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Lauren Balcomb & Verdini D’Houtveld Z Claim the Gold in $35,000 Bluegrass Grand Prix

Lexington, Kentucky, USA – May 22, 2022 – The two-week Kentucky Spring Classic series came to a close Sunday afternoon in the Rolex Stadium as athletes gathered for the $35,000 Bluegrass Grand Prix for one final shot at a top finish. Out of a field of 28 competitive entries, just nine cleared their way to the jump-off for a chance to vie for the first place honors. In the end, it was Lauren Balcomb (AUS) and her very own Verdini D’Houtveld Z who emerged victorious to claim the last win of the spring series.

Conor Swail (IRL) & Cana van de Blom

Anderson Lima (BRA) set a challenging first-round track fit for the field of international athletes, narrowing down the group to just nine pairs who would advance to the tie-breaking jump-off. The clear pathfinder for the first round was Cathleen Driscoll (USA) aboard Plain Bay Farm’s Dame de Pique, with Mexico’s Eugenio Garza (MEX) guaranteeing the crowd a jump-off after leaving all the rails intact riding Caracas, owned by El Milagros. Jonathon Millar (CAN), Balcomb, Conor Swail (IRL), McKayla Langmeier (USA), Mattias Ekeroth (SWE), Mavis Spencer (USA) and Charlise Casas (USA) would all add their names to the jump-off list by the conclusion of the first round.

Setting the bar as the first to contest the shortened eight-fence jump-off track, Driscoll piloted Dame de Pique to a quick 40.051-second effort, but left the door open for her fellow competitors to follow with an unfortunate rail on course. Eugenio Garza (MEX) and Caracas also fell short of a double-clear finish, posting faults on the board and a time of 40.888 seconds.

Crossing the beams with the first double-clear effort of the evening was Jonathon Millar (CAN) and Isotropic Networks Inc.’s Isotropic Shadow, notching 42.358 seconds on the clock to slip into the top spot. Quickly overtaking Millar’s lead and shaving off nearly four seconds from his time, Lauren Balcomb (AUS) masterfully piloted Verdini D’Houtveld Z through the course, turning and burning her way to cross the finish line in 38.881 seconds.

The final few competitors would try to overtake Balcomb’s impressive time, but none could match her skill and finesse around the course in order to unseat her lead. In the end, Balcomb and the 11-year-old Zangersheide gelding were awarded first place honors.

Coming close to a top finish was Mavis Spencer (USA) aboard Carissimo 25, owned by Georgy Maskre- Segesman. The duo finished out the class in second place after their clean jump-off time of 40.230 seconds.

Rounding out the top three was Conor Swail (IRL) riding Cana Van de Blom to a double-clear effort in 40.760 seconds.

Show jumping competition will resume at the Kentucky Horse Park, July 27-August 7 for the Kentucky Summer Horse Show.

Lauren Balcomb (AUS) & Verdini D’Houtveld Z during the awards ceremony

Final Results – $35,000 Bluegrass Grand Prix

Place / Rider / Country / Horse / Owner / R1 Faults | R1 Time / R2 Faults | R2 Time  

1. Lauren Balcomb (AUS) & Verdini D’Houtveld Z / Lauren Balcomb / 0 | 77.071 / 0 | 38.881

2. Mavis Spencer (USA) & Carissimo 25 / Georgy Maskre- Segesman / 0 | 81.189 / 0 | 40.230

3. Conor Swail (IRL) & Cana Van De Blom / Alexis Sokolov / 0 | 80.265 / 0 | 40.760

4. Jonathon Millar (CAN) & Isotropic Shadow / / Isotropic Networks Inc. / 0 | 77.397 / 0 | 42.358

5. Mattias Ekeroth (SWE) & Haydee / / Matrias Ekeroth LLC / 0 | 79.046 / 0 | 43.330

6. Charlise Casas (USA) & Chaccolina D / Always Faithful Equine LLC / 0 | 76.972 / 4 | 39.777

7. McKayla Langmeier (USA) & Mimosa VD Rollebeek / / Linda Langmeier / 0 | 80.453 / 4 | 39.860

8. Cathleen Driscoll (USA) & Dame De Pique / Plain Bay Farm / 0 | 78.217 / 4 | 40.051

9. Eugenio Garza (MEX) & Caracas / / El Milagro / 0 | 78.405 / 4 | 40.888

10. Darragh Kerins (IRL) & Valentino Tuiliere / / Eve Jobs / 4 | 78.405

11. McKayla Langmeier (USA) Bahira S / Rafferty Farm LLC / 4 | 75.820

12. Darragh Kerins (IRL) & Intuitive / / Eve Jobs / 4 | 77.450

Source: Press Release by Sydney Jones / Phelps Media Group for Kentucky Horse Shows

Photos: © Shawn McMillen Photography