Darien, Conn. – June 12, 2019 – Show jumping action continued Wednesday at the 88th Annual Ox Ridge Charity Horse Show, presented by the Lindsay Maxwell Charitable Fund, with contenders taking to the ring for the first prize money class of the week, the $1,500 1.40m Open Speed class, sponsored by The Tech Equestrian. As the best-performing partnership in the contest, Keirstin Johnsen and Capri, owned by Lynne Schwartz, galloped to the win, jumping to a league all their own more than three seconds faster than the next-closest team. In the 1.30m Jumpers, sponsored by Agway, Dagny MacTaggart and Ziezo emerged victorious as the fastest pair in the one-round speed class, claiming the blue ribbon ahead of a skilled pack.
Near the beginning of the pack in the $1,500 1.40m Open Speed class, Kevin Mealiff piloted Nuca Z to the first penalty-free trip around course designer Philip J. DeVita’s 13-fence track, crossing the finish line in 65.998 seconds to serve as the early pathfinders and frontrunners. No stranger to the winner’s circle, FEI World Equestrian Games™ team gold medalist Adrienne Sternlicht took to the ring immediately next, turning in a clean but conservative effort aboard Shadowfax 111 in 74.129 seconds to incur one time fault against them, keeping the pair out of contention for the top prize. As the class continued, Johnsen and the 12-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding, Capri, soon took their turn over the pattern and appeared to be on pace to eclipse the early leaders, tripping the timers in a quick and clear 62.705 seconds to jump to the top of the scorecard by more than three seconds.
With only one duo left to contest DeVita’s track, Peter Leone returned to the ring on his second mount of the class as the final obstacle standing in the way of Johnsen and Capri earning the top spot on the podium. In the irons aboard Cyrus De Shalimar, Leone maneuvered around the course with textbook form and had the pace to oust the top pair with a final time of 59.691 seconds, but downed a single rail to accrue 4 faults and fall in the rankings, securing Johnsen and Capri as the victors in the $1,500 1.40m Open Speed class. In addition to the champion garb including ribbons, Johnsen and Capri were further awarded with a saddle pad presented by Juliana Chapman, Founder of The Tech Equestrian. Mealiff and Nuca Z ultimately finished the competition in second position overall, while Sternlicht and Shadowfax 111 rounded out the top three placings.
Earlier in the afternoon, MacTaggart and Islay Jumpers LLC’s 15-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, Ziezo, bested the 12-effort speed track set forth in the 1.30m Jumper class, sponsored by Agway, with a clear round and leading time of 57.837 seconds. Mattias Tromp entered first in the order of go aboard Ibaltic BH as the early pathfinder with a clear round and conservative time of 68.60 seconds. MacTaggart and her 2017 Adequan/FEI North American Junior Young Rider Championships partner, with whom she earned team bronze, followed several rounds later, riding to an impressive and ultimately unbeatable time. Giraldo Abreu entered to produce an additional clear round aboard Ideal S later in the order, but their time of 63.435 seconds would slate them behind MacTaggart. Last in the ring, Juan Lavieri and Happy Hour came the closest to challenging MacTaggart’s time, but fell just short in 58.048 seconds to earn second place, while Abreu settled for third overall.
Jumper competition will continue Thursday at the Ox Ridge Riding and Racquet Club, with the $5,000 1.40m Welcome Stake serving as the highlight class of the day. Saturday afternoon will feature the most popular event of the horse show, the $50,000 Ox Ridge Grand Prix, presented by the Lindsay Maxwell Charitable Fund.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Keirstin Johnsen – $1,500 1.40m Open Speed, sponsored by The Tech Equestrian, winner
“We’ve had him a couple years now. It’s been such an emotional ride because he had a soft tissue growth that was super uncommon and we did surgery on him. We tried to jump him three years ago and got to the 1.40m [level] and jumped absolutely terrible, so we did the surgery on him. We gave him a full year off and then spent eight months rehabilitating him and started jumping back slowly, so he’s only shown four times since he’s been back. He’s jumped four double-clear rounds, which never happens, so on a personal level, winning or not, just to have him jump clear was so exciting for me. He’s got the biggest team behind him. I work for Brooke Baldwin, who drove all the way here just to help me. The vets that take care of him, they’re literally on call and do everything they can – chiropractic work, acupuncture – everything possible to make him pull together and feel sound. When I come out of the ring, I call his mom, I call his vet – there’s a list of people I need to let know how it went, so it’s a little more special for us as a team. It’s been such a work in progress. I don’t get to do many big classes so it’s super fun to be able to do something a little taller.”
On jumping in the speed:
“It’s not my favorite so I said to Brooke, ‘I’m just going to jump around and go slow and not go for the win.’ But when I got in, he felt good, he felt like he was jumping nice and I felt like I could push him for it and get him to do what I wanted.”
On the Ox Ridge Charity Horse Show:
“I’ve been here before and they’ve done so much work and it really shows. It’s nicely managed and the footing is so much better and so much improved. I can’t stress enough how much the improvements mean for us. It’s nice to have the new additional ring. We have a lot of hunters and it’s a world of difference. It’s a really, really big deal. The new indoor is gorgeous. The rings are nice, ride well and the courses are good. It’s been really nice and a really good week. We’re fairly local, about 45 minutes north of Salem, so the clients like to come because a lot of them live in Connecticut so it’s a nice show.”
On her plans for the rest of the week:
“We’re gonna do him in the Saturday grand prix. It’ll be our first time. We were kind of seeing how today went and then deciding. It went fine so we can do it and we can feel confident about it, so it’s a good place to start.”
Juliana Chapman – The Tech Equestrian founder
On sponsoring the $1,500 1.40m Open Speed:
“I’ve been a supporter of the Ox Ridge Charity Horse Show for over five years, and as a new equine tech blog I wanted to associate with a show that has an impressive past and a strong future.”
For more information, please visit oxridge.com/horse-shows.