Lexington, KY - August 1, 2014 - Vindoctro was bought as a sales horse, but last month Megan Bifano decided to give the former big equitation veteran a spin in the Ariat Adult Medal. Now it looks like he may be sticking around. The duo won the class their first time out, and they came back to do the same again today during the Kentucky Summer Classic.
Following the first round of the Ariat Adult Medal this afternoon in the Stonelea Ring at the Kentucky Horse Park, Bifano and Vindoctoro, owned by Kira Zelman, sat at the top of the class with a score of 81. That top spot made them one of five pairs to be called back for additional testing, and they maintained their lead position with a flawlessly executed test.
The top five riders, Sydney Crenshaw, Anna Moersdorf, Leylan Gleeson, Brooke Bailey and Bifano, were asked to line up in the ring and canter directly to fence 6b, an oxer set as the out of a two stride combination across the diagonal in the first round. From there, riders were to go around the turn at the far end of the ring, trot the first fence of an outside line, canter down the line to the final oxer and halt facing the rail before returning to line.
Riders returned in reverse order of their standings to perform the test, and for the most part those standings would uphold through the testing. Only Gleeson saw a rail at the final oxer and her ranking fall, moving her from third to fifth. Bifano and Vindoctro remained firmly on top while Bailey and her mount All Rise finished in a close second.
"I was kind of nervous that they started with the out of the two stride, especially because Vindoctro's a little bit harder for me off the right lead," Bifano said. "I was trying to think of how to get there on the left lead, and there really wasn't a good way. I was a little nervous about that, but he's really easy about trotting jumps so I wasn't worried about that. As long as I jumped the first jump and was good there, everything else was going to be okay. I had seen everybody else struggle a little bit so I knew I just needed to be smooth to win."
Bifano and Vindoctro picked up the right lead and never faltered, giving them their second Ariat Adult Medal victory at the Kentucky Horse Park.
Bifano, a junior majoring in marketing at Auburn University, heads back to school already next Monday, but she has her sights set on qualifying for the Ariat Adult National Medal Finals at the Capital Challenge Horse Show in late September. While she is at school, Bifano will ride for Auburn's National College Equestrian Assocation (NCEA) team, and Vindoctro will compete in the Junior 3'3" Hunters with Madison Arani.
"Even though we got him as a sales horse, I think Madison is going to start showing him while I'm at school, and they're letting me finish up doing the Ariat with him. It works out perfectly," Bifano said.
Prior to Bifano's victory this afternoon, it was Ally Marrinan's turn in the winners' circle. Marrinan made the trip to the Kentucky Horse Park all the way from Rhode Island, but it has proved well worth the trip. Marrinan and her mount Kobo claimed the victory in the THIS Children's Medal last weekend during the Kentucky Summer Horse Show, and they came back to earn the win again today during the Kentucky Summer Classic.
Marrinan began leasing Kobo this winter and has been successful in the equitation since, under the direction of trainer Jennifer Hannan of Ocean Echo Farm.
"I've been riding with her for three years," Marrinan said. "At home we work a lot on perfecting my position, inside turns, bending lines and stuff like that, and Kobo's been great."
Marrinan heads next to the Fieldstone Show Park, but the Kentucky Horse Park will always be one of her favorite horse show destinations. "It's beautiful here. I love it," Marrinan said. "It's easily my favorite show."
The hunter competition continues tomorrow with this week's highlight event, the $5,000 Hallway Feeds USHJA National Hunter Derby, kicking off tomorrow afternoon.
To learn more about the Kentucky Summer Horse Shows please visit www.kentuckyhorseshows.com.