The 2019 National Horse Show returned to the Kentucky Horse Park on Thursday, highlighted by the evening’s $135,000 International Jumper Classic CSI4*, which featured some of the highest-ranked athletes in the world from 11 nations. The class offered the greatest prize money of the week thus far as well as a chance for horse-and-rider combinations to qualify for Saturday’s show jumping finale, the $225,000 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Lexington CSI4*-W. Proving to be the most efficient fault-free duo of the night ahead of a 20-horse jump-off, Alex Granato (USA) and Carlchen W emerged victorious to lead the victory lap, earning the lion’s share of the purse as well as the Walter B. Devereux Memorial Challenge Trophy.
Photo by Phelps Media Group
With the class serving as a prerequisite to qualify for Saturday’s $225,000 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Lexington CSI4*-W, exhibitors in the $135,000 International Jumper Classic CSI4* were challenged to finish within the top 40 in order to earn a coveted slot in the show jumping grand finale of the week. Up against a sizable field of talented contenders and a technical 15-effort track constructed by Ken Krome (USA), a whopping 20 pairs mastered the first course to gain eligibility into the large jump-off following a streak of clear rides.
The returning field included Devin Ryan (USA), Harrie Smolders (NED), Quentin Judge (USA), Granato, Schuyler Riley (USA), Beezie Madden (USA), Jos Verlooy (BEL), Sloane Coles (USA), Bertram Allen (IRL), Jennifer Gates (USA), Catherine Tyree (USA), Nicole Shahinian-Simpson (USA), Ben Maher (GBR), Amanda Derbyshire (GBR), Shane Sweetnam (IRL), Georgina Bloomberg (USA), Adrienne Sternlicht (USA), Lillie Keenan (USA), reigning champion Kent Farrington (USA) and Beät Mandli (SUI).
Back for the abridged tie-breaker course featuring eight fences, Ryan and Eddie Blue served as the trailblazers with the first double-clean effort of the evening, crossing the finish line in 34.60 seconds. Three trips later, Granato and the ever-speedy Carlchen W, owned by Page Tredennick, demonstrated their incredible footspeed, turning on a dime after each fence to race to a final time of 32.76 seconds, almost two full seconds faster with the majority of the pack left to ride.
Sixteen pairs attempted to surpass the early leaders, but ultimately the class winners came early in the order and only two partnerships even came within one second of Granato and Carlchen W’s brisk time. One of the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games™ team gold medalists, Sternlicht jockeyed Starlight Farms 1 LLC’s Toulago to the runner-up position with a clear jump-off time of 33.510 seconds and Allen’s short course time of 33.620 seconds earned third place overall with Ballywalter Stables’ Lafayette Van Overis.
“This is my first class here for the week,” Granato reflected. “I didn’t do a warm-up class, so I just wanted to do a smooth first round. I didn’t get to watch anybody go so I just tried to stick to my plan and the numbers that I walked. It was a nice course that flowed well for my horse. Coming off of Washington [International Horse Show] last week, [Carlchen W] felt great in this ring with a bit more room and I couldn’t have been more happy with him.”
With his win Thursday, Granato secured a spot in Saturday’s show jumping pinnacle, during which he will try to add a third Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ victory to his growing resume for the year. In February of 2019, the combination topped the $208,200 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Wellington CSI4*-W and later added to their success with the tricolor honors in the $135,000 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Columbus CSI3*-W in October.
Photo by Phelps Media Group
“We have really gotten to develop to this level together,” shared Granato. “We got him as a 5-year-old and he is 11 years old this year. This is our second year competing at this level so I think that we know each other really well and it is a big benefit to each other when we go into the ring. I think it helps that we go in knowing what to expect.”
Prior to Thursday’s feature event, the Alltech Arena welcomed 33 horses and athletes to vie for top honors in the $36,000 International Open Jumper Speed CSI4* class. Operating under a faults-converted format, any downed rails added three penalties to the time to determine a final score for the round, meaning both speed and precision were imperative for a respectable tally. First to tackle the track, Lillie Keenen (USA) piloted Chansonette Farm LLC’s Agana Van Het Gerendal Z to a solid standard as the pacesetters, crossing the finish line in 53.920 seconds. The duo’s time would not hold long though, as Daniel Coyle (IRL) and his own CHS Krooze followed suit soon thereafter, shaving more than two seconds off of the leaders’ efforts to jump to the head of the scorecard with a time of 51.880 seconds.
Nearly 30 exhibitors chased down the frontrunners throughout the remainder of the class, but ultimately the winners were the fifth pair in the order of go. Coyle and CHS Krooze clinched the win thanks to their winning time of 51.880 seconds, and Catherine Tyree was awarded the second-place position following her ride on Mary Tyree’s Catungee in a quick 52.220 seconds. Rounding out the top of the results, Keenan and Agana Van Het Gerendal Z retained a podium spot as the third-place finishers.