Lexington, KY - The skies were clear for the first day of the Kentucky Spring Classic at the beautiful Kentucky Horse Park host of the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™. In the Main Stadium the top riders competed in the Open Jumper classes, where junior Reed Kessler vaulted to the top of the leader board with Mika in the 1.45m competition. Earlier in the day, Pablo Barrios had another top finish when he scored the first and second place ribbons in the 1.40m Open Jumper class with G & C Leroy and G & C Lepanto.
Conrad Homfeld designed today's course 1.45m course, which featured 14 jumping efforts. For the first round, riders had to show over a double combination, a triple combination and liverpool fence. Six riders advanced to the jump-off after completing a clear round. They began over an unfamiliar stone oxer before making a right turn to a single oxer. Riders then had to make an "S" as they wound their way over an oxer and a vertical, before turning to the double combination near the gate. Finally riders had to jump the liverpool and dash across the finish line as they jumped an oxer coming home.
Three riders were able to complete the jump-off with all the rails in their cups. Pablo Barrios was the first to do so aboard G & C Napoleon, owned by G & C Farm, Gustavo & Carolina Mirabal. The pair picked up a quick pace to the first fence and was able to maintain it throughout the course. They left all the fences standing and stopped the timers at 38.550 seconds, which held up for the third place honors.
When Reed Kessler entered the ring aboard Mika she was not planning to go for the win, but as they jumped through the first round with ease Kessler decided to pick up the pace. They advanced to jump-off and Kessler stepped-it-up with her talented horse. They flew over each obstacle and galloped across the finish line in an exciting 37.819 seconds to take over the lead and eventually win the class.
"Initially I thought I was going to be schooling because he was kind of fresh, but he ended-up being so good that I just let him go fast," explained Kessler. "During the jump-off, he jumped the first fence and cut really well so I decided I might as well try. He was fantastic!"
Aaron Vale was the final rider to complete a double clear effort during today's class with Ubico- H, owned by Royal Farms, LLC. The duo made an excellent attempt to catch Kessler's time, but they unfortunately lost some ground through the winding course and broke the beam at 38.259 seconds to pick up the second place prize.
Fifteen-year-old Kessler was thrilled with her victory against such a difficult group of competitors during today's class. "I am really excited," she smiled. "Pablo has won basically everything here and he was in the jump-off so I was very concerned he would be faster than me. The course was perfect because it had a lot of long galloping and Mika has a really big stride."
"Mika is amazing, he just gets better and better," Kessler continued. "He is different than my other horses because he does not need me to push him. Mika just wants me to leave him alone and let him jump up. We have kind of been making each other up as we grow together and he is only 10 years old so it is very exciting."
Kessler bought Mika two winters ago and began showing him in the 1.40m jumper classes. The pair has quickly grown together and they have begun competing at the grand prix level. Last week, Kessler had an exciting fourth place finish in the $30,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic and they will compete in that class again tomorrow.
Earlier in the day the 1.40m Open Jumper class was held in the Main Stadium with Pablo Barrios taking the top two spots. Barrios was the first rider in the ring with G & C Lepanto, owned by Gustavo & Carolina Mirabal. The class was scored under Table II.1, a time first round. The pair picked up a quick gallop to the first fence and easily cleared the bending portion of the course. They were able to continue their long stride throughout the round without accruing any faults. The duo tripped the timers at 58.528 seconds to set a difficult pace.
Barrios was still in the lead when he entered the arena aboard G & C Leroy, owned by Gustavo & Carolina Mirabal, 22 horses later. The top rider still pushed his mount and they were able to complete a clear round in an even faster time of 57.829 seconds. Their amazing effort garnered them the first place ribbon, while Barrios' earlier attempt took second place.
"This is the fourth class in a row that Leroy has won," said Barrios. "He won the 1.35m Wednesday, the 1.40m Thursday, and he won the eight-year-olds. He's very fast and he's going to be a great speed horse."
Barrios continued, "Lepanto is another speed horse, and Gustavo owned him for a long time in Venezuela before bringing him here. He's very good at this height. It's weird the way he jumps, but he's very careful and very fast."
This year Barrios will represent Venezuela during the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™, so the Kentucky Spring Horse Shows have offered an excellent opportunity to for his horses to get seasoned at the venue. "I have always had good results here, so I feel like I belong to this place in some way," he noted. "I have won some classes here and been successful so that is going to help because it is going to feel like home. We'll see what the result is, but I hope that is the feeling I'm going to have."
Tomorrow the Kentucky Spring Classic will continue with the second class in the Hagyard Challenge Series, the $30,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic. The event will be held at 6:30p.m. in the Main Stadium, and riders will have the opportunity to continue earning points towards the $50,000 Leading Rider Award.
For more information about the Kentucky Spring Horse Shows please go to www.kentuckyhorseshows.com.
Class 226, Open Jumper II sec 2b, 1.45m
1 89 MIKA REED KESSLER REED KESSLER 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 37.819
2 923 UBICO-H AARON VALE ROYAL FARMS, LLC 0 0 0 68.997 0 0 0 38.259
3 490 G & C NAPOLEON PABLO BARRIOS G & C FARM, GUSTAVO & CAROLINA MIRABAL 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 38.550
4 425 BALOUBET JUNIOR Z CHRISTINE MCCREA CANDY TRIBBLE AND WINDSOR SHOW STABLES 0 0 0 0.000 4 0 4 39.155
5 446 TRULLI JAMES BENEDETTO EQUINIMITY LLC 0 0 0 68.637 4 0 4 41.743
6 481 G & C TROPI GOLD PABLO BARRIOS G & C FARM, GUSTAVO & CAROLINA MIRABAL 0 0 0 65.299 4 6 10 51.221
7 962 VASCO V CHRISTINA KELLY DIAMOND EDGE FARM 0 1 1 71.051
8 222 LAJANA WIM JANSSEN WIM JANSSEN 4 0 4 66.195
9 78 THE REAL DEAL HENRI KOVACS RACHEL CLINE 4 0 4 66.948
10 525 LORD G CARA RAETHER TRELAWNY FARM LLC 4 0 4 66.951
11 337 UDONNA MARILYN LITTLE-MEREDITH RAYLYN FARMS, INC. 4 0 4 7.979
12 633 VALHALLA KENT FARRINGTON HAITY MCNERNEY 4 0 4 68.530
Class 225, Open Jumper II sec 1, 1.40m
1 484 G & C LEROY PABLO BARRIOS G & C FARM, GUSTAVO & CAROLINA MIRABAL 0 0 0 57.829
2 480 G & C LEPANTO PABLO BARRIOS G & C FARM, GUSTAVO & CAROLINA MIRABAL 0 0 0 58.528
3 639 GIEFHEBBERS TRANSAVIA KENT FARRINGTON HILARY MCNERNEY 0 0 0 59.453
4 426 TWISTER CHRISTINE MCCREA CANDY TRIBBLE AND WINDSOR SHOW STABLES 0 0 0 61.052
5 476 FLASH PABLO BARRIOS PABLO BARRIOS 0 0 0 64.514
6 527 HIDDEN CREEK'S LONESOME BOY MARGIE ENGLE HIDDEN CREEK FARM, INC. 0 0 0 66.203
7 968 UDIANA DONALD CHESKA CHLOE WORMSER 0 0 0 66.229
8 818 CATARO ASK MARK BLUMAN MARK BLUMAN 0 0 0 67.478
9 695 GOWRAN PARK ANDREW BOURNS ANDREW BOURNS 0 0 0 67.900
10 611 SCARFACE NORMAN DELLO JOIO TONY WEIGHT 0 0 0 69.477
11 762 RMW NEW DAY MARY SHIRLEY JON SHIRLEY & ROCKY MT. WARMBLOODS LLC 0 0 0 73.625
12 449 LET'S GO JAMES BENEDETTO EQUINIMITY LLC 0 1 1 76.508
Photo Credit: Reed Kessler and Mika took home the top prize in the 1.45m Open Jumper class at Kenucky Spring Classic. Photo By: Rebecca Walton/PMG.