International show jumping competition at the Kentucky Spring Horse Show (KSHS) returned to the Rolex Arena Thursday for an exciting evening of competition. Out of an impressive field of 66 talented athletes and their horses entered in the $37,000 Kentucky Spring Classic 1.45m CSI3*, just 13 pairs managed to navigate clear efforts to advance to the jump off. In the end, it was Great Britain’s Amanda Derbyshire and Cornwall BH who saved the best for last to emerge at the top of the leaderboard.
Oscar Soberon’s (USA) 16-fence first round track offered numerous challenges for competitors, with three horse-and-rider pairs being left out of contention for the top prize due to incurring time faults. Of the group that put forth fault-free efforts, it was Jessica Mendoza (GBR) and her own I-Cap CL Z who showcased the pathfinding clear ride. The United States’ Cathleen Driscoll would eventually force a jump-off with her clear round aboard Plain Bay Farms’ Dame de Pique. At the completion of the first round, a total of seven nations were represented in the tie-breaking jump-off list, with Eugenio Garza (MEX) and El Milagro’s Contago electing not to return for the shortened track.
The 12 qualified pairs returned to the Rolex Arena for the new eight-effort jump-off course, which included a combination, tricky turns and multiple opportunities to cut time on the clock for a chance at the win. Mendoza and I-Clap CL Z found their way to the first double-clear effort of the evening, crossing the timers in 41.45 seconds and setting the bar high for those to follow. After Driscoll suffered elimination, Ireland’s Simon McCarthy quickly took over the top spot riding Rock Ridge Farms’ Gotcha, shaving over one second off of Medoza’s time to finish in 40.01 seconds. Derbyshire would follow next riding Gochman Sport Horse LLC’s Wonder If, falling just short of McCarthy’s quick effort to gallop through the beams in 40.570 seconds. His lead was immediately taken over by the next duo in the arena, Lacey Gilbertson (USA) and Seabrook LLC’s Karlin Van’t Vennehof, as they raced into the first place position in 39.23 seconds.
Both Belgium’s Filip de Wandel and Ireland’s Darragh Kerins followed, and though both athletes left all of the fences intact, neither could catch Gilbertson’s quick time. The winning duo from Wednesday evening’s $37,000 1.45m Welcome Speed CSI3*, Brazil’s Santiago Lambre and All In Horses Cava, were eager to claim another first place finish. They laid it all on the line, proving their strong partnership by unseating Gilberston and setting a new time to beat in 38.66-seconds. Francisco Goyoaga Mollet (ESP) and Fabio Leivas da Costa (BRA) were not speedy enough to claim the top position, leaving it up to the final pair on course for one last shot at the win.
Giving the crowd an exciting end to the evening, Derbyshire put forward an impressive ride aboard her longtime partner Cornwall BH, a 14-year-old Holsteiner gelding owned by Gochman Sport Horses LLC. Having already navigated the track with her previous mount, she knew where she needed to make up the time to nab the top podium spot. Trusting their partnership, Derbyshire and Cornwall BH notched an impressive 37.87 seconds on the clock to claim the first place honors, marking Cornwall BH’s first FEI win. Lambe and All In Horses Cava would finish out the class in second place, with Gilbertson and Karlin Van’t Vennehof rounding out the top three.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
On her win:
“He’s a very careful horse, and normally when you go a little fast he can get a little cheeky, so I tried to keep it on the conservative side. After going on my first one [Wonder If] I thought it was so fast and then everyone kept beating me and before I knew it I was sixth. It was actually a jump-off that suited him with not a lot of tight right turns, which is his trick sometimes. I got a little fire in me and thought, ‘There’s nothing to lose.’ I think the only reason I did one less stride to the last fence, I did seven strides and everyone did eight. It was not the plan but I just kept going!”
On Cornwall BH:
‘He’s 14 years old, I’ve had him for a long time. It was his first FEI win – he’s had a lot of second places and normally I don’t really go that fast. The plan is to do the [$140,000 Hagyard Lexington Grand Prix] Saturday and a few grand prix classes this summer and take it easy.”