Lexington, Ky. — June 10, 2019 — Competitors competing in the first week of the 2019 Country Heir I & II returned to the Kentucky Horse Park this week. Athletes came from all across the country and the first week of competition featured classes such as the $40,000 George Hennessy Grand Prix and the $30,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby.
Hometown Victory for Lexington Resident Summer Hill in $40,000 George Hennessy Grand Prix
The feature class of the first week of Country Heir I & II at the Kentucky Horse Park culminated in 20 horse-and-rider combinations contesting to win the $40,000 George Hennessy Grand Prix. Course designer Tucker Williams produced a track that bested 15 of the 20 original entries, especially with a five-stride to a one-stride combination that caught many contestants off guard. Those that advanced to the jump-off included Hayley Waters, Liza Finsness, Kelly Arani, Callie Schott, and the eventual winner, Summer Hill.
Waters and the 18-year-old Netherland Riding Horse, Uppie De Lis, were the first to return and test Williams’ shortened jump-off track. Unfortunately, the pair would not repeat their success from Friday’s $10,000 Welcome Prix and suffered a four-fault penalty in a time of 40.688 seconds. Franklin, Tennessee resident Callie Schott piloted River Mountain Farm’s 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, Christiaan, to a blazing finish of 38.651 seconds but was bested by a heart-breaking single rail down to earn the third-place ribbon. Liza Finsness strode through the timers with zero penalties and a time of 38.876 seconds aboard her own 14-year-old Hanoverian gelding Shiver (Stakkato x Germina), but would ultimately fall less than half a second behind the class winner.
In the end, the win was a hometown victory for Lexington resident Summer Hill. She and Diane Masters’ 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Quasimodo Z x Predente), Light Show, crossed the finish with all poles in place and a time of 38.831 seconds.
“This is the first grand prix win I’ve had on this horse as he is a relatively new ride for me,” Hill explained. “He’s an incredible athlete though, he’s a very small and very hot horse, but he has the biggest stride of any horse I’ve ever ridden.”
I’ve competed him in a couple of other smaller grand prix events to get to know him, but this is the first week we have really stepped him up to the next level. He’s definitely a horse you can depend on.”
While Hill said she was not set on winning the jump-off, she credited the gelding’s sensitive adjustability as a winning factor.
“I just wanted to be clean in the jump-off but when I cantered through the timers and looked up, I was shocked that I had caught the time,” she said. “The track flowed so well, it really invited my horse to open up down the lines but he is also great about landing and coming right back to me for a tight turn.”
Hill and Light Show will return for the second week of Country Heir where she plans to compete him once again, this time in the $50,000 Country Heir II Grand Prix.
Kelley Farmer Closes the Deal with Win in the $30,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby
Hunter veteran Kelley Farmer bested a field of 31 entries during the first week of Country Heir by producing a victorious score in the $30,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby aboard Closing Statement. Farmer and Aizlynn Radwanski’s 7-year-old Warmblood gelding (Mr. Blue x Ursula) held the lead with a score of 183.00 points out of the first round and added another 196.00 points in the handy phase. The total combined score of 379.00 made the pair impossible to beat with an 18-point lead. The duo are no strangers to success in the derby field and have scored top-10 finishes in multiple derby events. Farmer finished second in the same event in 2018 with Todd Minikus’ Exceptional.
“I thought the course today rode really nice and smooth,” Farmer said. “Showing here during the spring and summer is always a great opportunity to get new horses into that specific ring before Derby Finals.
“Kate Conover and Robert Baader found him for us,” she said about the young gelding, “He has a ton of scope but he’s also extremely brave which is always important for a derby horse.”
Julie Curtin, of Woodstock, Georgia, and Rebekah Warren’s 8-year-old Holsteiner gelding Cassico (Carrico x Trevigiana) were the red ribbon recipients in the derby after securing their spot in the handy phase with a score of 166.00 points from round one. Their handy phase earned them just one point less than Farmer, as they exited the ring on a score of 195.00. They totaled 361.00 points to edge out Farmer and Enchanted from second place spot. Farmer and the Christel Weller-owned entry returned to round out the top three after producing scores of 177.00 and 181.50. She spent most of the winter campaigning the eight-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Bustique x Monique) in derbies in Wellington, Florida.
Tiffany Morrissey and Baron Z Find Success in $10,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby
Eastwind Farms’ owner and trainer, Tiffany Morrissey, piloted Susannah Rose’s 7-year-old Zangersheide gelding (Baron Cent O Heldenlaan x Finestra) to a winning round in Sunday’s $10,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby. She and Baron Z were awarded the top scores in a field of 47 competitive entries. It was the pair’s first derby event together.
“Baron was purchased for my client Susannah who typically competes him in the Adult Amateur Hunters and will do an occasional derby with him as well,” Morrissey said. “This is the first time I’ve competed him in a derby. I am really looking forward to seeing him in more.”
A very handy second track was the main concern for Morrissey as the pair returned with a score of 85.00 from the first round.
“The handy course had many inside turn options that I wanted to do, but I wasn’t sure if he would be a bit too green to pull them off well,” she said. “However, I knew if I wanted to win, I was going to have to give it my best shot to get a score that would move us up the rankings, so I ultimately decided to do all of the inside turns.”
Morrissey’s decision paid off as the duo walked away with a second-round score of 91.00 points to take over the lead.
Katherine Newman and Dandelion secured second place in the derby while Kyle Muckler and Ciribati rounded out the top three.
Professional Hunter Highlights
Tim Goguen led the way in the High Performance Conformation Hunters division with Style. The pair were victorious in three out of four of the over-fences classes as well as the under saddle and model portions of the competition. Goguen rides the 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Veron x Wisse) for the ownership of Take the High Road, LLC. Style was also named Grand Hunter Champion of Country Heir I.
“Style is really a very special horse,” Goguen said. “He has a ton of scope and a beautiful presence in the ring that I think really stands out to the judges.”
Goguen plans to stay for the second week of competition at Country Heir and hopes to compete the gelding in the International Derby taking place the Saturday of that week.
“We really enjoy showing here,” he said. “Frankie Stark, J.P. Bordeleau and Tucker Ericson do an incredible job creating a show that really caters to its exhibitors. They think of everything to make the event extra special.”
The reserve champion honors of the division went to Didi Mackenzie with her own MTM Do Right on a total of 35.00 division points. She and the 11-year-old Westphalian/Warmblood gelding (Swarovski x Lucics) earned one first, four seconds, and a third-place ribbon to secure their status.
Courtney Lenkart swept the competition for the 3’3” Green Hunter division by taking both champion and reserve champion honors. Lenkart piloted a Stal De Eyckenhoeve import, Windham Hill’s 8-year-old Warmblood mare Laguna, to three first-place ribbons and a total of 30.00 division points for the Champion. She then secured reserve champion honors with Lilly Goldstein’s Higgs after picking up a second and two thirds and a total of 18.00 division points.
Mia Chimenti and Ericsson Win Junior Hunter 3’3” 15 & Under Champion Title
After a successful spring, young junior rider Mia Chimenti once again produced multiple winning trips with partner, Ericsson, to earn the championship title in the Junior Hunter 3’3” 15 and Under division. Chimenti has been partnered with the Chase Hollow Equestrian Partners’ 13-year-old Polish Warmblood gelding for the past two years but has already far exceeded her expectations with the gelding.
“We bought him as my first horse coming out of the pony divisions,” she said. “He was supposed just to help me learn the ropes in the Children’s Hunter divisions, but he has already helped me surpass that.”
Chimenti says that the pair have been working diligently at home under the tutelage of Windham Hill’s Michael Dowling and Michael Meyers to produce the best jumping effort possible in their rounds.
“I love showing here because it is such a well-run event and it gives me the opportunity to compete in some very prestigious arenas,” Chimenti said.
In her first time competing in the Rolex arena, she also produced a win with her equitation mount, Jassini, in the USHJA 3’3” Jumping Seat Medal.
Hayley Waters and Uppie De Lis Victorious in $10,000 Welcome Prix
Young amateur rider Hayley Waters stole the show in the $10,000 Welcome Prix after besting 26 other horse-and-rider combinations for the blue ribbon. She and Dana Waters’ 18-year-old Netherland Riding Horse (Andiamo Z x Lorraine), Uppie De Lis, were one of only three combinations to return for the jump-off track.
Lauren Hester and Kady Abrahamson were the only two competitors to join Waters in returning for the shortened course but were not quite able to catch her blazing time of 36.992 seconds. Hester and Hester Equestrian LLC’s 16-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Padinus x Narenca B), Warinde B, took the red ribbon honors after crossing the timers in 37.511 seconds. Georgetown, Kentucky resident Kady Abrahamson rounded out the jump-off trio and clocked in at 39.023 seconds with Abrahamson Equestrian LLC’s Boudika Ideal Home.
Tanner Korotkin, Jacqueline Steffens, and KC Van Aarem also all produced clear first-round efforts but had time penalties that kept them out of contention for the jump-off.
Country Heir I & II thanks returning sponsors Stal De Eyckenhoeve, buyers and sellers of world-class hunters, jumpers and equitation horses, owned and operated by Niels Haesen and Maxime Tyteca from Belgium. Stal De Eyckenhoeve is making their mark in North America working with top owners and equestrian professionals by sourcing exceptional prospects and horses ready to enter and perform in the best company at the top shows. They also have a breeding operation and present their young stallions at European breed approvals and compete at European-approved stallion and jumper shows.
One of many notable Stal de Eyckenhoeve imports is Just Ask, owned by the Roberts Stables, who was 2017 3’ Green Hunter national champion and the 2018 USHJA 3’6” Green Hunter Horse of The Year.
Rogers is one of many equestrian professionals that have worked with Stal de Eyckenhoeve to find successful mounts. Courtney Lenkart, Tim and Kelly Goguen, Andrew Vaziri, John French, Connie Stevens, Chance Arakelian, The Toons, Michael Dowling, Kathy Kunsman, Michael Desiderio and Paul Valliere have all worked with Haesen and Tyteca to source top show horses.
Their import Laguna, ridden by Courtney Lenkart, was champion of the 3’3” Green Hunters during Country Heir Week I out of a field of 30.
Stal de Eyckenhoeve is based in Ocala during the winter circuit at their property adjacent to the new World Equestrian Center. They are in the U.S. to meet with prospective buyers during County Heir I & II and will be at Monmouth at the Team in Gladstone, New Jersey in August.
Country Heir Week II kicks off Tuesday, June 11, at the Kentucky Horse Park with Equitation Day. Featured classes include two Grand Prix events, including the $25,000 Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital Grand Prix and the $50,000 Country Heir II Grand Prix, the $40,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby, sponsored by Stal de Eyckenhoeve, and the $30,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby.