Ocala, Fla. – Feb. 17, 2018 – The highlight of Saturday’s international competition during Week Five of the HITS Ocala Winter Circuit was the $35,000 HITS Classic CSI5*, which was won by Ireland’s Darragh Kenny and Cassini Z.
Kenny and Cassini Z recently won their first grand prix together under the new ownership of Ann Thompson in the $132,000 Adequan Grand Prix CSI3* during Week Three of the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, Florida, and with Saturday’s win, the pair continue to prove their talent and strong partnership.
The class saw a total of 30 horses and athletes contend the 13-fence first round serpentine, designed by Brazil’s Marina Azevedo. Seven international combinations advanced to the jump-off, while four produced double-clear efforts.
Brazil’s Yuri Mansur and Vitiki, owned by Clear Round and PSJ Unipessoal LDA, were the early clear pathfinders of the jump-off, stopping the timers in 38.80 seconds. However, their lead did not hold for long as Kenny entered the Grand Prix Ring next, finishing fault-free and outpacing Mansur by three seconds in 35.64 seconds to take over the top spot.
The final two entries to successfully navigate the short course were Germany’s Wilhelm Genn and the USA’s Laura Kraut. Genn and his veteran partner Bugatti, owned by Eduardo Leon, crossed the finish line in 36.72 seconds, which was good enough for second place, while Kraut and her new mount Jakarta, owned by St. Bride’s Farm, finished in 45.41 seconds for fourth place. Mansur and Vitiki rounded out the top three.
With Cassini Z’s consistent top results so far this year, Kenny has high hopes for the 10-year-old Oldenburg gelding including being a back-up mount for the upcoming FEI World Equestrian Games™ in September.
Kenny concluded the day with back-to-back grand prix victories, also winning the $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix aboard Jessica Mendoza’s Horst Van De Mis Peleare as the fastest of three double-clear rounds immediately following the $35,000 HITS Classic CSI5*.
On Sunday, the $450,000 Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of the USA CSIO5* will take center stage in the Grand Prix Ring at HITS Post Time Farm at 1 p.m. as athletes kick-off the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ series in the North/Central America and Caribbean division.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Darragh Kenny – $35,000 HITS Classic CSI5* winner
On Cassini Z:
“I’ve had Cassini Z for about a year now. He’s a really, really good horse. One of my owners, Ann Thompson, just bought him for me. I think he has a really exciting future. He’s really careful and really competitive. This week, I used him in the secondary classes, but normally he’s one of my grand prix horses. He’ll probably do the Longines Global Champions Tour shows in Mexico and Miami and do the grand prix classes there. He’s just stepping up to the 5* grand prix events so I’m just going to see how that goes and make a plan from there for him.”
On Saturday’s course:
“Marina did a really good job with the course today. She’s done a great job all week with the courses. It was great to only end up with seven clears. It makes for a nice jump-off with not too many in it. I knew I had to be fast. There were a lot of fast people in the jump-off, but he’s a really quick horse so that definitely helped.”
$35,000 HITS Classic CSI5*:
Place / Horse / Rider / Country / Owner / R1 Faults / R2 Faults / Time
1. Cassini Z / Darragh Kenny / IRL / Ann Thompson, Everlong, LLC / 0 / 0 / 35.64
2. Bugatti / Wilhelm Genn / GER / Eduardo Leon / 0 / 0 / 36.72
3. Vitiki / Yuri Mansur / BRA / Clear Round, PSJ Unipessoal LDA / 0 / 0 / 38.80
4. Jakarta / Laura Kraut / USA / St. Bride’s Farm / 0 / 0 / 45.41
5. Cooper / Devin Ryan / USA / Devin Ryan / 0 / 4 / 36.80
6. Carquilot / Nicolas Pizarro / MEX / Gestüt Lewitz / 0 / 4 / 37.86
7. Agatha D Ecaussinnes / Lauren Hough / USA / Weslands Farm / 0 / 4 / 40.37
8. Catungee / Catherine Tyree / USA / Mary Tyree / 4 / 72.28
9. Wahrhaftige CR / Ben Asselin / CAN / Spruce Meadows Ltd. / 4 / 74.22
10. Nkh Selena / Christian Heineking / GER / Nkh LLC / 4 / 74.38
11. Chief Tibri Z MFS / Pedro Junqueira Muylaert / BRA / MFS Sport Horses LLC / 4 / 76.18
12. Stakko / Aaron Vale / USA / Thinks Like A Horse / 4 / 76.68
Children’s and Junior Athletes Gain Valuable Team Competition Experience at CSIJCH Ocala
The Grand Prix Ring at HITS Post Time Farm hosted the CSIJCH Ocala team competitions prior to the $35,000 HITS Classic CSI5*. The children’s and junior athletes competed in a traditional Nations Cup format, going head-to-head in two rounds of competition over a course designed by Azevedo.
In the Children’s Nations Cup competition, three teams competed for top honors and went down to the wire in a jump-off to determine the winning team after each incurred a cumulative score of 4 faults following both rounds of competition.
The mixed Americas team, who did not have the ability to drop any scores with only three athletes, consisted of two U.S. horse-and-rider combinations, Ansgar Holtgers and Hookjipa XXX and Emma Callanan and Q-Two, and Puerto Rican athlete Natalie Pedley and True Blue Mate. Yet they did not let their disadvantage keep them out of the race as they took home the win alongside Chef d’Équipe DiAnn Langer. Pedley and True Blue Mate were chosen to represent the Americas team in the jump-off and jumped clear over the course as the final entry of the tiebreaking round in 37.88 seconds to secure her team the top position on the podium.
In second was the Irish Eire team of Rhys Williams and Malbay Dreamer, Jack Geaney and Cheval d’Espoir Z, Daniel Kerins and Elwood and Francis Derwin and Stand By Me. Michael Blake served as the team’s chef d’équipe and chose anchor athlete Derwin to compete in the jump-off. The pair crossed the finish line with no faults and posted a time of 39.14 seconds for reserve honors.
Taking home the bronze in the Children’s Nations Cup competition was the Stars and Stripes USA team, also led by Langer. Callanan and Cocu, Holtgers and Queretaro, Genevieve Munson and Cassonetti and Alexa Leong and Hertogin Ter Drie Leien made up the team, with Holtgers and Queretaro collecting 8 faults in the jump-off in 51.68 seconds.
The Junior Nations Cup saw Mexico and USA compete for the top prize, but it was Mexico’s team, the Aztecs, who came away with the win on a total of 8 faults. The Mexico team, consisting of Luciana Gonzalez Guerra and Charlotta, Carlos Rodolfo Molina Gordillo and Trebon De La Nutria, Mauricio Huesca Perez and Charisma R and Nicole Meyer Robredo and Chanel, and led by Chef d’Équipe Stanny Van Paesschen, finished each round on 4 faults, dropping an 8-fault score both times, to secure the win.
With only three junior American athletes, the reserve Stars and Stripes team also did not have the advantage of utilizing a drop score, making each round count in the two-round competition. Guided by Chef d’Équipe Langer and made up of Kyle Perkovich and Sovereign, Carolina Villanueva and Zabel D and Faith Davis and Da Vinci, the team picked up 12 faults in the first round and 16 faults in the second round for a total of 28 faults and silver medal honors.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
DiAnn Langer – U.S. chef d’équipe
On CSIJCH Ocala:
“It has been a fantastic weekend and fantastic for these riders’ learning curves. It’s been very educational. It became an FEI international team competition for children’s and junior riders, which I was very excited about. We had the mixed team with Puerto Rico and two Americans — that was fun. Our riders really get on these teams in order to experience at this level, early in their careers, how to manage their horses, how to handle their nerves and how to make it work for the whole team. It’s a process that doesn’t just happen. The younger that we can provide this type of competition for our riders, the more experienced and better prepared they are 10–15 years from now.”
On preparing young athletes for future international competitions:
“What I’ve noticed again and again is that these riders have no idea how fit and prepared their horses need to be. That is the biggest take away from this experience. Getting around the first round is like a normal class. Then, coming right back 10 minutes later and doing the same course again and then, if there’s a jump-off, doing it again — I would really like to see more competitions like that in the United States, where you have your first round, your top 12 and then a jump-off so the horses and the riders get used to understanding how much horse they have to have in order to complete that sort of competition. You really need to start with a fresh horse, and a lot of them are not used to starting with a very fresh horse. They need to learn to manage that fresh horse, and then they need to learn, both the riders and the horses, how to get up for that second round. I think [US Equestrian] is doing a fantastic job. I also feel that with the USHJA Zone Jumper Team Championships, they’re learning that at even a lower height so I’m happy with the youth programs that are starting to fill in to help strengthen the pathway for our show jumping athletes.”
Stanny Van Paesschen – Mexico chef d’équipe
On Saturday’s Junior Nations Cup:
“This is a nice competition for the juniors. It wasn’t too high but it gave them the chance to experience the pressure of riding for their home country. It’s not the same as a normal grand prix, where they compete as individuals. They have to focus on doing well for their teammates. For the future, it’s great to have these types of classes.”
On Saturday’s course:
“The course was good. It wasn’t overly big but they had to think. That’s why there were some mistakes that were maybe surprising. To win today is very nice. We are very happy with it but the goal is not to win, it’s to get better. My fourth rider didn’t have to go in the ring at the end because we had already won, but I said, ‘Why shouldn’t you do it? You need to learn.’ If there’s a team in the same position tomorrow, they will not compete because the riders have so much experience and they want to save their horses but this is not the same case. Here, the riders need to take advantage of this great experience to learn for the future.”