Lexington, Kentucky, USA – May 11, 2023 – The lights that cascade over the famous Rolex Stadium at the Kentucky Horse Park made their mark tonight for the first night class of the 2023 Kentucky Spring Horse Show, inviting exhibitors and fans to experience the exhilaration that is the sport of show jumping. Of the 54 entries in the $37,000 Kentucky Spring Classic CSI 3*, nine combinations managed to weave through the first round unscathed, and Canada’s Ali Ramsay (USA) and Bonita VH Keizershof Z were named victorious at the completion of the jump-off.
Most riders at the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) level are no stranger to Guilherme Jorge’s (BRA) course designs, which often challenge athletes by asking questions of stride length and strategic time management. Tonight’s course was no different, with the Level 4 course designer laying down a triple bar combination, long approaches to single vertical fences and a tight, but not unattainable, Time Allowed (TA).
Though many riders struggled with the oxers at obstacles four and six in the pattern, 15 horse and rider combinations proved themselves successful at overcoming all 16 fences in the first round.
The 77-second TA did, however, loom over the heads of six riders that jumped clear, ultimately incurring time faults that left them just outside of the jump-off invitation. Great Britain’s Jessica Mendoza (GER) and Rupert Winkelmann (GER) left many biting their nails, as they narrowly made it to the short list by coming up just shy of the TA.
The first rider to pilot the nine-fence short course was Thaisa Erwin (AUS) and Vanturo, riding for Australia in one of the six nations represented in the jump-off. Erwin put forth an energetic effort that led to a bar setting time of 41.860 seconds. In the event Erwin did not have the final fence of the course down, she would have become the night’s winning rider.
Not phased by the faults of the rider before her, Mendoza rode to the first double-clear of the evening on her first of two horses in the jump-off, OO Seven de L-Equipe, crossing the timers with a time of 44.840 seconds. Following Mendoza’s clear effort, Cathleen Driscoll (USA) made the most of Plain Bay Farm’s Arome’s long stride to charge to the final fence of the course, but she fell short of the podium due to a rail early on. Rupert Winkelmann (GER), with invigorating speed after fences 8a and 8b, and Roberto Teran Tafur (COL), who’s use of impulsion to the first few fences was overturned by a rail at the third fence, were both unable to catch up to the technicalities of Ramsay’s later winning ride.
Richard Spooner (USA) navigated the jump-off round with ease and, what seemed to be, effortlessness, taking care with each and every stride his horse, Quirado RC, took. His efforts were 1.80 seconds slower than the soon-to-be winner’s, landing him into third place.
After taking an impulsive but controlled approach to the first obstacle, Nicole Walker (CAN) opened up Excellent B’s stride after the second jump to establish a ground-covering pace early on. This served the pair well, as they rode to and maintained a second place position in the standings at 42.570 seconds.
Once the buzzer indicated the start of Ramsay’s jump-off round, the horse and rider combination’s energy set a tone for the ride that set them apart from the others. Right off the bat, Ramsay was quick to clear the first few fences, and despite choosing to ride the extra stride option to the last fence, she catapulted into first place at 42.420 seconds as the seventh of nine riders in the order.
Regardless of the start list hosting a roster of recognizable names, like two-time Olympian Tiffany Foster (CAN), number 10 in the Longines Rankings Shane Sweetnam (IRL) and FEI Nation’s Cup™ silver medalist Mendoza (GBR), it was Ali Ramsay (CAN) and Ramsay Equestrian Inc.’s Bonita VH Keizershof Z that took home the win. The Canadian rider flawlessly rode the 12-year-old Zangersheide mare to their third ever FEI-rated win, notably coming off of a fierce Desert International Horse Park winter circuit.
Final Results – €$38,700 Kentucky Spring Classic 1.45m CSI 3*
1) Ali Ramsay (CAN) & Bonita VH Keizershof Z – 0 / 0 – 42.420
2) Nicole Walker (CAN) & Excellent B – 0 / 0 – 42.570
3) Richard Spooner (USA) & Quirado RC – 0 / 0 – 44.220
Source: Press Release by Sydney Jones / Phelps Media Group for Kentucky Horse Shows
Photos: © Shawn McMillen Photography
Categories: CSI 3*, English, Jumper News Canada