Lexington, KY - On a clear and cool Fall morning, the action in The Rock Jumping Field kicked off with the $7,500 UltrOZ™ Low Junior-Amateur/Owner Final, followed by the $7,500 Brook Ledge Horse Transportation High Junior/Amateur Final. Later, the afternoon show jumping commenced with the $15,000 El Milagro U25 Cup at noon, then the $100,000 CSI3* Grand Prix, presented by Split Rock Farm, rounded out the inaugural Bourbon International CSI3* on the Split Rock Jumping Tour.
Charlise Casas Takes Charge
Thirty-three horse and rider combinations opened the Sunday events, with 13 riding clean in the first round of the $7,500 UltrOZ™ Low Junior-Amateur/Owner Final. Three riders had two in the jump-off, including Charlise Casas, Kady Abrahamson and Alexandra Duval. Casas rode quite a tight track on her first mount, Alaika (owned by WH Ventures), setting the time to beat at 35.96. Truly competitive until the final horse, several tried to catch Casas. In one attempt, Natalie Horween and Balou Countess (Ellen Horween, owner) came close, clean in 36.45, just over half of a second off. Kady Abrahamson aboard Basco H2 (owned by Abrahamson Equestrian, LLC) gave it a go, leaving a stride out in the first line, giving her that advantage she referred to with her win yesterday; however, with one rail down later on in the jump-off, her time of 35.74 made her the fastest four-faulter.
When Casas entered the ring on her second horse, Zilverling (owned by Always Faithful Equine, LLC), she rode similarly tidy turns and had a good gallop to the final fence. She actually bested her leading time of 35.965 by .002 seconds in 36.963, but a rail at the final obstacle meant Alaika stayed in the top spot. Abrahamson and Icebreaker were also fault-free and fast, but with a time of 36.60, picked up the third place ribbon behind Horween and Casas.
Casas said she rode the same plan on both her mounts, but had one minor mistake. "The horses are a little bit different. Alaika is really naturally fast - she really likes the jump-offs, but she can be tougher in the turns. Zilver is easier to turn, but her step is a touch smaller and thinking about that, I rode up the last line a little too much and had the last jump down." Casas and Abrahamson were the winners in the 1.20m classes this weekend, and Norween earned a respectable second in both classes.
Vanessa Mannix Makes Her Mark
In her first visit to Kentucky, Canadian Vanessa Mannix celebrates a victory in the $7,500 Brook Ledge Horse Transportation High Junior-Amateur/Owner class. With four out of 17 clean, and three double clean, Mannix and Carolien VH Scheefkasteel set the pace as first to go in 40.02. Rachel Reid rode Huckleberry double clean as well, still shy of Mannix, stopping the clock in 42.01 to earn second place. Tara Corr and Boy Blue, the class winners in May, rode a smooth track, also double clean in 44.29, picking up third in today's class.
Mannix explained her strategy. "Sometimes going first can be a disadvantage. So I was just really clear with my plan. I just wanted to be sure that I got a good turn after the first jump, and I wanted to do seven down the last line. I thought that if I could get my turns really tight and have a really high rhythm, I could try to set something that everyone else would have to chase."
She went on about her experience here at the Split Rock Jumping Tour. "I'm absolutely loving it. This show is incredible, they've really made such an effort to elevate the level of the sport. They've been very supportive of all the sponsors, riders, and grooms, and everyone here has been really well taken care of."
Liza Finsness Nails U25
The $15,000 El Milagro U25 Cup 1.45m, an event for professional, amateur or junior show jumpers age 16 to 25 years old, is an opportunity for these riders to compete among their peers. Three were fault-free in round one, but only one went double clean today, Liza Finsness aboard her own Shiver. Eugenio Garza had a super time with Bariano (owned by El Milagro), 32.92, but collected four faults. Kady Abrahamson rode Abrahamson Equestrian, LLC's Quick Blue Z to her second third place finish for the day, with four faults in 37.37.
After a successful junior career, Finsness is now in her third year at the University of Georgia where she continues to collect accolades for the equestrian team. She will head back to school with another victory under her belt. About her first time at Split Rock she said, "I love it here. I actually haven't ever been to a show like this. It's very personal here, and I just feel there's an importance behind every class. It's great, everything that they have here - the tent, everything - it's amazing."
The final day of the inaugural Split Rock Jumping Tour was ideal. Attendees had an opportunity to enjoy live music, boutique shops, and tasty local treats, plus experience top show jumping. Year two of The Split Rock Jumping Tour continues in May of 2016.
For more information visit SplitRockJumpingTour.com