Lexington, KY - August 6, 2011 - There was a huge crowd gathered at the Rolex Stadium tonight to witness the $50,000 Rood and Riddle Grand Prix during the Kentucky Summer Classic. The event was held in conjunction with the Kentucky Horse Park's "Hats Off Day," and the audience had the opportunity to witness a very exciting grand prix event. Michael Morrissey and Vorst topped the eight-horse jump-off with a very fast double clear effort, and Morrissey took home the winning prize for the second year in a row. The duo surpassed Ashlee Bond and Chivas Z who took home second, while Rebecca Conway showed Twister to the third place honors as the only other fault free horses over the short course.
Leopoldo Palacios of Venezuela designed a demanding first round track for tonight's 20 competitors, which featured a liverpool, an open water with a pole, a vertical-oxer double combination, and a large triple bar-vertical-vertical triple combination. Eight horse and rider combinations were able to advance to the tiebreaker for a shot at the winning title. The jump-off began with a single vertical followed by a wide oxer to the vertical-vertical portion of the triple combination. Riders then made a left turn to an oxer-oxer line before galloping across the ring and past the gate to the final vertical.
Ashlee Bond was the first to make an attempt over the shortened course and she set the time to beat aboard Chivas Z, owned by Little Valley Farms of Hidden Hills, CA. The duo was very speedy to each obstacle and took a sharp route to the final vertical, cutting through the double combination. Their efforts paid off with a fault free score in 37.583 second, which would eventually net them the second place honors.
"Chivas Z was so good; I am so happy because he has become such a consistent horse and so reliable," said Bond. "I think especially going first you have to go for it, but you can't do crazy things because you want to go clear and put the pressure on the rest of the field. Sometimes if you leave a little gap it can happen that you get beat, which I did tonight with the pull up to the last jump, but I wanted to be clear. I was really happy and there is nothing I would change. My horse is performing the best he has ever been!"
Rebecca Conway and Twister, owned by Blue Hill Farm of Salt Lake City, UT, were next in the ring, but after Bond set such a quick time, Conway chose to be conservative with her young mount. They had a slight bobble at the second obstacle, but managed to leave all the rails in tact. The pair stopped the clock at 43.805 seconds to score the third place award.
Samuel Parot of Wellington, FL, tackled the track next riding Al Calypso, but their turn to the vertical-vertical combination was too sharp and the lowered the height of the first fence to incur four faults in 40.767 seconds for seventh. Derek Braun and Lacarolus, owned by the MRN Family Group of Great Neck, NY, placed sixth after swapping leads in front of the liverpool oxer and adding four faults to their time of 40.459 seconds.
Last week's winning duo, Christian Heineking and River of Dreams, owned by Kai Handt of Wylie, TX, managed to post the fastest time of the night after breaking the beam at 35.921 seconds, but they met the final vertical on a half-stride to add four faults to their score and place fourth overall. Angela Moore and Claus, owned by Stealaway Farms of Wellington, FL incurred four faults at the same obstacle, finishing in a time of 48.428 seconds for the fifth place title. Erin Davis and Alamo, owned by October Hill Farm of Hudson Oaks, TX, had the slowest of the four fault rounds after the horse hit the first portion of the final oxer and tripped the timers at 42.380 seconds.
Michael Morrissey knew that he had a quick mount under him when entered the jump-off aboard Vorst, owned by Mrs. E.H. Redman of Paris, KY, and the talented rider had all the tools under his belt to win after claiming the victory in the same event last year aboard Crelido. The duo picked up a very quick pace to the first fence and was able to hold it to the wide oxer that was next. They then managed to open up their stride down the oxer-oxer line to leave a stride out. To the final bogey fence, Morrissey opted to keep a smooth turn and go around the double combination. His choice proved to be successful as they blazed across the finish line in 37.121 seconds, just four-tenths ahead of Bond, and eventually lead the victory gallop.
"I was confident because even though Vorst is a relatively new horse he has improved quickly, and he feels pretty amazing right now," smiled Morrissey. "I had high expectations, but I haven't really used him at this level yet, so I am really proud of him."
Morrissey continued, "The path through the combination to the final fence seemed way too 'zig-zaggy' for me. I was trying to go as smooth as I could; I was more focused on being smooth and fast rather than being a little gimmicky. I was pretty fast from one to two and then over that double. I was allowed to do six down the double where as some horses did seven, because he's such a little horse with such a huge stride. I just tried to be smooth and fast enough so that it would work out."
Earlier in the week, Morrissey won an Open Jumper class aboard Vorst, and the duo has only been paired together since May. "Last week was the first time I had jumped him higher than 1.35m. Before I got him he was being ridden in Amateur-Owner Jumpers, but we are planning to keep going and ride it while it's hot."
Morrissey enjoys showing at the Kentucky Horse Park and has a barn based in Lexington during the summers. He commented, "The show is great, the footing is great, and my horses all love this Rolex Stadium, so we will definitely be coming back. Next week we are going to Traders Point, which is also a great horse show because it's out on the grass. We should have a lot of fun there."
Tonight's exciting grand prix competition was held in conjunction with the Kentucky Horse Park's "Hats Off Day," which is a salute to the horse industry in Kentucky. Admission to the Park was free today and wonderful crowd turned out to see the world's top equestrians compete at the highest level.
"This is my favorite week," noted Morrissey. "I have to say, I have won it two years in a row and I wish we could get crowds like this for all grand prix events, it really ups everything. It makes it more exciting and it makes the riders get little butterflies in their stomachs. There must have been a few thousand people here tonight!"
The Kentucky Summer Classic will come to a close tomorrow at the Kentucky Horse Park. Junior and Amateur-Owner Jumpers will compete once again, this time for the top prize in the High and Low Classics. Next week the Kentucky Horse Park will host the 2011 USEF Pony Finals, and the followed by the Bluegrass Festival Horse Show and the KHJA Horse Show.
For more information about the Kentucky Summer Horse Shows please visit www.KentuckyHorseShows.com.
RESULTS: $50,000 Rood & Riddle Grand Prix
1 1360 VORST MICHAEL MORRISSEY 0 0 0 86.619 0 0 0 37.121
2 34 CHIVAS Z ASHLEE BOND 0 0 0 85.152 0 0 0 37.583
3 102 TWISTER REBECCA CONWAY 0 0 0 89.914 0 0 0 43.805
4 229 RIVER OF DREAMS CHRISTIAN HEINEKING 0 0 0 89.594 4 0 4 35.921
5 928 CLAUS ANGELA MOORE 0 0 0 90.536 4 0 4 38.428
6 29 LACAROLUS DEREK BRAUN 0 0 0 92.169 4 0 4 40.459
7 967 AL CALYPSO SAMUEL PAROT 0 0 0 84.695 4 0 4 40.767
8 156 ALAMO ERIN DAVIS 0 0 0 92.496 4 0 4 42.380
9 1182 JAMES T KIRK ANGEL KAROLYI 0 3 3 95.093
10 1235 COCO 135 LAUREN TISBO 4 0 4 86.091
11 615 LA CENTA LAUREN TISBO 4 0 4 87.517
12 1412 SEQUOYAH FARMS UTOPIA CHRISTOPH SCHROEDER 4 0 4 89.457
Photo Credit: Michael Morrissey and Vorst won the $50,000 Rood & Riddle Grand Prix at the Kentucky Summer Classic. Photo By: Kenneth Kraus/PhelpsSports.com.