Kentucky Horse Park, Lexington, Kentucky, USA. – Aug. 2, 2018 – The $25,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic proved to be a challenge for almost everyone except Ireland’s Lorcan Gallagher (IRL), who produced two of the only four clear rounds out of a starting field of 53 horse-and-athlete combinations on Thursday evening. Gallagher, who was ninth in the original order-of-go, produced the first clear round of the night on Hunters Conlypso II. There was not another clear round until he returned to the ring on Charlie. Facing off against veterans Todd Minikus (USA) and Alison Robitaille (USA), Lorcan produced the fastest double-clear round on Hunters Conlypso II, stopping the clock in 42.139 seconds. Robitaille and Ace were hot on his heels with a double-clear ride that finished in 42.465 seconds. Gallagher was third on his second mount, while Minikus placed fourth with two unlucky rails over the short course.
Gallagher took over the ride on Hunters Conlypso II one year ago and their mutual trust in one another proved to be what made the difference in Thursday’s class. Owned by the Dacantos Group of Wellington, Florida, the 10-year-old Hanoverian stallion masterfully maneuvered through all of the challenges that were presented by Brazilian course designer Anderson Lima. Gallagher drew heavily on some of their past grand prix performances to produce the early clear in the first round, which held fast until Gallagher returned on Charlie. The crowd in the stands of the Rolex Stadium cheered as Gallagher and Charlie crossed the timers fault-free next in an unlikely but exciting turn of events.
Todd Minikus (USA) & Excel
Show Jumping veteran, Minikus, used the second of his two rides, Excel, owned by Autumn View Farm, to help ensure the crowd a jump-off. Another American favorite, Robitaille (USA) piloted her own Ace to make it not only an incredibly competitive jump-off but also a battle of men versus women.
Alison Robitaille (USA) & Ace
Gallagher returned to the jump-off with an intent to secure the lead with a competitive pace, which he did in spades. Although horses and riders are supposed to return to the ring for the jump-off in the order in which they competed in the first round, Gallagher was lucky that Robitaille stepped up to go second in the jump-off, allowing the Irishman time to prepare Charlie after his lightening fast round on Hunters Conlypso II.
Lorcan Gallagher (IRL) & Charlie
Although Ace gave it his all, the pair finished in a close second place. Charlie, who Gallagher has only recently started riding, secured third place and Minikus, who is always up for a good jump-off, had two unlucky rails to finish in fourth place.
Lorcan Gallagher (IRL) & Hunters Conlypso II with representatives from Hagyard Equine Medical Institute
Thursday’s first and third place finishes will comfortably seat Gallagher atop the leaderboard in the Hagyard Challenge Series with 550 points, ahead of fellow Irishman Darragh Kenny (IRL) who has 470 points. The series consists of seven grand prix classes, where, following the final event, a cash prize of $50,000 will be awarded to the athlete who accumulates the most points throughout the summer competition. With series leading riders spread out across the country, the race for the bonus is still incredibly close.
In addition, Thursday’s athletes were also competing for the title of Leading Open Jumper Rider at the Kentucky Summer Classic. Presented by Envisian Products to the open jumper competitor who accumulates the most points over the week-long schedule, the Leading Open Jumper Rider award is another reason many riders choose to compete multiple horses in the bigger classes.
Show jumping will continue at the Kentucky Summer Classic with the $50,000 Kentucky Summer Grand Prix, sponsored by GGT Footing, set for 7 p.m. on Saturday night as well as additional open jumper, junior and amateur-owner classes during the day.
To learn more about the Hagyard Challenge Series, click here.
From the Winner’s Circle
Lorcan Gallagher – $25,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic winner
On the course:
“I went ninth, but the good thing with Hunter is that I’ve had him for over a year now so I basically know everything about him like where I can make up a bit of time. I actually thought the time was quite tight for a challenging course. I was able to trust him in places where I think other people got a bit panicked. It was my night tonight and he’s a great horse.”
On Hunters Conlypso II:
“The Dacantos Group purchased Hunter last June for us, just after the winter circuit, to produce him on to be my No. 1 horse, which he has. I think if you look through his record, he’s clear in so many big classes — he’s just been super consistent. I had to give him a break because I’ve done so much with him. I gave him a month off before last week and he was a little fresh. We plan to go to Chicago next.”
“Charlie is owned by Southern Arches and Patty Taylor. I’ve tried to purchase Charlie a couple of times. He’s been ridden in the past by Winn Alden to great success. I just started riding him a few weeks ago and had a placing in Michigan with him in a welcome. I’m still getting to know him, but I think he’s got a very bright future. I think by the time the Winter Equestrian Festival comes around, he could be really challenging some of those bigger classes.”
On Competing Multiple horses:
“They are very different. I was already clear and there were no other clear [rounds] when I came back [with Charlie], but I try to ride each horse differently. I even had a third horse and I wanted to go clear on it, but I didn’t have the best night on him — that’s just show jumping. It shows you how you can have ups and downs. I have to give a lot of credit to the team at Sweet Oak [Farm] and Southern Arches. There are a bunch of us here tonight. It’s not just me.”
On the Hagyard Challenge Series $50,000 bonus:
“I’ve been in Kentucky for six years and Hagyard’s support to the series is unbelievable. With the bonus at the end, it’s great to be rewarded for your consistency. I was third in the first one during the spring show this year. I thought my good friend, Darragh Kenny, was leading. I don’t want him to beat me. I said to Shane Sweetnam a couple of weeks ago that I should really be challenging for that because I have a number of horses now so hopefully that gives me a bit of breathing space. I am not going to be here for the next one, but I’ll be back fighting for the two after that.”
“There are a lot of nice shows in America, but I think Kentucky is by far up there with the best — if not the best ring in North America. The horses all jump fantastic here so we spend a lot of time here. We’ve got Spy Coast Farm next door and we’re very grateful for them to host us all summer. It’s on our doorstep, but it’s also an unbelievable facility.”
Results – $25,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic
Place / Rider / Country / Horse – R1 Faults | Time / R2 Faults | Time
1. Lorcan Gallagher (IRL) & Hunters Conlypso II – 0 | 80.344 / 0 | 42.139
2. Alison Robitaille (USA) & Ace / Alison Robitaille / USA / 0 | 82.408 / 0 | 42.465
3. Lorcan Gallagher (IRL) & Charlie – 0 | 80.060 / 0 | 44.912
4. Todd Minikus (USA) & Excel – 0 | 82.794 / 8 | 41.264
5. Sydney Shulman (USA) & Villamoura – 4 | 78.111
6. Alex Granato (USA) & Carlchen W – 4 | 78.655
7. Scott Keach (AUS) & Chicco W – 4 | 80.389
8. Aaron Vale (USA) & Darling GR – 4 | 80.566
9. Darragh Kerin (IRL) & Chill R Z / Darragh Kerins – 4 | 80.610
10. Sharn Wordley (NZL) & Barnetta – 4 | 81.066
11. Alex Granato (USA) & Beorn – 4 | 82.415
12. Martien van der Hoeven (USA) & Zerro Leone – 4 | 82.823
Source: Press Release by Rebecca Walton / Phelps Media Group
Photos: © Phelps Sports / Lenore Phillips