THE Kentucky Spring Horse Show opened Friday morning competition in the Rolex Stadium with the $5,000 1.45m Open Jumpers, where 38 horse-and-rider combinations contested Anderson Lima’s (BRA) 13-effort track.
The top contenders advanced to the second round, but none could catch Ireland’s Darragh Kenny, who rode the quickest double-clear rounds for the top two spots aboard Christos and Sweet Tricia, respectively.
Kenny challenged the track aboard three different mounts, all of which he has only been partnered with for a few short months. First in the order for Kenny was Artisan Farms LLC’s Christos, who produced a clear round to advance to the immediate jump-off. The pair left one stride out in the first line of the second round, resulting in a speedy leading time of 42.508 seconds.
Returning later with Sweet Tricia, owned by SHL Farms, Kenny flew to another double-clear effort with the 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare in 42.539 seconds to slide just behind his leading time and into second place.
Andrew Welles (USA) entered the ring two trips later aboard the Itasca Group LLC’s Brindis Bogibo looking to best Kenny’s two leading times. Welles and the 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding sped to a time of 42.558 seconds, just fractions behind the uncatchable Kenny to ultimately settle for a third place finish. The pair have been partnered together for just over a year, with results in CSI4* and CSI5* competitions in Wellington, Florida.
In the end, Kenny earned top honours with the 10-year-old Holsteiner stallion, Christos, and followed in reserve aboard Sweet Tricia with plans to compete both mounts in Sunday’s $35,000 Commonwealth Grand Prix. He concluded a successful morning on his third and final mount, producing his third double-clear effort aboard SHL Farm’s Cazador LS to also earn the fifth place award.
Commenting on Christos, Kenny said: "He jumped really well. This is the first time I’ve jumped a little bit bigger on him and he really rose to the occasion. I think he’s a really good horse. I knew I could be quick with Christos. In the jump-off, I did seven [strides] up the first line and I think I was one of the only people to do that, so I would say that’s where I made up the most, I’m excited for his future.”
Of Sweet Tricia, Kenny added: “She is just a really naturally quick horse. She jumped great and she continues to get better and better. My main focus was just on teaching her how to go a little bit faster and I was really happy with her today.”
On his plan for the week, Kenny said: “Both Christos and Tricia will do the Grand Prix here on Sunday. Next, they will both jump in Spruce Meadows and start to jump a bit bigger. I think both horses are ready for the Grand Prix, so I’m just working to continue producing them up to that level.”