Lexington KY – August 2, 2012 – The Rolex Stadium was alive with the nation’s top horse and rider combinations gathering to compete beneath the lights in the $25,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic during the Kentucky Summer Classic. Kaitlin Campbell and Rocky W topped tonight’s seven-horse jump-off with a beautiful double-clear effort. Campbell also was the last to compete with Grand Pleasure, riding to the only other double-clear score and nabbing the second place prize.
Forty-eight riders tackled tonight’s opening track, designed by Anthony D’Ambrosio. For the first round, riders had to show over a triple bar, an open water jump, an oxer-vertical double combination, and a vertical-oxer-vertical triple combination. Faults were wide spread throughout the course, causing many riders to incur penalties that proved costly to their qualification for the jump-off. *Fence seven was the open water jump off of a right turn from an oxer coming out of the ending line of the double combination, and shortly after was followed by a five-stride line leading into the square triple combination. Nine horses had rails at obstacle seven, while 13 horses saw fault in the triple combination, and 10 horses went on to add penalties to their score throughout the double.
“I thought it was nice that there wasn’t one place where the rails came down; they were spread across the class,” eventual winner Kaitlin Campbell described. “The water was in there, but it had the rail, which was nice since it will only be the open water on Saturday. I think the course was great to get us prepared for what to expect this weekend.”
It was indeed the course that took on a life if its own tonight. It was Aaron Vale and Admiral Clover, owned by Carman Alfonzo, who posted a clear first round as the sixth in the order, setting a need for accuracy as the other riders mimicked his efforts. Christian Heineking and River of Dreams, owned by Caroline Jahr, were the next to jump clear, promising the onlookers a jump-off of great anticipation. Five other riders were able to navigate the track, including Kaitlin Campbell and Megan Nusz who qualified with multiple mounts, moving into the jump-off where the name of the game was rapidity.
For the shortened course, they began over a single vertical and made a beeline for the SSG Riding Gloves standalone oxer before making a very tight left turn to the first oxer and heading into the oxer-vertical double combination. The riders then galloped up to a large oxer set on the outside, and upon landing made a right turn to fence 16, a single vertical that proved trickier than expected. They then picked up momentum as the headed through the timers and over the final oxer.
Aaron Vale was the first to attempt the shortened course with Admiral Clover. The duo erupted from the in gate in a dash, setting a quick pace with sliced turns and sure foot work. It was an unfortunate slice to the penultimate obstacle that earned the pair the fifth place finish, incurring four-faults for a refusal, as well as an additional six seconds added to their time. The vertical proved tricky for other riders, too. Megan Nusz and Cilantro, owned by Amalaya Investments, and Heineking with River of Dreams found fault at the vertical, riding to the seventh and sixth place finishes, respectively.
Kaitlin Campbell wowed the crowd aboard her own 14-year-old Rocky W, when she posted the first double-clear effort as the fourth to return. She piloted Rocky W to a fast finish in 43.090 seconds. The applause erupted from the stands, resounded throughout the Rolex Stadium as Campbell seemed to do the impossible feat of completing the jump-off track clean.
“I always go as fast as I can on Rocky, that is just how it is,” Campbell explained. “He did a great job out there, and I saw where I needed to approach the jumps to go clear. It was a great course, and I think it rode really well tonight.”
Nusz returned to the ring aboard Dynamo, owned by Amalaya Investments, posting a beautiful effort. She raced around the track, seeing how to correct the errors of her first ride. The duo tripped the timers in 39.561 seconds, the fastest time of the night, but an unlucky rail over the final oxer earned them the third place finish. Federico Sztyrle and Crossfire 10 approached the short track with a more conservative approach; however they also saw a rail down, finishing in the fourth place finish with the only other four-fault total in a time of 43.545 seconds.
“Tonight was calm and cool. My horse is amazing he knows his job and knows how to help me out and all you have to do is be there for him and tell him which jumps you want to go to,” Nusz explained. “I saw the nine after the vertical, I caught that a little forward and I kept going for the nine stride to the last jump but got there a little early. He has a huge step and I needed to hold him back a bit so he could see the top rail but he ended up nicking it.”
Nusz continued, “He’s amazing. He goes in the ring to win every time. He has a heart of gold. He trusts me, and I trust him. It’s starting to form what I feel is a really good partnership. I haven’t had him all that long; he just finished his eight-year-old year. He is young and we are both still green, so hopefully we grow together.”
Campbell once again returned to the Rolex Stadium aboard Grand Pleasure, owned by Rachel Kennedy, already holding the victory in the palm of her hand with Rocky W. Knowing that Grand Pleasure is more green, with this being only his second grand prix, Campbell focused on the importance of leaving the rails in their cups. Her plan was a success, riding to the second place in only 47.367 seconds with the only other double-clear effort.
“I was the only one clear, so when I went in with Grand Pleasure, I wanted to ride clean and not focus on the time. Everything worked out really well tonight; both of my horses were amazing,” Campbell stated.
Tonight’s class was the fourth of seven grand prix events that make up the Hagyard Challenge Series, sponsored by the Hagyard Medical Institute and presented by Pfizer Animal Health. Following the final event in the series, a cash prize of $45,000 will be awarded to the rider accumulating the most points throughout the series for the Leading Rider Bonus.
Campbell shows in Kentucky throughout the year, and especially enjoys the Kentucky Summer Series. She raved about the Leading Rider Bonuses, “It is really nice that there is an added incentive. I think for the riders that stay in Kentucky all summer, it is something that makes us want to stay in Kentucky and always have at least one horse in the bigger classes. It is a wonderful series, and the courses are always great. Kentucky is so good at giving us more and more every year.”
In addition to competing for the winning title, riders had the opportunity to win $6,000 in bonus money as a part of the SSG Riding Gloves ‘Go Clean for the Green’ promotion-riders wearing the SSG ‘Digital’ Riding Gloves with the SSG horse head logo clearly visible during all rounds of competition in designated events are eligible for the bonus. Tonight Campbell was wearing a pair of the SSG ‘Digital’ Riding Gloves; however, a superstition kept her from riding Rocky W in the gloves, only using them aboard Grand Pleasure. This means that the bonus will continue into the Bluegrass Festival Horse Show where riders will vie for the steadily accumulating prize money.
The Kentucky Summer Classic will continue tomorrow with the Junior/Amateur-Owner classes in the Rolex Stadium. This week’s highlight event will be Saturday night’s $50,000 Rood & Riddle Grand Prix, which will begin at 7:30p.m. at the Kentucky Horse Park. The local community is invited to come out to celebrate Hats Off Day while watching the top competitors go head-to-head in a battle of the best.
For more information about the Kentucky Summer Horse Shows, please visit www.kentuckyhorseshows.com.
RESULTS: $25,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic
1 1258 ROCKY W KAITLIN CAMPBELL 000 77.698 000 43.040
2 1259 GRAND PLEASURE KAITLIN CAMPBELL 000 78.965 000 47.367
3 208 DYNAMO MEAGAN NUSZ 000 77.136 404 39.651
4 687 CROSSFIRE 10 FEDERICO SZTYRLE 000 77.613 404 43.545
5 764 ADMIRAL CLOVER AARON VALE 000 76.062 404 47.870
6 281 RIVER OF DREAMS CHRISTIAN HEINEKING 000 76.448 808 39.954
7 1954 CILANTRO MEAGAN NUSZ 000 77.949 808 41.790
8 1213 NOLDE JACK H. TOWELL 404 72.391
9 833 PETER PAN JAVIER BERGANZA ANDERHUB 404 75.430
10 1094 WALTER 61 EMANUEL ANDRADE 404 75.773
11 1358 CABALLITO ANDRES RODRIGUEZ 404 76.492
12 421 HENNESSEY CHASE BOGGIO 404 76.921