The Rolex Stadium welcomed its first evening event of the Kentucky Spring Horse Shows with the opener of the seven-part Hagyard Challenge Series series, the $35,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic CSI3*, sponsored by Hagyard Equine Medical Institute. Out of a substantial starting list of 53 horse-and-rider combinations, it was Darragh Kenny (IRL) who emerged triumphant, riding Jack Snyder’s Babalou 41 to the fastest double-clear finish in 44.22 seconds.
Designer Alan Wade (IRL) challenged contenders over 16 efforts with a tight time-allowed of 79 seconds and spectators were not given a clear round until one fourth of the way in when Fabio Leivas Da Costa (BRA) entered the ring aboard the 11-year-old Selle Français mare, Tosca De L’esques, owned by Bonne Chance Farm LLC.
Hardin Towell, Darragh Kenny, Kevin Babington, Charlie Jayne, Lorcan Gallagher and Leslie Howard followed respectively with additional clear rounds to yield a thrilling 7-horse jump-off. Returning first in the second round, Leivas Da Costa set the pace with a swift, clear round in 44.44 seconds, but it was just two-tenths of a second shy of the winning time and the pair took home the second place award.
Gallagher and the Dacantos Group’s Hunters Conlypso II also put in two clear jumping rounds, but Kenny could not be caught as the duo ended on a time of 45.81 seconds. The Irish still added another name to the leaderboard as Gallagher was quick enough to capture third place aboard the 10-year-old Hanoverian gelding.
Kenny and the 13-year-old Oldenburg mare share a new partnership as they have only been a team for less than three months, but already show promise following tonight’s success building off of a win in their first 1.50m class together, the $50,000 Hollow Creek Farm 1.50m National Grand Prix at the Winter Equestrian Festival in March.
“I was really excited to win today. She is such a super mare and I’m really, really happy with how today went. I’ve only had her since February, but she is so easy to ride and so careful and competitive. She is so fun to ride. She likes to be really fresh and I really get along great with her,” Kenny shared of his new mount
“We have a really good friendship together and I think she likes me, and I really like her so it seems to work great. I’ll jump her in the grand prix on Saturday and then she’s headed to Europe to compete at St. Tropez and Cannes for the [Global Champions Tour].”
The Hagyard Challenge Series consists of seven show-jumping events held at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington throughout the 2018 show season with the second leg of the series, the $35,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic, to occur next week during the Kentucky Spring Classic on Thursday, May 17, at 6:30 p.m. in the Rolex Stadium. The following four shows to host a Hagyard Lexington Classic event include the Kentucky Summer Horse Show, the Kentucky Summer Classic, the Bluegrass Festival Horse Show and the KHJA Horse Show. The series will culminate during the Kentucky National Horse Show at the end of September, where the rider who accumulates the most points in the series will receive a $50,000 Leading Rider Award, presented upon completion of the seventh event, the $65,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic.