualified with a clear first round and time of 72.906. In the jump-off, Duval piloted Cipriani Z's strides to a competitive time of 41.966, also leaving the course free of dropped poles. Their lead was later taken, securing the pair the honor of second place.
"It felt really good to be the first rider to go clear and do the same in the jump-off," Duval shared as she brought her horse into the paddock. "I know him like the back of my hand, and how he responses out there. I just keep him focused and he takes his energy to it. Andrew Welles has worked with him and has really helped me out a lot. He has come a long way."
From the tenth position in order of go, Rogelio Pellerano Heinsen of Miami, FL, and Precieuse Platiere clocked 69.304 seconds in the first round, advancing them to the jump-off round. With a swift time of 39.041, the fastest efforts up to that point, the duo found eight-faults. Heinsen and Precieuse Platiere were awarded the third place honors in the division.
Other esteemed riders, placing in fourth, Meagan Nusz and her first entry, Banana D'Ive Z, took four faults and a time of 67.584 while Daniela Stransky and mount Anemone's Vicky of Wellington, FL, incurred four fractions and a first round time of 68.216, giving them the fifth place. With a time of 69.507 and four faults, Shawn Casady and Gucci of Cavallo Farms LLC, San Diego, CA, proved good enough for sixth place in the division's ranks today.
Earlier in the morning, the Seven and Eight Year Old Jumper Qualifier took center stage in the Rolex Stadium. It was Kristen Vanderveen and Bull Run's Joyous who took control of Rheinheimer's course, riding to the first place finish with one of only two double-clear efforts. She was able to leave all the rails in their cups in a time of 38.947 seconds. Bhaskar Dasgupta rode Zinesse to the second place finish in 47.501 seconds, using a more conservative approach to collect the red ribbon. Shawn Casady showed Aberdeen 13 to the third place finish in 40.508 seconds, proving the fastest four-faulter of the competition, while Rebecca Conway and Adare rounded out the top four with a four fault effort in 44.173 seconds.
The Bluegrass Festival Horse Show will conclude tomorrow with the $5,000 Hallway Feeds National Hunter Derby at the Stonelea Arena, as well as bring top notch competitors to the 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: Meagan Nusz outclassed other top riders with Vesuvius, riding to one of only two double-clear efforts in the High Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper division at the Bluegrass Festival Horse Show. Photo By: Ashley N. Williams/PMG.