Lexington, Kentucky, USA. – July 30, 2020 – It was a drizzly morning in the Rolex Stadium as 51 horse and rider pairs made their way around Bobby Murphy’s track for the $25,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic. For the first time in history, the second class of the Hagyard Challenge season tour was adjusted to a 2B format with riders remaining in the ring immediately after their first trip to perform their jump-off track to better fit the Kentucky Summer Classic’s show-and-go protocol. Unaffected by the weather or change in format, it would be Shane Sweetnam (IRL) and Hunters Conlypso II who would dash for the cash Thursday morning.
An adjustment to the 2B format meant that Murphy (USA) had to reconsider the track, decreasing its length to 500 meters in consideration of the horses that would have to jump back-to-back clear rounds. His 12-effort first round weeded out a majority of the field, leaving only 16 riders to pursue the jump-off. Out of those 16, there were just six double-clear efforts.
The early pathfinder of the day was owner/rider Liza Finsness (USA) aboard Shiver, who made quick work of the 1.50m track and stopped the clock at 32.41 seconds in the jump-off round.
Four trips later, last week’s $50,000 Rood and Riddle Grand Prix winner Celso Ariani (BRA) would snag the lead on a time of 31.92 seconds with Ricardo Romero’s Ukulman de la Nutria.
There was little time for celebration, however, as New Zealand’s Sharn Wordley (NZL) entered the ring only a few minutes later riding his own entry Esmee and covered the course just fractions of a second faster than Ariani previously had.
As the rain picked up, so did the hustle as horse and rider pairs fought to top Wordley’s leading time. While quick trips were had, many were at the sacrifice of the beautifully colored poles all across the ring. The lead would finally change hands when Sweetnam (IRL) and the 12-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Contendro I x Calypso II) owned by the Dacantos Group, Hunters Conlypso II, would stop the clocks at a scorchingly fast 30.75 seconds. Great efforts were made the remainder of the class to knock Sweetnam out of his leading position, but no one could produce a clear round as fast as the Irishman had.
In addition to his win today, Sweetnam now sits in the lead on a score of 270 points in the Hagyard Challenge Leading Rider Series, which awards a bonus of $25,000 to the rider with the highest score at the end of the four-week series. Following closely behind is Wordley, whose results last week and this week give him a total score of 250 points.
The Rolex Stadium will resume jumper competition at 8:00 a.m. Friday morning with the Champions Developing Jumper Tour 7-Year-Old Jumpers. Show jumping will continue at the Kentucky Horse Park throughout Sunday, August 2nd, with the $50,000 Kentucky Summer Grand Prix on Saturday serving as the week’s feature event.
Winner’s Circle – Shane Sweetnam (IRL)
On Hunters Conlypso II:
“Hunters Conlypso is a very good horse. He used to be Lorcan Gallagher’s grand prix horse for a long time because he used to work for us, but he has a new job now with some very exciting horses. So, I have been lucky enough to get the ride on him from the Dacantos Group. I am still getting to know him but we have had a bit of success together already. He was second in the Grand Prix in Tryon and then he won Welcome Stake up in Michigan. Now, he won here so he is certainly pulling his weight and we are getting to know each other. He is a great horse and Lorcan had great results on him at the 4* Grand Prix level – the horse was double clear in the Nations Cup in Wellington last year so he has plenty of experience. Now, it is just about getting the match right.”
On his plan for the jump-off:
“Lucky enough, I was late to go. I had a few students that had done the jump-off so I had a fair idea of what the course was like. The second fence was taking quite a bit of jumping so I didn’t ride that very quick. Then, everywhere else, I tried to be quick. I thought I left the door open because I was hoping to do one less stride to the last, but it didn’t turn up. Lucky enough, I got the win at the end! I was very happy with it!”
On the Hagyard Challenge Leading Rider Series:
“It is brilliant to have something like this at a show. I have been coming here a long time and I won it once before. It is a great incentive for the riders that come from all over the country to be here. There were 50+ in the class so that just shows how many people are here for it. Fingers crossed at the end it will be a nice check! It is so great of Hagyard to do it every year. They are great sponsors.”
On competing at the Kentucky Summer Classic:
“It is a great show! Obviously we are in difficult times at the moment, so they are doing a great job running it under the protocol. The entire team here is doing such a great job and I take my hat off to them because I know it is really hard to get these things done but it looks like last week was a great success and this week has started off great again. I am happy to be here and feel lucky to be in this position.”
Results – $25,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic
Place / Rider / Country / Horse / Owner / R1 Faults | Time / R2 Faults | Time
1. Shane Sweetnam (IRL) & Hunters Conlypso II / Dacantos Group / 0 | 74.78 / 0 | 30.75
2. Sharn Wordley (NZL) & Esmee / Sharn Wordley / 0 | 75.45 / 0 | 31.21
3. Celso Ariani (BRA) & Ukulman de la Nutria / Ricardo Romero / 0 | 75.81 / 0 | 31.91
4. Diego Vivero (ECU) & L. Primero di Gala / Diego Vivero / 0 | 77.93 / 0 | 32.10
5. Liza Finsness (USA) & Shiver / Liza Finsness / 0 | 78.07 / 0 | 32.40
6. Kara Jones (USA) & End Game / Kara Jones / 0 | 76.97 / 0 | 37.10
7. Claire McKean (USA) & Isabelle / Claire McKean / 0 | 76.55 / 4 | 30.45
8. Aaron Vale (USA) & Prescott / Thinks Like A Horse / 0 | 74.81 / 4 | 31.20
9. Sarah Hubbard (USA) & Latino Van de Looise Heide / / Hubbard Horses LLC / 0 | 74.57 / 4 | 33.22
10. Lacey Gilbertson (USA) & Baloppi / Seabrook LLC / 0 | 73.65 / 4 | 33.87
11. Alexandra Pielet (USA) & Hyperbolics / Alexandra Pielet / 0 | 77.62 / 8 | 30.17
12. Lacey Gilbertson (USA) & Viti de Longa / Seabrook LLC / 0 | 78.18 / 8 | 30.71
Source: Press release from Meagan DeLisle / Phelps Media Group for Kentucky Horse Shows
Photos: © Phelps Sports / Meagan DeLisle